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We are incredibly proud to announce that our founder, Kat Alder, has been shortlisted for the Arts and Culture category at the Women of the Future Awards 2018!

The Women of the Future Awards, founded by Pinky Lilani in 2006, were conceived to provide a platform for the pipeline of female talent in the UK. 

The Arts and Culture award acknowledges the creative forces of the future – rising stars among performing and visual artists and those behind the scenes.

Kat founded WildKat PR 10 years ago in 2008 and the agency has since gone from strength to strength, opening the Berlin office in 2014 and New York in 2016, with Paris set for 2019.

With this nomination Kat is following in impressive footsteps, with Emma Mooney from Northern Ballet taking the Arts and Culture prize last year. Last year’s nominees from other categories hail from such well-known brands and organisations as the English National Opera, the Bank of England and BT.

Another congratulations goes to Ella Marchment: opera director, founder of SWAP’ra, and a previous WildKat client. Ella co-founded SWAP’ra in response to a frustration with the unconscious gender bias in the industry and to provide a supportive platform to effect positive change for women and parents in opera.

The full list of this year’s nominees for the Arts and Culture award is as follows:

Kathleen Alder, WildKat PR
Leaf Arbuthnot, The Sunday Times
Joanna Ham, HAM
Ella Marchment, SWAP’ra

The awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday 14th November 2018 in London. Best of luck to all nominees!

(Written on September 20, 2018 )

Today’s Classical News Round-Up

Belgian builds musical bridge across the Bosphorus

Belgian musician Tristan Driessens found his inspiration and his calling east of the Bosphorus, becoming one of the West’s few masters of the oud and of Ottoman classical music.

In an interview with AFP News, Driessens tells of how he is helping to build a musical bridge for others, working with refugees arriving from the east to help preserve and develop their musical culture in European exile.

Driessens became artistic director of Refugees for Refugees, a group that brings together refugees who have fled to Belgium from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and as far as Tibet to play concerts and record new music together in Brussels.

A record, named “Amerli” after an Iraqi town besieged by the Islamic State jihadist group, was released in May 2016 by the world music educational association Muziekpublique.

Among the group are Dolma Renqingi, a Tibetan singer, Asad Qizilbash, a Pakistani who plays the sarod, another form of lute, Afghan troubador Aman Yusufi and “musicians who have such important experiences, as refugees and as human beings, in the realm of music”.


Classical pianist Hunter Noack reimagines the concert hall in the spectacular outdoors

In the cliffs and tall trees of northern Oregon, a place of spectacular beauty, the unexpected floats through the air – the elegant melody of classical music.

“My mom and I were just saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just have a piano and go anywhere?'” Hunter Noack said. So that’s what he did, traveling across the Pacific Northwest and introducing classical music to new audiences in some wild places.

He tows his nine-foot Steinway piano all over the state with a pickup truck and a flatbed trailer. With the help of a few friends, the flatbed becomes a stage.

Noack grew up hiking, fishing and hunting in Oregon. He left to follow his dreams – classical music training in the States and overseas. But he decided to come back to where he came from, leaving behind the grand concert halls for the grand outdoors and taking what he loves back to the place he calls home.

Noack said there are more distractions when playing outdoors, but he pointed to the upsides: “I love to just be able to close my eyes or between pieces, take a breath in, fresh air – I think it affects how I play”.


In this reimagined concert hall, Noack hopes to remove the normal barriers to classical music. There are free tickets, casual clothes, and the opposite of formal seating – like perching on a rock overlooking the stage. A third of his audience has never attended a classical music concert. But even those who have likely haven’t done it like this: wearing wireless headphones to encourage wandering.

“With the music in your headphones, the music becomes a soundtrack to your experience in the landscape,” Noack said. He’s winning over the classical skeptics.

“I said to my friend if she would have invited me to a classical music concert, I would have said ‘nahh’ but this was tremendous,” audience member Meg O’Brien said.

(via CBS) 


Marek Janowski Neuer Chefdirigent 

Die Dresdner Philharmonie bekommt zur Saison 2019/20 den Chef ihrer Wahl: Marek Janowski hat in Dresden seinen Vertrag als Chefdirigent unterschrieben. Damit gewinne die Philharmonie einen der führenden deutschen Dirigenten für das Repertoire des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts, freut sich das Orchester. Marek Janowski löst Michael Sanderling ab.

