NEW! 2019 Autumn English Music Festival from 27 to 29 September



This year’s Northern complement to the Dorchester-on-Thames English Music Festival takes place once more in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales in St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, Leyburn DL8 3SR near the famous Falls. The programme over the weekend of 27-29 September 2019 is again confined (and ‘confined’ that is not really the word) to chamber music events. Read more



Angela Gheorghiu talks to Michael Cookson

Angela Gheorghiu © Cosmin Gogu

Clearly relishing the beautiful summer weather in Dresden, the day I met Angela Gheorghiu for interview at her hotel she was looking cool in her blue and white striped summer dress, straw hat and wearing sandals. Bringing her family with her the Romanian soprano was in rehearsal for a few days preparing for her appearance in her signature role as heroine Tosca in the revival of Johannes Schaaf production at Semperoper. This is my report (click here) from what was one of the finest performances I have encountered in an opera house, a special Tosca with Gheorghiu in imperious form.

I am sure many people can vividly remember in 1994 the BBC clearing its evening schedule to broadcast live from Covent Garden, Angela Gheorghiu’s sensational performance as Violetta in La traviata. Conducted by her champion Sir Georg Solti one newspaper hailed her appearance as ‘A Star is Born’. From that day I have followed the fortunes of this Moldavian soprano, a train driver’s daughter, who married engineer Andrei Gheorghiu and was later rather publicly divorced from the temperamental French/Sicilian star tenor Roberto Alagna. Gheorghiu stated ‘It’s been quite an eventful ride’. Hailed as the successor to Maria Callas, The Sunday Times described Gheorghiu’s voice as ‘a liquid instrument of great lyrical beauty with gleaming spun-gold notes.’ Was it really almost a decade ago that from the comfort of my Odeon cinema seat I watched the live stream from Royal Opera House with Gheorghiu in her prime singing the title role in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur opposite Jonas Kaufmann? Her velvety, dark-tinged voice has a special quality that can move the stoniest of hearts and together with her refined acting ability she can command the stage. In my view I acclaim her as the greatest soprano of her generation. Gheorghiu is not only an exceptional singer and performer, she is noticeably bright and intelligent with a gift for languages, and a keen awareness of the traditions of her profession, but on meeting her it is the impassioned side of her character that stands out like a beacon.

My interview begins by mentioning the last time I saw her perform which was in the Staatsoper Berlin production at the Schiller Theater performing her signature role of Tosca. Gheorghiu was singing opposite an exceptional young tenor, Teodor Ilincăi as Mario. For my review click here.) It was only back in September 2016 and Gheorghiu quickly states that in her profession she enjoys being able to give talented performers opportunities and promote their career. She will point out to her colleagues, the intendent and conductor those with exceptionally talented voices and Teodor Ilincăi is one such example. ‘I am in no doubt that I have this kind of nose.’ I ask whether conductors can spot up-and-coming stars of the future? ‘They can’t always. Conductors have their own profession and we singers have our own.’ My response is to ask if this is down to instinct and she agrees. Openly she acknowledges that in her private life she has made many mistakes in judging people and that professional lives and private lives are very different but where her profession as an opera singer is concerned, she doesn’t make this type of mistake. ‘When I say a singer is the best, it is true!’

Not surprisingly, Gheorghiu talks about having worked with her former husband Roberto Alagna for more than eighteen years, experiencing with him a partnership in her personal life and working professionally together regularly as a duo. A look at their performing schedule and discography demonstrates just how often they worked together. Gheorghiu says that it was Roberto’s idea to sing together so regularly but her intention was to be a married couple rather than sing together. ‘Being a married couple is not always the most suitable professional partnership, especially when working at the highest possible level. The best idea is to sing with one person not because you are married but because you want to make music with that person. These are very different circumstances as our private life is one thing and the stage work is another; they are completely different.’ She can see this with the lives of her colleagues while Roberto for example is still of the same mind today, wanting to work with soprano Aleksandra Kurzak his wife. Gheorghiu believes for her this situation is wrong as she feels the need to have the liberty to make music with everyone and believes it is good for her music to be a free spirit. ‘It’s best to have a peaceful relationship at home rather than to let the professional one intrude.’ She laughs when explaining that this is her ideal situation, but that the ideal situation doesn’t always occur in life. This is a subject she is clearly happy to discuss as it occurred some years ago and is now able to look back on the experience, as there is no singer/partner next to her on stage. She admits having learned from it, but one senses the strength of the emotional pain it still brings. Gheorghiu reiterates that now she is ‘A free spirit and feels liberated, able to judge matters more objectively. When the opportunity arises to encounter and help someone talented, I believe in trying to help them with auditions as opportunities in the opera world are so small.’

