The calamitous Orchestra de la Suisse Romande of Geneva may be about to turn a new leaf.

Florence Notter, who has chaired the board through four years of comic comings and goings, has said she will step down in June.

Maybe she’ll apply to run Fifa up the road.

When Jaap Van Zweden, who has been cancelling guest dates, turned up at the LA Phil last week, antennae started twitching.

The Dutchman does not fly without good reason.

Turns out, he was there to woo the hell out of the LA Phil’s president and get her to come back home and save the sinking and totally directionless New York Philharmonic.

Now we know: it worked. Jaap turned on all the charm and Deborah Borda, who eats soft maestros for breakfast, was convinced – both by his argument and by the concerts he gave with the LA Phil. She can handle the NY Phil’s designated music director.


photo: Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

So instead of seeing out the decade in a Pacific glow with an occasional Harvard sabbatical, Ms B is heading off to bang heads at the New York Phil, which has gone wildly off course since she quit 17 years ago, running deficits every year and eating up almost half the $300 million endowment she raised. What’s more the orchestra will soon be losing its home while Lincoln Center calls in the builders.

This is a tough job to enter at 67 years old, but she likes it tough.

Her departure leaves Los Angeles headless for its centennial season and Gustavo Dudamel without a trusted ally.

Watch that space. Watch this one.

Exciting times ahead.

UPDATE: New York prefers great manager to great conductor

Read the press statement below.

UPDATE: Inside story: Why Debora Borda is going back

UPDATE2: New York prefers a great manager to a great conductor

New York Philharmonic Board Chairman Oscar S. Schafer, on behalf of the Board of Directors and Music Director Designate Jaap van Zweden, today announced that Deborah Borda has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Philharmonic, to begin on September 15, 2017.

Bill Thomas, who currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the New York Philharmonic, will become Executive Director, effective May 1, 2017. Ms. Borda succeeds Matthew VanBesien, who has held the Orchestra’s chief administrative post since 2012. She has served as president and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2000, having previously served in the same capacity at the New York Philharmonic during the 1990s.

Deborah Borda said: “This is a homecoming for me as a native New Yorker, but, more than that, it is a key transitional moment filled with opportunity to make a difference for one of the great musical organizations of the world — the New York Philharmonic. The major factors that have led me here are my immediate sense of partnership with Jaap van Zweden and our shared belief in forging new ways forward. The passionate commitment of the Board to the future, the remarkable quality of the Orchestra, and the ability to promote the superb and trusted administrator Bill Thomas to the position of Executive Director were all critical to my decision.

New York City and Lincoln Center stand at the crossroads of the artistic world and the opportunities for collaboration and partnerships within our vibrant community are thrilling. While embracing this challenging new work, I sincerely wish to express my deepest thanks and admiration for Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic “family,” who have been courageous and loving partners over 17 years.”

“The search committee and I immediately knew that Deborah Borda was the best and only person to help lead the New York Philharmonic at this pivotal time as we head into an exciting future along with Jaap van Zweden,” said Oscar S. Schafer, Chairman of the New York Philharmonic. “She is recognized worldwide as a premier leader in the arts, and her proven track record of bold vision and innovative leadership fits hand in hand with this great city and this great Orchestra. We could not be more thrilled that she has chosen to return to the New York Philharmonic and to her New York home. Alongside Bill Thomas, whose expertise and experience has guided the Philharmonic over 15 years, we look forward to working together in partnership as we lay the groundwork for this Orchestra’s next 175 years. I’d like to thank the search committee, especially Jaap van Zweden, for its diligent work during this process, and I would like to again acknowledge and sincerely thank Matthew VanBesien for his leadership and many accomplishments during his tenure these past five years.”

Christoph von Dohnanyi, who has been unwell since the start of the year, has called off next month’s Pittsburgh date.

But here’s the surprise: his replacement is Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil music director, who hardly ever conducts any other US orchestra.

Among many unanswered questions, how can the deficit-dragging Pittsburgh Symphony afford so expensive a substitute? And what’s Dude’s game? It’s a bread-and-butter concert (prog below). Where’s the beefsteak?

Strauss: Don Juan, Opus 20
Wagner: Overture to Tannhäuser
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Opus 67


UPDATE: Dohnanyi will be replaced at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Neeme Järvi.


Lauren Philips, 26, has not been seen since February 23. Her car was found abandoned in Woolacombe, Devon.

Police now say they have exhausted all lines of inquiry. But they will respond to any new leads or sightings.

