As composer-in-residence at this year’s Presteigne Festival, Stephen McNeff is looking forward to hearing a number of his previous works being performed by different performers, as well as the premiere of his new concerto for oboe and string orchestra.
The Department for Education has announced that central funding for the network of 123 music education hubs in England will be more than £75m in 2015/16, described as ‘an £18m funding boost’ by education minister Nick Gibb. Darren Henley, whose review of England’s music education led to the National Plan for Music Education, said the announcement was ‘great news’.
Judith Weir has been confirmed as the next Master of the Queen’s Music, a fixed term, 10-year role which she takes up today from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. ‘I hope to encourage everyone in the UK who sings, plays or writes music, and to hear as many of them as possible in action over the next 10 years,’ she said.
Rod Franks, third trumpet of the London Symphony Orchestra and principal for more than two decades, died in a car crash on the A1 in Nottinghamshire on the evening of 20 July. 'Rod will be missed for his ever-welcoming friendliness and brilliant playing' said the orchestra.
Inspired by her favourite piece, one for which Nigel Kennedy has become world-famous, artist Dora Holzhandler has painted Kennedy ‘at work in all four seasons’. The portraits will be on show at the Goldmark Gallery in Uppingham, Rutland, from 13 September to 5 October.
American conductor Lorin Maazel has died at the age of 84 from ‘complications following pneumonia’, said a statement released on 13 July by the Castleton Festival, the festival he founded in 2009 with his wife Dietlinde.
Violinist Nicola Benedetti has been awarded Making Music’s Sir Charles Groves Prize, made annually to an individual or organisation for making an outstanding contribution to the musical life of the UK.
Several music organisations are among 99 of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations whose entire 2015-18 funding award will originate from the National Lottery. The funding arrangements represent ACE’s latest interpretation of the principle of additionality.
Classical music institutions have appeared to emerge unscathed in today’s funding announcement by Arts Council England. In most cases, changes to ACE grants will be felt evenly, with a major exception in ENO, which is willingly submitting to a major overhaul in its business model and a real-terms grant cut of one-third.
English National Opera is the single biggest victim of cuts in Arts Council England’s funding arrangements for 2015-18. The company will suffer a real-terms cut of around one-third, but had already acknowledged the need to radically alter its business model.
Arts Council England will announce its National Portfolio Organisations for 2015-18 on 1 July, with National Lottery funding being used for the first time to bolster ACE’s grant-in-aid funding of portfolio institutions.
The $45m (£27m) anticipated minimum price for the 1719 ‘Macdonald’ Stradivarius viola has not been met, auctioneer Sotheby’s has confirmed. ‘We do anticipate that the “Macdonald” will be pursued and that further offers closer to $45 million will be made.’
Michael Elliott, currently chief executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, has been appointed chief executive of ABRSM. He will take over the role from the retiring Leslie East in January 2015.
Tom Morris, director of the Bristol Proms, has spoken of audiences ‘self-regulating’, after a ‘very over-excited’ academic was physically ejected during a performance at last year’s inaugural festival. The academic had contributed a visual display to a Nicola Benedetti concert the evening before and will again be contributing visuals to an event at this year's festival.
Pianist András Schiff received a knighthood, and soprano Susan Bullock and ENO artistic director John Berry received CBEs. Boosey & Hawkes managing director Janis Susskind received an OBE, describing the honour as ‘a bolt from the blue’.
Lancashire Sinfonietta, the professional chamber orchestra which was ensemble in residence at Lancaster University, has become the latest casualty of local authority budget cuts. ‘In particular it will be a huge loss to the schools, families and children who are increasingly denied exposure to music by the erosion of government support for the arts,' said a statement.
Musicians continue to come out in support of music education as the Protect Music Education campaign, led by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, attempts to rally support before a consultation deadline later this month.
The London Symphony Orchestra has appointed 18-year-old Peter Moore as co-principal trombone, the orchestra’s youngest ever member. Belfast-born Moore was also the youngest ever winner of the BBC Young Musician competition.
