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15 May  

The Holland Festival (29th May–June 23rd)


The Holland Festival explores cutting edge dance, film, music, opera, theatre, visual arts and multidisciplinary collaborations. This year Stockhausen is very much on the menu, the starting point being a screened documentary of the festival’s first performance of the composer’s notorious Helikopter-Streichquartett in 1995. That work appears in Mittwoch from the composer’s monumental Licht sequence of 7 operas. Highlights from Licht will be performed in three parts across the whole festival (see video trailer, below). 


Other festival highlights include a concert by South African artist Gerhard Marx, who makes music from car parts (7th–9th); a new installation, Eight, from Michel van der Aa, mixing music theatre, virtual reality and visual arts (available throughout the festival); contemporary choral works from young American composers, performed by Roomful of Teeth (15th); and a chance to hear Colin Benders’ Electro Symphonic Orchestra, where he will present a new work for modular synthesisers and multiple speakers (22nd).


The Aldeburgh Festival (7th—23rd June)


Austrian composer Thomas Larcher is composer-in-residence at this year’s festival. His works will appear throughout, with the world premiere of his Movement for Piano on 8th and the UK premiere of his opera The Hunting Gun from 7th–9th. 


There will be tributes to Oliver Knussen, who was a key figure in the history of the festival, including performances of his Variations for piano, Scriabin Settings, O Hototogisu!, Prayer Bell Sketch, Ophelia’s Last Dance, Coursing and other chamber works. There is also a screening of a film that was originally made to mark the composer’s 50th birthday Oliver Knussen—Sounds from the Big White House.


Composers with premieres at the festival include Charlotte Bray, Caterina di Cecca, Edmund Finnis, Joanna Lee, Nico Muhly, Frederik Neyrinck and Freya Waley-Cohen. There is also radical performance art from Bastard Assignments, outdoor graffiti-style animated opera in Drive-by Shooting, and Listening Walks exploring the sounds of the natural environment.


St. Magnus Festival, Orkney (21–27th June) 


Like the Holland Festival, St. Magnus offers much more than just music with theatre, dance, poetry, literature, visual art and the MagFest fringe. At its core however it is still very much a music festival. There is much established classical repertoire to enjoy and a good smattering of works by living composers, including by James Macmillan, Joan Tower, Alex Freeman and Arvo Pärt. There is also the chance to hear the premiere of Festival Director, Alasdar Nicolson’s Concerto for trumpet and strings Govan Stones, performed by Tom Poulson on 25th.


Holland Festival: Aus Licht Trailer


8 May  

Belgian composer Dominique Lawalrée has died. He was 64.


Lawalrée was born in Brussels, studying at the Institut Supérieur de Musique et de Pédagogie in Namur. He began composing in 1973 under the influences of classical composers such as Satie, Stravinsky, Stockhausen, Cage, Feldman, Riley, Bryars and Messiaen and rock musicians including The Beatles, Soft Machine and Brian Eno. In 1976  he founded his own record label, Editions Walrus. It became the principle medium though which his vast catalogue, some 500 compositions and 20 albums, was disseminated. He also gave concerts in Europe and the United States, largely for small private audiences.


His style, which is simple, meditative and tonal became associated with the trend known as ‘new simplicity.’ A mystical experience led to a change of focus in 1994, with subsequent works focusing on the liturgy and religion more generally. 


Dominique Lawalrée taught at the Ecole Normale Catholique du Brabant Wallon in Nivelles. 


For more information: Matrix New Music Leuven 


Dominique Lawalree - First Meeting (album)


8 May  

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has released a new report entitled ‘Impact of Brexit on Musicians’: 


The main findings were: 


-Almost 50% of respondents identified an impact on their professional work since the EU referendum result in 2016 – 95% of whom said it was negative (from 19% in 2016, to 26% in 2017, to 40% in 2018, and to 50% in 2019)


-63% of respondents cited difficulty in securing future work in EU27/EEA countries as the biggest issue they face due to Brexit – and more than 1 in 10 respondents reported that offers of work have been withdrawn or cancelled with Brexit given as a reason.


-85% of survey respondents visit the EU27 for work at least once a year, 22% visit the EU27/EEA more than 11 times per year and more than a third (35%) spend at least a month per year working in EU27/EEA countries.


-One in seven musicians have less than a week’s notice between being offered work and having to take it.


