The house of Commons was reduced to tears today when the Scottish MP Michelle Thomson, a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Dance and an avowed professional musician, described being raped at the age of 14.

This may be the most thought-provoking speech by a politician that you will ever watch or hear. There is also a musical element (at 1:45) that is profoundly disturbing

The death has been announced in the past hour of Elliott Schwarz, a widely recorded composer and sought-after university professor.

Dear friends and loved ones,

Today we remember the life of Elliott Schwartz. After a wonderful day of visits, phone calls, music and messages read aloud, he closed his eyes. Elliott died peacefully at 8:22 pm on December 7th surrounded by his family.

We are all buoyed and touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support. Feel free to pass along this email to anyone who might want to hear this news.

p.s. We love this photo of Elliott. Here he is after a good meal, undoubtedly planning his next piece.

We hear that Andrew S. Grossman has been fired from Columbia Artists Management Inc.

He was, with Tim Fox and R. Douglas Sheldon, one of CAMI’s three directors after Ronald Wilford’s death.

Among other areas, he looked after orchestral tours and foreign variety acts that he produced in the USA.

Apparently, he was hustled off the premises by Wilford’s former attorney, assisted by several security guards. He was allowed to take personal belongings but not to speak to any colleagues, before being escorted into an elevators and out of the building.

We understand that neither Fox nor Sheldon was involved in the dismissal, which was ordered by Wilford’s estate.

All information about Grossman has been deleted from the Cami website.

UPDATE: We hear the cause of dismissal was his use of an abusive, racist term. The lawyer walked into Andrew’s office unannounced, slapped a paper on his desk, and said, ‘You can leave peacefully, or we can do it the hard way.’

Watch here for further updates.

CAMI is the second big agency in two days to sack a big boss. Must be something in the air.

UPDATE2: The abusive word, we hear, was ‘kike’, directed at a visiting Cami agent.

 

The much-loved Russian bass-baritone, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer, has put out the following message:

To all my friends, fans and colleagues:

It is with great sadness that I must withdraw from opera performances for the foreseeable future.

I have been experiencing balance issues associated with my illness, making it extremely difficult for me to perform in staged productions.

I will continue to give concerts and recitals as well as make recordings. Singing is my life, and I want to continue bringing joy to people worldwide.

With this pause in my operatic career and more rest in between each engagement, I hope to have more time to focus on my health and treatment.

Thank you for all your love, messages and well wishes. Your support is felt and means the world to me.

With love,

DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY

 

The Vienna Opera, where he was appearing in La Traviata, has issued the following:

Dmitri Hvorostovsky legt die nächsten Opernengagements zurück

 

Mit großem Bedauern gibt die Wiener Staatsoper bekannt, dass der dem Haus sehr verbundene russische Bariton Dmitri Hvorostovsky seine Opernengagements in absehbarer Zukunft zurücklegen muss. Gleichgewichtsprobleme im Zusammenhang mit seiner Krankheit machen es ihm äußerst schwer, in Opernproduktionen aufzutreten. Dmitri Hvorostovsky wird sich nun auf seine Gesundheit und seine Behandlung konzentrieren.

„Seit Monaten kämpft Dmitri mit viel Kraft und Tapferkeit gegen seine Krankheit und soeben hat er mit viel Engagement und Erfolg wunderbar den Giorgio Germont in La traviata bei uns gesungen, obwohl er in Behandlung war. Es ist verständlich, dass er sich nun auf seine Genesung konzentrieren wird. Dafür wünschen wir ihm von Herzen das Beste!“, so Staatsoperndirektor Dominique Meyer.

Von den Absagen nicht betroffen ist Dmitri Hvorostovskys Solistenkonzert an der Wiener Staatsoper am 7. März 2017 – die Wiener Staatsoper freut sich auf seine Rückkehr.

Emerson Lake and Palmer – the British prog rock group which used such classical titles as Pictures at an Exhibition, and Fanfare for the Common Man – has suffered a second fatality in nine months with the death today of the singer and guitarist, Greg Lake.

Keith Emerson pre-deceased him in March, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The group, which disbanded in 1979, were admired by leading classical artists for the depth and sophistication of their original ideas and adaptations.


Matías Tarnopolsky, director of Cal Performances at Berkeley, has posted:

Dear Friends,

It is with incredible sadness that I write to inform you that a beloved member of our staff, Griffin Madden, perished in the fire in Oakland on Friday night. Griffin had been missing since last being seen there, and his death was confirmed yesterday evening.

Griffin was Cal Performances Audience Services Associate, recently winning that full-time position after having worked as a Cal student usher throughout his undergraduate career. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015 with a double major in Philosophy, and Slavic Languages and Literature. He was devoted to Cal Performances and had been an integral member of our staff for five years, starting as a freshman at age 18. Griffin was 23 years old.

Our community is heartbroken at this news. We extend our deep condolences to Griffin’s family and to his friends.

The annual opening has been pronounced a triumph.

Riccardo Chailly’s insistence on performing Puccini’s original Madam Butterfly, the one that bombed in 1904, was acclaimed both inside then opera house and outside by watchers on a giant television screen.

The Uruguayan Maria José Siri stole the show as Cio-Cio-san. Annalisa Stroppa  was Suzuki, Bryan Hymel  sang Pinkerton, Carlos Alvarez appeared as Sharpless. The director was the controversial Latvian, Alvis Hermanis.

Only a few months ago, New Zealander Amalia Hall was battling it out in the finals of major international competitions.

