Johan Dalene, 18, from Sweden won the violin section against Marie-Astrid Hulot (21, France) and Anna Agafia Egholm (22, Denmark). Dalene, from Norrköping, is pictured last year with Gidon Kremer.

Anna Egholm won the prize for best interpretation of a new piece for her account of Sally Beamish’s Prealudium and Allegro for Solo Violin.

In the clarinet contest, the winner was Blaz Sparovec (24, Slovenia), ahead of Aron Chiesa (22, Italy) and Víctor Díaz Guerra (22, Spain).
Sparovec is principal clarinet of the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln.

The judges have awarded the first flute prize to Josephine Olech of France, principal flute of the Rotterdam Philharmonic.

Second was Marianna Julia Żołnacz of Poland.

Third was the Spaniard, Rafael Adobas.

The final round was outstanding.


Parents at Westminster School have written to Cardinal Nichols protesting a decision to send kids home from the boarding school on Fridays, no longer keeping them over the weekends. The parents say it will ruin the choir.

These are the changes:

1. WCCS to become a weekly boarding school, with boys going home on Fridays at
4.00 pm (or after the normal school day), and returning on Sunday mornings at
9.00 am to sing the 10.30 am Mass.
2. Boys to sing four Masses in the Cathedral a week: Sunday 10.30 am, Monday 5.30
pm, Tuesday 5.30 pm, Thursday 5.30 pm, as well as Vespers on Sunday at 3.30 pm.
3. Midweek and Sunday visiting to cease and clubs and activities to replace them.
4. Recruitment of choristers to be limited to those families that can commit to weekly boarding.
5. Singing lessons to be scheduled during the week, rather than on Saturday mornings.
6. Morning Song Schools to run from 8.10 am – 8.50 am, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
and Friday, from 8.45 am – 9.45 am, Wednesday, and from 9.30 am – 10.25 am, Sunday.

The protesting parents say:
WCCS has a pre-eminent, foundation duty to support the choristers in their elite choral life. The current stated aims of the School include “to support a world-class choir for Westminster Cathedral”. Mr Hemingway appears to recognise the international reputation of the choir and says that the Governors aim to “strengthen and support it”: see third paragraph on page 2. It seems to us that it would be an unconscionable breach of this foundation duty, the current recognised aims for the school and the Governors’ own professed aims, to make changes which not only fail to support, but will actively damage the world-class standing of the choir.

We believe that these Changes would do just that, striking a critical blow to an important part of our national, international and Catholic heritage and tradition. The potentially devastating effect the Changes may have on some of the current chorister families, if implemented as soon as September 2019 also appears to have been ignored. It
makes it imperative that the Changes and the material employed to support them, be given full scrutiny before the Changes are implemented.


Sasha Rose lost his mother last year.

Presently appearing in The Magic Flute at English National Opera, Sasha is giving his fees to the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead in thanks for the help it gave his family.

He tells his local paper:When I was offered the part, I asked my dad if I could donate my fee for performing to Marie Curie because I want them to continue to be able to help other people like they helped my mum. They are an amazing charity and my mum really enjoyed visiting the hospice, using the gym and joining the relaxation group….’

You, too, can help with a donation here.

photo (c)Fiona Rose

The first political congratulations are seeping in ahead of the conductor’s birthday tomorrow. Doubtless a telegram tonight from Angela Merkel, a firm admirer.

Sixty is a career midpoint for a conductor.

Thielemann, music director in Bayreuth and Dresden, is triumphant in the German-speaking world and a popular figure in China and Japan. The three essential composers are, in his view, Beethoven, Wagner and Richard Strauss.

He hardly ever appears in the English-speaking world. After early ventures with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Covent Garden, he seems to have abandoned British and American laurels to less assertive conductors.

This is a rare visit, in core repertoire:

A court case has been scheduled later this week in which an international soloist charges that her former boyfriend, an international agent, subjected her to physical assault.

Slipped Disc will report the case in full when it is permissible to do so.



The first reviews are trickling in of last night’s premiere of Iain Bell’s new opera, directed by ENO boss Daniel Kramer and starring ENO veterans Susan Bullock, Lesley Garrett, Janis Kelly and Marie McLaughlin.

Rupert Christiansen gives it ** in the Telegraph:

I left the Coliseum shaking my head in rueful disbelief. Given a subject as jam-packed with drama, mystery and good old gore as the Ripper murders, how could composer Iain Bell and librettist Emma Jenkins come up with anything as soporifically slow and dreary as this?

Andrew Clements in the Guardian gives it a *** that reads like a **:

Bell’s score is expertly conducted by Martyn Brabbins; it is accomplished enough without being at all memorable. Most of it could have been composed at any time in the last 60 years – Britten’s Peter Grimes is the most obvious reference point – but there is never any sense of the music driving the drama, or of the theatrical effectiveness of the work being enhanced by either the setting of the text or the accompaniment. There is also far too much of it: at least 30 minutes’ music could painlessly be cut, and that might tighten the drama, too, and make the closing scene less ludicrously protracted.

Daniel Kramer’s production, with designs by Soutra Gilmore, is unremarkable, and occasionally rather clumsy, but there is, one suspects, little he could have done to make The Women of Whitechapel live more vividly on stage.

David Nice on calls it pointless.

Why the disgusting charred corpse on the mortuary trolley, I have no idea; it’s one of the false notes in Kramer’s production, which has some clumsy blocking and also depends on too much out-front singing, Les Mis style, and too much sitting above the orchestra pit, where Martyn Brabbins draws superb playing from the ENO Orchestra. Bell certainly knows how to produce beautiful chamber effects in the quiet passages; but in the big moments, he misses the grand-opera success of Britten and John Adams. Wrong approach – and still, for all the special pleading in the programme, wrong subject….

