The National Arts Centre in Ottawa has named Arna Einarsdóttir as its new managing director.

Arna, 50, has been head of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra for the past five years.

She has turned a a deficit into profit and signed Yan Pascal Tortelier as chief conductor and Osmo Vänskä as principal guest.

She’ll move to Ottawa in spring 2019.

Same latitude, give or take an ice floe.

(NB: I gave up geography at 12).

The composer Joël Bons has been named winner of the $100,000 Grawemeyer Award for 2019.

Bons, 65, is a professor at the Amsterdam Conservatoire.

He receives the prize for ‘Nomaden,’ a one-hour work for diverse instruments, ranging from Chinese to Turkish to Azerbaijani.

A note from the new music director at Lyon:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I have thought and mulled over how to write this for several months (“I’ve always liked Prince” was an early discounted opening sentence).  It is, all attempts at humour aside, a very personal thing taking place in a public arena.

Perhaps naïvely I thought I could quietly add Szeps to my name and people wouldn’t really notice. After all, I said to myself,  Nikolaj Znaider and Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider will surely be perceived as the same person when the name appears in a season brochure or in a musical context. It turned out I was half right.

While it is true that no-one as yet has come up to me and said “My goodness, I am so surprised it is you, I thought Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider was a completely different person!” I did greatly underestimate the human need to search for meaning.

In other words, there is no need to explain the “what” but I could do worse by you than to explain the “why”. Indeed, since the season started I have encountered many people, friends and colleagues and most have had the same question: “Why have you changed your name?”, they ask.  And it is true… this case, the logic certainly isn’t on the surface.

When people change their name, it is usually to something simpler and I am keenly aware that Szeps easily becomes Schweppes or, as in a particularly unfortunate incident on live television, Sheps-Peps.
So why on earth HAVE I gone and changed my name to what in most parts of the world would amount to a tongue-twister?

Well, the fact is that I was born Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider and my name has always been Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider. If you don’t believe me ask any Dane 40-years and older, many have till this day consistently called me Szeps-Znaider. Old habits are hard to break, I guess.

It was in the late nineties that some well-meaning folks, whose opinion I valued, advised me I would be better off with a simpler name when presenting myself on stage. Eager to not get in my own way I took that advice and this is, perhaps where the story could have ended.

On stage I used only Znaider as a second name, life went on and although making dinner reservations certainly became easier, a regularly occurring pang of guilt persisted. You see, it isn’t that both my parents are called Szeps-Znaider, rather each have preserved their name choosing to pass on the head-ache of a double-barrelled name to the next generation.

To them, having been born just post-World War ll, the responsibility of carrying on an extremely rare name (or in the case of Znaider, variant of a name) was felt very keenly, especially in the light of the numerous family members lost in the Holocaust. Indeed it was after watching a documentary about the Second World War earlier this year that I had the impulse to research some of the databases that exist of both survivors and of those who perished in the Holocaust. After having come across more than a dozen Szeps’ who had lost their lives, I was overcome by a strong sense that I simply couldn’t bear to be responsible for another Szeps disappearing from the world and so I made the decision from then on to carry both names on as well as off stage.

In other words, I wish to honour my father and my father’s side of the family wherever I appear, privately as well as publicly.

Now, some among you may at this point understandably ask: “But haven’t you merely passed on a difficult dilemma to the next unwitting and defenceless generation? After all, if everybody were to keep their names, within very few generations chaos would reign and everybody would have an intolerable amount of surnames, the consequences of which we cannot even begin to fathom?”.
To which, I say: “Absolutely”!

This is, to be sure, an act of procrastination that my children will one day have to sort out but since they also stand to inherit my soon to be obsolete cd-collection, I thought one more headache won’t be too bad.
I hope they will forgive me the inconvenience and I hope you will too.
Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider

Five days after we broke the story, the Orchestre national de Lyon has just begun a press conference to announce Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider as the next music director, starting September 2020.

What they are not announcing yet is that a very young British conductor, Ben Glassberg, will join shortly as associate or resident conductor, the title is still being fixed. Ben, 24, won the last Besancon competition and has made a terrific impact. Last month, he was named principal conductor of Glyndebourne on Tour.

UPDATE: Nikolaj Znaider: Why I changed my name

The death has been announced of the Swedish-British singer Dorothy Irving, at 91 years old.

Dorothy studied the cello at the Royal Academy of Music 1939-41, followed by private voice studies with Lotte Lehmann. She specialised in Lieder, performing with the pianist Erik Werba.

As professor of singing at the conservatory in Malmö she taught generations of Swedish professionals.

Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester has named Tom Redmond as Director of Music. He will succeed Stephen Threlfall from September 2019.

A former horn player in the Halle, Redmond is now a BBC Radio 3 presenter.

Oh for the days when a head of music wore a tie and gown.




Latvian media have been trying to get answers out of Petr Aven, a Russian oligarch banker, as to the extent of his involvement in a new festival started by Verbier founder Martin Engstroem.

Russian Wikipedia has Aven listed as the 19th richest man in Russia. He is half-Latvian and head of Russia’s largest private bank.

And a great philanthropist.



Daniele Gatti, ousted at the Concertgebouw for alleged concupiscence with members of staff, has been installed as music director at Rome Opera.

Charles Dutoit, sacked everywhere after accusations of actual rape (which he denied), now has a position in Russia and plenty of guest work in Japan.

Siegfried Mauser, convicted in a Munich court of sexual assaults at the Academy of Music, is being defended by his pal Nike Wagner as ‘a victim of university intrigue’.

So is that it? Has the whole campaign to defend victims of sexual assault come to no more than a rap on the knuckles in a world whose attention span is shorter than a Trump tweet?

Will the classical music world go back to its bad old ways? Has it done so already?

The only answer we have at the moment is: not quite. Some precautions have been put in place. Predators will have to be more careful. But the storm has blown out. The show has moved on.

The Carnegie Hall president married Anya Deutsch yesterday to the music from Schindler’s List.

The wedding took place at Cipriani Wall Street and the ceremony was Jewish Orthodox.

His appointment, as head of Opera di Roma, is effective immediately.

It was approved by the mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, in consultation with the national government.

The deal was secured by Rome’s major powerful sovrintendete Carlo Fuortes.

As far as Italy is concerned, #MeToo is over.

Gatti with director Daniele Abbado

Gatti last night opened the season with a triumphant Rigoletto, attended by the mayor and the sovrintendente (pictured). His #MeToo exile has lasted just three months, presumably with time off for good behaviour.

EDITORIAL: Is this the end of the #Metoo musical line?

From a new interview in Erica Worth’s Pianist magazine (not online):

That is one major concerto I have never played. I heard it so much when I was young. I haven’t touched it yet but I feel like it’s all back there already. But it’s another thing to actually play it. Sometimes you just fell lucky…. I’m learning like a Chinese chef.’

Wonder what she means by that?