Tina Orton, Administrator for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada for over 25 years, has died in a Toronto hospital, aged 76.

The orchestra says: ‘If at any time in the uncountable years to come, you happen to hear a performance by a Canadian musician, and that performance touches your heart in a way that leaves you feeling even the slightest bit fuller of the person you hope to be, then you’ve been granted a moment with Tina. Do what she would do: listen, feel, be thankful, and give it back. For all she gave us, it’s the least we can do.’



The diva has lashed out at the Russian edition of Forbes magazine after it claimed she earned engagement fees of $7.5 million in the past year.

Anna’s response on social media: ‘Your information is absolutely wrong! Stop lying!!! I’m not complaining about my salary, but your numbers are ridiculous! My resentment has no limit!’




He’s called Tim McKeough and he comes from the Sydney Theatre Company.

He has experience handling visiting Hollywooders like Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush.

No known form in opera.

He takes over the least responsive press office in US performing arts, matched only by the New York Philharmonic.

G’luck, Tim.


What could be more collectable?

Drew McManus’s rankings of orchestral pay reveal that it cost the Minnesota Orchestra more than a million dollars to get rid of the manager that woefully mishandled its 15-month lockout.

Michael Henson arrived from England, where losses incurred by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, which he managed, were quietly covered by the Arts Council. He replaced another English manager, Tony Woodcock.


Henson was ill-equipped to handle a full-blown US orchestra dispute and quickly lost the battle for public opinion by refusing to acknowledge the role that social media were starting to play.

When the board back down from the confrontation, they wanted Henson out. So did the music director. It cost the orchestra, Drew reckons, a settlement to Henson worth $738,805 – part of a total pay award of $1,048,686.

‘That is the single largest buy-out of a CEO I’ve ever seen in the field,’ says Drew.

Henson has not worked again in orchestra management.


Drew McManus has just published his invaluable annual trawl of executive earnings in US orchestras, based on the IRS Form 990 that all public companies have to declare.

Drew’s latest figures, released first through Slipped Disc, cover the 2014/15 season, when Minnesota was emerging from turmoil and others were plunging right in. We will look at the disturbing Minnesota figures here..

In the meantime, here are the top 10 earners:

1 Los Angeles Philharmonic: $1,714,486 (Deborah Borda)

2 Minnesota Orchestra: $1,048,686 (Michael Henson)

3 Boston Symphony: $777,296 (Mark Volpe)

4 Philadelphia Orchestra: $776,143 (Allison Vulgamore)

5 New York Philharmonic: $675,984 (Matthew Van Besien)

6 Cleveland Orchestra: $629,303 (Gary Hanson)

7 San Francisco Symphony: $542,638 (Brent Assink)

8 Atlanta Symphony: $524,650 (Stanley Romanstein/Terry Neal)

9 Dallas Symphony: $521,699 (Jonathan Martin)

10 Detroit Symphony: $437,007 (Anne Parsons)

Much has changed since 2015. Deborah Borda has returned to NY, replacing Van Besien. Vulgamore is leaving Philly. Hanson went to Toronto. Assink retired. Atlanta hired Jennifer Barlament. And Jonathan Martin left Dallas for Cincinatti. Of the ten top earners of 2015, only Volpe and Parsons are still in their posts.

It’s a pressure job.

See Drew’s site for further details.

A protest by musicians in Santa Monica, objecting to being conducted by the right-wing radio host Dennis Prager, appears to be spilling over into a bigger row about free speech.

Prager has his say in his column this week. He writes: ‘This is a new low for the illiberal left: It is not enough to prevent conservatives from speaking; it is now necessary to prevent conservatives from appearing even when not speaking. Conservatives should not even be allowed to make music.’

He goes on to explain that ‘I conduct orchestras because I love making music. But I also do so because I want to help raise funds for local orchestras (I have never been paid to conduct) and I want to expose as many people to classical music as possible.’

Since he does not take a fee, this enables Prager to pose as a benefactor of orchestras.

There is just one point he overlooks.

Prager is not a trained musician, let alone a conductor. He claims to ‘have studied classical music since high school, when I first began playing piano and studying orchestral scores’, but that does not qualify him to stand in front of a group of highly-trained professionals and expect them to do as he directs.

The issue, as we see it, is not his politics but his fitness to practice.

For Prager, it is only about politics: ‘I have devoted this column to this subject to expose the latest attempt of anti-liberal leftists — the real haters — to shut conservatives out of every form of intellectual and artistic endeavor.’



Covent Garden’s extraordinary production of Verdi’s late masterpiece, with Jonas Kaufmann making his debut in the title role, hits US screens from tomorrow.

Some screens.

Very few, in fact.

In New York, it will show at the Landmark Sunshine cinema on Houston Street at 7:00 pm on Aug. 8.

Now you would think there would be considerable interest among New York opera lovers, Met-goers especially, to see and hear the foremost tenor of the day in a signature role.

So why only one cinema?

Because all movie houses that take Live from the Met have been locked down against taking operas from any other opera house. Simple as that. Thank you, Peter Gelb.

Here’s a link to help you find where Otello is screening in the US. You’ll be sorry to miss it.


photo (C) Neil Libbert/Lebrecht Music&Arts

The Austrian media are wildly excited to hear that the French president is coming to the Salzburg Festival.

As a knowledgeable pianist, he has asked to attend a two-piano recital by Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim on August 23.

Works by Mozart and Debussy.

‘I like to appear before human beings,’ the composer told the apartheid regime.

But getting to meet a non-white orchestra was not easy.

Watch a BBC World Service documentary here.