-64% of survey respondents said a two-year, multi-entry visa would allay their concerns about their future ability to work in the EU27/EEA if freedom of movement rights were lost.


-95% of respondents preferred the two-year visa over an ‘extension of the Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) visa.


-83% of respondents said it would be beneficial for a government department (e.g. BEIS) to provide a dedicated hotline for musicians to offer guidance on mobility issues


-More than half of respondents (58%) reported that they were concerned about the transportation of instruments and/or equipment in the EU27 & EEA in the future.


-Amongst other vital recommendations for Government, the report calls for freedom of movement to be protected for musicians, or a two-year working visa to be introduced.


The full report is available here.


You can read the above summary as well as responses to the report and its recommendations on the ISM website, here


1 May  

UK Music is asking composers to respond to a government consultation which will be fed into its Online Harms White Paper. Part of the paper’s remit is to make tech firms more responsible for the content that they publish online. This then is an opportunity for creators to ask for better protection against copyright infringement and unfair working practices, such as poor renumeration.


More details, here.

The survey itself can be found, here.


1 May  

The Ivors celebrate excellence in songwriting and screen composition, across works released in the UK during 2018. The Awards also honour songwriters and composers with categories recognising their contribution to UK music. 


The ceremony will take place on 23rd May.



This year’s nominees are: 


Best Album






Best Contemporary Song






Best Original Film Score



PHANTOM THREAD by Jonny Greenwood 



Best Original Video Game Score


ASSASSIN’S CREED ODYSSEY  by Michael Georgiades, Joe Henson and Alexis Smith

Q.U.B.E. 2 by David Housden

SEA OF THIEVES by Robin Beanland


Best Song Musically and Lyrically






Best Television Soundtrack


FLOWERS (SERIES 2) by Arthur Sharpe 


REQUIEM by Natasha Khan and Dominik Scherrer


PRS Most Performed Work









30 Apr  

C:T talks to cross-arts composer and sound designer Roberto David Rusconi, whose new work Variazioni Tiepolo will be premiered by the Minguet Quartet in May.

Roberto David Rusconi

Tell us something about your background.

I am a producer of immersive music for opera, dance, music theatre, screen soundtracks and art galleries. I graduated in composition, piano, choir, conducting, specialized in electro-acoustic music and have been awarded a PhD at King's College London on the relationship between music, memory and matter. My profound expertise of the international cultural scene has inspired me to pursue a career as producer, curator and education co-creative projects manager. I am particularly interested in sound projection and live digital sound processing. In recent years I have been collaborating with L-Acoustics and their new processor for immersive sound hyperrealism, L-ISA. 

What was your first success as a composer?

I think my first success was the music I made under a pseudonym for the CD Game Punto per Punto that celebrated Fiat motors 100 years. 1,150,000 copies were released, and I was able to keep the copyrights on the music. 

>> Click here to read the rest of the interview 


24 Apr  

German composer, arranger and conductor Martin Böttcher died on 19th April. He was 91.


His early years were dominated by the war; a period in the Luftwaffe was followed by time as a prisoner of war. Having learnt to play the guitar during his incaceration, on his release he made a living playing jazz and arranging music for film composers, including Michael Jary and Hans-Martin Majewski. 


Böttcher made his own cinematic debut in 1955, writing the music for the satirical film Der Hauptmann und sein Held. This proved to be the launch of a highly successful film and later television music career. 


Perhaps his most well-known score was for the Karl May film Der Schatz im Silbersee, with its Old-Shatterhand-Melodie:


24 Apr  

UK Music are asking composers to fill in their 2019 survey to allow them to analyse trends and to document day-to-day conditions in the UK music business.


Their last report revealed that the UK music industry contributed £4.5bn to the UK economy and sustained over 145,000 jobs. The information helped UK music to argue their case with government, to shape future strategy and to defend areas under threat.


The survey is available, here:


17 Apr  

The Tectonics Festival takes place over the weekend of 4th–5th May in Glasgow. On the first day harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani will perform recent works by Anahita Abbasi, Miroslav Srnka, George Lewis as well as by one of the great pioneers of electronic music, Luc Ferrari. There are world premieres from the BBC SSO of works from Martin Arnold and Sarah Davachi; two BBC commissions from Christian Wolff and Juliana Hodkinson; a co-commission with WDR Cologne and the BBC from Mauro Lanza; and the UK Premieres of Jennifer Walshe’s The Site Of An Investigation and Andrew Hamilton’s c. Lucie Vítková is also in residence for the weekend with her installation Makeup Scores: Environmental Music. The work features scores drawn with old or expired make-up performed by Vítková with Maya Verlaak, Suze Whites and Jorge Boehringer.