The Southbank Centre has announced a £24m scheme to repair and maintain the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery, backed by a £16.7m grant from Arts Council England. However, the idea of a Festival Wing has not been abandoned by Southbank management.
Sir John Tomlinson has been named as the latest recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal, the society’s highest honour. It has also been announced that the bass is to take up an international chair in singing at the Royal Northern College of Music
Trombonist, composer and conductor Christian Lindberg will lead the Västerås Sinfonietta in its UK debut performance at Cadogan Hall on 17 May, in a concert featuring the UK premiere of Lindberg’s clarinet concerto, The Erratic Dreams of Mr Grönstedt, and Andrea Tarrodi's Lucioles.
A consultation document on local education funding shows that central government expects local government to cease funding music in English schools from 2016. There is also little certainty over levels of music education funding after the current financial year.
The Ukranian conductor on transcribing CPE Bach's 1784 Johannes Passion, which he conducts this month in performances in London (16) April and Bournemouth (18 April). Karabits describes the political situation in his native Ukraine as 'absolutely overwhelming'.
Choirs from Estonia, Spain, Poland, the US, Sweden, Ireland and the UK will compete in the competition, which was conceived as a 70th birthday tribute to Sir John Tavener and will now be held in his memory.
John O'Kane is a permanent replacement for Séamus Crimmins, who retired in July 2013. He arrives from a senior management position at Ireland's Arts Council to take responsibility for the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra, RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and RTÉ Cor na nÓg, and ConTempo Quartet
The BBC’s director-general, Tony Hall, today announced a new strategy for the BBC’s arts and music programming, with a new emphasis on collaboration both within the BBC and with national institutions and artists.
Roger Wright, controller of Radio 3 and director of the BBC Proms, is to leave the BBC at the beginning of this year’s Proms season to become chief executive of Aldeburgh Music from September. The BBC said that recruitment for the posts would begin ‘in due course’.
The Royal Marines Corps of Drums is to launch a world record attempt to make the longest group drum roll, with preparations currently underway for six teams to undertake an ambitious 64-hour drum roll from 30 April.
The Foundling Museum in London has opened a new temporary exhibition examining Handel’s music for royal occasions. Handel was a governor of the Foundling Hospital, which works today as the children’s charity Coram.
Croydon-based chamber orchestra the London Mozart Players has announced details of what will become its new structure after its current managing director, Simon Funnell, leaves at the end of next month as the result of ‘a major funding problem’.
Wright: ‘We do not chase ratings, but I am delighted that the station has experienced recent growth in its distinctiveness and audience appreciation figures and remains a vital part of the UK’s cultural landscape.’
Southbank Centre management are to conduct a final search for money from the public sector in an attempt 'to keep the Festival Wing redevelopment scheme alive', after London mayor Boris Johnson put his weight behind the skaters currently using the undercroft of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Gardner is to leave after the 2014-15 season to take up the post of chief conductor at the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, an appointment which was announced in February 2013 ‒ although at the time it was said that he would be continuing in his role at ENO.
One of the most respected figures in classical music, Claudio Abbado found early success and remained at the top of the industry for the rest of his life, holding prestigious positions in Berlin, Vienna and London. He also did much to encourage young musicians.
Venezuelan prizewinner and product of El Sistema will take over from JoAnn Falletta in September 2014. Further details will be released in March of 'plans to introduce the El Sistema programme to Northern Ireland'.
The Culture, Media and Sport select committee of the House of Commons is to conduct an inquiry into the work of Arts Council England. The inquiry will look across the organisation’s scale, scope and remit, as well as the current weighting of its funding towards arts organisations in London.
Listings website Bachtrack.com has published an analysis of its data from the last year’s classical performances. It shows a surge in popularity for Britten, Valery Gergiev as the busiest conductor in the world, and a shocking paucity of women composers and conductors.
Baritone Sir Thomas Allen has been awarded The Queen’s Medal for Music 2013. The medal has been given since 2005 to ‘an outstanding individual or group of musicians who have had a major influence on the musical life of the nation’.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Derry City Council have launched a £900,000 legacy fund ‘to continue the cultural transformation of the city’ as its year as the first UK City of Culture comes to an end.