Janowski wird das Orchester drei Spielzeiten leiten und dabei das Profil prägen und weiterentwickeln, so die Dresdner Philharmonie. Im Herbst vergangenen Jahres hatte der Orchestervorstand die Intendantin des Orchesters Frauke Roth sowie die Kulturbürgermeister Annekatrin Klepsch beauftragt, mit dem Wunschkandidaten Janowski zu verhandeln.

Janowski hat die Dresdner Philharmonie bereits von 2001 bis 2003 geleitet. Seine erste Amtszeit hatte er 2003 aus Ärger über das Hin und Her bei der Planung eines neuen Konzertsaals für Dresden vorzeitig beendet.

80-year-old Marek Janowski has signed his contract as Principal Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic, after being voted in by the orchestra for the 2019/20 season.

He returns to the orchestra after having already conducted them from 2001 to 2003 and has now come back from his retirement to lead the Philharmonic for three seasons. 

(via BR-Klassik)

(Written on September 20, 2018 )

The 1st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments is a triumph in Warsaw

When it comes to the making of pianistic history, no venue worldwide has witnessed more than Warsaw’s Philharmonic Hall. The annals of the Chopin Competition read like a Who’s Who of pianism and have featured more big-name prize-winners – including Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich and Krystian Zimerman – than any other musical contest.

But the Chopin Competition is not resting on its laurels, or even laureates, and with the launch this month of the 1st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments it has again produced Chopin playing of the highest order.

Award gala and concert after First International Chopin Piano Competition on period instruments. 14th September 2018, Warsaw, Poland
photo by Wojciech Grzedzinski/NIFC

This new event was hotly contested by 30 players from nine countries. The eventual winner was Poland’s Tomasz Ritter, second prize was shared between Naruhiko Kawaguchi (Japan) and Aleksandra Świgut (Poland), and third prize went to Krzysztof Książek, also of Poland.

The rules here required contestants to play some Bach in the first round, plus polonaises by Chopin’s Polish predecessors. Participants were also able to choose from a range of instruments of the sort Chopin would have known, not only Erards and Pleyels but pianos by the makers Buchholtz, Graf and Broadwood. This made the jury’s work tougher: unlike homogenised modern instruments, piano design in the 19th century was still evolving, and the instruments had far more individuality.

(via the Guardian)


Theater und Orchester mit sinkenden Besucherzahlen

Der Deutschen Bühnenverein, die Arbeitgebervereinigung der deutschen Theater und Orchester, hat die Theaterstatistik für die Saison 2016/17 veröffentlicht. In ihre sind die wichtigsten Wirtschaftsdaten der Theater und Orchester in Deutschland dokumentiert. Für die Statistik hatten rund 140 Staatstheater, Stadttheater und Landesbühnen, 128 Orchester, 210 Privattheater und 84 Festivals ihre Daten geteilt.

Bei öffentlich getragenen Organisationen stiegen die Zuschüsse um hundert Millionen Euro auf etwa 2,6 Milliarden Euro, was eine Erhöhung um 3,7 Prozent darstellt. Die Zahl der Vorstellungen ist dagegen von 67.257 auf insgesamt 65.794 Veranstaltungen zurückgegangen. Dies stellt einen Rückgang um 2,2 Prozent dar. Die Eigeneinnahmen der Orchester und Theater blieben dennoch mit rund 551 Millionen Euro stabil.

Die Besucherzahlen sind im betrachteten Zeitraum von 21 Millionen Interessierten um rund 500.000 auf 20,5 Millionen Zuschauer gesunken.

The German Stage Association has published the theatre statistics for the 2016/17 season.  About 140 state, city and national theatres, 128 orchestras, 210 private theatres and 84 festivals shared their data.

For publicly funded organisations, grants increased by one hundred million euros to some € 2.6 billion, an increase of 3.7 percent. By contrast, the number of performances has fallen from 67,257 to a total of 65,794 events. This represents a decline of 2.2 percent. However, the individual revenues of the orchestras and theatres remained stable at around 551 million euros. The number of visitors had also fallen by about 500,000 to 20.5 million viewers. 

(via Klassik)

(Written on September 19, 2018 )

Classical Music – News Round-Up

Estonian cellist Marcel Johannes Kits wins George Enescu International Cello Competition

The Estonian cellist Marcel Johannes Kits has won first prize in the cello category of the George Enescu International Competition after a final in which he performed Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No 1 in E flat major in front of a jury including David Geringas and Raphael Wallfisch.

