We hear word of the death of Leo Black, a member of the all-star BBC Radio 3 team of Deryck Cooke, Robert Simpson, Leo Black, Basil Lam, Alan Walker, Eleanor Warren and Julian Budden. He was 86.

Born in London in 1932, he attended grammar schools in Amersham and Cheltenham and Wadham College Oxford. After two years with Universal Edition in Vienna, he joined the BBC Radio 3 Music Department in 1960 and stayed until 1988.

Evan Rogister has been signed as Principal Conductor up to 2021–2022.

Rogister, 38, is presently in charge of Gothenburg’s Ring cycle.

He’s half-German, but no-one in Trumptown is flagging that up.

The Washington National Opera has also renewed Francesca Zambello as artistic director until 2021.


The presence of Jessica Duchen on the jury choosing BBC Woman’s Hour 2o18 power list has yielded a disproportionate representation of classical women among the all-powerful.

But Jessica’s choices are London-centric and myopic to a fault. A payroll editor on BBC Radio 3 is powerful? Two token women composers (if two, why not ten)? The head of one London orchestra, but not another? An American conductor who holds no post in the UK? And only Nicki Benedetti from outside London. Come on…

You can peruse the peculiar BBC list here.

Here’s the Slippedisc powerlist on UK classical women 2018:

1 Wasfi Kani, founder Grange Park Opera

2 Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, music director CBSO

3 Dame Sarah Connolly, diva

4 Xian Zhang, conductor BBC National Orchestra of Wales

5 Rebecca Allen, head of Decca

6 Kathryn McDowell, CEO LSO

7 Helen Sprott, CEO Philharmonia Orch

8 Sandra Parr, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

9 Fiona Maddocks, Somerset, critic

10 Jan Younghusband, head of classical music BBC-TV

11 Chi-chi Nwanoku, diversity campaigner

12 Roxanna Panufnik, composer

13 Natalya Romaniw, Cardiff, rising diva

14 Helen Grime, York, composer

15 Rachel Podger, south Wales, early music activist

16 Kathryn Enticott, Horsham, agent

17 Aliye Cornish, Oxfordshire, anti-Brexit campaigner

18 Lorna Aizlewood, agency CEO

19 Gillian Moore, South Bank booker

20 Lauren Zhang, Birmingham, BBC Young Musician 2018

More representative, more diverse, more regional than the BBC.

The former chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic is to be honoured with the Verdienstorden des Landes Berlin, it was announced this morning.

He will share this year’s honour with eleven other personalities, including the actress Anna Loos.


The death has been reported in Groningen of Xander Wadman, leader of the second violins of the Noord Nederlands Orkest and formerly its deputy concertmaster.

A student of the Concertgebouw leader Herman Krebbers (who died earlier this year), Xander joined the NNO at 20 and played uninterrupted for 44 years.

He married in 2008 the Georgian pianist Nino Khutsishvili.


In any other industry, if several companies were accused of ganging up on a client or customer there would be, at the very least, a promise of an independent investigation and an apology to the inuured party.

Not in the orchestra world.

Six British orchestras were found this week to be sharing a derogatory opinion of a disabled pianist and colluding in their reaction to a Telegraph article.

Since the article appeared, not a word of apology or inquiry has been heard from the Association of British Orchestras or any of the culprits. Silence is the order of the day.

This is not just bad practice. It is tantamount to an abuse of public trust.

The UK funding authorities may need to investigate.


The headliner on a season opener would once have been Rachmaninov or Stravinsky, at worst Rubinstein.

These days the LA Phil has to sell itself with rock stars. Weep.

Press release:

 Los Angeles, CA (September 27, 2018) The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel ushered in the orchestra’s Centennial season with a celebratory Opening Night Concert & Gala, California Soul, Thursday, September 27, 7 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The festive evening featured singers Chris Martin of Coldplay, who brought Dudamel and the LA Phil’s YOLA musicians to the 2016 Super Bowl, and Corinne Bailey Rae, who performed at the Hollywood Bowl earlier this year. Also performing were The Doors’ drummer John Densmore, electric violinist Tracy Silverman, speakers Shalita Grant and Bernard White, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, in a program dedicated to honoring Golden State creativity from John Adams to Frank Zappa. Elkhanah Pulitzer, who has had several major projects with the LA Phil, directed the program, spanning a spectrum of music that reflects the unique soul of California and has nurtured and inspired the LA Phil for a century.

The night also included the unveiling of WDCH Dreams by Refik Anadol, a visual art installation projected onto the exterior of the Concert Hall, as well as a post-concert party with Pink Martini and KCRW DJ Jason Bentley.

The LA Phil Opening Night Gala and Concert, California Soul, raised more than $3.4 million for the LA Phil’s many music education programs, which serve more than 150,000 youths, families, and teachers every year.

The evening began with the arrivals of notable celebrities and VIPs: Debbie Allen and Norm Nixon, director Alberto Arvelo, Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance, China Forbes of Pink Martini, Herbie Hancock, Don and Kelley Johnson, musician Tony Kanal, Matthew Lillard, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, Moby, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, composer/conductor John Williams, and Walt Disney Concert Hall architect Frank Gehry, who walked the red carpet up Walt Disney Concert Hall’s grand staircase. Local officials in attendance included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, CEO of Los Angeles County Sachi Hamai, and Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts. They were joined by LA Phil Board Chair Jay Rasulo, LA Phil Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel with Maria Valverde, LA Phil Gala Chairs David C. Bohnett, Mari L. Danihel, Jenny Miller Goff, Carol Colburn Grigor, Joan Hotchkis, Diane B. Paul, Jay and Barbara Rasulo and Ann Ronus, LA Phil CEO Simon Woods, and LA Phil Chief Operating Officer Chad Smith, along with more than 650 Gala patrons.