The London Sinfonietta’s New Music Show is back again this year at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room (8 December). But not only there: the ‘Hidden’ series, for the second time, will present five new works for solo instruments in secret backstage locations.
In the four years since 2010/11, spending on ‘cultural and related services’ has been reduced by almost a quarter in real terms. Councils serving the most-deprived areas have borne the brunt of reductions in funding relative to spending.
Music education hubs have done little to improve the range in quality of music education across England, says a report released by Ofsted today, urging hub leaders to act more as ‘champions, leaders and expert partners’.
Orchestras Live’s 7 November conference on ‘Taking Music Further’, held at Kings Place in London, brought much evidence of good practice to the attention of its 100-plus delegates, as well as a number of wakeup calls over barriers to access and outsiders’ perception of classical music.
Gergiev: ‘It is wrong to suggest that I have ever supported anti-gay legislation and in all my work I have upheld equal rights for all people. I am an artist and have for over three decades worked with tens of thousands of people in dozens of countries from all walks of life'
Arts Council England and DCMS funding in 2012/13 was distributed in the ratio 15:1 per head of population between London and the rest of the country, says report. ACE has committed to address the issue in its next funding round.
Ryan Wigglesworth's Britten centenary commission: 'I think that for composers of my generation and those immediately before mine, we’re still too close to the Britten legacy to be able to have enough distance to approach it in an objective way.’
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has announced a new mobile app for Apple and Android smartphones which allows users to purchase tickets and earn points to contribute towards rewards when they buy tickets through the app.
Bob Chilcott’s prolific output ‒ his publisher Oxford University Press lists 266 works from a composer who went full-time only in 1997 ‒ has been taken to the hearts of choral singers across the world. As a new CD of Christmas music is released, he talks to Alex Stevens about his choral life
The pianist joins 11 other messengers of peace and one goodwill ambassador, who advocate on behalf of the United Nations and its projects across the world. Lang Lang has been designated in connection with secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s Global Education First project.
Last month our Trojan horse popped open to reveal Lord Hall of Birkenhead wielding 20% arts increases at the BBC. Imagine that, conductors on merry-go-rounds, and plasticine jelly tots, says Alex Stevens
With a first prize of €20,000 and a diary of 34 engagements worth another €150,000, the winner of the 2015 Malko conducting competition will find the competition a transformative moment in his or her career.
BASCA has announced the 39-strong shortlist for its 2013 British Composer Awards, including nominations for George Benjamin's Written on Skin and Gerald Barry's The Importance of Being Earnest. The winners will be announced at Goldsmiths’ Hall on 3 December.
The 3rd Barbirolli International Oboe Festival and Competition will take place at the Erin Arts Centre, Isle of Man from 5-12 April 2014. The planned festival and competition in 2012 had been cancelled in 2011 due to ‘the loss of crucial grants’.
The culmination of JAM’s Writing for Music project, which has seen six composers and six poets working with six choirs in Oxford over the past year, will take place on 9 November with a concert at the University Church of St Mary, Oxford.
Both the Irish and Welsh arts sectors have been digesting news this week of funding cuts in 2014. The Arts Council of Wales is having its budget cut by 3%, while Ireland’s Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has announced a 7% cut to the budget it receives from the exchequer
Some 60 record labels that vanished from the UK market with the collapse of distributor Codaex last June are back with the emergence of New Arts International, which has teamed up with distributor Proper Note.
The posts of head of music and deputy head of music at the Purcell School have been abolished in a restructuring of staff announced by the headmaster, David Thomas, and chair of governors, Sir Roger Jackling, just before the start of the autumn term.
BBC director general Tony Hall has made a commitment to the BBC's coverage of and support for the arts. ‘Arts programming sits right at the heart of the BBC and is a vital part of who we are ... but I want us to be much more ambitious.'
Three new pieces will be put to an audience ballot at the Bath Phil's season opener on 12 October, to decide which will be published by Schott. It is part of the Young Apollo festival, running throughout this weekend.