The 23-year-old cellist, who is studying at the Berlin University of the Arts with Prof. Jens Peter Maintz, will receive €15,000, along with the chance to perform at the Enescu Festival.

The second prize went to Yibai Chen (China) and the third prize went to Stanislas Kim (France), who will receive €10,000, and €5,000 respectively.

Held biennially in Bucharest, Romania, the George Enescu International Competition focuses on four disciplines: violin, cello, piano and composition.

The violin competition failed to award first place prize to any competitors.

Vikram Sedona (Italy, 18 years old) won second place and third place was occupied by Giuseppe Gibboni (Italy, 17 years old).

The third finalist, Ukrainian Orest Smovzh (27 years old) received a special award consisting of a series of Masterclasses offered by Silvia Marcovici and Mihaela Martin.


Oper Halle: Ariane Matiakh wird Generalmusikdirektorin

Die französische Dirigentin Ariane Matiakh wird neue Generalmusikdirektorin der Staatskapelle und der Oper Halle. Die 38-Jährige trete zur Spielzeit 2019/20 an, teilte die Theater, Oper und Orchester GmbH am Montag mit. Matiakh übernimmt die Nachfolge von Josep Caballé Domenech, dessen Vertrag in diesem Sommer nach fünf Jahren nicht verlängert wurde.

Matiakh studierte in Wien bei Leopold Hager, besuchte Meisterklassen mit Seiji Ozawa und erhielt künstlerische Impulse von Nikolaus Harnoncourt und Adam Fischer. Von 2005 bis 2009 war sie erste Assistentin an der Opéra und dem Orchestre National de Montpellier.

French conductor Ariane Matiakh is the new music director of the Staatskapelle and the Oper Halle. Her contract will begin from the 2019/20 season, announced the managing director of the Bühnen Halle on Monday. Matiakh succeeds Josep Caballé Domenech, whose contract was not renewed after five years.

(Written on September 18, 2018 )

Classical Music – News Round-Up

US pianist Eric Lu wins top prize at Leeds competition

The 19th Leeds piano competition was won on Saturday night by Eric Lu, a 20-year-old from Boston in the United States, whose sparkling and supremely confident performance of Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto secured him the top place, and also the Hallé orchestra prize.

The rebooted competition, held every three years, was co-founded 55 years old ago by Dame Fanny Waterman, and rapidly established itself as one of the world’s foremost piano events.

Twenty-four finalists aged between 20 and 29 were chosen from first rounds held in April in Berlin, New York and Singapore.

The second round, in Leeds in early September, whittled that number down to 10, from which five finalists were selected, who each performed a concerto with the Hallé orchestra and conductor Edward Gardner in concerts in Leeds town hall on Friday and Saturday night.

(via The Guardian)


Brains of jazz and classical musicians work differently, study reveals

A study published by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in January found that musicians who work in the two fields demonstrate substantially different brain activity, even when they’re playing the same music.

The research could help explain why musicians seem to excel in one or other style, and not usually in both.

The study outlines two steps in playing the piano: what the pianist is going to play – meaning the keys they press – and how they are going to play – which fingers they should use.

Classical pianists tend to focus on the second step – the ‘how’. This means their focus is on technique and the personal expression they add to the piece.

Jazz pianists on the other hand focus on the ‘what’, meaning they are always prepared to improvise and adapt the notes they’re playing.

(via ClassicFM)


Internationaler Musikwettbewerb der ARD

Seit 1952 beim BR stattfindender Klassik-Wettbewerb, inzwischen eine der renommiertesten und größten Veranstaltungen dieser Art. Teilnahmeberechtigt sind Musiker aller Nationen. Das Höchstalter richtet sich nach der Kategorie und liegt zumeist zwischen 29 und 32 Jahren.

Jedes Jahr Ende August/ Anfang September kommen zahlreiche Nachwuchsmusiker nach München, um in einer der jeweils vier  Wettbewerbskategorien ihr Können unter Beweis zu stellen. Mit insgesamt 21 Fächern, die jährlich wechseln, ist er der weltweit größte Musikwettbewerb.

The ARD International Music Competition (Internationaler Musikwettbewerb der ARD), held once a year in Munich, came to a close this weekend after running for two weeks. 

This year’s competition saw the first instance of a female winning the 1st trumpet prize, and a slight uproar in the piano trio category. 