The Norfolk and Norwich Festival (10th–26th) offers a whole host of cultural events, including theatre, cabaret, circus, dance, literature and visual arts. Its list of contemporary music may be a little on the light side for some, but are interesting nevertheless: an ambitious new project Celebration combining music, poetry and dance on 11th; chamber music, including new compositions from June Talbot (voice), Iain Bellamy (saxophones) and Huw Warren (piano) on 13th; new works by Venezuelan singer Nella Rojas on 15th; pianist/composer Tord Gustavsen on 16th; and composer/organist Kit Downes on 22nd (see video, bottom, for a flavour of his work). 


Founded by John Metcalf in 1969, the Vale of Glamorgan Festival (18th–24th) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It remains, as ever, focused on the music of today and particularly on music by Welsh or Welsh-based composers. World premieres this year include works by Charlie Barber, Mark David Boden, Graham Fitkin, Gareth Glyn, Lynne Plowman, Steph Power, Guto Pryderi Puw, Claire Victoria Roberts, David Roche, Ben Wallace and Robert Fokkens.


The Prague Spring Festival goes on for the best part of a month (12th–4th June) and features around fifty concerts. Amongst these is the chance to hear Harfenianna, a new Concertino for Harp and Strings by Ondřej Kukal on 20th; Jakub Rataj’s æther for theremin, oboe & piano quintet on 24th; Jana Vöröšová’s Cloud Atlas for saxophone quartet on 26th; and the European premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s Overheating on 27th. 


Of the many other premieres one can hear this month (see my picks below), I make special mention of Roberto David Rusconi’s new work Variazioni Tiepolo at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room on 17th. Rusconi is a fascinating figure whose work is informed by shamanism, ritual, music embodiment and 3D sound projection. We will talk with him here on C:T next week.


Premiere Picks




1st Lighthouse, Poole. Leshnoff, Suite for Cello, Strings and Timpani. 

2nd Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, Edinburgh. Dove, Accordion Concerto. Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

7th Royal Festival Hall, London. McDowall, Da Vinci Requiem. Philharmonia Orchestra, Wimbledon Choral Society. 

9th Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool. Goves, Parker, Zaba premieres. Solem String Quartet.

17th Purcell Room, London. Rusconi, Variazioni Tiepolo. Minguet Quartet. 

18th BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff. Bowden, Descent. BBC National Orchestra of Wales.




1st Rudolfinum: Dvořák Hall, Prague. Unknown, Winning work from the Czech Philharmonic Composers’ Competition. Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

4th Liszt Academy: Grand Hall, Budapest. Elia, Implicate Inklings. Concerto Budapest.

8th Victoria Hall, Geneva. Montalbetti, Flute Concerto, “Memento vivere” Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

16th Pierre Boulez Saal, Berlin. Widmann, Melodie. Kian Soltani, Cello; Nathalia Milstein, Piano

17th Concertgebouw: Recital Hall, Amsterdam. Davies, New work. Asko/Schönberg.

18th Concertgebouw: Main Hall, Amsterdam. de Raaff, Violin Concerto no. 2 "North Atlantic Light”. Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra.

22d Grieg Hall (Grieghallen), Bergen. Knausgård, New Work. 

25th Universitetsaulaen, Universitet i Bergen, Bergen. Hvoslef, String Quartet no. 4. 

25th Philharmonie 1: Grande salle Pierre Boulez, Paris. Jarrell, Piano Concerto. Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

30th Concertgebouw Brugge: Chamber Music Hall, Bruges. Lang, Bernhard, HERMETIKA IX ‘vox angeli II.’ Nadar Ensemble.




2nd Symphony Hall, Boston. Currier, Aether for violin and orchestra. Baiba Skride, Violin; Boston Symphony Orchestra

2nd Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles. Andriessen, The only one. Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

10th Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles. Adès, New Ballet Work for Orchestra. Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. 

14th Saint-Sixte Church, Saint-Laurent, Montreal. Brown, Trumpet Concerto. Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal.

19th University of Utah: Libby Gardner Concert Hall, Salt Lake City. Thomas, Folding. Thierry Fischer, Conductor; Madeleine Adkins, Violin; Davidson, Mark, Trombone; Hardink, Jason, Piano; Johnson, Matt, Cello; Smith, Mercedes, Flute.

