Tom Barrack, the head of Trump’s inauguration committee, has been doing a media round today denying that Donald J Trump ever asked the Italian crooner to perform on his big day.

Barrack told CNBC: ‘Bocelli and his wife … have been friends of Trump since the very beginning.’ He said Bocelli approached Trump with an offer to sing but ‘Donald said, “You don’t need to. We’re not in that kind of a framework. Thanks very much for the offer. You’re my friend. You are always welcome at the White House.”‘

Bocelli is saying nuttin.

You decide.

The Russian state agency Tass reports that the bass-baritone was taken to hospital in St Petersburg after a concert with Marcelo Alvarez on Sunday night.

He is said to be feeling better and is out of danger.

Hvorostovsky has cancelled Thursday’s recital in Krasnoyarsk.

Now it can be told.

On Saturday morning at 5am, the trombonist Ruud Merx – a star of André Rieu’s Johann Strauss Orchestra – suffered cardiac arrest in his sleep.

Ruud was rushed to hospital in Leeds in a critical condition and Saturday’s concert in Nottingham was cancelled.

On Sunday morning, with no change in Ruud’s condition, André and members of the orchestra agreed to call off the rest of the tour. Ruud and his wife Alina Lin Jong are long-standing, popular members of the ensemble.

They have two children, both in their teens.

André arranged for the shocked family to come over from Holland. He then set in motion the procedure for Ruud to be transferred back to his home country, where Ruud remains in a coma.

The orchestra have been told that there is little hope of recovery, but they continue to pray for Ruud.

As do we all.

Ruud’s identity and condition have been published here with consent.

This week’s tour was abruptly cancelled due to the serious illness of an orchestra player.

Tickets will be honoured at the rescheduled tour.

Here’s the announcement, just in:

André Rieu has rescheduled his concerts in London, Nottingham, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow postponed earlier this week due to a long-term member of the Johann Strauss Orchestra suffering a severe heart attack on Saturday. The musician is still in a coma. Unfortunately, his condition remains critical.

André Rieu: “My orchestra and I  have been overwhelmed by the support and love that we have received from all our friends and fans around the world. We would like to thank you all from the bottom of our heart for your understanding. It has been a terrible week for all of us and your warm words have given his wife, who is also a member of my orchestra, my colleagues and me so much strength.”

Rescheduled Dates are:

Monday 6th March (replaces 19/12) and Tuesday 7th March (replaces 20/12)
at The SSE Arena, Wembley, London
Tuesday 21st March at The Manchester Arena,

Wednesday 22nd March at The Genting Arena, Birmingham
Thursday 23rd March at Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham

Friday 24th March at The SSE Hydro, Glasgow.

Customers are advised to retain their ticket for the rescheduled show as all tickets will remain valid for the new dates.
In the unfortunate event that customers are unable to attend the rescheduled date, full refunds will be available from point of sale.

Following the cancellation of Jonas Kaufmann, though not in any way related, the soprano Anja Harteros has also dropped out of the opening concerts of the Elbphilharmonie.

She will be replaced in Beethoven 9 by Camilla Tilling.


A team of researchers at National Taiwan University believe that the unique sound of Stradivarius instruments may have arisen from a secret anti-woodworm treatment applied by the master-luthier.

Our analysis of Stradivari’s maples from three independent sources showed reproducible differences in chemical compositions compared with modern maples. Stradivari’s use of mineral-treated maples belonged to a forgotten tradition unknown to later violin makers. His maple also appeared to be transformed by aging and vibration, resulting in a unique composite material unavailable to modern makers. Modern chemical analyses may, therefore, improve our understanding of Stradivari’s unique craft and inspire the development of novel material approaches in instrument making.

Read on here.


A day after Moscow announced it was naming a square for Mstislav Rostropovich, St Petersburg unveiled a plaque to his wife, the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, on the apartment building where they once lived.

Both of their daughters attended the ceremony.


Nice to see them getting recognition after decades when they were whitewashed out of Russian music history. Nice to see the two cities competing for their legacy.


Fawzi Haimor has been named music director of the Württembergische Philharmonie after a unanimous vote by the musicians. He was selected from 18 auditioning candidates.

Local media have introduced him as ‘an American of Arab roots’ (Amerikaner mit arabischen Wurzeln).

Fawzi was, until recently, resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, learning the ropes.

Chicago born, he was raised in Saudi Arabia where his Jordanian-Lebanese father worked for the UN. Fawzi studied violin, conducting and neurobiology at Indiana University. He now lives with his young family in San Francisco and is working on his German. He is agented by K D Schmid out of Hannover.


Page Six of the New York Post – probably the most trusted showbiz source – says this morning that the Italian crooner has pulled out of the Trump inauguration under backlash pressure from fans. Bocelli met Trump twice in recent weeks to discuss the invitation.

It was Page Six that first told us that Bocelli had accepted. If we believed the first story, we’d better believe the second.

Nobody on any side is confirming or denying.

UPDATE: Now Trump denies he ever asked Bocelli to sing.



Meet Mr Arto Vainio, clarinet & bass clarinet player at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.

Arto says: ‘I am probably the only bass clarinet player in the world who has, within one week, played the complete Ring des Nibelungen and done 14 extremely demanding gym sessions.’

photos (c) Mike Siren

Here’s the evidence.

Not your regular orchestral player (3)

This may be the most people that have ever listened to Claude Debussy.

In a video from Lana Del Rey’s album Freak, the American singer segues without warning at 5:33 into the French master’s Clair de Lune. The piano piece plays while young women float underwater in diaphanous garments.

Just as Debussy intended, no doubt.


Any idea who’s playing?