George Hall in The Stage calls it ‘a limited achievement’.

More to follow.




Live at the Pushkin Museum in 1991, at the age of 76.  In memory of the actor Dmitri Zhuravlyov.

I spent an hour once with Elliot Carter, one of the emptiest of my early career.

We talked about Schoenberg and Ives, I remember. He seemed so Boston-bland, so untouched by life’s struggles, so anaemic and passionless, that I barely managed to write up the interview and have never found a key that made his music meaningful for me.

My pal Tim Page betrays a similar ambivalence in his NYRB review of a new book on the composer.

There is a fond belief that we glean otherworldly revelations from the late works of composers. We meditate upon the hymnlike final scores from the dying Beethoven and Schubert, are heartened by the brisk comic affirmations of Falstaff, Verdi’s farewell to opera, and marvel at the serene, luxuriant leave-taking in the Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss.

In the case of Elliott Carter, however, mystical expectations are best set aside, even though he wrote more and later “late” music than anyone. He composed steadily in his own distinctive manner from his teen years until that day in November 2012 when, at the age of 103, he simply stopped…

Read on here.

From my survey of women conductors in the new issue of Standpoint magazine:

As for the future, I predict that, ten years from now, Mirga or Canellakis will be music director of the New York Philharmonic and Speranza Scappucci will be pushed (no one goes willingly) into the hot seat at La Scala. The battle for women in music is almost won…

Read the full article here.


photo: Chris Lee



The striking musicians have delivered this reasoned appeal to the Board and mailed it to friends of the CSO as their strike approaches its fourth week.

Dear Friend of the CSO,

Amid all that you may have heard from the media or others, we write to explain why we, the Musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, have had to withhold our services and how you may help bring Chicago’s Orchestra back to work again.

It’s fairly simple. For more than 50 years, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been touted as the nation’s finest – able to draw talent from across the globe. The Orchestra has served not only as an ambassador to the world, playing on virtually every continent, but we have also brought thousands of patrons to hear our 123 yearly concerts.

While the prestige of the Orchestra has attracted the requisite talent, so too has the Orchestra’s reputation for supporting those who spend their lives and their fortunes preparing and playing for the city and the world – both while they are performing and when they retire. In fact, for more than 50 years Chicago has offered musicians the nation’s top salary and retirement benefits.

That has changed with the current CSO Association’s administration. In the last seven years the Orchestra’s salary has not kept up with inflation. Further, the Orchestra’s benefit package has fallen behind that of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now, the Association is attempting to change a fundamental tenet of the security of the Orchestra – and American life – our pension plan.

Our current defined benefit plan – one in which we agree that part of our earnings will be deferred and placed into an account that will yield a certain benefit to us each year when we retire – is not strange or unusual. Although private employers’ defined benefit pension plans have waned, such a plan is what every American who works currently has – it’s called Social Security.

Management says that keeping a pension plan is too risky. What they really mean is that individual musicians rather than the Association should assume 100% of the risk that comes with any long-term financial projection.

What is particularly ironic about this, is that contrary to the impression put forward by the Board of Trustees, according to the Board’s own actuaries, keeping the pension plan, as the Musicians suggest, would actually save the Association money – between $11 and $36 million over 10 years.

Let us be clear, this is not just about us. With many of the musicians already vested, our concern is truly about the future of the Orchestra – its ability to retain and attract great talent – a concern shared by Maestro Muti, Daniel Barenboim, and many of the world’s other finest orchestras and leaders.

Behind the specifics we worry that the Board of Trustees may have veered from its historic responsibility and mission.

We’ve seen a change of words. For decades the mission statement was clear that the Orchestra was the heart of the endeavor:

“The central mission of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is to present classical music through the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Chicago, national and international audiences. The mission is supported by four mutually reinforcing elements: Artistic excellence, continued international preeminence in the field of orchestral excellence; Audience development, leading audience development initiatives; Education, superior education and community programs; and Financial stability, fiscal responsibility for long-term stability.”

Recently it has been changed to:

“With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at its core, the mission of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is to enrich, inspire and transform lives through music, community engagement and education—locally, nationally and internationally.”

But we are worried by more than words.

We are worried that while saying the Orchestra is at its core, the Association has spent little more than one-third of its revenues on the Musicians with the remainder going to administrative, marketing, building and other expenses. This, despite ever-increasing ticket revenue and donations to the Orchestra, an endowment of more than $300 million and a $60 million unrestricted investment fund.

We find it worrisome that the Board of Trustees feels a greater obligation to the bond holders of a debt they incurred in the late 1990’s when they borrowed $145 million dollars (and for which they continue to make a yearly $5 million interest-only payments) than they do to meet their obligation to contribute to our pension, an amount less than the interest on the bonds.

We worry that this “mission and funding drift” endangers one of Chicago’s greatest public assets.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is not a private corporation – it is the property, the inheritance and the legacy of the people of Chicago. We want to make certain we can protect it.

To help:

You can go online and sign a petition to the Board of Trustees at; you can write to Jeff Alexander, President, CSO Association at, or call 312-294-3210.

You can attend one of the free “From the Heart of the Orchestra” concerts being given by the CSO Musicians at venues throughout the city.

For details, additional information on issues, schedule of upcoming free concerts and more, please visit and be sure to Follow us on, and on


The Musicians of the Chicago Symphony


Stephen Shipps, the concertmaster and Universityof Michigan professor who was accused of sexual misconduct, has retired from the university at the age of 66, it was confirmed this weekend.

His impending retirement was announced at the end of last year. Shipps had agreed a retirement date of May 31, but it appears this has been brought forward.

Detroit News has just published further allegations of sexual activity with a 17 year-old girl. Read here.