The conductor Anna Rakitina, recently appointed Andris Nelson’s assistant at the Boston Symphony, has been picked as one of four members of the 2019/20 Dudamel Fellowship Program at the LA Phil.

The other three are Hilo Carriel, Marta Gardolínska and Enluis Montes Olivar. Gardolinska is assistant conductor at the Bournemouth Symphony.

It’s competitive out there.

The BSO has just released this report from its auditors. Needless to say, neither board of management nor chief executive take any responsibility for this appalling state of affairs.

It is not clear from the statement if the board are crying wolf in order to bully the locked-out musicians to accept a reduced contract.

Here’s the miserable document, hot off the press:

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Audit Opinion Expresses Substantial Uncertainty Regarding the BSO’s Ability to Continue as a Going Concern

Audit Opinion Reemphasizes Financial Issues, Urgent Need to Reach New Contract Agreement

Baltimore, MD – Monday, July 15, 2019 – The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Inc. (BSO) today announced that the audit report on the BSO’s financial statements for the year ended August 31, 2018 notes that there is substantial uncertainty about the BSO’s ability to continue as a going concern. The audit opinion clearly confirms that the financial issues the BSO is facing are serious and serves as a stark reminder as to why the BSO management and board are doing everything possible to encourage productive contract negotiations with the musicians.

Guidelines from the Financial Accounting Standards Board require management and auditors to assess an organization’s ability to continue operating for a one-year period after the financial statements are issued, with the evaluation based on applicable conditions and events that are “known and reasonably knowable” at the date of issuance of the financial statements. Although the auditor’s report states that the financial statements have been accurately prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, the report highlights the substantial uncertainty regarding the BSO’s ability to continue as a going concern based in part upon concerns that the BSO will be unable to meet its contributed revenue and earned revenue forecasts while efforts continue to reach agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

“The audit opinion underscores the continued urgency that we reach an agreement with our musicians as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there has been no meaningful counterproposal from our musicians that addresses the financial issues our organization is facing,” said BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome. “This announcement makes it more clear than ever that we must ensure a sustainable business model that helps control costs while expanding revenues. It is vital that we move forward together toward a stable future. This will help support efforts such as enriching our community by reaching more diverse audiences and forging more meaningful connections to our communities in Baltimore, in Montgomery County and across the state.”

The BSO and Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore, Local 40-543 will meet for a collective bargaining session on July 17, 2019 together with Federal Mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. At this point, the BSO awaits a response to management’s request for future bargaining dates beyond the week of July 15.

The collective bargaining proposal by the BSO in October 2018 includes a reduction from 9 weeks to 4 weeks of paid vacation for musicians while upholding a comprehensive 52-week benefits schedule for the orchestra. The proposed changes would have minimal impact on audiences due to the fact that reductions are primarily in the summer weeks when the Baltimore Symphony traditionally presents few performances.

The BSO’s audited financial statements show that the financial results for FY18 have improved versus the prior three years. While going concern uncertainty is not necessarily an indication of the future of an organization, when uncertainty about an organization’s ability to continue as a going concern exists, this must be disclosed in the financial statements. The audit report reinforces the critical importance of the work underway to move the BSO to a sustainable business model and ensure that the community continues to be home to an exceptional orchestra for years to come.

Marcus Overton, sometime general manager of the Ravinia Festival; director of performing arts at the Smithsonian Institution and artistic administrator at La Jolla Music Society, has died at 75 in San Diego of kidney failure.

Obituaries here and here.


This weekend saw Zubin Mehta’s farewell concerts as music director of the Israel Philharmonic after 50 years in the role.

The Times of Israel reports of the Saturday night event: ‘The grassy expanse of the Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv was filled with an enormous crowd of young and old, who rose almost simultaneously as the now frail, but still charismatic maestro took the stage, opening with the orchestra’s moving rendition of Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah.”’…

Read on here.

An orchestra player writes of Verdi Requiem on Sunday:

“Libera me” … and then just like that, the audience, the orchestra and Zubin Mehta were all crying.

After 50 years, Zubin Mehta conducted his final performance in Tel Aviv as Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

I have no words.

photo:  Hanoch Grizitzky

A clipe from the farewell Requiem:

The death has been posted of William Benjamin Ray, a baritone from Lexington, Kentucky, who, unable to get work in racialist US concert halls and opera houses, found considerable success in Europe.

Georg Solti gave him a break in 1957 as Amonasro in a Frankfurt Aida. Others soon came calling.

Settling near Stuttgart, Ray went on to sing at Vienna, Hamburg, Milan, London, Brussels and Munich, and was cast in more than a dozen so-called ‘exotic’ roles on German network television.

Returning to the US in 1982, he taught voice at the Peabody in Baltimore for a decade, putting in a further decade at Howard University.

William Ray died on July 3, at the age of 94.


Some musical experiences from New York’s Saturday electricity blackout.


The most original and successful English composer since the death of Benjamin Britten, Harrison Birtwistle is an acquired taste as a musical proposition but a completely irresistible and unassuming man.

He is the first to admit that his music can be tough, but it’s a toughness that comes from the natural world and the farm where he grew up.

He is witty, warm and altogether wonderful at dinner – of you can hear his furry voice above the din.

I cherish the times we spent together.

He’s 85 today.

Many happy returns, Harry.


Here’s something I wrote for an earlier anniversary:

…The problem with Birtwistle is that he is a one-off, an original. From the night in 1967 when Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears walked out of Punch and Judy, his first opera, muttering about “intolerable violence”, it should have been clear that he was never going to fit into any canon or convenient category, English or other.

Birtwistle’s music sounds, on first hearing, extra-planetary, unfathomable. At second attempt, unaided, it gets no less weird. Yet I know no music of recent times that yields so easily to a key in the lock and, swinging open, delivers a sensation that is unearthly in the best sense of the word — that is to say, beyond earthbound imagination….

He cherishes the French pronunciation of his name — “Hérisson” — a hedgehog, a low and furtive creature that throws out spikes at a hint of danger. Birtwistle’s music is a bit like that, defending itself from casual acquaintance, forcing the listener to make a decision and pay attention. “None of that Classic FM rubbish,” he scoffs….

Read on here.

Earth Dances has been performed – and repeated – by the Berlin Philharminic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and many other international ensembles.

In a pre-Proms interview of stupefying superficiality, the pianist lets drop a fragment of credible personal history:

Her parents, she says, “have no clue what I’m doing. They say, ‘Come back, why don’t you be a teacher in the conservatory?’ They are supportive but naive.”

Perhaps the incomprehension works both ways.

Yuja is so good at playing the media game, though, that this might just be another provocation.

Full interview here.

I walk past the old pile several times a week and I have a slice of personal history with it that I will tell at some time.

It has been occupied by the same owners since Sir Thomas’s death in 1961 and is in a state of visible delapidation.

If I had £6 million to spare, I’d be in there like a rocket.


Estate agency details here.