From Mark Swed’s LA Times review, titled ‘Yo Yo Ma does the impossible at the Hollywood Bowl’:


The Hollywood Bowl shell was lighted midnight blue. The amphitheater was probably kept as dark as the fire marshal would allow. Few of the more than 17,000 seats were empty.

Then for two hours and 40 minutes Tuesday night, Yo-Yo Ma played all six of Bach’s solo cello suites straight though, with just a 10-minute pause in the middle.

The master cellist had never played these suites for a crowd so large, he later confirmed …We need Guinness World Records to determine whether, as I suspect, that this was a record, a larger crowd than any before to hear a performance of all six suites. But whether it was or not, the concert proved an unquestionably great, memorable Bowl occasion….

Not sure which bit the headline writer found impossible: the length of the recital with just a ten-minute break, or the size of the crowd for solo Bach.

Read on here.


Photo (c) Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

AskonasHolt, who manage the Philadelphia conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, have quietly signed up his assistant Kensho Watanabe after the young man’s heroic jump-in last April.


The Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare has cancelled Cologne with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra next week to undergo eye surgery.

He will be replaced by Lorenzo Viotti.



The Register Guard of Eugene, Oregon, reports that the University has agreed to pay Matthew Halls $90,000 after brutally sacking him as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival.

The deal is that neither side will say bad things about the other for two years and that both will give 24 hours’ notice before speaking to media.

This shambles just gets worse and worse.

The University, having failed to say why it sacked the unblemished Halls, is now throwing money at him to buy silence. This is neither good governance, nor good use of public money. The vastly overpaid Provost ought to face questioning by state authorities.


The Newport Contemporary Music Festival, which was meant to feature Philip Glass, Andre Previn and Howard Shore this summer, fell apart in mid-movement and has left an army of furious musicians.

The festival was the brainchild of a 25 year-old impresario, Paul Van Anglen. He blames the collapse on donors who failed to cough up. Musicians found the event amateurish, with insufficient chairs on stage and Van Anglen’s claims to be a conductor unproven.

More than 100 orchestral musicians have gone unpaid.

The Boston Globe has the full gruesome story here.

Van Anglen continues to describe himself on Facebook as Music Director of the Newport Contemporary Music Festival.


Meet the New York Philharmonic All-Stars, an online campaign to engage concertgoers with the top players.



Missing from the set is the principal horn, Phil Myers.

Phil has been principal horn since January 1980 and is still listed as such on the NY Phil website. The orchestra has refused to comment on reports of a disciplinary issue that led to his departure. 

Local media have kept shtum. But Phil’s absence from the all-stars appears to confirm he has blown his last.





The music director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Vasily Petrenko, was named Artist of the Year at the Gramophone Awards last night.

He almost didn’t make it to the gala dinner after his flight from Moscow was cancelled at the last minute.

But some really nifty footwork from the Liverpool midfield and a rerouting via a couple of cities that have never played in the Champions League somehow got the maestro there in the nick of extra time.

Just as desserts were being served.


Eat that, Mourinho.

(A small prize for naming the lady in the designer black frock)


The former director of the Vienna State Opera, Ioan Holender, has given a grouchy interview to Die Presse in which he insists that he never rode in taxs or stayed in five-star hotels.

Singers who asked him to pay their taxi ride from the airport were bluntly refused.

He maintains the top nightly fee at Vienna is 12,500 Euros, as it was in his time, but he thinks the opera house gets too much state subsidy and he’s angling to get appointed as an adviser to the incoming director Bogdan Roscic.

Full interview here (paywall).


Our observer at the Bartók violin competition, held at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, was encouraged to see several unfancied outsiders get through to the semi-finals.

That was before the judges woke up. In the final, all the contestants are students, or past students, of members of the jury.

Gabor Hamoki, Hungary, attended Liszt Academy and studied with a juror, Barnabas Kelemen

Yoerae Kim – South Korea, has studied at the Liszt Academy for 8 years

Chisa Kitagawa, Japan, student of juror Takashi Shimizu

Agnes Langer, Hungary, local favourite

Cosima Soulez Lariviere, Netherlands/France, student of juror Krzysztof Wegrzyn

Una Stanic, Serbia, had masterclasses with Krzysztof Wegrzyn

Ririko Takagi, Japan,  student of juror Takashi Shimizu

The finals are tonight.

The outcome: Teacher’s pet wins all.

What was it Béla Bartók once said? ‘Competitions are for horses, not artists’.