Tuesday, October 29, 2019

How Far Can You Get If You're a White Guy?

Pretty far, it turns out.

Over on Twitter, there's a lot of justifiable outrage over an interview by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who were the showrunners - basically, the guys in charge - of HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones for TV. The outrage is because Benioff and Weiss knew, and admit that they knew, nothing when they talked HBO into giving them an enormous budget to make GoT. I mean, they use phrasing like "the first year was an expensive course in TV" and "we didn't know anything about costuming."

That's right: they were given tens of millions of dollars because they made a good pitch and they were white guys. They had potential. And it's pretty typical for white guys to be hired for something on the basis of potential rather than existing, verifiable accomplishment.

If you don't believe me, please cite similarly-scaled TV shows where black men or black women or white women or Asian men or Asian women who had little or no experience got to be the showrunners.

It's worth noting that one of the most successful opera composers of the 21st century got his first commission on the basis of potential. That would be Jake Heggie, composer of Dead Man Walking, Moby-Dick, It's a Wonderful Life, and other operas.

When he got the commission for DMW, he was working at San Francisco Opera in the communications department. He'd written a bunch of good songs; he had the support of some well-known singers; he had musical training (of course); I'm pretty sure he was and is a good pianist. All of this is beyond what Benioff and Weiss had.

But first opera commissions typically go to composers who have experience with writing large-scale orchestral works, which I believe was not case with Heggie. He got that commission from a big-budget opera company because, on the basis of his songs, he was seen as having potential.

Dandy Dandini

From the Met, news of a cast change in next year's La Cenerentola:

Vito Priante will sing Dandini in all performances of Rossini’s La Cenerentola, replacing Davide Luciano. 
Italian baritone Vito Priante makes his Met debut as Dandini, a role he has previously sung at Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Recent performances include Leporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in Rome, the Duke of Nottingham in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux at Bavarian State Opera, Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen at Teatro Fenice in Venice, and Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Other roles this season include Figaro in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Canadian Opera Company, and the Four Villains in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann at Stuttgart Opera.
The cast for La Cenerentola also includes mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught as Angelina, tenor Javier Camarena as Don Ramiro, bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro as Don Magnifico, and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn as Alidoro. James Gaffigan conducts.
Performances of La Cenerentola begin on March 12, 2020, and run through April 3, 2020.

Monday, October 28, 2019

SFS Personnel Changes, Yet Again

Between my last and most recent SFS concerts, Nicole Cash's name disappeared from the French horn roster in the program, and, indeed, there's now an audition listing on the orchestra's web site.

SIGH. She is a terrific player and I'm sorry to see her go.

Museum Mondays

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
October, 2019

Monday, October 21, 2019

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Sonic Harvest, Sunday, October 20, 2019

A fine program tomorrow evening:

Sunday, October 20, 8:00 pm
Berkeley Piano Club
2724 Haste Street, Berkeley
Admission $20 general, $15 students/seniors/disabled persons.
Tickets sold at the door only.
Wheelchair accessible.
Parking available in the Underhill fee lot (under the playing field). Enter from Haste or Channing.
For more information call (510) 654-8651 or email harvestsonic@gmail.com
Once again we bring you a stunning program of new compositions from within your community—vocal, instrumental and even operatic works, nearly all premiere performances:
Guest composer Mary Watkins’ Persuasion for cello and piano
Ann Callaway’s Cydonian Spring, a set of duets on poems of Ezra Pound; and her Elizabethan Lyrics, three songs for bass and piano
Peter Josheff’s Images from the Past and Warped Oracle: Images from the Past II for spoken voice and piano on the composer’s own texts
Allen Shearer’s Thinking Thoughts for violin and piano, and excerpts from his one-act opera Jackie at Vassar on a libretto by Claudia Stevens.
The performers include Nadya Tichman (violin; associate concertmaster, SFS), Keisuke Nakagoshi (fabulous pianist), Thalia Moore (associate principal cello, SF Opera orchestra), Karen Rosenak (piano), soprano Amy Foote and bass Richard Mix.

The World of Grażyna Bacewicz

Just a reminder, slightly late, that Bard Music West's annual festival is this weekend, and this year's featured composer is the Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz.

I went to the first concert last night despite having been up, more or less, since 2 a.m. California time and despite a cross-country flight. The music was splendid, and the performances electrifying.

