Bayreuth Festspielhaus

Worldwide unique: The Bayreuth Festival Orchestra

There are many classic music festival around the globe. And there are many festival orchestras perfoming worldwide. But there is only one Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. And this one is unique: Since its first appearance in 1876 the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra is recruited out of a selection of superb orchestra musicians from Germany, other international well known orchestras and a couple of music conservatoire professors. Orchestra directors are (s)elected musicians themselves, for everey section: strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion. They decide whom to invite for the next season. This is a matter of a continuing high standing quality and an outstanding audience experience.

Bayreuth Festspielhaus

. Bayreuth Festspielhaus

Some 200 musicians started rehearsing  in the Bayreuth Festival premises in late June. The know “their” Wagner scores for years and sometimes by heart. They love to perform this music in the very special, stair like (and from the auditorium side invisible) orchestra pit. This pit construction is a guarantee for an unique acoustics. The musicans are soundkeepers of a German Wagner sound, especially when Christian Thielemann is conducting. This is a part of German orchestra tradition and an unique orchestra sound. Traditionally, on July 25 the first night of the festival will be open for a prominent audience which will walk on the red carpet in front of the “Festspielhaus”. And listen to an unique orchestra.

Big Bucks for orchestra CEOs

Salary Gulf for US Orchestra CEOs

According to a listing from US music expert Drew McManus salary gulf for US orchestra CEOs goes on.

Big Bucks for orchestra CEOs

Big Bucks for US orchestra CEOs

As ‘Top 10 Earners’ (2011/12) are reported the CEOs from:

Los Angeles Philharmonic: $1,751,039
New York Philharmonic: $912,858
San Francisco Symphony: $638,857
Boston Symphony: $622,938
Minnesota Orchestra: $619,313
Philadelphia Orchestra: $610,446
Cleveland Orchestra: $584,498
Chicago Symphony: $577,189
Saint Louis Symphony: $419,625
Atlanta Symphony: $406,747

The average income was about $265,297. The lowest salary: CEO of Portland Symphony: $87,593.

Co-operations between symphony orchestras and freelancers

There are a couple of the central issues raised by co-operations between permanent ensembles and freelancers: while the latter are commonly hired to address specific needs or reach particular audiences – and in this capacity often do excellent work – the two parties may not necessarily see eye to eye.

Working together with freelancers

Working together with freelancers

Co-operation between symphony orchestras and independent partners are fairly common for educational activities, as they are often project-based. Artistic co-operations are becoming more frequent, too, and they can give creative impulses and reach out for new audiences, though this has to be weighed against greater organizational efforts. Experiences are similar for co-operations between independents and opera houses, for example, by the Deutsche Oper Berlin and its new experimental space “Tischlerei” (“Joiner’s Workshop”): opera houses can offer resources usually unavailable to fringe ensembles, yet again, work styles are often markedly different, thus requiring more coordination. Immigration policies and their cultural aspects are a particularly interesting, but also difficult area in which independent artists or groups can play a role.

A case study of the Komische Oper Berlin in particular and its outreach activities towards audiences with a migrant background – typically hard to reach – shows how difficult (but necessary) co-operation is in practice and that there must be answers about the integration of migrant staff. Many of these aspects are also reflected in discussions with freelance artists. Artists of independent performance projects often do have their special experiences with orchestras and opera houses: variations from enthusiasm for fresh ideas and willingness to adapt working processes to reservations over perceived non-professionalism. This is a leadership challenge for every management.

Looking abroad to the UK and the USA, where independent artists and ensembles are much more common shows the differences due to the lower number of public orchestras in comparison to Germany and Central Europe. Very special is the relation from institutions to the “teaching artist”, who is much more than a music pedagogue, but a highly-trained, if independent, professional.

Classical:NEXT 2015 dates announced: 20 – 23 May

After the third edition of Classical:NEXT (which was held in May 2014 in Vienna) has once again been very well received, the organizers Piranha Arts announced the dates for next year. In order to enable newly interested professionals to join the Classical:NEXT network immediately, the year-round online platform C:N NET now offers a membership for non-delegates as well.



The fourth edition of the classical music expo and conference will take place from 20 – 23 May 2015. The location is not confirmed yet.

General manager Fabienne Krause: “We are very pleased to see Classical:NEXT going so well. Now it is on all of us to consolidate the project and to develop it further year by year. Of course, Classical:NEXT will always take place in a European city that is attractive to our delegates and easy to reach. As long as the final negotiations are running, we unfortunately can not confirm the location. We will do this very soon, though, in time
for everybody to arrange their stay comfortably.”

A record number of 900 delegates representing more than 500 companies and coming from more than 40 countries attended Classical:NEXT in Vienna this May.

