From the Spektral Quartet:

Will you go the distance with us on Saturday night? If so, your very presence will do some good in our community.

We’re pleased to announce that our performance of (Morton) Feldman’s epic Quartet No 2 will take on a charitable dimension with a program we’re calling FELDMAN FORWARD.

Our board and key supporters have issued a challenge to our audience: for every person who stays with us for the entire six hours, they will donate at least $50 in your name to GirlForward, a Chicago-based organization creating opportunities for young women displaced by conflict and persecution.

Learn more and register your participation at:

We need your support to sustain us through this enormous piece. Thank you!

Fresno Grand Opera, which is in all sorts of trouble, has cancelled the rest of the season and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

More here.

The German tenor has spoken with refreshing candour to Britta Schultejans of the German press agency about his comeback struggle and his hopes for the future. He sings Andrea Chenier in Munich this weekend.


Q: Do you find you have become more cautious since your illness-related break? Are you back?

A: In the first performances, I sang perhaps a little with the handbrake applied – or with more prudence, less spontaneously and less full-throated. But that’s over, and in a piece like this there is no chance to hold back. This is so wild and vocally so challenging. This can not be controlled, thank God.

Q: In June you will make your debut in London as “Otello”. Is that in the back of your mind?

A: I know that this is coming, but not more. I don’t plan to hold back on the “Otello”. There is plenty of time in between.

Q: Are you a bit nervous?

A: Maybe. I was a bit nervous at the “Lohengrin” in Paris because it was the first performance after so long. Since I already had the fear in the back of my mind, whether I could get through the evening or if I would have problems again. I felt I used to be more energised. This is a positive tension, self-evidently. But that soon went away, once I realized it went well. Had I tried it a couple of times and failed, I’d probably have been much, much more nervous.


Frage: Merken Sie, dass Sie nach Ihrer krankheitsbedingten Pause etwas vorsichtiger geworden sind? Nehmen Sie sich zurück?

Antwort: Bei den ersten Auftritten, die ich danach wieder absolviert habe, habe ich vielleicht schon ein bisschen mit angezogener Handbremse gesungen – oder mit mehr Klugheit, weniger spontan und weniger aus dem Vollen schöpfend. Das hat sich aber schon wieder gegeben, und gerade bei einem Stück wie diesem hat man gar keine Chance, sich zurückzuhalten. Das ist so wild und stimmlich so fordernd. Das kann man – Gott sei Dank – nicht berechnender machen.

Frage: Im Juni geben Sie in London Ihr Debüt als “Otello”. Spielt das in Ihrem Hinterkopf schon eine Rolle?

Antwort: Ich weiß, dass das diese Spielzeit noch kommt, aber mehr auch nicht. Ich habe bisher nicht vor, auf den “Otello” zu sparen, auf keinen Fall. Es ist noch genug Zeit dazwischen.

Frage: Sind Sie da denn ein bisschen nervöser?

Antwort: Vielleicht. Ich war ein bisschen nervöser beim “Lohengrin” in Paris, weil es der erste Auftritt nach so langer Zeit war. Da hatte ich schon die Angst im Hinterkopf, ob ich den Abend durchziehen kann oder ob man wieder Probleme bekommt. Das habe ich schon gespürt, dass ich vorher etwas energiegeladener war. Das ist eine positive Anspannung, die ich sonst kaum noch kenne, weil man das inzwischen ja so selbstverständlich nimmt. Das ist aber dann schnell weggegangen, weil ich gemerkt habe, dass ich nahtlos anknüpfen kann. Wenn ich es ein paar Mal versucht hätte und gescheitert wäre, wäre ich wahrscheinlich viel, viel nervöser gewesen.

The artistic director needs support, apparently.

Press release:


Multi award-winning music producer and composer Marius de Vries will be working with English National Opera (ENO) as Creative Consultant, with immediate effect.

Liaising closely with ENO Artistic Director Daniel Kramer, de Vries will advise on future projects for staging at the London Coliseum. Drawing on his exceptional knowledge of the music, theatre and film industries, he will contribute to a series of daring projects combining and colliding opera with popular music and electronic music as well as other genres to bring ENO’s work to an audience that may never have considered engaging with opera before.

Marius de Vries has been involved in some of the most culture-defining recordings and soundtracks of the past three decades. He has written, arranged and produced across a wide range of styles and genres for artists such as Madonna, Bjork, David Bowie, David Gray, Massive Attack, Chrissie Hynde and Annie Lennox. In the film and theatre world, his work includes music direction, score composition and song productions for Baz Luhrmann, George Lucas, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Matthew Vaughn, Zack Snyder and Daniel Kramer. De Vries was the Music Director for Baz Lurhmann’s Moulin Rouge! (2001) and also worked with Nellee Hooper on the soundtrack for Lurhmann’s Romeo and Juliet. He has won two BAFTA awards, an Ivor Novello Award, and four Grammy nominations for soundtrack and record production. Most recently De Vries was the Music Director and Music Producer for La La Land, which won both Music awards – song and score – at this year’s Oscars.

It is understood that De Vries will not take payment for his involvement.

From Michael Cooper’s NY Times investigation of why the German tenor cancelled the Met:

One of Mr. Kaufmann’s managers, Alan Green of Zemsky/Green Artists Management, declined to speak on the phone or to explain why Mr. Kaufmann had not withdrawn before the Met’s season announcement.

The agent who never answers the phone…



Ronald Eichman, former head of Fresno Grand Opera Company, is suing the company and his successor, an unusual twist in the general comings and goings:

Fresno lawyer Warren Paboojian filed the civil lawsuit Friday on behalf of Ronald D. Eichman and Thi Nguyen. Eichman served as general director from August 1998 to Dec. 5, 2014, and Nguyen as associate director from August 2008 until the end of November 2014. It names the opera and former director Matthew Buckman, who took over in the beginning of 2015 and left in February. There are also 50 unnamed defendants.

Read more here.

A five-year survey of music teachers at some 700 schools across England suggests that, contrary to Government assurances, music is being wiped out at senior level.

The BBC reports:

Researchers, from Sussex University’s School of Education and Social Work, surveyed secondary music teachers at 657 state and 48 private schools across England over five years.

Staff at about 60% of the state schools specifically mentioned the EBacc as causing a negative effect …

The results show:
schools offering Music BTEC level 2 falling from 166 in 2012-13 to just 50 in 2016-17
and the number offering music GCSE falling by six percentage points – from 85% in 2012-13 to 79% in 2016-17

Full report here.

In 1994,  Ruth McGinley won the piano section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. Se went on to play dates with London orchestras and seemed destined for a fine career.

But depression set in when she returned to live in Northern Ireland and she has only recently begun to return to the stage. Her debut album, titled Reconnection, has received £5,000 in National Lottery support, and a short film.

A welcome return.

Reconnection Album Launch – Ruth McGinley from Arts Council of Northern Ireland on Vimeo.

Christoph von Dohnanyi, having cancelled US dates last month, is too unwell to conduct a Brahms Requiem with the Orchestre de Paris on March 29 and 30.

Thomas Hengelbrock steps in.

The small print of the 2017 Budget discloses a grant towards a £10 million extension for Birmingham’s exemplary Symphony Hall.

It’s part of the Government’s Midlands Engine Strategy.

No half-billion for a new hall in London.