Here's today's schedule:

3 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. - Screening of The World Only Sees My Cheerful Face
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. - Concert, From War to Warsaw Autumn
8 p.m. to 10 p.m. - Concert, Evolution and Persistence

Noe Valley Ministry
1021 Sanchez

Yesterday's composers were Bacewicz, Stravinsky, Szymanowski, Paderewski, N. Boulanger, Debussy, and Monteverdi. I'm not terribly happy about the spoken program notes (not my thing) and I was even less happy about the uncritical comments on Boulanger, who was anti-Semitic and a dictatorial teacher.

Today's composers are Bacewicz, Clapies, Baird, A. Panufnik, Zubel, Berg, Lutosławski, Ptaszyńska, Kulenty, and Zielinska.

Deepest thanks to Allegra Chapman and Laura Gaynon for this amazing programming, an in-depth look at a terrific composer, the sound-world in which she flourished, and the Polish composers who came after her.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Friday Photo

NYC subway stop
American Museum of Natural History
June, 2006

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Changes at Ojai Festival

Earlier this month, the LA Philharmonic named Chad Smith as the orchestra's next CEO. At the time, I wondered, but did not write about, what this meant for his March, 2018 appointment as the festival's Artistic Director.

Now we know. Smith will hold that position through the 2020 festival, when Matthias Pintscher will be Music Director. After that, Ara Guzelimian, the outgoing Provost and Dean of Juilliard, will take over as Artistic Director at Ojai -- or, if you prefer, return to the post he held from 1992 to 1997. Guzelimian will be Artistic Director for an initial term of three years.

Here's the press release:

(October 17, 2019 – Ojai, CA) – Ojai Music Festival Board Chairman Jerrold Eberhardt announced today the appointment of Ara Guzelimian as Ojai’s next Artistic Director with the 75th Festival, June 10 to 13, 2021. Mr. Guzelimian begins his initial three-year tenure with Ojai following the 2020 Festival under the artistic direction of Chad Smith. Mr. Smith, who was named as the Festival’s Artistic Director in March 2018, announced his intention to step away from Ojai given his October 1, 2019 appointment as Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

“Ara Guzelimian’s remarkable artistic perspective, expertise, and relationships will be paramount as he guides the future direction of the Festival. Through his work with young musicians around the world, Ara truly has his finger on the pulse of music making today. My Board colleagues and I are absolutely thrilled that Ara has agreed to take the helm as Artistic Director,” said Jerrold Eberhardt. “When Tom Morris decided to conclude his defining 16-year tenure, the Board immediately approached Chad Smith 
with our full confidence that Chad was the right visionary to build on Tom’s artistic legacy. Two weeks ago, the LA Phil named Chad as their new CEO – a brilliant move for that organization and for the field of music. We accept and understand Chad’s desire to focus fully on the Philharmonic, and appreciate that he will remain Ojai’s Artistic Director through the June 2020 Festival.”

Ara Guzelimian commented, “The Ojai Festival represents an ideal of adventurous, open-minded, and open-hearted programming in the most beautiful and welcoming of settings with an audience to match its aspirations. To become Artistic Director at this moment, as the Festival approaches its 75th anniversary, is a deeply meaningful homecoming for me. I fell in love with Ojai in my teens - the place, the community, the spirit. I’ve enjoyed the warmest of friendships with my extraordinary predecessors - Lawrence Morton, Ernest Fleischmann, Tom Morris, and now, Chad Smith - and some of my most cherished musical experiences are rooted here. To return in this capacity brings me such joy. I look forward to working with the wonderful Board and staff to imagine a forward-facing festival very much true to the 2020s!”  

Chad Smith said, “For nearly 75 years, the Ojai Music Festival has been a major platform for the world’s most probing, adventurous, and visionary musicians. It is, therefore, bittersweet to step away from this incredible opportunity after the 2020 Festival, but Ojai deserves the full creative energies of its Artistic Director and the LA Phil requires the singular focus of its CEO. That Ara’s personal journey allows him to assume the role of Artistic Director at Ojai, just as mine requires me to step away, is fortuitous. Ara is, quite simply, one of the great artistic minds in our field, and I look forward to supporting him and the Festival in the years to come from my position with the Philharmonic.”
Currently Provost and Dean of The Juilliard School, Ara Guzelimian had previously announced his intention to step down from that position in June 2020. At Juilliard, he will continue in an advisory role, and will teach, during the 2020/21 academic year. Mr. Guzelimian was Ojai’s Artistic Director from 1992 to 1997, working closely with Festival Music Directors Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Kent Nagano, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Emanuel Ax. Since 2004, he has served as the Festival’s Ojai Talks Director.

