Muti Era begins in Chicago

Riccardo Muti took the helm of the Chicago Symphony this week as its latest music director. Choice quotes:

Symphony orchestras are the windows of a part of our great Western culture. The big orchestras such as Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago cannot close their doors, because if that happens it will be not only a scandal but also a disaster for society.
In a world full of violence, anger and crime, music can educate people's souls; certainly it can make society better.
What is vision? I do not see myself as St Francis, offering Chicago my beatific visions. Rather, in my first season, I see myself giving, together with this great orchestra, a panoramic view of the history of music. As we go along, we will try to find new ways to bring more people together, through music.

Read the complete report by the Chicago Tribune's John Von Rein.


Conductor's Notebook


Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on Tour

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, widely regarded as the world's finest, has been giving concerts in the USA led by music director Mariss Jansons. The performances have featured Dutch violinist Janine Jansen in the Sibelius Violin Concerto as well as Mahler's Third Symphony and Rachmininov's Second Symphony. Here are reviews from Tim Smith of the Baltimore Sun and Alan Kozinn of the New York Times.

The orchestra offers ten free downloads on its web site for those who register.


Conductor's Notebook


A Rocky Philadelphia Story

By all accounts America's famed Philadelphia Orchestra is navigating a difficult transition. The music remains strong in its appeal but issues of money and community have the organisation struggling.

The orchestra's president arrived only recently. The music director and marketing director have yet to be hired. The Kimmel Center makes expensive demands. The orchestra reports 62% attendance and a looming deficit of US$7.2 million. Peter Dobrin, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, reports that the more worrying issue in the long term is the orchestra's relationship with its audience. Philadelphia's music lovers feel increasingly remote from the ensemble that was once their pride. They miss encores, meeting players, getting reliable news. The orchestra has been slow to accommodate commuter schedules with rush-hour concerts and Sunday afternoon concerts.

It all adds up to a rocky journey for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Time will tell if it ends with a triumphant run up the steps.

The full article appears at the Inquirer site.


Conductor's Notebook


Interview: 'Eyes on the World'

Alton's Interview

I enjoyed a recent discussion of photography with Carrie Marshall Kellenberger. Her blog My Several Worlds covers aspects of Asia-Pacific living and travel.

Catch the interview here. Many thanks to Melody Hsiao for providing the interview photos.


Conductor's Notebook


Taipei Artists exhibit


Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Alton Thompson

You are invited to join us for the Taipei Artists inaugural exhibit. The exhibit opens at the historic Taipei Mayor's Salon on February 9 Tuesday and runs through February 27. Daily open hours are from 11:00 to 18:00 (6:00 pm).

The show features work by eight Taipei artists working in a variety of media. I'm one of two them, with colour photographs on display. Other media represented include oil painting, black-and-white photography, watercolour on paper and watercolour on wood.

A special reception, open to the public, takes place on February 12 Friday 14:00-18:00 (2-6 in the afternoon). I hope you may be able to join us for this event as well.

More information about the venue, including directions and contact information, appears at the Mayor's Salon official site (mayorsalon.com.tw).

More information about the exhibit may be found at the event's Facebook page.


Conductor's Notebook