A violinist with the Haffner ensemble and several Bristol groups, Lauren is a junior doctor with Bristol NHS Trust. A friend said she was getting ‘increasingly depressed‘ at the state of the NHS.


The Paris Chamber Orchestra runs a unique course to teach soloists how to conduct and play. It’s called the Play/Direct Academy and it will take place in September.

Stephen Kovacevich will be this year’s course director and participants will also enjoy masterclasses with Michel Beroff, Igor Levit and Momo Kodama.

Here’s the best bit: the course is free to the chosen candidates, with all airfares and hotel costs paid.

Apply here.

The ESO and English String Orchestra have named Zoë Beyers as their leader (concertmaster), effective immediately.  Zoë has been associate leader of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and works regularly as guest leader with the Philharmonia, BBC, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and more.

She will lead about half the ESO’s concerts, and will appear with the orchestra also as director and soloist. ‘This is a very happy day for the orchestra,’ said ESO General Manager Matthew Peters. “Zoë was the unanimous choice of the musicians and administration. She brings to the ESO a passion for a broad range of repertoire and shares our commitment to bringing worthwhile unknown works of all eras to the attention of our audience.’

press statement:

The announcement on 3 March that the Tallis Scholars’ record label, Gimell, will stop selling Downloads and CDs from its website has resulted in a huge boost in sales. Since making the announcement and launching an End-of-Life promotion the website has been flooded with orders. Sales since 3 March now exceed total sales for the whole of the previous year!

Launched in 2007 the Gimell website was only the second in the world to sell high resolution downloads and in 2008 it was the first to sell FLAC Surround Sound Downloads. The venture proved highly successful but times move on and many other stores now have similar offerings. Gimell’s technology partner recently announced  that it could no longer maintain the website and after careful consideration Gimell decided to launch a new website that will not sell Downloads and CDs.

Steve Smith, Gimell’s managing director, said:

“We were very disappointed to have to close our online store, especially as it was just a few months from celebrating its tenth birthday, but the marketplace has changed significantly in 10 years and we felt we could not justify the cost of building a new dedicated store just for our own recordings. Ironically, given the extraordinary boost in sales since making our announcement, I suspect our accountant will say we should now build a new store and then announce another End-of-Life Sale.”

The Tallis Scholars’ catalogue currently features 56 original albums of which 20 have been recorded in high resolution. The first Gimell recording, made in 1980, featured Allegri’s Miserere and Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli and was recently featured  in a list of the 50 Greatest Classical Recordings of all time by BBC Music Magazine. In 1987 The Tallis Scholars CD of two masses by Josquin was the first album by an independent label to win the Gramophone Record of the Year Award. They made their first high resolution recording in 1993 of which three have been nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2013 their recording of John Taverner’s Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas enjoyed  six weeks at number one in the UK Specialist Classical Chart.

The Austrian composer and pianist virtuoso Sigismund Thalberg, who died in Naples in 1871, has not been allowed to rest in peace.


The door of his tomb in the Poggioreale cemetery has been ripped off its hinges and the maestro’s body removed from its glass case and thrown into a corner. ‘A gruesome scene,’ said one of his descendants.

Thalberg was one of Liszt’s chief rivals, an immensely successful touring artist.

Read here and here.

Gianluca Macheda, the bureau chief who quit troubled IMG Artists two months ago, launched his new business today.

Almost all his former artists have joined Gianluca in the move.

They are mostly opera singers – including Diadkova, Fabiano, Kurzak, Rene Pape, Polenzani and Stuart Skelton – plus such busy conductors as Roberto Abbado, Nicola Luisotti and Nicole Paiement.

GM Art and Music has offices in Warsaw, Lucca and New York.

I have been listening to a pair of Zara Levina (1906-1976), a composer who lived and died under Soviet pressure to conform.

She did what she had to do to get by.

Her first concerto, dated 1942, sounds like an extension of Rachmaninov’s fourth with some personal frills.

Widowed in 1948, she wrote with the censors constantly in mind.

Her second, written the year before she died, is reckless and original – a kind of Hollywood dinner-party conversation between Rachmaninov and Schoenberg.

Brilliantly played by Maria Lettberg and the Berlin radio orchestra, totally absorbing.

Check out the promo video for the new release.

The New York Philharmonic’s Open Rehearsal for Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at 9:45 a.m. is cancelled due to a change in the rehearsal schedule as a result of the winter storm. Tonight’s concert is expected to go ahead as planned. Refunds for the Open Rehearsal will be issued within seven to ten business days.