Next month, the Ojai Music Festival and Chad Smith will share details for the upcoming 2020 Festival – June 11 to 14, with Music Director Matthias Pintscher. 
Ara Guzelimian
Ara Guzelimian is Provost and Dean of the Juilliard School in New York City having been appointed to the post in August 2006. At
 Juilliard, he works closely with the President in overseeing the faculty, curriculum and artistic planning of the distinguished performing arts conservatory in all three of its divisions – dance, drama and music. 
Prior to the Juilliard appointment, he was Senior Director and Artistic Advisor of Carnegie Hall from 1998 to 2006; in that post, he oversaw the artistic planning and programming for the opening of Zankel Hall in 2003. He was also host and producer of the acclaimed Making Music” composer series at Carnegie Hall from 1999 to 2008. Mr. Guzelimian currently serves as Artistic Consultant for the Marlboro Music Festival and School in Vermont. He is also a member of the Music Visiting Committee of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Music Awards, and a Board member of the Amphion and Pacific Harmony Foundations.

He has given lectures and taught at the invitation of the Metropolitan Opera, the Salzburg Easter Festival, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Chicago Symphony, the National Center for the Performing Arts in Taipei and the Jerusalem Music Center. Previously, Ara Guzelimian held the position of  Artistic Administrator of the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado and he was long associated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the beginning of his career, first as producer for the Orchestra’s national radio broadcasts and, subsequently, as Artistic Administrator. As a writer and music critic, he has contributed to such publications as Musical AmericaOpera Quarterly, Opera News, Symphony magazine, The New York Times, the Record Geijutsu magazine (Tokyo), the program books of the Salzburg and the Helsinki Festivals, and the journal for the IRCAM center in Paris.

Mr. Guzelimian is editor of Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (Pantheon Books, 2002), a collection of dialogues between Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said. The Chicago, Boston, and London Symphony orchestras, conducted by Bernard Haitink, have performed Mr. Guzelimian’s performing edition of Mendelssohn’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In September 2003, Mr. Guzelimian was awarded the title Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for his contributions to French music and culture.

Ojai Music Festival 
From its founding in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival has become a place for groundbreaking musical experiences, bringing together innovative artists and curious audiences in an intimate, idyllic setting 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The Festival presents broad-ranging programs in unusual ways with an eclectic mix of new and rarely performed music, as well as refreshing juxtapositions of musical styles. The Festival, that takes place in June, is an immersive experience with concerts, free community events, symposia, and gatherings. Considered a highlight of the international music summer season, Ojai has remained a leader in the classical music landscape for seven decades.
Through its signature structure of the Artistic Director appointing an annual Music Director, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music including Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kent Nagano, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, David Robertson, Eighth Blackbird, George Benjamin, Dawn Upshaw, Leif Ove Andsnes, Mark Morris, Jeremy Denk, Steven Schick, Peter Sellars, Vijay Iyer, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and Barbara Hannigan. The Ojai Music Festival anticipates the 74th Festival, June 11 to 14, 2020, with conductor and composer Matthias Pintscher.

As it approaches its 75th anniversary, Ojai looks toward its future with Ara Guzelimian, whose tenure as Artistic Director will begin following the 2020 Festival.

74th Festival: June 11 to 14, 2020 
74th Festival - June 11 to 14, 2020 - with Music Director Matthias Pintscher will highlight progressive and forward-thinking composers of our generation while paying homage to early classical roots. Featuring a vast array of composers from the past six centuries, the program will connect the traditional with the contemporary. Joining Mr. Pintscher for this adventurous musical exploration will be the Ensemble Intercontemporain in its Ojai Music Festival debut. This Paris-based world-renowned ensemble of 31 full-time musicians is dedicated to performing and promoting contemporary chamber music, which was founded in 1972 by former Ojai Music Director Pierre Boulez, and is now led by Mr. Pintscher. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Upcoming: Nabucco in San Francisco

The Claude Heater Foundation, which last year sponsored a fine Tristan und Isolde performance in San Francisco, is back with a concert performance of Verdi's early hit, Nabucco. It's in just a few days, but if you have free time, check this out:

There's a full chorus and orchestra for the production; Jonathan Khuner conducts.