All performances over the past two weeks are available to stream here

(Written on September 17, 2018 )

Simon Rattle to open free school for young musicians in 2019

Sir Simon Rattle has revealed plans to create a new music school: the LSO East London Academy, reports Classic FM.

The Academy is being developed by the LSO and will open in 2019 in East London with the aim of identifying and nurturing young musical talent in the area.

It will offer free music training to promising musicians aged 11-18, to break down the financial barrier that prevents many talented young musicians from fully developing their craft.

Sir Simon Rattle said:

“The LSO’s education work is world-famous and rightly admired and copied. But we want to go much further. We know there is so much talent on our doorstep. We see these young people through our work every day in schools and the wider community.

“But they face some of the biggest social and financial barriers to realising their ambitions, and we want our programmes to constantly evolve to meet the challenge of being truly London’s Symphony Orchestra.”

 

The Guardian also reported Rattle’s claim that fewer Europeans are auditioning for orchestras because of Brexit:

“People aren’t necessarily applying because they don’t know what’s going to happen, and when people ask the question, the answer from all of us is, ‘We don’t know’”.

Thus, there is greater need for more home-grown talent, and another of Rattle’s observations is that our orchestras are very rarely representative of our cities. “Why do our groups of classical musicians not look like London looks [sic], and what can we do about it?”

Bindi McFarlane, an LSO violinist, said it was a positive step, and hopes it will help combat the perceived elitism of classical music and increase diversity in the industry.


Einstimmig zum Sieg

Die 29-jährige Mezzosopranistin Natalya Boeva hat beim ARD-Musikwettbewerb 2018 im Fach Gesang den Sieg errungen. Weitere Preise gingen an den Bass-Bariton Milan Siljanov, den Tenor Mingjie Lei und die Sopranistin Ylva Sofia Stenberg.

Vier junge Sängerinnen und Sänger standen am Mittwochabend, 12. September, im Herkulessaal der Münchner Residenz im Finale beim 67. Internationalen Musikwettbewerb der ARD im Fach Gesang. Die siebenköpfige Jury unter dem Vorsitz von Dame Ann Murray entschied, dass der mit 10.000 Euro dotierte erste Preis an Natalya Boeva aus Russland geht, wie der Veranstalter mitteilte.

Der mit 7.500 Euro dotierte zweite Preis ging an den Bass-Bariton Milan Siljanov aus der Schweiz, der auch den den Publikumspreis in Höhe von 1.500 Euro erhielt. Zwei mit jeweils 5.000 Euro dotierte dritte Preise gehen an den Tenor Mingjie Lei (China) und die Sopranistin Ylva Sofia Stenberg (Schweden)

Natalya Boeva sings “Olga’s Aria” from Tchaikovsky’s Evgeny Onegin.

29-year-old mezzo-soprano, Natalya Boeva, ​​won the ARD Music Competition 2018 in the vocal category. Other prizes went to bass-baritone Milan Siljanov, tenor Mingjie Lei and soprano Ylva Sofia Stenberg.

Four young singers were in the final at the 67th International Music Competition of the ARD in the vocal category on Wednesday evening, September 12, in the Munich Residenz. The seven-member jury, chaired by Dame Ann Murray, unanimously allocated the first prize, worth € 10,000, to Natalya Boeva ​​from Russia.

The second prize, worth 7,500 euros, went to bass baritone Milan Siljanov from Switzerland, who also received the Audience Award of 1,500 euros. Two third prizes, each worth 5,000 euros, go to tenor Mingjie Lei (China) and soprano Ylva Sofia Stenberg (Sweden).

(Via SWR)


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2018

This year’s  prestigious Gramophone Classical Music Awards ceremony took place last night and was hosted by Editor-in-Chief James Jolly at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden. The ceremony was broadcast worldwide by medici.tv.