Now the dust has settled, she has signed on back home as concertmaster of Orchestra Wellington.

From the media release:

Orchestra Wellington Music Director Marc Taddei says Hall is a major young star in New Zealand’s musical life, and one whose gifts have already brought her international acclaim.

“I am over the moon that Orchestra Wellington has been able to attract Amalia Hall as our next concertmaster,” Taddei says.

“This is brilliant news for Wellington and New Zealand, and I guarantee that great things will come out of this appointment.”

Hall is considered one of New Zealand’s leading violinists, having won all of its major concerto prizes while still in her teens. She received her education at Auckland University and the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia, and went on to win the Jeunesses Internationales Music Competition Dinu Lupatti, the Tunbridge Wells International Young Concert Artists Competition and the Postacchini International Violin Competition, as well as gaining prizes in the Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition, the International Violin Competition “Premio R. Lipizer”, and the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians.

Hall is looking forward to leading the orchestra. She will join Orchestra Wellington from its first subscription concert, Firebird, on May 13 next year.

“I feel pretty lucky to be joining such a passionate orchestra and administration team,” she says.

Two days after the snap dismissal of COO and General Counsel Lorna Aizlewood, there has been no statement from IMG Artists, either about the circumstances of its beheading or about its future.

No statement has been issued to confirm or rebut our exclusive report.

The only official word is that Ms Aizlewood is ‘on gardening leave’. Smoking in the shrubbery? We think not.

Her lawyers will be taking very sharp secaturs to the reachable parts of IMG’s bosses (pictured).

The Vienna Opera was forced to scramble a substitute Falstaff for the second night of its current run.

Ambrogio Maestri dropped out of the fat suit. Paolo Rumetz stepped in.

Very effectively, we hear.

Painfully discreet as Benjamin Britten was forced to be, it is now 50 years since same-sex relationships were decriminalised in Britain and the heirs to the Britten estate will mark that breakthrough with a major exhibition.

Press release below.

 

QUEER TALK: HOMOSEXUALITY IN BRITTEN’S BRITAIN
1 February to 28 October 2017

A new exhibition will next year profile the life and creative output of Benjamin Britten, one of the twentieth century’s great composers, during the period of social change that led to the 1967 decriminalisation of homosexuality. Queer Talk: Homosexuality In Britten’s Britain will take place at The Red House, the home in Suffolk that the composer shared with the tenor Peter Pears – his muse, collaborator, recital partner and lover for 39 years. The house was one of a number relisted earlier this year by Historic England in recognition of its role in LGBTQ history and is now home to the Britten-Pears Foundation, which welcomes visitors to experience its special sense of place.

Throughout most of Britten’s life, homosexuality was illegal and socially stigmatised. Queer Talk will focus on two extraordinary works that Britten created against a backdrop of widespread debate on homosexuality: the 1951 all-male opera Billy Budd (1951), and the extended solo vocal work Canticle I ‘My beloved is mine and I am his’ (1947) an open declaration of Britten’s love for Pears and a work they performed together.

The exhibition will explore the social climate of the 1950s, as well as drawing comparisons between the experience of Britten and Pears with other high-profile figures who found their personal lives at odds with the law of the time. Letters by Alan Turing, manuscripts and edits of EM Forster’s homoerotic novel Maurice and photographs of Noël Coward and his long-term companion Graham Payn will be displayed.

Exhibition curator Lucy Walker said:

“Unlike other men in their situation, Britten and Pears didn’t face arrest (although there were rumours that Britten was interviewed by Scotland Yard in 1953) and, to some, their relationship was an ‘open secret’, particularly as Britten composed so much and so openly for his male ‘muse’ and on the subject of male love. But before 1967, having been together nearly 30 years, it would have been impossible for them to admit in public they were a couple, and they remained discreet on that matter even after then.”

“The ‘Queer Talk’ exhibition presents the situation facing Britten and Pears in the 1950s and 1960s, and looks at how Britten in particular kept resolutely quiet on the subject of his private life but at the same time produced a number of works that—to modern eyes—seem to be obviously homoerotic in subject matter. Britten and Pears lived through an extraordinary period of change in social attitudes towards homosexuality, and that change continues today; we hope that visitors to the exhibition will find the circumstances surrounding their personal and creative partnership allow a deeper understanding of their incredible legacy.”

Homosexual acts between men had been illegal since the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, with arrests and prosecutions increasing after World War II. By the mid 1950s, more than 1,000 men were in prison in England and Wales. After a number of high-profile prosecutions, the government set up a departmental committee under Sir John Wolfenden to review the law. The publication of his report in 1957 prompted much debate and a wide range of responses, which the exhibition will depict through contemporary local and national newspaper cuttings, local police reports and television programmes. The exhibition will also feature a 7-metre timeline charting Britten’s significant relationships, his ‘queer’ compositions and the progress of LGBT rights from the 1900s to the present day.

‘Queer Talk’ will run from the 1 February to 28 October 2017 alongside a programme of special events and activities across Aldeburgh. They will include study days and recitals at Britten and Pears’ home, The Red House, Aldeburgh, as well as collaborations with LGBT History Month, the international Aldeburgh Music Festival, Aldeburgh Cinema and Poetry in Aldeburgh.

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians voted to go back to work last night after a $700,000 anonymous gift saved them from a deep wage cut.

We understand that a similar bequest ended the Pittsburgh Symphony strike a few days ago.

It’s the American way.