The lead singers are baritone Kenny Stavert (Nabucco), soprano Juyeon Song (Abigaille), bass-baritone Philip Skinner (Zaccaria), mezzo-soprano Tamara Gallo (Fenena), and tenor Alex Boyer (Ismaele). 

When: Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 3 p.m.

Where: Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California St, San Francisco

Tickets: Advance tickets $18-$58 (lowest price includes discount for seniors & students) are on sale at https://nabucco-sf.eventbrite.com 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sibelius, Elgar, and Nielsen at the Boston Symphony

I'm on the east coast for work (really - I work with an engineering team in Cambridge) and the BSO (the real BSO, never mind your Baltimore Symphony Orchestra or Bayerische Staatsoper) has a great program this week. Dima Slobodeniouk, a Russian, is conducting the following very un-Russian program even though Finland was part of Russia for a long time:

  • Sibelius, Pohjola’s Daughter
  • Elgar, Cello Concerto, with Turls Mørk
  • Nielsen, Fifth Symphony
So it was all great: wonderful music and terrific performances. The Sibelius made a good curtain-raiser. The Elgar is gorgeous and interesting and Mørk is a great player. I'd only heard him before in the Salonen Cello Concerto, and I would not dare express an opinion on him based on that; I'm not sure I liked the piece, and it was in the godawful Zellerbach Hall, which has such terrible acoustics that it makes Davies sound like Carnegie Hall. 

Anyway, Mørk was fabulous in this, giving a sensitive and gorgeously phrased performance in extremely beautiful sound. Slobodeniouk was great as well.

And the Nielsen! It is a fabulous and wonderfully quirky piece, which I do realize you can say about, well, anything by Nielsen. Such an individual composer, such energy and spirit. 

I was very impressed with Slobodeniouk's handling of phrasing and the orchestra's sound. That sound was both transparent and warm, which I realize is partly a function of Symphony Hall, but the way Slobodeniouk handled transitions and layers of sound was very, very impressive.

The orchestra sounded better than when I heard it during SFS's centennial year, conducted by Ludovic Morlot, filling in for James Levine, who was out for medical reasons. Their sound in SF was super-impressive, huge and overwhelming, but, as Joshua Kosman mentioned to me, showing real lack of discipline. That was not the case last night, where there were no out-of-place dynamics, but lots of nuance and delicacy. I'd say offhand that SFS has slightly better and more nuanced brass, of all things, for whatever that is worth.

Symphony Hall remains miraculous, with that warm, yet clear sound, its physical beautiful and warmth, and sense of intimacy. I don't remember what the color scheme was when I last was there, but now it's multiple shades of green and multiple shades of tan, with a lot of gold and some cream. I love it so much!

Friday Photo

NYC subway stop
American Museum of Natural History
June, 2006

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Geraldine Walther to Retire from Takács Quartet

Well, gosh. The headline from the publicist says "WORLD RENOWNED TAKÁCS QUARTET ANNOUNCES NEW VIOLIST", but if you live in the Bay Area, you mentally reframe it to "Geraldine Walther is retiring?!"

It seems only yesterday that she left San Francisco Symphony, where she was the principal viola for 29 years, but...it's been 15. I guess Jonathan Vinocour is no longer That New Guy in Geraldine's Chair. And retiring after 45 years of performing is hardly unreasonable.

Here's the announcement from the Takács, and congratulations to Richard O'Neill, the incoming violist:

NEW YORK, NY (October 9, 2019)— As the Takács Quartet enters its 45th year, the internationally acclaimed string quartet continues to evolve with a change to its line-up. Violist Geraldine Walther will retire from the group this May, after a remarkable 15 years. Korean-American violist and celebrated chamber musician Richard O'Neill will join the quartet from June.

“We feel extremely grateful to have been able to share our musical lives with Geri since 2005, benefitting from her wonderful sound and vibrant musicianship in concerts and numerous recordings,” say the continuing members of the Takács. “We are excited to welcome Richard, who is a friend and colleague of ours at the Music Academy of the West, and whose artistry we have admired for many years.”

Reflecting on her time in the quartet, Geri Walther says, “I have loved being a member of the Takács Quartet and am grateful for all the friends I've made along the way. I am very happy to hand the baton over to the wonderful violist and musician, Richard O'Neill, and wish the group every success for their future together!”