Composer James MacMillan has launched a brand new music festival for southern Scotland, with the aim of bringing together international artists and local community and schools groups. The Cumnock Tryst will take place in October 2014 in the East Ayrshire market town and former mining community of Cumnock, where MacMillan grew up and attended three local schools.
New York City Opera has announced it is to close and file for bankruptcy in its 70th anniversary year after failing to find the $7m (£4.3m) it needed to deliver its planned season for the year ahead. The company's ethos of making opera affordable to the city’s residents had earned it the nickname ‘The People’s Opera’.
‘I send my deepest thanks to everyone involved for what we have achieved together’ says a statement released by Vänskä’s management company. The conductor first threatened to resign in April this year during a still unresolved dispute over players' pay and conditions.
Scottish Opera has released a statement announcing that French conductor Emmanuel Joel-Hornak has withdrawn from the position of music director at the company, which he was due to have begun in August taking over from Francesco Corti.
The Metropolitan Opera’s season-opening production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin on 23 September was disrupted briefly by a lone protester urging the house and its cast to take a public stand against Russia’s repression of homosexuals.
Following the success of last year’s Yamaha piano selection sessions initiative, the company will be running sessions at London's Southbank Centre on 11&12 October and at Liverpool’s St George’s Hall on 17&18 January 2014.
A new venue and new format for the Gramophone awards ceremony on 17 September has won general approval from the recording industry. However, some executives complained about the ceremony's move from the Dorchester Hotel to the less salubrious LSO St Luke's.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner is to be presented with the Critics’ Circle’s Outstanding Musician award for 2013, and awards for exceptional young talent have also been awarded to conductor Ryan Wigglesworth, countertenor Iestyn Davies and pianist Yevgeny Sudbin.
The first 11 graduates have been selected for the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Consortium’s new arts fundraising fellowship programme, which aims to ensure that the arts sector has the skills to 'get better at asking'.
Original plans for a treble soloist in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms were abandoned due to legislation regulating performances by children, rules which the BBC described as 'completely outdated'. The countertenor was then called in from recording sessions as an emergency replacement.
Free to attend for those who register online, Music Education Expo 2014 will again feature more than 50 seminars, workshops and debates, 150 exhibitors showcasing their products and services, and countless networking opportunities.
The RFH’s 7,866-pipe organ has been unveiled, following a £2.3m restoration process funded by a £950,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant and the successful Pull Out All the Stops public fundraising campaign.
Orchestra will continue with its planned eight-concert 2013/14 season under music director Barry Wordsworth. It was on course to be disbanded, said organisers, and had been forced ‘to rely on an injection of cash to guarantee its survival’.
‘We’ve just hit £40,000,’ said general manager Judith Clark. ‘I’m very hopeful and very heartened by what has happened in the last 48 hours.' Earlier this week the orchestra stated that it would not be able to present its 2013/14 season, or meet certain committed payments, unless it could raise £70,000 in ten days.
‘Over the last couple of seasons there has been a reduction in the number of legacies received, making it difficult to make up the shortfall from ticket sales and current levels of sponsorship and donations,’ said a statement.
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama has unveiled Martin Creed’s Work No. 1637: FEELINGS in the foyer of its new facilities at Milton Court. The artist said in a statement: ‘I don’t know how I feel’.
Machover follows up his Toronto Symphony ('the most collaborative work ever composed') with homage to Edinburgh: as he sees it, ‘a chamber music city for traffic noise’. Plus other highlights coming up in August and critical reaction to last month's new music.
Highlights of this year's seventh festival will include a re-imagining of Madame Butterfly by Michael Finissy, two new operas from Size Zero Opera and a contemporary refurbishment of Pergolesi's La serva padrona.
The childhood home of Ralph Vaughan Williams has been opened to the public by the National Trust for a trial season until 3 November. The house has not been restored and the NT is asking visitors to come ‘with an open mind’.
ACE chair Sir Peter Bazalgette gives vote of confidence to major organisations as Arts Council confirms it will make three-year commitment to next round of national portfolio organisations - even though ACE's own budget only goes to 2015/16.