24th Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto. Pal, New Work. Toronto Symphony Orchestra.


Kit Downes: Rings of Saturn


17 Apr  

It seems that the majestic Cavaille-Coll organ at Notre Dame has emerged from the dreadful conflagration relatively unscathed.  Vincent Dubois, the organist titulaire, said ‘It’s a miracle! The most recent news, a priori, [the organ] is saved.’ He also however, stuck a note of caution about the stability of the building, especially the vault, which was severely damaged in the fire. The priority, he said, was to remove the instrument whilst repairs are made. 


This came as the first pictures have emerged of the inside of the building, which shows its fabric in much better shaped than many feared. In particular, the three rose windows, with their precious 13th century glass, appear intact.


Messiaen's Le Banquet Celeste, played by Pierre Cochereau


13 Apr  


Arts Council England has published findings from a consultation exercise that aims to help formulate a strategy for its next ten years. Taking place between October 2018 and January 2019, they listened to the views of a number of interested parties—museums, libraries, arts organisations, funders, policy makers, local authorities, education and young people. The report can be read here


Following a speech given by ACE’s deputy chief director Simon Mellor given at East London Dance’s 2019 Ideas Summit, The Stage reported that the new direction would mean that ‘Relevance not excellence will be new litmus test for funding.’ This was latter denied by the ACE CEO Darren Henley, who tweeted: ‘ We see no opposition between ‘relevance’ and ‘excellence’.  They can and should complement each other. The headline in The Stage article doesn’t reflect what was actually said in the speech it reported.’ He also said that no decisions had been made about the strategy and that a new round of consultations would begin in June. At that point, interested parties, including readers here can get involved.


9 Apr  

Sibelius has just released version 2019.4, with new playback features and enhancements to Review mode. Their upgrade email also offers a 40% discount on the NotePerformer sound library. That’s $77.99 instead of $129.


I’ve always wanted to install a different sound set for Sibelius, but have been put off by reports of how difficult it can be to get them to work. NotePerformer claims to make the process as easy as using the built-in set. It also offers a full range of orchestral and brass band sounds, intelligent musical phrasing, a wide variety of articulations and nice extras such as a variety of pipe organ stops, brass mutes and effects such as bowed percussion, harmonics and snapped pizzicato. The set is also fully compatible with Finale and Dorico. 


Interested in the offer, I downloaded the demo version of NotePerformer 3 last night. It was as easy to install as they claim—once you have done so you simply choose the sound set in the configuration dialogue that contains the Sibelius sounds sets and general MIDI, then everything works as before. One thing I did notice, however, was that on my five-year-old Mac (8GB of RAM running latest version of Sibelius) there was a certain amount of lag when switching sounds in the mixer panel. At first I thought this a deal-breaker, but it soon settled to an acceptable level. This probably speaks more of my need to upgrade.


The sounds themselves and the playback were at times revelatory, even if not without disappointments. First of all, the balance is much more convincing, with brass especially being much further forward than in the Sibelius set. The quality of the sounds were, in most cases, also much better than those of Sibelius. Sometimes the difference was shocking, as when I tried out a piece I had written for bassoon quartet. Whilst nothing can beat real players, it was surprising to find something that felt so immediate and convincing.

Other tests of woodwind, brass and string yielded similar results—if your main interest is orchestral instruments this is an obvious purchase. 


Two areas of disappointment were harder to ignore. There is just one piano sound, which sounds like a Wild West saloon piano recorded in a bathroom. For such an essential instrument this is unforgivable. Also disappointing were the vocal samples. Whilst they are not great in Sibelius either, they do have a focus that was not present here, which to my mind makes them easier to work with.


Despite these two disappointments, NotePerformer remains a tempting prospect. Now I’ve experienced it I think it’s an option I’m always going to want to have available. To make up your own mind I’d suggest checking out one of many YouTube videos that compare the installed Sibelius Sounds with NotePerformer (one of which you can find below). Or you can head straight over to the NotePerformer website and try their 30-day free trial.


NotePerformer vs. Sibelius Sounds


Product Summary


27 Mar  

Boris Johnson today reacted to the EU’s passing of Article 13, its new copyright law designed to protect content creators, including composers:


27 Mar  

The Manchester-based ensemble Psappha has just launched ‘Composition Bank’, an initiative that allows music lovers to directly support the creation of new works. 


