The man who protested about Leonard Slatkin’s mild political joke has sent the conductor a prompt apology:

Dear Mr. Slatkin,
Thank you so much for your personal response, especially in light of your busy schedule. After reading your email, I realize that I was too quick to react. There has just been so much negativity on Facebook, Twitter, news, etc that I was looking forward to an evening without politics. 
I am deeply moved by your willingness to write me personally. Please be assured that you have renewed my faith in the DSO and it’s wonderful conductor. 
I greatly look forward to your next concert. 

The Budapest Festival Orchestra is due to fly to the US tomorrow.

On the eve of departure, an Iraq-born cellist who has lived in Hungary since 1985 was told by US consular officials that he could not fly.

Conductor Ivan Fischer called the State Department for ‘a long conversation’.

The US Embassy in Budapest later confirmed that the ban did not apply to those holding dual nationality. The cellist has Hungarian citizenship, so the orchestra can now fly to the US with all its members.

Report here (in Hungarian).



It has emerged that the former executive director of the New York Philharmonic will be leaving his post as  co-executive director of the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University.

Mehta, 76, shared the job with  Larry Furukawa-Schlereth, who retired last month.

Now, an incoming chairman has called time on Mehta and announced a search for a single director.

In the last tax returns, Mehta was the highest earner in the California state university system, making almost $486,000 in pay, plus $111,000 in benefits.


Three Yale alumni – Vincent Accettola, Paige Breen and Nicholas Brown – have been working with the National Youth Orchestra of China, modelled on the US version. They have booked a date for the orchestra to make its Carnegie Hall debut in July this year, conducted by Seattle’s Ludovic Morlot.

But it remains to be seen whether, under present circumstances, the Chinese players, aged 14 to 21, will receive visas.

Read on here.

Amy Tobin of Minnesota worked all her life with violins.

After finishing college in Boston, studying with Roman Totenberg, she worked for Fein Violins and was concertmaster in the St. Paul Civic Symphony orchestra from 2008, the year she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.

She also played in the professional Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, while retraining as a medical technician. Then the cancer returned.

Amy died on January 14, her son Liam’s eleventh birthday.

You can donate here to help support her boy.


From the current Lyon Opéra production of Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au Boucher:



Audrey Bonnet as Jeanne. Photo: Stofleth/ Opéra Lyon

The University of Tübinger musicologist, Professor Jörg Rothkamm, has presented what he claims to be the world premiere of an unpublished Lied, which is partly in the hand of Gustav Mahler.

The song was jointly written by Alma Mahler and her husband in 1910, to a text by Gustav Falke, at a time when the couple were trying to save their marriage. Rothkamm claims that Mahler’s contribution to the score is greater than previously suspected.

The song received its first public hearing yesterday in Tübingen from soprano Naomi Kautt, with pianist Dagmar Schmidt-Wehinger. Rothkamm maintains is has echoes of the tenth symphony.

We’d be curious to hear a recording.

It’s the Mirga effect.



press release:

Herefordshire-based philanthropists Clive and Sylvia Richards have made a £250,000 gift to support the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s extensive educational programme over the next five years.

The gift has been made in celebration of the appointment of the orchestra’s new Music Director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla – ‘conducting’s next superstar’ in the words of The Telegraph – whose initial concerts with the orchestra have attracted universal acclaim.  It will enable Mirga to play a leading role in the future development of the orchestra’s educational programme, and will contribute to the cost of around 30 concerts per year for young people, an extensive programme of musical activities in schools, and the orchestra’s work with gifted and talented young musicians which includes the CBSO Youth Orchestra and the CBSO Youth and Children’s Choruses.

The first instalment of the gift was made as Mirga conducted schools’ concerts at Symphony Hall, Birmingham for 8,000 local children on 30 and 31 January. 



The highly-rated young Canadian Jordan de Souza, newly appointed Kapellmeister of Berlin’s Komische Oper, has signed on with ex-IMG agent Bill Pallant’s new boutique.

He is only the third conductor on an overwhelmingly youthful singers’ list.

Leonard Slatkin has received a hostile letter from Detroit Symphony audience members after observing, in a comment on Mozart’s disputed Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds, ‘We do not want to confuse you with alternative facts.’

Next day, this came in from offended patrons:

Last night, conductor Slatkin, whom I have always had the utmost respect for, ruined the evening for me and may have dissuaded me from attending any further concerts.

If you were unaware, he began the concert with a monologue (“joke?”) insulting our president by referring to his “alternate facts.” I am sure he thought he was a hit based on the applause and the laughter. However, he could not hear the half of the theater that was not laughing or applauding. He single-handedly insulted and offended half of the audience which paid good money to enjoy the concert.

Slatkin reflects: ‘I have tried all my life to avoid combining music and politics. But perhaps the time has come to begin to speak out more forcefully. I know that the threatened elimination of the NEA as well as privatization of NPR are subjects on which I must voice my opinion.

Our country was created on the principle of free speech. We all have the right to say what we feel, and those who believe otherwise are basically undermining the founding fathers.’

Read his full post here.

UPDATE: Protestor apologises.

A PBS Newshour report.

We hear that Marcelo Alvarez is on a flight home to Italy after failing again to take the stage as Don José in Carmen.

The Argentine tenor pulled out of the first night 15 minutes before curtain-up, and repeated his non-appearance on the third night. The substitute was Rafael Davila, making his Met debut.

No reason given. He’s out of the run.



This Carmen has been particularly ill-fated.

Sophie Koch was replaced in the title role by Clémentine Margaine, so late in rehearsals that she didn’t even get a c.v. in the programme book. Conductor Dan Ettinger was subbed by fellow-Israeli Asher Fisch.

We don’t know which of these switches caused Alvarez to pull out.