The orchestra for the ceremony was the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kristjan Järvi.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Lifetime Achievement Award

(Sponsored by Presto Classical)

Neeme Järvi

Orchestra of the Year Award

(Sponsored by Apple Music)

Seattle Symphony

Artist of the Year Award

Rachel Podger

Young Artist of the Year Award

Lise Davidsen

Label of the Year Award

(Sponsored by Classical Next)

Harmonia Mundi

Recording of the Year & Opera Award

(Sponsors: Qobuz (Recording of the Year Award); E. Gutzwiller & Cie, Banquiers (Opera Award))

Berlioz Les Troyens: Sols incl DiDonato, Spyres, Lemieux; Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra / John Nelson (Erato)

Chamber Award

(Sponsored by Kings Place)

Dvořák Quintets: Boris Giltburg; Pavel Nikl; Pavel Haas Quartet(Supraphon)

Choral Award

Pärt Magnificat. Nunc dimittis Schnittke Psalms of Repentance: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir / Kaspars Putniņš (BIS)

Concerto Award

Bartók Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2: Christian Tetzlaff; Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu (Ondine)

Contemporary Award

(Sponsored by PPL & PRS for Music)

Dusapin String Quartets Nos 6 & 7: Arditti Quartet; Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France / Pascal Rophé (Aeon)

Early Music Award

‘Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, Vol 5’: Blue Heron / Scott Metcalfe (Blue Heron)

Instrumental Award

Brahms Piano Pieces, Opp 76, 117 & 118: Arcadi Volodos (Sony Classical)

Orchestral Award

(Sponsored by IDAGIO)

Ravel Daphnis et Chloé: Ensemble Aedes; Les Siècles / François-Xavier Roth (Harmonia Mundi)

Recital Award

‘Agitata’: Delphine Galou; Accademia Bizantina / Ottavio Dantone(Alpha Classics)

Solo Vocal Award

(Sponsored by Mrs Joan Jones)

‘Secrets’: Marianne Crebassa; Fazıl Say (Erato)

(Via Gramophone)

(Written on September 14, 2018 )

Classical music news round-up

London Symphony Orchestra tops first chart ranking UK classical ensembles

The London Symphony Orchestra is the UK’s most popular according to the first chart to rank classical ensembles, the i reports.

Recordings by the London institution, led by Sir Simon Rattle, have racked up the most plays on Britain’s television and radio stations over the past decade, music licensing body PPL calculated.

The LSO, which performs more than 120 concerts a year, finished ahead of the Royal Philharmonic and London Philharmonic orchestras.

PPL, which collects royalties from music radio and TV broadcasts, found that orchestras have to be versatile to make a popular impact. Just 40 per cent of the total UK radio and TV airplay over the decade, from recordings performed by the top 20 orchestras, was considered “classical” music.

One in three of the top 100 most played new recordings on TV and radio in each of the last ten years included a contribution from at least one member of the top 20 orchestras.

In 2017 almost half (47 per cent) of UK number one songs contained at least one performance from a member of the orchestral top 20.

(iNews)


European Parliament backs copyright changes

Controversial new copyright laws have been approved by members of the European Parliament, reports the BBC.

Many musicians and creators claim the reforms are necessary to fairly compensate artists, but opponents fear that the plans could destroy user-generated content, memes and parodies.

Article 13 puts the onus on web giants to take measures to ensure that agreements with rights holders for the use of their work are working.

Critics say that would require all internet platforms to filter content put online by users, which many believe would be an excessive restriction on free speech.

Earlier this week, YouTube’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl said that endorsement of Article 13 risked “discouraging or even prohibiting platforms from hosting user-generated content”.

Musician Wyclef Jean also spoke out against the directive, appealing to MEPs before the vote to “embrace and improve the internet, rather than attempt to block and hinder it”.

But many other musicians, including Sir Paul McCartney, had expressed their support for the changes. Impala, the association for European independent music companies, said after the vote that it was “a great day for Europe’s creators”.

(BBC)


Deutscher Musikrat: EU-Parlament macht den Weg für ein zeitgemäßes Urheberrecht frei

Die Abgeordneten des EU-Parlamentes haben heute mit deutlicher Mehrheit von 438 zu 226 Stimmen für die geplante EU-Richtlinie zum Urheberrecht im digitalen Binnenmarkt gestimmt. Damit kann das Parlament die Trilog-Verhandlungen mit Europäischem Rat und EU-Kommission aufnehmen.

Dazu Christian Höppner, Generalsekretär des Deutschen Musikrates: „Der 12. September ist ein guter Tag für Europa und die Kreativschaffenden. Der Schutz der Urheber und die faire Vergütung kreativer Leistungen sind Voraussetzung dafür, dass weiterhin attraktive Inhalte produziert und bereitgestellt werden können. In den nächsten Monaten wird es darum gehen, den gesellschaftlichen Dialog zur Zukunft eines fairen Internets zu etablieren, der sich von dem bisherigen Schlagabtausch durch eine differenzierte und gesellschaftspolitisch grundierte Argumentation absetzen sollte.“

MEPs voted today by a clear majority of 438 to 226 votes in favour of the proposed EU directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market. This will allow Parliament to start negotiations with the European Council and the European Commission.