The Department for Education today released details of the proposed new national curriculum from 2014. Following consultation it has added music technology and improvisation to what will be taught, with the musical canon remaining central to plans.
Campaign by undercroft users pushes Southbank Centre to try again 'to find the best way of balancing everyone's needs in demanding financial times so we can achieve this ambitious project'. The neighbouring National Theatre has also objected to the planning application.
The Farthest Shore, a new work by Paul Mealor commissioned by JAM (John Armitage Memorial) which premiered on 28 May at the St Davids Cathedral Festival will be performed on 2 July at St Bride’s, Fleet Street and on 6 July at St Leonard’s, Hythe alongside James MacMillan’s Cantos Sagrados and Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb.
The Academy of Ancient Music will be resident ensemble at the National Gallery this summer, providing extensive accompaniment to the gallery’s exhibition Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure.
The 20-minute piece for solo cello and chamber group was commissioned by its soloist David Cohen to be performed with the Rambert Orchestra, the orchestra of the Rambert Dance Company, at this year’s Spitalfields Summer Festival. Plus: June's premieres listings
Worcester International Festival for Young Singers (WIFYS) will see choirs from Belgium, Poland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Hong Kong, Germany, Lithuania and the UK giving concerts across the town and surrounding areas.
Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central, has become the first MP to publicly support calls for an inquiry. Widespread media coverage into the issue this week has included an in-depth report by Channel 4 News.
Six successful proposals stood out in latest HLF round ‘because of their strong focus on regeneration and importance to their local communities’. Aberdeen's Cowdray Hall is part of plans to redevelop the Aberdeen Art Gallery area awarded a £10m grant.
Sound and Music, London Sinfonietta, Café Oto and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival will run trials involving crowdfunding, mobile giving, online giving and cultivating mid-level donors, publishing the findings of a two-year project.
The National Centre for Early Music’s 2013 composers award has been won by Lilly Vadaneaux (aged 11) in the 18 years and under category, the youngest entry and youngest winner of the competition to date, and Joseph Howard (20) in the 19-25 years category.
Steve Lamacq and Tom Service unite for 6Music Prom in a concert featuring the London Sinfonietta and Laura Marling, while Urban Classic brings together the BBCSO and Laura Mvula, broadcast live on Radio 1 and 1Xtra.
London 2012 Festival proved a catalyst for high-quality classical music as a number of events are nominated, and three big-hitting composers, Birtwistle, Anderson and Barry, go head-to-head in the large-scale work category. But there is no place for The Space, the BBC and Arts Council England's multi-platform arts service.
Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic with soloist Yefim Bronfman at the Royal Festival Hall on 9 April, and later this year will return for a series with Yo Yo Ma at the Barbican.
Seven new productions will appear on the main stage, and the Linbury theatre is established as dedicated home for 'new or very recent work'. At the press conference, Sir Antonio Pappano ticked off the press for its reaction to casting changes in 2012's Robert le Diable.
Decision is cruel, joyless and ideological, says Samuel West, chair of National Campaign for the Arts, as council members cite 'tough choices'. Streetwise Opera and ENO's community choir, both set up to work with vulnerable people, will see a current funding stream cut.
Executive director Leslie East has been appointed to succeed Perricone as chief executive and Lincoln Abbotts, who joined the ABRSM last year as teaching and learning development director, is to take up the newly created post of director of strategic development.
Van Cliburn, the American pianist, has died aged 78. He was awarded the US’s National Medal of Arts in 2010 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, and was one of the world’s best-known performers of classical music.
Mark-Anthony Turnage's Speranza will be performed by the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican on 7 February, on the same night as the UK premiere of his cello concerto, with soloist Paul Watkins, by the RLPO in Liverpool. Plus February's premieres listings.
The Munich Philharmonic Orchestra has formally announced the appointment of Valery Gergiev as its principal conductor from 2015 ‒ while his current employer, the LSO, talks up the strength of its relationships with previous chief conductors.