The quartet’s latest appointment celebrates the extraordinary journey of the Takács since its foundation in 1975 by four Hungarian students at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. Each member is steeped in the Hungarian/Central European roots and traditions of the quartet, absorbed over decades of collaboration and commitment, and they are now fêted as “arguably the greatest string quartet in the world” (The Guardian, May 2018).

O’Neill joins founding member, cellist András Fejér, English first violinist Edward Dusinberre and American second violinist Harumi Rhodes, who is of Japanese-Russian descent. The Takács affirms the power of the string quartet to foster communication and cooperation across cultures, nationalities and generations.
Richard O’Neill, who is renowned as both a chamber musician and Grammy-nominated soloist, adds, “Joining the Takács Quartet is the greatest honor of my life. I am thrilled to follow in the footsteps of one of my heroes, the great Geraldine Walther, whom I have listened to and adored since I was a child. I look forward to the joy of making music with Ed, Harumi and András and will do my best to uphold the esteemed tradition of the Takács Quartet.”


Praised by the New York Times for his “elegant, velvety tone”, violist Richard O'Neill has distinguished himself as one of the great instrumentalists of his generation. He has appeared as soloist with the world’s top orchestras including the London, Los Angeles, Seoul, and Euro-Asian Philharmonics, and he has worked with distinguished musicians and conductors including Andrew Davis, Vladimir Jurowski, Francois Xavier Roth, Leonard Slatkin and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He is in his 13th and final season as Artistic Director of Ensemble DITTO, as well as Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Principal Violist of Camerata Pacifica. O’Neill is a Grammy-nominated Universal Music/Deutsche Grammophon recording artist who has made 10 solo albums and many other chamber music recordings, earning multiple platinum discs. He has appeared on major TV networks in South Korea and enjoyed huge success with his 2004 KBS documentary "Human Theater" which was viewed by over 12 million people, and his 2013 series "Hello?! Orchestra" which featured his work with a multicultural youth orchestra for MBC and led to an International Emmy in Arts Programming and a feature length film. He serves as Goodwill Ambassador for the Korean Red Cross, The Special Olympics and UNICEF, and serves on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. Visit: www.richard-oneill.com.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

San Francisco Symphony Personnel Updates, Redux

Davies Symphony Hall
Photo by me

I previously reported on personnel changes at SFS in Moving In, Moving Around, at San Francisco Symphony. A careful perusal of the program and the Symphony web site reveals the following:

Principal Keyboard: SFS's first and only keyboard player, Robin Sutherland, retired the other year. The position is listed as "Vacant" in the program. As of now, no audition has been scheduled, which may mean this position will be left for Esa-Pekka Salonen to fill.

Principal Cello: Michael Grebanier is again on leave. He missed a good chunk of a season a few years back and has looked increasing frail, with a higher percentage of concerts with first chair played by Peter Wyrick or Amos Yang. I would be surprised if Mr. Grebanier does not retire; however, no auditions are scheduled as of now. If so, perhaps this is also being left for Salonen.

Associate Principal Horn: Nicole Cash, who has been associate principal since 2009, is listed as "on leave," I believe for the second year. Auditions for this position are scheduled for January and February, 2020, so, alas, we can assume that Ms. Cash will not be returning.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Friday Photo

NYC subway stop
American Museum of Natural History
June, 2006

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

How Not to Manage Your Volunteers

There's a small voting-rights-related org that I've done some volunteer work for in the past. It's a nonpartisan group dedicated to making sure that everyone knows what voter ID they need, if any, and what the registration laws are in their states.

I resigned today, and here's a handy list of things you should and should not do if you are managing volunteers for, well, any organization at all.

DO provide a private way to sign up for trainings.
DO make sure that the permissions are set appropriately so that your volunteers can actually sign up.
DON'T use a spreadsheet that shows volunteer information to other volunteers.

DO send an email verifying the date and time of anything your volunteers sign up for.
DO send any training materials on a timely basis.




DO be aware of logistical issues related to time zones.
DO be respectful of volunteer time. That's a polite way of saying:

DO run a beta test with any email you are going to send to avoid all of the above Bad Things from happening.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Chad Smith Named Next CEO of LA Phil

The LA Phil has named Chief Operating Officer Chad Smith as their next CEO, succeeding Deborah Borda. No, wait, technically he is succeeding Simon Woods, who resigned a couple of weeks ago, but since Woods lasted less than two years in the job and it took the Board no time to promote Smith....