Christian Höppner, Secretary General of the German Music Council: “September 12th is a good day for Europe and the creative industries. The protection of authors and the fair remuneration of creative achievements are a prerequisite for the continued production and provision of attractive content. In the coming months, it will be a question of establishing the social dialogue on the future of a fair Internet”.

(Neue Musikzeitung)

(Written on September 13, 2018 )

If you get goosebumps listening to music, you’re more likely to be successful

People who get goosebumps are higher achievers, form stronger relationships and live happier, healthier lives, according to a new study.

New research says over half of people in the UK experience goosebumps during live entertainment, and those who do are healthier and more empathetic.

People who feel chills also tend to be more successful, achieving higher grades and earning 12 per cent more than those that don’t.

The study, carried out by Barclaycard, saw 100 UK participants watch a live performance while wearing a monitoring device, which tracked their heart rate and movement.

At the same time, the researchers carried out a series of tests to find out which participants experienced a ‘goosebump moment’, and what their reaction to the music might say about them.


Opera singer and music graduate crowned Miss America 2019

The new Miss America is an opera singer who has a Masters in music composition and plans to be a huge advocate for the arts.

Nia Franklin, an opera singer and music composition graduate, was crowned the 92nd Miss America at Sunday’s event in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Franklin also earned a Master’s degree in music composition from UNC School of the Arts.

In the Talent portion of the Finals, Franklin sang ‘Quando m’en vo’’ from Puccini’s La bohème. After being crowned Miss America, she sang a gospel song she wrote when she was five years old.

During the competition, Franklin described how music helped her find and grow comfortable with her identity.

“I grew up at a predominately Caucasian school and there was only five percent minority, and I felt out of place so much because of the colour of my skin,” Franklin said. “But growing up, I found my love of arts, and through music that helped me to feel positive about myself and about who I was.”

Franklin said she plans to be an activist for the arts during her tenure as Miss America.


A First for New York: New Conductors at the Met Opera and Philharmonic

For the first time in history, new music directors are arriving this season at both the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera – a coincidence with the potential to transform the city’s music scene.

At the Met, the fall of James Levine amid allegations of sexual misconduct scrambled the company’s plans for passing the baton to Yannick Nézet-Séguin. This dynamic conductor was originally scheduled to take over in 2020, but Mr. Levine’s suspension and later firing forced the company into action. Mr. Nézet-Séguin, also the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, cut back some commitments in order to fully take on his duties at the Met this autumn.

At the Philharmonic, Jaap van Zweden was always meant to begin his tenure this month. Still, back when he was appointed in 2016, no one expected that his partner in the executive office would be Deborah Borda, who was lured away from the thriving Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Both these institutions have major transitions on the horizon, and it will be exciting to watch these new developments unfold on the New York scene.


Die Rückkehr des Mackie Messer

Im September kommt ein Film in die Kinos, der sich um die „Dreigroschenoper“ dreht: „Mackie Messer – Brechts Dreigroschenfilm“ von Joachim Lang. In den Hauptrollen: Lars Eidinger als Bertolt Brecht und Robert Stadlober als Kurt Weill. Den Macheath verkörpert Tobias Moretti und Joachim Król gibt den Peachum.

Joachim Langs Film erinnert manchmal an die beiden Lars-von-Trier-Filme „Dogville“ und „Mandalay“. Kein Wunder, denn Trier hatte sich in diesen Werken explizit auf Brechts „Verfremdungseffekt“ bezogen. Aber es soll hier nicht um den Lang-Film gehen, der gewissermaßen das „Making-of“ zeigt, sondern um die „Originale“: Erich Engels Theaterfassung der „Dreigroschenoper“ von 1928 und G. W. Pabsts Filmversion „Die Dreigroschenoper“.

Auch die „Dreigroschenoper“ ist kein warmherziges Theaterstück. Die Parole „Glotzt nicht so romantisch!“ hatte Brecht ans Publikum schon 1922 ausgegeben, als er bei der Uraufführung seines Stückes „Trommeln in der Nacht“ Plakate mit jenem Slogan im Zuschauerraum aufhängen ließ. Sie galt auch noch, als am 31. August 1928 die „Dreigroschenoper“ im Theater am Schiffbauerdamm Premiere hatte und nicht zuletzt dank der Musik von Kurt Weill ein Sensationserfolg wurde.