LSO: 'We cannot comment on any other plans which Valery Gergiev may have. What is clear is that his relationship with the LSO is strong and it will sustain.' Gergiev is expected to become chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic from 2015.
The Southbank Centre has announced its classical season for 2013/14, with highlights including Antonio Pappano’s Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, the first UK performance of Claudio Abbado’s Orchestra Mozart and the return of the Festival Hall’s newly refurbished organ
Jonathan Cohen founded Arcangelo in 2010, since when the group has released several well-received recordings, including the Gramophone award-winning Arias for Guadagni with countertenor Iestyn Davies. The founder of the fast-rising chamber ensemble tells Alex Stevens how it all came about.
English National Opera's accounts for 2011-12 show a £1.2m fall in ticket sales set against a £1.4m increase in cash spent on productions and a drop in its Arts Council grant. The results 'reflect the cut in ACE funding in 2012 and the impact of a very difficult economic environment on ticket sales', says the company.
The Royal Opera House has announced its plans for new opera until 2020, building to a series of four full-scale new commissions inspired by questions developed with philosopher Slavoj Žižek, and including new projects with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Aldeburgh Music, Music Theatre Wales, Opera North and Sound and Music.
In a new year honours list dominated by sporting personalities, a number of figures from the classical music world were also recognised, including CBEs for Ruth Mackenzie, director of the Cultural Olympiad, for services to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Michael Berman, chairman of the Southbank Sinfonia, for services to music and philanthropy.
Venu Dhupa, Creative Scotland’s director of creative development, has resigned from the body just weeks after chief executive Andrew Dixon also gave notice of his departure. The body has come under sustained criticism in recent months over new funding arrangements, management style and its corporate ethos.
Sarah Alexander is chief executive and artistic director of the National Youth Orchestra, which has become the first organisation to win the Queen’s Medal for Music (first awarded to Sir Charles Mackerras in 2005). The medal ‘celebrates the NYO’s longstanding commitment to nurturing the talent and potential of Britain’s teenage musicians’ and was presented by the Queen on 5 December at the Barbican.
Ravi Shankar, the sitar player and composer described by George Harrison as ‘the godfather of world music’, has died at the age of 92. He was a three-time Grammy award winner and collaborated with Philip Glass and, extensively, with Yehudi Menuhin
The newly installed Lord Mayor of London, Roger Gifford, is not only a long-serving banker (head of the UK branch of Swedish investment bank SEB since 2000), but also chair of the English Chamber Orchestra and a keen amateur musician: he has been a member of the Holst Singers, Tallis Chamber Choir and Choir of the 21st Century and is a member of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.
Edmund Finnis’ Four Duets for clarinet and piano has been commissioned by clarinettist Mark Simpson for his Martin Musical Scholarship Fund recital at the Royal Festival Hall on 8 December (one of 15 such recitals by young professional performers over the next 8 months).
English National Opera has contracted brand and sponsorship agency Capitalize to develop its corporate partnerships and sponsorship opportunities ‒ with naming rights to the London Coliseum, ENO’s home since 1968, potentially available to the right bidder.
Sir John Tomlinson has over recent decades become one of Britain’s most distinguished singers both at home and abroad. He will reprise the title role of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Minotaur at the Royal Opera House in January and has just completed a run playing Hagen and Hunding in the ROH’s Ring cycle.
Described by its composer as ‘a back-of-the-truck bare bones opera’, John Harbison’s Full Moon in March has a libretto adapted by the composer from WB Yeats’ A Full Moon in March, and tells the story of a queen, a swineherd and the failed courting ritual between them. It receives its EU premiere on 24 October as part of contemporary music group Lontano’s festival of American music (22-27 October) with the Queen played by mezzo-soprano Caryl Hughes, the Swineherd by baritone Jeremy Huws Williams and two attendants played by soprano Charmian Bedford and tenor Edward Lee.
Following the publication of a highly critical open letter sent to Sound and Music and Arts Council England from 255 composers, performers and other music industry figures, a second open letter will be sent today, signed by 90 young composers ‘actively engaged in contemporary music in the United Kingdom’.