The Royal Philharmonic Society has made Stephen Sondheim an Honorary Member, a title it first granted in 1826 to Carl Maria von Weber.

John Gilhooly, the RPS chair, said: ‘Stephen Sondheim’s work is transcendent. In its musical sophistication and depth of thought, it has inspired audiences internationally, and generations of professional and amateur performers alike. The musicians who founded the RPS in 1813 set out with the conviction that music can touch and enhance everyone’s lives. This is evident in the millions today who have their own favourite Sondheim song and favourite Sondheim lyric, cherished as if the composer were speaking to them personally. His music only grows in resonance, as seen by the immensely successful London revivals of Follies and Company, and it is sure to resound for many, many years to come.’


The rising US conductor  Karina Canellakis has been named principal guest conductor of Berlin’s radio orchestra, RSB for the next thre seasons. Vladimir Jurowski will remain music drector until 2022/23, despite accepting the GMD job at Bavarian State Opera.

Either he’ll commute a lot, or Karina will have plenty on her plate.

More on Karina here.

In the first week, everything seemed to be going the musicians’ way after they walked out in a dispute over pensions. Their music director Riccardo Muti (pictured) showed his solidarity, as did the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

Second week, they were still ahead, with free concerts for the deprived public and solid support across the music community.

Then talks were called off and a freeze set in. The two sides have not faced each other in a fortnight. The board is cancelling concerts week by week. The musicians have toned down their rhetoric, but there’s no-one listening on the other side.

This board tactic will rebound unless talks resume soon. The public tends to blame whoever is not talking. At the moment, that’s the CSOA. They’re losing this unless they come back to the table.


Post-Brexit travel blues?

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Ryan Wigglesworth is replacing Antonello Manacorda to conduct the Glyndebourne Festival 2019 production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Glyndebourne looks forward to welcoming Antonello Manacorda to the Festival again in the future.


Happy birthday wishes to the unforgotten Georges Octors, former music director of the Belgian National Orchestra.

Born in Gamboni in what was then Belgian Congo, Georges studied in Brussels and became assistant to André Cluytens before succeeding him at the national orchestra.

He was seen annually on television for many years, conducting the Reine Elisabeth finals.



Message from the Royal Opera House

Clémentine Margaine has withdrawn from singing the title role of Carmen. The role will now be sung on 22, 24, 26 and 28 June and 10, 13, 16 and 20 July by French mezzo-soprano Anaïk Morel and on 2 and 5 July by Russian mezzo-soprano and Jette Parker Young Artist Aigul Akhmetshina.

No reason given whatsoever.

AskonasHolt has signed Samantha Clarke, a soprano from Perth who is presently studying at the Guildhall.

Samantha will compete in the Kathleen Ferrier Competition this month and is booked for Musetta at Opera North next season.


Opera America has spalshed out $100k to help seven women finish the operas they are composing.

The beneficiaries are:

· Sarah Taylor Ellis for The Trojan Women

· Donia Jarrar for Seamstress

· Gina Leishman for Bird of the Inner Eye

· Carla Lucero for Juana

· Kristin Norderval for The Sailmaker’s Wife

· Niloufar Nourbakhsh for We the Innumerable

· Celka Ojakangas (below) for Mirror Game




Repeated disruptions at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg – including one noisy walkout when Jonas Kaufmann sang – have prompted the hall’s artistic director, Christoph Lieben-Seutter, to give a pre-concert adresss to the audience on how to behave when the music plays.

Among his instructions: not to cough, not to walk out en masse and not to applaud between movements. The audience, he says, must be ‘calm and disciplined’.

Just so.

Read on here.


Alarming reports from the Swiss labs.

Researchers in Berne played different genres of music to control groups of Emmental cheese as they matured.

The bad news is that hip-hop produced the best cheese, and the biggest holes.

Read here.

Jeung-Beum Sohn, 27, went home with 20,000 Euros from the 9th Internationalen Deutschen Pianistenpreis at Frankfurt’s Alte Oper.

In 2017, he came first in the ARD contest in Munich, taking home 10k.

No doubt he’ll win some more contests before starting a career.