For the 2019–2020 season three composers have been selected as beneficiaries: Mark-Anthony Turnage, Alissa Firsova and George Stevenson. 


Donations start at £100 per score. Supported will get their names listed on the chosen score, invitations to workshops/rehearsals, the option to buy the score signed by the composer and an official certificate of support.


The programme officially opens tomorrow (28th March), but the donations pages already appear to be live.



For more information or if you wish to donate:


21 Mar  

NMC Recordings, a label whose mission is to bring music by British composers to the widest possible audience, will this month celebrate its 30th birthday. To mark the occasion, we talk with its Executive Director, Anne Rushton, about the label's past present and future.

Anna Rushton, NMC

How did NMC Recordings come to be formed? 

Imogen Holst and Colin Matthews (composer, founder and Executive Producer of NMC) set up the Holst Foundation, shortly before Imogen's death in 1984. Imogen had made it clear that the future role should not be to subsidise her father's music in the way that most other composer trusts function. Instead she hoped that it would be able to support the work of living composers and the idea that this might be done via recordings, enabling new work to reach wider audiences, had been mooted. Roll on a few years when The Holst Foundation supported a concert at the Aldeburgh Festival, featuring the Philharmonia conducted by Oliver Knussen. There was an audience of 800 but as the concert wasn't broadcast the Foundation realised that their, not inconsiderable, financial support wasn't having as much impact as it might - and the idea of recordings was revived. NMC's first release, under the auspices of the Society for the Promotion of New Music, of Jonathan Harvey's Bhakti, was in April 1989. 

Why was there such a pressing need for NMC?

There's a perennial challenge for composers in having their work heard. This isn't just for promotional or financial reasons, not that there's anything wrong with those. For most it strikes to the very essence of why they compose; to communicate their creative ideas to those who will listen. And with the inherent limitations (financial and logistical) of putting on new music concerts, recording is the ideal way to ensure that work gets heard, and heard again. Back in the late 80's there were labels which featured occasional contemporary releases, but the representation of living British composers in the record catalogues was very poor: extraordinary to think that, back then, Harrison Birtwistle had only one major recording available (Secret Theatre, now reissued on NMC D148), while Jonathan Harvey had reached the age of 50 without a single significant disc until we released Bhakti. NMC's mission was to redress that underrepresentation and in the process we've become the dedicated home for the work of composers from the British Isles, across a range of styles, chosen and maintained in the catalogue in the face of commercial considerations. 

>> Click here to read the rest of the interview


13 Mar  

     The set from Les Bienveillantes

Three opera premieres to look forward to in April:

Les Bienveillantes is Hèctor Parra’s sixth major theatre work. It is based upon Jonathan Littell's 2006 novel The Kindly Ones (Les Bienveillantes), which explores a fictional protagonist who helped carry out the Holocaust and was present at key events during World War 2. Opera Ballet Vlaanderen give the premiere in Antwerp on 24th, with subsequent performances running into May.


Tarik O’Regan’s new opera, The Phoenix, tells the life of Mozart’s librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. Starting life as a priest and poet, he was banished when it was discovered that had a secret family and was a frequenter of brothels. Despite flourishing as a librettist he eventually faced bankruptcy and fled to America, earning a living as a greengrocer before founding New York City’s first opera company. The work, to a libretto by John Caird, starts its run at Houston Grand Opera on 26th April. 


Oceane is Detlev Glanert’s second collaboration with librettist Hans-Ulrich Treichel. It is based upon a unfinished novella by Theodor Fontane that ‘attempts to encapsulate in the form of Melusine the sense of menace and fascination felt by a bourgeois, male-dominated society faced with femininity coupled with an archaic, erotically permissive artlessness.’ Deutsche Oper Berlin give the premiere on 28th, with performance continuing into May.


Not a premiere but also worth consideration is Alexander Vustin’s opera Le Diable Amoureeux. Based upon Jacques Cazotte’s novel of the same name, it tells of a demon that falls in love with a young nobleman and, in the guise of a young woman, attempts to win his affections. Despite the work being finished in 1989 (after nearly fifteen years of composing) it did not receive its first performance until February of this year. The performances on 5th and 7th April at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre could be your last chance to experience it.


