Archive for September, 2010

Andre Rieu is Ill

Posted in News on September 30, 2010 by figarosi

A persistent viral infection has forced the Dutch “Waltz King” André Rieu to cancel two upcoming concert tours. One of the highest paid classical
performers, his tours with his “Johann Strauss Orchestra” have created legions of fans all over the world. Rieu, 61 on October 1st, had planned six
performances in England and Northern Ireland and twelve in Australia and New Zealand.

Rieu’s son, Pierre, told the newspaper “De Telegraff” that “Dad has never been sick as now. He is still plagued by dizzy spells and is not currently
on stage.” The concert tours are being rescheduled for early next year. Referring to earlier news reports of financial difficulties for the massive
organization, Pierre noted that his father was touched by offers of help from his many fans. “Rieu’s music companies have enough resources to
get through this situation,” said the son. “Papa hopes that people do not send envelopes with money.”

December concerts and beyond remain on his schedule, Rieu’s website is at:

Venezuela’s “El Sistema” has Another Winner.

Posted in Awards on September 16, 2010 by figarosi

The conductor José Luís Gómez Ríos has won First Prize in the fifth edition of the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Competition held in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. The 32 year-old conductor was born in Maraciabo, Venezuela and studied music first at the conservatory in his home town and later at the Manhattan School of Music. At the age of 11 he was concertmaster of the local youth orchestra and later had his first conducting experiences with the Youth Orchestra of Venezuela made famous by Gustavo Dudamel.

The prize, worth 15,000 Euros, places Gómez Ríos at the head of some 576 entrants. Second Place was awarded to the UK’s Kevin Griffiths, 32, and Third Place to 27 year-old Tito Munoz of the USA.

London’s Wigmore Hall

Posted in News on September 7, 2010 by figarosi

Something up now on about Wigmore Hall
Do Londoners appreciate the treasure in their midst? Historic Wigmore Hall is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year with special events but this hall is far more than just another venue. The cover story of this month’s issue of the French magazine Classica lists “The Top Halls for Music” and Wigmore Hall is there with such heady company as Carnegie Hall in New York, Berlin’s Philharmonie, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. It is the only small hall – it seats 545 – among the 21 legendary halls listed.

On September 10, the hall opens its doors for the new season with a special, four-day bouquet of talent. Opening night has Soprano Karita Mattila singing Berg, Brahms, Sibelius and Richard Strauss. The following night mezzo Angelika Kirchschlager, with pianist Julius Drake, appear. Sunday morning the Elias String Quartet performs and in the evening, the Tokyo String Quartet takes the stage. The following day, violinist Alina Ibragimova, with the talented French pianist Cédric Tiberghien, play a l PM program with Kirschlager returning, this time with tenor Ian Bostridge, for a joint recital at 7:30 PM. The Artemis Quartet completes the season launch on Tuesday evening, 14 September.

In addition, the season includes a gala celebration of the opening concerts on May 31 and June 1, 1901, with special events. While the original concerts, featuring pianist Ferrucio Busoni, violinist Eugène Ysaÿe and pianist Vladimir de Pachmann, among others, was at a level difficult to match today, this year’s concerts make a serious effort with the Takás Quartet, Stephen Hough, Steven Isserlis, Joshua Bell, Pamela Frank, Tabea Zimmermann and Jeremy Denk.

The hall’s unmatched acoustics, Edwardian elegance and sophisticated audiences have always made this a special stop on an artist’s schedule and great names were always a part of the history. This season tenor Jonas Kaufmann and mezzo Cecilia Bartoli will appear and it also includes a piano recital by Daniel Barenboim and, later, Martha Argerich playing piano four hands with her ex-husband, Stephen Kovacevich, to celebrate his 70th birthday. Also among the 400 concerts this season is the Artemis Quartet and their cycle of the Beethoven string quartets.

Classica magazine wistfully asked the question: “Is this the hall that Paris is missing?” Parisian halls like the Salle Cortot and the Salle Gaveau come to mind as a possible match to Wigmore in size and acoustics but the element missing in Paris is someone like John Gilhooly, manager of Wigmore Hall for the last 10 years. He has kept the hall at the center of London’s musical pulse, supervised the 2004 refurbishment project, introduced a jazz series, established a program to commission new works, set the hall on a firm financial footing and launched the hall’s own record label with 30 titles now in the “Wigmore Hall Live” catalogue. With friends like this, Wigmore Hall can look forward to its bicentennial with some assurance.

Full information about the anniversary season is at the website for the hall,

New Opera in Brussels

Posted in News on September 1, 2010 by figarosi

My writing about the new season in Brussels’ opera La Monnaie is mostly about the opening opera, Philippe Boesmans’ new opera, “Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy.” It is an impressive work which I saw at the world premier at the Paris Opera in January of 2009. It is not usual that both the critics and audience love a new work but both did this one. It is up now at and the URL is