The International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) has collected $200,000 in seven weeks.

Press release:
The musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are now in the
seventh week of their strike. This strike is the result of unacceptable
demands made by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association,
including minimal salary increases and that the musicians agree to
close their defined-benefit pension plan and replace it with a
defined-contribution system (e.g., 401k or 403b accounts).

ICSOM issued a CALL TO ACTION on 4-8-2019 and immediately
musicians of the San Francisco Symphony responded generously
with a lead donation of $15,000 for their colleagues in the CSO. In
the past two weeks, the $200,000 mark has been swiftly reached by
the generous donations of ICSOM’s member orchestras. This recent
CALL TO ACTION also reaches another important milestone, as
now over $2 million has been raised and issued to orchestras in
ICSOM CALLS TO ACTION since their inception in 2007.

“It has been deeply gratifying to see the speedy response of our
member orchestras to our colleagues in peril at the CSO,” said
Meredith Snow, ICSOM Chairperson. “Our musicians clearly
understand that what happens in Chicago affects us all and have thus
responded generously with this collective action.”

It is essential that the musicians of ICSOM respond whenever and
wherever our members are in need. It is through our united network
of orchestras that we can effectively articulate to our managements
that a move against one of us is a move against all of us. The unity
and generosity of all ICSOM musicians, along with our brothers and
sisters in the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA), the
Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM), the
Recording Musicians Association (RMA) and the Theater Musicians
Association (TMA), and throughout the American Federation of
Musicians (AFM), have been an inspiration to our members and a
cautionary tale to our managements. The support of our ICSOM
orchestras in these Calls to Action has been extraordinary and makes
a tangible difference in the lives of our fellow musicians.


The musicians say:
April 23, 2019 – (Chicago, IL) – A week after the Chicago Symphony Association reneged on its promise to negotiate by flatly rejecting the CSO Musicians compromise proposal, the CSO Musicians called today on the Association to negotiate in order to resolve the strike in time to preserve scheduled performances with Maestro Muti. He returns to Chicago next week for his May residency.

‘The Musicians remain committed to negotiating a contract that ensures the future of the Orchestra and is respectful to the desires of subscribers and donors while offering compromises that address the Association’s needs,’ said Steve Lester, bassist and Chair of the CSO Musicians negotiation committee. Besides calling on the Association to negotiate in order to resolve the strike, the CSO Musicians illustrated that their compromise pension plan and 10% increase in salary over three years would not cost the Association any more money than their own proposal. Furthermore, it was pointed out that the same amount of money being offered by the Association is enough to fully fund the Musicians current defined benefits plan and provide all the necessary funds to go into a defined-contribution plan.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association responds:
‘It is unfortunate that Chicago Federation of Musicians (CFM) did not contact the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) to resume scheduling negotiating sessions prior to their publicity event this morning. There is an agreed upon scheduling process through either the federal mediator or the attorneys directly and the Association has not been contacted since our last negotiating session on April 16. Negotiations and meeting scheduling do not occur at a press conference. The union’s suggestion that the Association is unwilling to negotiate is false. The Association has been, and remains open to return to the negotiating table. This is where both parties can consider genuine proposals to respectfully reach consensus on a new contract. ‘


The next chief conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Dutch National Opera will be Lorenzo Viotti, 29.

He will succeed Marc Albrecht in 2021.

Son of the late Marcello Viotti, who conducted the Netherlands Phil from 1996 to 1999, Lorenzo came to the fore in the Salzburg-Nestle competition and has been quietly amassing experience around Europe.

He recently conducted Rigoletto (Stuttgart and Semperoper Dresden), Werther (Frankfurt and Opernhaus Zürich), Tosca (Frankfurt and Tokyo), and Carmen (Hamburg and Opéra National de Paris). He is due to conduct Carmen at the Met.

photo: Desiré van den Berg


The audition for a first violin seat at the Vienna State Opera was won this morning by Lara Kusztrich, a local candidate. She will automatically play in Vienna Philharmonic concerts but will only be considered for membership after a long probation.

Vienna born, she studied with professors Dora Schwarzberg and Lieke te Winkel at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna.

The Russian Operalia winner has been replaced by house soprano Andrea Carroll Heidenreich in next week’s new run of Rigoletto.

Christopher Maltman will sing his first Vienna Rigoletto; Joseph Calleja is Duke of Mantova.



In one of those quickfire things he does nowadays because he has nothing more to say in interviews, Lang Lang names two role models for readers of Ludwig Van Toronto. Both are gay men.