I’ve listed some more premieres from around the world below. Three I find especially attractive:


Joby Talbot’s new cantata, Sheen of Dew on Flowers, sets rare and sensual poetry across several millennia in a concert that celebrated the partnership of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is performed by the Britten Sinfonia at the Barbican on 11th


A new work by Harrison Birtwistle is always an event, even when the work itself is small. Duet for 8 Strings for viola and cello will be performed by the Nash Ensemble at Wigmore Hall, London on 12th. There will be a section of other works by the composers, as well as Mosaic by Elliott Carter and, poignantly, a posthumous UK premiere for Oliver Knussen’s Study for 'Metamorphosis' for solo bassoon. 


Also enticing is a new work, KRONOS-KRYPTOS for percussion quintet, by George Crumb, to be performed by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York City on 14th. It forms part of an all-Crumb concert celebrating the composer’s 90th birthday year. There will, furthermore, be a chance to hear more works, including his awe-awe-importing Black Angels for Electric String Quartet, on 16th.


April Premiere Diary




8th OSO Arts Centre, London. Luciano, Clarinet Sonata no. 8.

11th Barbican Hall, London. Talbot, A Sheen of Dew on Flowers. Britten Sinfonia.

12th Wigmore Hall, London. Birtwistle, Duet for 8 Strings for viola and cello. Nash Ensemble.




4th Sibelius Hall, Lahti. Aho, Symphony no. 17. Lahti Symphony Orchestra.

4th DR Koncerthuset: Concert Hall, Copenhagen. Ruders, Accordion concerto. Danish National Symphony Orchestra.

4th Maison de la radio:Auditorium, Paris. Robin, New work. Orchestre National de France.

5th, 7th Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre: Main Stage, Moscow. Vustin, The Devil in Love. Stanislavsky Opera.

6th Concertgebouw: Main Hall, Amsterdam. Nas, Horseless Carriage. Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

7th Konserthuset Stockholm: Grünewaldsalen, Stockholm. Lindgren, Nonet. Ensemble Misto.

8th Pesti Vigadó (Vigadó Concert Hall), Budapest. Mizuki, New Work. Ruka Yokoyama, Piano.

13th (dates into May): GöteborgsOperan, Gothenburg. Martinů, Trois fragments de Juliette (World première staging). Göteborg Opera.

24th Opera Vlaanderen, Antwerp, Antwerp. Parra, Les Bienveillantes. Opera Vlaanderen

25th De Doelen: Grote Zaal, Rotterdam. Wagemans, Love, baby love. Nederlands Kamerkoor, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

25th Conservatoire Darius Milhaud: Auditorium Campra, Aix-en-Provence. Attahir, Mélodies. Trio Zadig, String Trio. 

28th Deutsche Oper, Berlin. Glanert, Oceane. Deutsche Oper Berlin

30th Temple Church, London. Bruce, New Work for soprano and bass. 




1st Carnegie Hall: Weill, New York City, Nickell, New Work for soprano and piano (World premiere)

7th Collins Center for the Arts, Orono. Richman, New Work. Bangor Symphony Orchestra.

13th Hong Kong City Hall: Concert Hall, Hong Kong. Leung, Life Episode II. Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

14th Lincoln Center: Alice Tully Hall, New York City. Crumb, New Work for Percussion Quintet. 

23rd Carnegie Hall: Weill, New York City. Chang, Cello Sonata.

26th Wortham Theater Center: Houston Grand Opera, Houston. O'Regan, The Phoenix. Houston Grand Opera.


6 Mar  

Bauer Media Group has launched a new classical music station, Scala Radio. On their website they said:


Offering classical music for modern life, Scala Radio is set to be the biggest launch in UK classical music radio in nearly thirty years, Scala Radio anticipates explosive growth in the genre and an ever growing cross-over into the mainstream - the new station will break the mould of classical music in the UK.


The platform is led by award-winning broadcaster, Simon Mayo, who left BBC Radio 2 three months ago. Other familiar names include Mark Kermode, who will focus on film music, Angellica Bell, who will lead the weekend, and Chris Rogers, who will host a live Sunday show. The young composer Jack Pepper will also host a show, though it is not yet clear what the focus of this will be.


The Guardian’s five-star review of the launch was effusive, though it made it clear that the station’s mainstream approach made it ‘a bigger threat to Classic FM than Radio 3.’ Whether it will find a space for more daring contemporary music, only time will tell.


You can tune into the service via the Scala Radio website (though at present clicking on the ‘Listen Live’ button returns an error), via iOS and Android apps, DAB digital radio or a smart speaker.