The pre-concert cocktail reception was held on Grand Avenue, where guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and a specialty vodka cocktail “California Dreamin’ Lemonade” mixed with Magic Color Changing Blue Ice, in a cool, California setting of modern white and chrome sofas, lounge chairs, with a hint of blue and silver linens.

An Opernwelt survey of 50 music critics across Europe and the US has chosen Frankfurt as Opera House of the Year – for the fourth time.

No disrespect to the great financial centre, but Munich is presently producing the highest standards in history, Berlin’s Komische Oper is on fire, La Scala as bounced back from the doldrums and Canadian Opera warrants attention. Why Frankfurt is a bit of a mystery.

Something wrong with the collective judgement of Opernwelt’s critics?

Orchestra of the year is Munich’s, production of the year is Barry Kosky’s Meistersinger at Bayreuth (pictured) and conductor of the year is John Eliot Gardiner.


Change those critics.

The Italian crooner has booked the Metropolitan Opera House for two concerts of opera arias titled, ‘ ‘Three Centuries of Love on February 10 and 17, 2019, at the climax of a US tour.

He has done this once before, seven years ago.

And it’s a dead cert the Met will be packed to the rafters for his concerts – as it never is for its own productions.

Go, Bo.

From our diarist Anthea Kreston:

When my quartet played last season in Houston, I got in touch with a couple of my favorite old chamber music teachers who teach at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice – Norman Fischer from Tanglewood Quartet Program, and James Dunham of the Cleveland Quartet. There is something about chamber music, and that kind of deep, slow work, and the relationships you form with those teachers, which gives a foundation for a life-time friendship.

When I got to Houston, Norman folded me into a huge bear hug – it was as if we had just seen each other the day before. While deep and heavy into my preparation of the Bartok 4th string quartet this week, I was swarmed with memories of my 16-year-old self. We, the 12 high-school students at the Tanglewood Advanced Quartet Program, were selected by live auditions held in major cities in the States. 6 weeks, 3 groups, 2 works each. Amongst us would be, in the future, 3 Curtis alumna, several Juilliard grads, and members of the Avalon, Cassatt and Miro quartets. Norman was a caring and exacting teacher, and created in us all a never-ending love of the work and satisfaction of the string quartet.

Dear Norman,

Hope all is well! I have been spending a lot of time with Bartók 4 recently, getting ready for the next tours. I remember working with you on this at Tanglewood when I was 16 – those memories of the piece are so embedded in my fingers and brain. I know I was too young and immature to be able to play that piece then, but the work you did with us was so thoughtful, organic, and true – it is carrying over incredibly well right now. I did also play this on viola with the Avalon quartet, very intensely with Vermeer and some Cleveland guys, but it is always that first summer that comes back.

I was thinking about writing about this a bit, then I became more curious about your teaching approach and methods. How did you figure out how to teach a piece like this to a bunch of 16 year olds? What is your prep like? You had us singing combined rhythms. Things like this. I don’t even have to look at my part – I just sing along and play – it is quite amazing.

Do you have time this week or next to jot down some answers or ideas? I would love it!!!

All my best to you,

Dear Anthea,

This is fun. In the summer of 1970, I was in a student string quartet program in San Francisco run at the Conservatory by the members of the Lenox Quartet. In my quartet was Andrew Jennings, violin 1, Sherry Kloss, violin 2 and Irene Breslaw, viola. We decided to learn Bartok 4, so I went down to the music store and bought two miniature scores (this is before photocopying was possible on chemically-untreated paper), figured out the page turns, cut them up and pasted onto art book paper. I still have the score I used. We learned most of the difficult rhythmic things by singing through first and working out the tricky parts. This was a technique that I learned from my cello teacher at Oberlin (Richard Kapuscinski) when he coached my quartet learning Milton Babbitt’s Second Quartet for a concert my freshman year in 1968 (in that quartet were members Ronald Copes, violin 1, Muriel Moebius, violin 2 and Nancy Ellis viola). Back in San Francisco, we rehearsed a lot more than the other quartets and I remember playing the performance at the Legion of Honor. In the front row was an elderly man who was intensely watching and listening as we played. When we finished the scurrying second movement, he shouted out a lusty, BRAVO! I nearly fell out of my chair. Afterwards we were introduced to Germain Prévost who had premiered the work as a member of the Pro Arte Quartet.

Skip ahead to Tanglewood and your quartet. I could tell that the four of you were a good match for each other and that you all had technical skill and imagination to boot. The Bartok 4 would be an ambitious but possible project. Remember that you were coached every day and that you played your work-in-progress for master classes three times a week for commentary by the other quartets. So there was a lot of attention. Of course, there was singing to work out the rhythm and ensemble issues. However, what I remember most was that when the second movement came up, I wouldn’t let you play it together unless you could sing it flawlessly from beginning to end. In order to keep the pulse, I had you walk in time and sing your parts off a score (as I remember it was 2 in front and 2 right behind, marching forward). After two day of this, the next morning you sat down and played from beginning to end without a problem. I almost burst into tears I was so proud of you!! By the performance it was really comfortable and you were just making music and not worried about anyone falling off the wagon.

At the core, one needs to know what every voice is doing in order to channel the entire score in performance. Combinatorial rhythms and feeling the full inner momentum of the phrase in its primal way is essential.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions….

Sending my best to you all,


Next week in Manchester, Omer Meir Wellber will be the conductor, Fatma Said the soloist.

Details here.