Congratulations all around, to Smith, and to the musicians, administration, and Board of the LA Phil.

Here's the press release:

Los Angeles, October 1, 2019 – Los Angeles Philharmonic Board Chair Thomas L. Beckmen announced today, on behalf of the Board of Directors and Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, that Chad Smith has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, David C. Bohnett Chief Executive Officer Chair, of the Association, to begin immediately. 

Chad Smith currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the Los Angeles Philharmonic where he is presently responsible for the artistic oversight and coordination of the orchestra’s programming, as well as the organization’s marketing, communications and public relations, production, orchestra operations, media, and learning initiatives. Smith’s tenure with the orchestra has been defined by his close relationships with Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel and Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen; groundbreaking artistic initiatives including the launch of new orchestral series, major multi-disciplinary projects and dozens of festivals; and an unparalleled commitment to composers and the music of today. He has also overseen the launch of many of the organization’s defining learning programs, including YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), a program which has provided daily after-school music training to thousands of children in several of L.A.’s underserved communities.

"Chad Smith has done years of brilliant work in advancing the LA Phil in every aspect of its mission, from planning and commissioning our extraordinary presentations of new music, to heightening the orchestra’s profile at the Hollywood Bowl, to overseeing our crucial educational programs and helping to launch YOLA,” said Board Chair Thomas L. Beckmen. “He enjoys the complete confidence and support of everyone in this organization. The Board enthusiastically welcomes him as the LA Phil’s new CEO and looks forward to many great achievements to come.”

“I am very happy, together with the Board, to welcome Chad Smith as the next CEO of the LA Phil,” added Gustavo Dudamel, Music & Artistic Director. “I've known him since I first arrived in LA a decade ago, and he's always been an exceptional colleague, partner and friend. We share the same vision of excellence for the future of our institution, and I have complete faith that he will help me deliver on our immense dreams and responsibilities to the next generation - artistically, educationally and musically.”

“The LA Phil has been my creative home for the last 17 years, and I am honored to be stepping into this role,” said Chad Smith. “Supporting the expansive vision of Gustavo and his deeply held commitment to serving the whole of the LA community has never been more important, and I continue to strive to support that work. As we focus on ensuring that our great orchestra thrives, as we continue to grow our YOLA program, and as we imagine new ways our programming can connect to existing audiences while inviting in new listeners, I could not be more excited about beginning my new role.”

Smith began his career in 2000 at the New World Symphony, working closely with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. He first joined the LA Phil in 2002, when he was responsible for planning the orchestra’s Green Umbrella new music series, as well as the classical programming at the Hollywood Bowl. After briefly serving as the New York Philharmonic’s head artistic planner, in 2006 Smith returned to the LA Phil in the expanded role of Vice President of Artistic Planning, a position he held until being named Chief Operating Officer in 2015. 

A trustee of the New England Conservatory, Smith also serves on the advisory board of the Music Academy of the West and is a member of the Executive Committee for the Avery Fisher Artist Program. Currently Artistic Director of the Ojai Music Festival, his first planned festival will be in the summer of 2020. A native of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Smith earned a B.A. in European history from Tufts University, as well as B.M. and M.M. degrees in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory.

Martin Bernheimer, 1936-2019

The esteemed critic Martin Bernheimer died today, a day after his 83rd birthday, of sarcoma. According to his wife, Linda Winer, he'd been ill with sarcoma for several years.

Bernheimer is surely best known for his 31 years at the LA Times, from 1965 to 1996. In more recent years, he was the NYC correspondent for the Financial Times.

I exchanged email from time to time with Bernheimer. At one point, I was grievously wrong in thinking he'd written a review with....some problems...in Opera News; it was, in fact, a different reviewer. I helped him out a couple of times when he had issues with his opera-l subscription.

I also read a fair number of his FT reviews, which I found variable. Sometimes I thought they were most likely right on, other times? Well, I found this in old email:
My favorite Bernheimer diatribe was the one where he berated the Met for canceling Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk without noting that the Met still had on its schedule The Nose.
Seriously, why?

That said, we are rapidly losing the older generation of music critics. Bob Commanday has been gone since 2015; this year, we've lost Allan Ulrich and now Bernheimer. Condolences to his family and friends, who were clearly many, from what I'm seeing on Facebook and elsewhere.

Here are published obituaries:
Note that Page and Kelley have the same anecdote about something Bernheimer wrote at age 14....but with different publications involved.