4 Mar  

Some inspirational words from the late lamented André Previn...


1 Mar  

André Previn died last night at his home in Manhattan. He was 89.


Born in Berlin, Germany, Previn showed phenomenal musical talent at an early age. His father, a lawyer, and mother, a teacher, sent him to the Berlin Hochschule für Musik at the age of six, where he studied piano with Rudolf Breithaupt. Of Russian-Jewish origin the family left Germany in 1938, briefly spending time in Paris before moving to Los Angeles.


Previn became a composer through the world of film. As a boy he accompanied silent films on the piano at a local arts cinema and, whilst still at school, he was hired by MGM to arrange and compose film scores. As a film music composer Previn was also required to conduct his own pieces, a skill he honed further in private conducting lessons with Pierre Monteux.


By his early 30s Previn had already built an impressive career as a film composer, garnering Academy Awards for Gigi (1958), Porgy and Bess (1959), Irma la Douce (1963) and My Fair Lady (1964). Ambitious to pursue a career as a conductor, however, he resigned from MGM and in 1967 was appointed music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. The following year he became principal conductor of the LSO. It was in London that he established his reputation for the interpretation of composers such as Vaughan Williams, Walton and Britten. If his choice of repertoire did not tend towards the iconoclastic, this was simply a matter of personal temperament. As Previn explained: ‘I am a complete Romantic. I once talked to Pierre Boulez and he was telling me how he’d like to take human performers out of music, to give everything computer-like precision….I go to see a Puccini opera and I’m touched on the deepest level. That would be purgatory for Boulez, but music that only works on an intellectual level bores me.’


Previn’s time in London also coincided with his blossoming as a media personality, most famously in his 1971 appearance on Morecambe and Wise. He also popularised classical repertoire in the BBC’s prime-time Saturday night show André Previn's Music Night, took part in documentaries about classical and jazz music and even made appearances on the BBC’s panel quiz show Call My Bluff. 


In parallel to his life as a conductor Previn continued to work as a pianist and as a composer. He wrote the scores for the musicals Coco (1969), The Good Companions (1974) and incidental music for Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1977) as well as two operas A Streetcar Named Desire (1997) and Brief Encounter (2007). There was also serious instrumental music, including concertos for solo piano, guitar, cello and violin; orchestral overtures; a wealth of chamber music; solo piano works; and songs and song cycles. Despite resolving not to work in film after he left MGM, he also produced adaptations of other composers' works for the medium, including for the 1973 production of Jesus Christ Superstar. As a pianist he worked in classical and jazz mediums, favouring trio formations in both. He was also involved in crossover projects with classically trained musicians such as Kiri Te Kanawa and Leontyne Price, or from other musical traditions, such as Ravi Shankar. 


Previn never ceased to take the the business of being a musician seriously, famously remarking ‘If I miss a day of practice, I know it. If I miss two days, my manager knows it. If I miss three days, my audience knows it.’ As his much-loved ‘Mr. Preview’ Morecame and Wise sketch so amply exemplified, however, he did not extend this seriousness to himself. This made him a great ambassador, allowing him to connect with people who might not otherwise have been interested in classical music.


As well as four Oscars, Previn was received many Grammy Awards and nominations, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. He received an honorary KBE in 1996 and in 1998 the Kennedy Honor for lifetime achievement.


André Previn, Honey and Rue - Brianna J. Robinson, soprano


27 Feb  

UK Music, the industry-funded body that represents the collective interests of the British Music Industry, has today called upon MEPs and the EU Council to support the new Copyright Directive, also known as Article 13.


In a statement released to its members, it said:


UK Music and its members have always supported constructive steps to foster a fair music Iicensing environment that benefits creators, performers and those who invest in them. We have campaigned for this together through #LoveMusic and the final compromise text of the Copyright Directive is a notable step in that direction.

In relation to Article 13, we welcome the fact that the compromise text clearly establishes that Online Content Sharing Service Providers should not be entitled to avoid the need to secure licences from rightsholders. As has been widely reported, the text of this Article in particular has been the subject of fierce and passionate debate and the final result includes a number of compromises.

With this in mind, we ask the EU Council and MEPs to support the Directive.

We call on individual member states to ensure that the Copyright Directive, if successfully adopted, is implemented in a way that achieves its original purpose and benefits the whole of the industry.


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