The Taiwan-Australian violinist features on the soundtrack of the movie of my first novel, which opens in the US on December 25.

The recording has just been released by Decca and the score, by Howard Shore, is being tipped for some very major awards.

Ray offers this insight into the soundtrack recording:

The soundtrack to the upcoming movie “Song of Names” composed by award winning composer Howard Shore (and directed by Francois Girard) has been released today across all streaming platforms.

Set around the events of World War 2, the film focuses a lot on violin, and every single violin sound you hear in the film is played by yours truly 🎻😁 In fact I even borrowed a few 3/4 size instruments so that I could better emulate the young main character’s sound.

l-r: Girard, Chen, Shore


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an interesting, unsigned piece on the benefits (questionable, in our view) of orchestra touring.

The Pittsburgh SO comes to Europe every other year.

The cost? $2.5 million

The benefits? Well, Delta set up a direct Paris-to-Pittsburgh flight, but dropped it last year.

Read here.



After a spruce-up costing  3.8 million euros, the house where Beethoven was born is now reopened to visitors.

The Bonn concerthall, on the other hand, was due to be replaced a decade ago. When the new hall was vetoed, the wretched 1959 structure was scheduled for an expensive overhaul.

Now that plan, too, has been kicked down the road.

No decision will be made before 2024.

I’m starting to see why Beethoven got the hell out of Bonn.



Symphony Nova Scotia has appointed the New Zealander Holly Mathieson, 38, as its music director, starting next month.

Mathieson, who lives in Scotland, co-directs the countrywide Nevis Ensemble with her husband Jon Hargreaves. She recently cut a debut disc on Decca – Clara Schumann’s piano concerto with Isata Kanneh-Mason and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

She has conducted many of the UK orchestras.


Musicians and critics are outdoing one another in superlatives over the Berlin conductor’s performances this week with the Israel Phil.

Amir Mandel, in Haaretz, calls it ‘a musical event that is engraved in memory‘.

The terms ‘riveting’, ‘once in a lifetime’, ‘genius’ and ‘wow’ pop up in other posts.

The programme was Strauss Till Eulenspiegel, Mozart C minor concerto with Tamara Stefanovich and Brahms’ 3rd symphony.

‘One of the most stunning concerts I have heard,’ writes the composer Oded Zehavi.

Stefanovich played Ligeti as an encore.

Eat that, Carnegie Hall.



Michael Francis, the LSO doublebass who became a condcutor by stepping in for Valery Gergiev when he missed rehearsals, has taken US citizenship as a token of his burgeoning baton career. Michael is music director of the Florida Orchestra.

Another Brexit drifter.


Anna Netrebko’s claim yesterday that she was never going to rehearse six weeks again for an opera drew howls of mirth from some of our maestro friends. One said the last time he saw her put in six weeks was around the turn of the century. Another thought she had imbibed too much of the Gergiev world view, which maintains that no rehearsal is often best.

Colleagues were quick to point out that Anna is far from being the worst rehearsal dodger.

One diva notoriously allocated just six days to a Munich production, while in Paris – which for some reason struggles to secure top voices – a celebrated tenor recently managed a new opera on no more than a walk-through.

Someone once said, work is what you can get away with.

C’est la vie.


Jan Raes is leaving next week after 11 years as general director and a catastrophic mishandling of the Daniele Gatti affair.

The orchestra has had seven months to find a successor.

Today it announced it had failed.

An interim boss has been installed – David Bazen, the Concertgebouworkest’s Director of Business and Media for the past nine years and a staffer for the past 20.

This does not look good. It would seem that no high-flying Dutchman (or woman) who has been approched was interested in the job, which might be regarded locally as a poisoned chalice. There is no music director in sight, either. But then the Dutch do things their own way.



The convicted sex pest and former Munich conservatory chief Siegfried Mauser has given a self-pitying interview to Die Welt while waiting to go to jail for his crimes against female employees.

He complains that Heidelberg threatened to cancel subsidies to any institution where he gave lectures and even Basle, across the border, made it clear he was unwanted. His engagements are cancelled and old friends want nothing to do with him.

He just cannot understand why.

Read the interview here.

This might be a broader phenomenon: Harvey Weinstein has been complaining in interviews that no-one ever mentions his achievements any more.