A new film arrives in  cinemas this Thursday, based on the collaboration of Kurt Weill and Bert Brecht for the “Threepenny Opera”.

A classic piece in every theatre repertoire, the new film tells of the life and works of Bertolt Brecht, as well as his most famous songs.

(Written on September 12, 2018 )

Pavel Šporcl wins ‘Torch-Bearer Award’ for his services to music

The Czech violinist Pavel Šporcl is in New York to receive a special prize that recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution to their cities, communities and countries.

The ‘Torch-Bearer Award’, which is often given to sports personalities, honours the work Šporcl has done to bring society together through music. It was presented outside the United Nations building last weekend in front of fellow luminaries and UN national delegates.

Receiving his award alongside fellow winner, Broadway and film actor Richard Kind, Šporcl said ‘I am deeply proud to receive the Sri Chimnoy Torch-Bearer Award. It means a great deal to me and gives me strength to continue my work, not only as an artist, but as one of a community of artists around the world who believe that art can change lives — that this is our gift and our responsibility.’


Chinese violinist Sheng Zhongguo dies aged 77

China’s best-known violinist Sheng Zhongguo, who was famous for his musical interpretation of “Butterfly Lovers,” died of heart disease at the age of 77.

As a national level soloist of the China National Symphony Orchestra, Sheng was among the first to win honors for China on international stages.

In 1980 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation listed him as one of ‘the world’s greatest artists’ after he performed a twelve-date concert tour in six Australian cities. He was recognised as a cultural ambassador by the government of Japan following the disastrous Kobe earthquake of 1995, when he toured the worst-hit areas to offer encouragement and inspiration to those affected.

In 1979 he performed the Bach ‘Double’ Violin Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin, during the latter’s first visit to China; of all Menuhin’s performing partners during the visit, he said that the best was Sheng, who subsequently became known as the ‘Chinese Menuhin’.


Wie künstliche Intelligenz die Klassik neu erweckt

Die Gegenwart ist laut. Die Gegenwart ist hässlich. Der isländische Neoklassikstar Olafur Arnalds arbeitet an ihrer Verschönerung. Seit Neuestem mit künstlicher Intelligenz und drei Klavieren. Könnte klappen.

Jetzt endlich kommt Olafur Arnalds ins Spiel. Der Isländer, 1986 in Mosfellsbaer geboren, dem Heimatort von Halldor Laxness, ist abgebrochener Highbrow-Klassiker und inzwischen mit seinem Kumpel Nils Frahm, mit Hauschka und Max Richter einer der Helden der sogenannten Neoklassik, ohne die es in den Kinos und unter Fernsehserien (Arnalds schrieb unter anderem die Musik zu „Broadchurch“) doch ziemlich still wäre.

Zu der hatte Arnalds mit seinem schwerphilosophischen Noirgedudel „Eulogy for Evolution“ vor elf Jahren einen der Startschüsse gegeben. Arnalds tat sich zusammen mit dem elektronischen Feinmechaniker Halldór Feldjárn und entwickelte ein musikalisches Softwareprogramm namens Stratus.

Arnalds, ein begnadeter Kleinmotivmelodiker, wollte herausfinden, „wie man den kreativen Prozess durch das Verändern des eigenen Klavierspiels manipulieren kann“. Mit Stratus ist es möglich, von einem zentralen Klavier aus zwei selbstspielende weitere Klaviere anzusteuern, künstliche Intelligenz quasi zum Teil des Spiels zu machen, Kreativität in Teilen an den Computer abzutreten.

Artifical intelligence is rekindling is sparking a revival in classical music. Icelandic artist Ólafur Arnalds, known for his work on the “Broadchurch” soundtrack, has teamed up with Halldór Eldjárn to create a musical software program called Stratus. 

The award-winning artist uses his new software to turn the piano into a very different instrument. The Stratus Pianos are two “self-playing, semi-generative player pianos” – and, augmented by strings, electronics, and beats (which were co-produced by Bngrboy), they sit at the centre of Arnalds’ new compositions.


