An elegant cancellation at the Wigmore Hall:

We are delighted to hear the news that Alison Balsom is pregnant and fully understands that she is unable to proceed with some of her concerts during this time.

Alison married the film director Sam Mendes in January.


Here’s the original text of the French president’s reply about his musical preferences to He has great admiration for Rossini – ‘he completely reinvented the lyric art’. However, as a trained pianist, he is most affected by the music of Schumann and Liszt, ‘that major European’.

J’ai une grande admiration pour Rossini. Il occupe à mes yeux une place essentielle dans l’histoire de la musique. Sa liberté, sa propre vie et son génie m’ont toujours impressionné. Il a sorti l’opéra de son carcan en offrant une liberté nouvelle à la voix : il a totalement réinventé le chant lyrique. Du Barbier au Voyage à Reims en passant par Cenerentola, il a créé un style irrésistible – mais je suis sensible aussi à ses opéras sérieux, comme Moïse ou Maometto II, qu’on donne si rarement. Dans un tout autre genre, j’accorde un prix tout particulier à Bach. Il a beaucoup compté pour moi. Son oeuvre pour clavier (orgue, clavecin) et pour violoncelle est d’une précision qui n’empêche pas l’élévation spirituelle, mais pour ainsi dire la favorise. J’entends moins une froideur mathématique qu’un discours musical charriant toutes les émotions possibles. Bach est un passeur entre plusieurs mondes, indéfinissable et génial.

Comme vous le savez peut-être, je suis particulièrement sensible à la musique pour piano – j’en ai moi-même beaucoup joué et tente d’en jouer encore dès que j’ai le temps. L’oeuvre de Schumann occupe une place à part : elle porte des images et des sentiments que je ne trouve nulle part ailleurs, avec une variété de tons unique. J’ai également un grand attachement à Liszt, cet Européen majeur, moderne résolu ancré dans la grande tradition : l’incandescence des Années de Pèlerinage reste intacte après tant d’années.



Ever since January’s regime change, musicians are finding it harder than ever to plan a US tour. Not only are visas and work permits taking longer to obtain, more and more complications are piling up.

Symphony orchestra with major sponsors usually have enough staff to get them through the process. But what about chamber orchestras and sting quartets? We asked Susanna von Canon of the Instant Composers’ Pool to describe her current efforts to get her group back to the USA.



by Susanna von Canon

Suppose you are an accomplished musician from a small European country, and your dream is to bring your band to the large audience of the United States of America.

You have your instruments, your CD’s, you have stacks of reviews (translated into English) you have concerts organised, thanks to years of direct pitching and ‘spraying and praying’ online. You even have the money for the plane tickets.


In the jazz / improv / ‘world music’  scene (as distinct from classical) concert offers and tours are booked at relatively short notice, not two or three years ahead, so even if you can deal with a run-up time of four to six months without the expedited possibility (another $ 1,000) and have the US sponsor and the wherewithal and personnel to deal with the intricacies of the process, you might just get the ten days or two weeks of that one specific tour. An O1 visa for 3 years is rare these days because you have to provide the USCIS with contracts three years down the line.

Fees in the US jazz/improv world in the clubs and smaller venues are very, very, very low. And those places don’t have the staff to deal with the USCIS, so international artists must use specialized immigration lawyers (and they cost around $2,000 for a quartet.) Let’s also be aware that the people at the USCIS are spread thin and overworked, so the process is taking longer and longer.

Even if you do get your visa – after an appointment at the Consulate and an interview with a consular officer and another fee of $190 per person (the amount keeps going up) you may be turned back at the border, at the whim of whoever is looking you over at the point of entry.

In theory, the process is meant to protect US musicians from an influx of international competition, so the screening (by the musicians union) would weed out rank amateurs and performers who were no better in their field than a US performer…something hard to be objective about.

But I wonder whether there aren’t other reasons. The visa fees are high, the time needed to get a visa is long, the bureaucracy is complicated, and the border and customs people at airports are now in a heightened state of alert (old joke – is that a neutron bomb or a new trombone ?) – perhaps keeping artists out is keeping America ‘safe’ ?

The upshot is that many wonderful artists from abroad are cut off from US audiences for live performances – or rather US audiences are denied live performances from international performers and thus ideas and inspiration – from beyond the border.

Suppose you are an accomplished jazz musician from the USA, and your dream is to bring your music to the large audience in Europe.  

Just hop on a plane and off you go! Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome.


That said, I am getting ready to send the ICP Orchestra from Amsterdam back to the USA in May 2018 – our 7th tour.  We just have too much fun and too many fans to call it a day.  I feel like  a pole vaulter, the beam keeps getting set higher and higher, and we’re getting on in years here at the Instant Composers Pool.

Joep Beving, 41, has 85 million hits on Youtube.

That’s enough these days to secure the Dutch amateur a Deutsche Grammophon contract.

Read here.

Youtube description: In 2015 Amsterdam based composer Joep Beving composed and recorded his debut solo album “Solipsism” at home in the still of night. The album is filled with introspective and often filmic piano compositions. Beving’s sound could be described as the opposite to over-produced and complexly layered music styles. His ambition for “Solipsism” is to keep the music stripped back to its essence: simple sounds to express complex emotions. It represents a quest for essence and beauty, expressed in a neo-classical vocabulary. “Solipsism” refers to the philosophical idea that reality only exists in one’s mind. Everything outside of it, the external world and the minds of others, cannot truly be known and hence does not exist. Beving’s music is an experiment in existential communication, a belief in an absolute aesthetic, to prove that a universal and metaphysical reality does exist.

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has issued a vigorous defence of its music director, Krzysztof Urbanski, who is being sued for harrassment and age discrimination by former principal bassoonist, John Wetherill.

Wetherill, 62, says Urbanski had ‘move out and replace’ strategy for musicians over 40.

The ISO’s response is that most of its musicians are over 40 and that the only one to be removed under Urbanski was 25 years old. It admits that several musicians resigned during the new conductor’s first years, but this was natural. ‘Defendant denies the baseless, malicious assertion of unlawful conduct by Mr. Urbanski,’ says the ISO.

Report here.

Amid the ovations for Renée Fleming, who had sung her last Marschallin, musicians in the Met orchestra were saying goodbye with a tear or two to second horn Michelle Reed Baker, who is retiring.

Michelle has been a popular member of the orchestra since 1990.


photo: David Krauss


The popular baritone is celebrating the birth of a baby girl, born to his fiancée, the harpist Hannah Stone.

Sir Bryn, 51, has three sons from his first marriage, which ended in 2013.


Yoel Gamzou has been named music director in Bremen.

Yoel – who is 29, not 30 as stated in German media – is a multi-talented, thoughtful composer who has created and recorded his own version of Mahler’s tenth symphony. He has previously been Kapellmeister in Kassel, where Mahler preceded him.