4th European Forum on Music – Music and Politics: a shared responsibility

From 19-22 June more than 100 representatives of the music sector from over 20 countries came to Bern, Switzerland, to discuss the commonalities and differences of music and politics from diverse angles. The local partners Yehudi Menuhin Forum Bern and the Swiss Music Council provided the perfect setting which included a rich musical programme.

European Music Council

European Music Council

The opening keynote speech of the Forum was given by Ivo Josipovic, President of the Republic of Croatia who, following a performance of his piece Samba Brevis by the Chamber Orchestra of Bern, addressed the audience with a presentation that was as informative as it was entertaining. He referred to the long tradition of musicians who went into politics and politicians who were or wanted to be musicians. He also presented various political contexts in which music has been misused by totalitarian regimes, and the role of musicians and composers therein. He made reference to Luigi Nono’s social and political engagement which he expressed in his musical work, to Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and its contribution to reconciliation, as well as to diverse protest songs from different musical genres.
According to Jopsipovic there are common skills that both a musician/composer and politician need to have in order to be successful: listening, creativity & vision, communication with the audience, balance between freedom and discipline, understanding complex situations, high level of memory and concentration and organisational capacities. “Composers and politicians need to have adventures of spirit, and need to be patient and persistent”.

A successful undertaking for music and politics in Europe and Switzerland

Enrique Baron Crespo, former President of the European Parliament and President of the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation, highlighted the importance of music education as a fundamental part of humanistic education. On a personal note, he expressed his discontent with the latest developments in Switzerland, namely the federal popular initiative against mass immigration. Although not part of the European Union, Switzerland is in the middle of Europe and shares many of its democratic values – which makes this vote all the more disappointing for Baron Crespo. He drew a comparison with the latest European elections, which saw a rise in the populist and separatist vote, though which he is convinced was rather a call for change than to leave the European Union. He also reminded the audience that despite the disastrous gains for populist parties, 70% of voters were still in favour of the European Union.

In the speech that followed, Christa Markwalder, Vice President of the Swiss National Council, shared her view on the importance of music for education, as culture, arts and music help foster mutual understanding and respect. She took on Baron Crespo’s remarks by agreeing that Switzerland is very European being a “Europe en miniature”. Although she herself is not at all content with the outcome of the Swiss vote on mass immigration, she is still proud of the system of direct democracy which also brought about the Swiss Federal popular initiative on music education – in which more than 70% of votes were in favour of including music education in the Swiss constitution.

The session on “Freedom of Musical Expression” provided an insight into the situation of musicians in Belarus – the last dictatorship in the heart of Europe which is often forgotten about. Belarusian punk rock musician Lavon Volski shared his music and provided an insight into the realities of living as a musician who is banned from performing in his own country. To the question on whether he had ever considered giving up music he clearly said, “never, because I need to express myself through music”. A more general overview on the Belarusian situation was given by Ingo Petz, whilst Ole Reitov, interim director of Freemuse, introduced how his organisation works with music and censorship across the globe.

The 4th European Forum on Music provided diverse sessions such as a panel discussion with representatives from the European Commission, the Swiss Parliament and a Swiss singer/ songwriter/ comedian. It looked at the power of the amateurs, and provided diverse interactive sessions including a workshop on successful advocacy work, the European Agenda for Music, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as diverse music projects that reflect the overall theme of “music and politics”.

The Forum was proceded by the EMC Annual Meeting which included elections to the EMC Board 2014–2016. The new board consists of
• Ian Smith (UK), President, Portfolio Manager Music & IP Development at Creative Scotland
• Stefano Kunz (CH), Vice President, Managing Director Swiss Music Council
• Kaie Tanner (ET), Treasurer, General Secretary Estonian Choral Association, Board member European Choral Association – Europa Cantat
• Nenad Bogdanovic (CY), Executive Director Cyprus Symphony Orchestra Foundation
• Krzysztof Knittel (PL), President Polish Music Council, Composer
• Willem van Moort (NL), Director BplusC, Board member of the European Music School Union
• Kostas Moschos (GR), Director Institute for Research on Music & Acoustics, Treasurer International Association of Music Information Centres (IAMIC)

The Board co-opted Cathy Al-Ghabra (UK), chair of the EMC Youth Committee.

Czech Philharmonic announces new season with horror advert

Do you like this video? Would you like to visit a concert during 2014/15 season of Czech Philharmonic? Or even more: would you like to become a subscriber?


This promotion video of the Czech Philharmonic season 2014/15 is really “hardcore”: founded on the historical fact that Antonin Dvorak’s father was supposedly a butcher. However, do you see any aspect of the composer’s musical conditioning? Is this “too much” for an orchestra advert? Or is it just a shocking video which shall go viral to initiate discussions?