Gewandhausorchester Leipzig und Staatskapelle Dresden gegen Fremdenfeindlichkeit

Das Gewandhausorchester Leipzig und die Staatskapelle Dresden geben gemeinsame Konzerte für ein friedliches Miteinander. Damit reagieren die beiden großen sächsischen Orchester auf die zunehmende Intoleranz und Aggression gegenüber anders aussehenden oder anders denkenden Menschen, eine Entwicklung, die die Musiker « mit großer Sorge“ beobachten, wie sie mitteilten.

Herbert Blomstedt, Ehrendirigent beider Orchester, wird die beiden Konzerte am 15. September in Leipzig und am 12. November in Dresden leiten.

Im Gewandhausorchester und der Staatskapelle wirkten Menschen aus 20 Nationen « respekt- und achtungsvoll“ zusammen, erklärten die Orchester. « Wir vertreten mit Nachdruck zwischenmenschliche Werte wie Achtung, Toleranz und Weltoffenheit.“ Nur durch das Wiedererlangen eines respektvollen Umgangs miteinander sei eine angstfreie und lebenswerte Gesellschaft möglich. Für diese Botschaften sollen die Konzerte ein Zeichen setzen.

Two orchestras from Leipzig and Dresden are coming together to perform two joint concerts promoting peaceful coexistence. The two major Saxon orchestras react to the increasing intolerance and aggression towards people who look or think differently – a development that the musicians observe “with great concern“.

Herbert Blomstedt, Honorary Conductor of both orchestras, will conduct the concerts on 15 September in Leipzig and on 12 November in Dresden.

In the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Staatskapelle, people from 20 nations work with great respect for one another. The orchestras said “we emphatically represent interpersonal values ​​such as respect, tolerance and cosmopolitanism.” 

(Written on September 11, 2018 )

British music exports hit £400M Millennium high

Recorded music export revenues have reached their highest level since the turn of the millennium, hitting £408.4m in 2017.

This represents a rise of 12 percent year-on-year and sees overall overseas revenues for UK labels breaching the £5bn mark this century, according to new figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

For nine of the past 13 years, a British artist has held the spot for the world’s best-selling album, most recently with Ed Sheeran’s multi-platinum selling Divide, which sold 6.1 million copies worldwide and helped to fuel last year’s strong figures.

The BPI said on Thursday that growing demand for UK music ‘demonstrates the enduring demand for British music’, with UK artists accounting for one in every eight albums consumed globally in 2017.


Welsh National Opera announces new general director

Welsh National Opera (WNO) has appointed Aidan Lang as new general director.

Lang is currently general director of Seattle Opera, where he has overseen co-productions with Washington National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera and New Zealand Opera.

He also launched the first of several chamber operas designed to showcase opera in a new light, especially those that have a direct connection to social conversations happening today.

The company’s audiences have increased from 67,000 to 85,000 since he has been at the helm.

Lang added: ‘The Welsh National Opera is where my career in opera really began, and I have always considered it to be my artistic home. It was during my time there in the 1980s that I came to understand the potential for opera to change the way that people view the society they live in, and that insight has been at the core of all my work ever since.’

Lang will take up the role in July 2019.


Lucerne Festival: Matthias Pintscher tritt zurück

Matthias Pintscher, der Principal Conductor der Lucerne Festival Academy, sieht sich «aus persönlichen Gründen» nicht länger imstande, seinen Verpflichtungen als Dirigent und Dozent an der Lucerne Festival Academy nachzukommen. Er tritt per sofort zurück. Diese Entscheidung gab die Leitung des Festivals am Mittwochmorgen bekannt. Der Rücktritt Pintschers, der seit 2016 zusammen mit dem Komponisten Wolfgang Rihm als Leiter der Academy sehr erfolgreich das Erbe von Pierre Boulez weitergetragen hat, kommt in jeder Hinsicht unerwartet.

Übernehmen Jaehyuck Choi, Peter Eötvös und Ruth Reinhardt die Dirigate der noch ausstehenden Konzerte des Orchesters der Akademie. Jaehyuck Choi dirigiert in beiden Konzerten am 9.

Matthias Pintscher, Principal Conductor of the Lucerne Festival Academy, has unexpectedly quit his role with immediate effect. To make sure the Festival goes ahead as planned, Jaehyuck Choi, Peter Eötvös and Ruth Reinhardt have all stepped in at the last minute to conduct the remaining concerts.

(Written on September 7, 2018 )