Just in: Covent Garden appeals landmark ruling against suffering viola

Just in: Covent Garden appeals landmark ruling against suffering viola


norman lebrecht

October 22, 2018

The Royal Opera House won leave today to appeal a High Court ruling that one of its viola players, Chris Goldscheider, suffered life-changing hearing loss while playing Wagner operas.

The ROH has instructed Nigel Lock, an occupational disease partner at BLM, to argue that noise levels during the rehearsal fell well below the maximum level specified by the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

Many will feel the ROH should have settled quietly with Chris rather than throwing more money at lawyers.



  • boringfileclerk says:

    Ready, set: Top Ten Violists are…

  • martain smith says:

    doesn’t every job bring unavoidable potential hazards!

  • Musician says:

    Unfortunately, it’s part of the job being a musician, losing your hearing and suffering great discomfort all in the name of art. Have you ever suggested to the brass to tone it down? No! They “go for it” at the show. It’s their job. Otherwise where shall it stop? Noise levels in Mahler symphonies, Adams incessant repetition – perhaps try another career. Glib I know, but no answers nor solutions to this circle of mass hearing loss. Sad yet true.

    • C Porumbescu says:

      No, being permanently injured is not part of the job and there are laws and procedures in place to prevent this in all serious orchestras today. Prehistoric and irresponsible attitudes like this are part of the problem, not the solution.

    • Anon! A Moose! says:

      “Have you ever suggested to the brass to tone it down? No! They “go for it” at the show. ”

      And that is *exactly* the problem.

      “Glib I know, but no answers nor solutions”

      No, this is a known problem with a known solution. Ask the brass to play appropriate volumes and timbre, and this problem largely goes away. When the brass plays some version of “loud”, and you can’t even hear the entire rest of the orchestra sawing away at FF, that’s *BAD* playing, yet it’s what you hear 90% of the time. The problem is that bad conductors buy into this and the ones that don’t don’t have the guts to tell them to play less.

      I for one am tired of fellow musicians throwing their arms up in the air like “oh well, what can you do?”. Being so casual with your colleagues’ health should never be acceptable. We’re morally bankrupt when we think that someone *possibly* criticizing the brass for not pinning back one’s ears in the nosebleed seating is more important than not deafening your colleagues. And sorry/not sorry, it’s *very* rare that the *music* actually calls for the kind of volume we’re talking about.

  • Novagerio says:

    Just being curious: Has anybody heard the ROH Ring Live?
    Is it actually played louder than with previous conductors like Haitink, Colin Davis, Solti or Kempe?
    Do some last-desk strings actually have protective Plexiglas screens down in the pit? Wagner is not necessary louder than
    Puccini or Berg or Birtwistle!

  • John McMunn says:

    Covent Garden is an industry leader in following all current best-practice with regard to Noise at Work. Bracketing the dubiousness (or not) of Goldscheider’s claims, the ruling against ROH would represent an existential threat to orchestral music in the UK were it to stand. This fact alone should warrant an appeal of some sort.

  • erich says:

    On one hand, I assume the ROH were anxious not to set a precedent, but one feels very sorry for the musician involved. On another not unrelated subject, I am appalled by the ROH refurbishment. They have turned it into a series of restaurants which just happen to have a couple of auditoriums hidden away as alibis. Open up forsooth!