They are: Leonard Bernstein and… Vladimir Horowitz.

Now how does that work?

Gay and married?

Megalomaniac father-in-law?

Jewish, with a Catholic wife?

Several nervous breakdowns?

Only plays at 4pm?

Lives off a diet of boiled fish?

Which of these does Lang Lang want to be?

Here’s a first survey report from Orgues Quoirin:

Very good news from the great organ of Notre Dame

After two hours of examination of the instrumental part I did not notice any damage that could have been caused by the fire. Simply dust, a clean, light brown dust a bit like sand, non sticky dry dust.

There was a thermometer with memory inside the instrument, it indicates a temperature of 17 degrees the day of the fire. So no degradation of the piping and all the electronic components.

In a fortnight we will be able to put the organ back in order to be able to make a more detailed diagnosis, in particular on the state of the sommiers, but frankly I am very optimistic.

The ideal will be to confine the organ in a well sealed and air-conditioned cage. Then do the dusting, plan by plan and play the organ regularly. And finally, dismantle the confinement when the vault will be rebuilt, and tune it.

Très bonnes nouvelles du grand orgue de Notre Dame
Après deux heures d’examen de la partie instrumentale je n’ai constaté aucun dégâts qui aurait pu être causé par l’incendie. Simplement de la poussière, une poussière propre brun clair un peu comme du sable, poussière sèche non collante.

Il y avait un thermomètre à memoire à l’intérieure de l’instrument, il indique une température de 17 degrés le jour de l’incendie. Donc aucune dégradation de la tuyauterie et de tous les composants electroniques.

Dans une quinzaine de jours nous pourrons remettre l’orgue en fonction pour pouvoir faire un diagnostic plus approfondi,notamment sur l’état des sommiers, mais franchement je suis très optimiste.

L’idéal sera de confiner l’orgue dans une cage bien étanche et climatisée. Puis fair le dépoussiérage, plan par plan et jouer l’orgue régulièrement. Et enfin, démonter le confinement lorsque la voûte sera reconstruite, et l’accorder.

We hear that the North Korean leader is expected, on his Russian visit, to attend the Vladivostok Mariinsky Theatre, the Pacific outpost of Gergiev’s empire.

They are playing Macbeth, with Vladislav Karklin conducting.

The heroic coloratura soprano Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick died yesterday after a long struggle with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension. She was 36 years old.

Charity maintained her international career through a double-lung transplant, inspiring colleagues and audiences with her positive attitude. Her roles included Violetta and Gilda, and she performed with Zoltán Kocsis, Éva Marton, Condoleeza Rice, and many others.

She wrote a book, The Encore, about her experiences.

You might like to watch her brilliant TED talk.


The contralto-turned-conductor has just issued this statement:

It is with deep regret that the orchestra Orfeo 55, and its founder and artistic director Nathalie Stutzmann, announce the end of its activities.

Despite the support of the French Ministry of Culture, the orchestra’s financial situation has remained precarious due to a lack of sufficient subsidies and has deteriorated over the past few months, no longer allowing it to continue to operate properly.

Nathalie Stutzmann is deeply saddened by this situation but confirms that given the extent of the development of her career as a symphonic and opera conductor, it is now impossible for her to devote the necessary time to restoring the financial balance that would ensure the sustainability of the ensemble.

Nathalie Stutzmann made history with her pioneering modernity in the company of the orchestra, being the very first woman to sing and conduct simultaneously.

All music lovers will have a wonderful memory of Orfeo 55’s concerts and recorded discs – on DGG albums Vivaldi “Prima Donna” and Bach “Une Cantate Imaginaire”, on Warner/Erato albums Handel “Heroes from the Shadows” and the arie antiche “Quella Fiamma” – the last one – “Contraltos” – will be released in autumn 2020 on Warner/Erato. In addition to her conducting career, Nathalie Stutzmann, an exclusive Warner/Erato artist, will continue to perform regularly as a contralto.


The Houston Symphony has hired Yoonshin Song as its concertmaster. She has held that post in the Detroit Symphony since 2012.

Houston has tried out 17 candidates since Frank Huang quit for the NY Phil three years ago.

Some may regard this a rich orchestra making an offer other can’t afford but the picture is probably more complex. Detroit is without a music director, a situation of some uncertainty for the next most important person in the orchestra. Houston offers stability, top soloists and high visibility.

Yoonshin Song will be guest concertmaster with Ivan Fisher’s Budapest Festival Orchestra laster this year. She’s in high demand.