09. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: News, San Francisco Symphony


SAN FRANCISCO, CA – December 8, 2014 – Eugene Izotov has been appointed Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), beginning with the 2015-16 season. Izotov is currently Principal Oboe of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since 2006. He previously served as Principal Oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and as Associate Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Symphony from 1996-2003. Izotov succeeds the late William Bennett as Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Symphony.

“I am delighted to be joining the San Francisco Symphony as Principal Oboe,” said Izotov. “This is a deeply personal decision for me since much of my life is connected to these two great American orchestras and cities. As I look forward to making music with maestro Michael Tilson Thomas and my colleagues of the San Francisco Symphony, I know my heart will be filled with wonderful memories of music-making with Chicago Symphony and profound gratitude to maestro Riccardo Muti for his humanity, support, and inspiration.”


24. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: News

I learned about this group when I landed here and read this:

Shaimaa Yehia, 28, is a violinist with the Al Nour Wal Amal orchestra, a 40-strong ensemble of blind women from Cairo. The orchestra, which plays a full range of string and wind instruments, is run by the Al Nour Wal Amal Association, an Egyptian non-governmental organization that takes in blind girls from Cairo’s poor.

The association was founded in 1954 and its name means light and hope. It gives the girls a formal education in the mornings, emphasizing literacy and vocational training, and teaches them music in the afternoons. Shaimaa entered when she was seven. In her first year, she was taught to read and write words and musical notes in Braille.

The following year, aged eight, she chose the violin as her instrument. She then spent five hours a day practicing and just one year later became a member of the association’s junior orchestra. At 12, she entered the senior orchestra, since then travelling with it across Europe, to North America and to Australia.

Unable to read music as they play, the orchestra’s musicians memorize it, typically carrying around 45 pieces in their heads at any one time, among them works by the Egyptian composer, Ahmed Aboeleid, and classical European pieces by Mozart, Brahms, Strauss, Tchaikovsky and others.

25. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: News

The Minnesota Orchestra will once again make music with Osmo Vanska.

The orchestra’s board of directors on Thursday gave Vanska a two-year contract that will have him lead at least 10 weeks of concerts for each of the next two seasons.

The 61-year-old native of Finland resigned in October after a decade as the orchestra’s music director — and a year into a lockout of the musicians during bitter contract negotiations.

But when the 16-month lockout ended in January, rumors of Vanska’s return began circulating. And during its first post-lockout performances in February, the orchestra was greeted with shouts from the audience of “Bring back Osmo.”

Meanwhile, Vanska had said he would like to come back if orchestra president and CEO Michael Henson stepped down. Last month, Henson said he would do just that, announcing he would resign in August — a decision that led to the resignations of several other board members, too.


23. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: News, Retiring

Wow … he’s had one long career!

A living legend in the Bay Area classical music community has announced he is retiring. Art Barnes has conducted the Livermore-Amador Symphony for 50 years.


I met “Dr. Barnes” (as I knew him then) when I was sixteen and went to a music camp with Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. I played the Mozart Oboe Quartet and he was incredibly complimentary. I will never forget his encouragement there!

26. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Announcements, News, Symphony

The BPO marks the passing of former Chief Conductor Claudio Abbado with a host of free material.
The Berlin Philharmonic have decided to mark the passing of their former Chief Conductor by making all of his concerts in their Digital Concert Hall free to view for anyone who cares to pay an online visit (yes, that’s the link to the Berlin page).


14. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: News

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra revealed details of 10 concerts they will produce and play between January and May.

While the number of concerts falls far short of a typical orchestra season, it is an ambitious undertaking for a group without an administration or a hall of its own.

The musicians, who have been locked out in a divisive labor dispute with management since October 2012, say they are open to merging this new independent season with the one management has planned, should a resolution be reached.

In a schedule released Thursday afternoon, the musicians said that star violinists Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell each will perform one concert with the musicians. It was previously announced that former Minnesota Orchestra music director Osmo Vänskä will return as guest conductor for two concerts to reopen the renovated Northrop Auditorium in May. Now he has signed on for two additional concerts (March 20-21) to celebrate the orchestra’s second consecutive Grammy nomination, this time for recordings of Sibelius Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4. Other concert venues will be the O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University and Ted Mann Concert Hall at the University of Minnesota.

The season, titled “Music for Minnesota: A Season of Shining Stars,” includes music of such mainstays of the repertoire as Beethoven, Mozart and Berlioz, as well as new music, including “Acadia,” a work by the young composer Judd Greenstein that had its world premiere by the Minnesota Orchestra in April 2012.

The season kicks off with former SPCO Music Director Hugh Wolff leading the orchestra in Mozart’s “Requiem” as well as Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Beethoven’s Overture to “Coriolan” (Jan. 10-11). The American program (Feb. 20-21) featuring Greenstein’s piece also includes pianist Kevin Cole playing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” led by former Minnesota Orchestra associate conductor Mischa Santora. The Bell program (April 15) includes Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole in D minor, and Ravel’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

Vänskä will inaugurate the new Northrop with Dvorák, Liszt and Tchaikovsky (May 2 and 4). Perlman closes the season as soloist and guest conductor with Beethoven, Weber and Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique” (May 14). The musicians also will continue playing school concerts during the season.

In addition to playing the concerts, the musicians are handling the complicated details of creating concert programs, securing guest soloists, renting halls, scheduling rehearsals and selling tickets.


29. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: News, Read Online

Conductor Daniel Barenboim is stepping down as musical director of Milan’s La Scala opera house two years early at the beginning of 2015.

Stephane Lissner, superintendent of La Scala, called Barenboim’s departure the “end of an era”.

Barenboim joined the world-renowned opera house in 2006 before becoming musical director in December 2011.

Unconfirmed reports in Italian media suggested he will be succeeded by Milanese conductor, Riccardo Chailly.

I read it here.

03. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: News, Read Online

More than 100 orchestras across Germany went on a 24-hour strike on Monday. They are protesting the recent closure of a number of orchestras across Germany, most recently the shuttering of radio orchestras in the southwest. The Berlin Philharmonic was the first ensemble to strike, followed by orchestras in other major German cities including Hamburg, Munich, Leipzig and Dresden.


More than a thousand professional orchestral musicians from across Spain took part in a simultaneous concert on 23 September, in protest against arts budget cuts and a sharp rise in VAT on concert tickets.


01. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: News

Osmo Vänskä, music director of the Minnesota Orchestra since 2003, has resigned, effective immediately.

“It is a very sad day for me,” Vänskä said in a statement.

His departure is a major blow to the 110-year old orchestra, which has been locked in a bitter and intractable labor lockout for more than a year.


30. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: News, Read Online

The situation remains very fluid,” said Blois Olson, the spokesman for the players. “The musicians are trying to present creative alternatives that would save the Minnesota Orchestra and its relationship with Osmo Vanska as we know it.”

Those alternatives, Mr. Olson added, would include changes in the orchestra’s artistic and management structure.