It was at this point that I reminded Gheorghiu that the following day Plácido Domingo was singing the title role of Nabucco in David Bösch’s production at Semperoper, which is just over the road. She demurs warmly ‘Yes, I hope to see him. Maybe tomorrow. I need to let him know that I’m here, you see opera singers don’t really like surprises [she laughs] they prefer to know beforehand, and I want to be a good colleague.’ (Click here for my report from the next day’s performance of Nabucco and Domingo after the interval had to withdraw through illness.)

I am curious about the pressure cooker environment of the opera world that Gheorghiu works in, together with the scrutiny she is constantly under. Her response is tempered, saying ‘I’m being used to this kind of pressure having started out so young. It wasn’t really a surprise because everything that happened to me, I wanted to happen. All very quickly too. It was in 1992 when I first met Georg Solti and the La traviata at the Royal Opera House with him was two years later.’ She agrees when I mention that it is hard to believe it happening today that in December 1994, television channel BBC2 interrupted its schedule for a live transmission featuring her as heroine Violetta in Richard Eyre’s new production of La traviata under Solti from the Royal Opera House. It must have been a dream I say to her. But she plays it down. ‘It wasn’t really. People in the music world often say, nobody told me or what a surprise, but it wasn’t a surprise for my career taking off like it did as I wanted it to happen and had worked for it.’ Entirely focused, Gheorghiu clearly never thought even for a second that the success that happened wouldn’t happen.

After studying for six years at the National University of Music Bucharest when 18 Gheorghiu started doing television and big concerts. Then between 18 and 24 the prominent roles began coming – Violetta (La traviata), then Butterfly, Anna Bolena and Magda (La rondine). ‘It was absolutely clear that the Romanian public were used to large, significant voices.’ With ultra-confidence she thought if she could achieve success in Romania then she could achieve it abroad. ‘I was always sure’, she explains. Another piece of luck happened when she was a student, which was marrying the son of an important musician, part of an elite family of musicians in Romania, and that is why she is a Gheorghiu. ‘There were two brothers, the pianist Valentin Gheorghiu and Ştefan Gheorghiu a violinist, and I married Andrei, who is Ştefan’s son.’ Being part of this eminent family of musicians, who were friends of many of the world’s finest musicians she explains was quite wonderful for her and so many people came to the house. She remembers Ştefan being on the jury when the American soprano Jessye Norman had won a competition in Munich and he came home telling us all about the world of music and in such detail too. Helpfully she heard all this music talk in her home, how to make a career, to understand the constraints and deal with people in the music world which was all so helpful. Gheorghiu stresses that Ştefan and the family still thank her for staying friends, for keeping the Gheorghiu family name, and maintaining the family’s association with the music world whilst no longer married to Andrei.

Angela Gheorghiu as Tosca © Catherine Ashmore

Probably Gheorghiu’s most famous signature role is the tragic heroine Tosca from the Puccini opera. I ask her how she manages to keep her performances fresh and I find her response fascinating. ‘I never sing in performance too often, although the media can give the impression that I’m singing all over the place, but I’m careful to balance how much I sing and take lots of breaks. I have high standards. I need to have meaningful productions and a good opera house in which to sing.’ Gheorghiu is clearly selective and discriminating about the engagements she accepts. Singing Tosca all over the world she strives to fit in with modern, updated productions and understands modality but stresses a dislike for ugly and unreasonably difficult to understand productions. ‘Everyone must know that when an opera singer signs a contract, we have the title Tosca by Giacomo Puccini written on the page and I must find the actual production of Tosca just as it is written in Puccini’s score.’ Following Gheorghiu’s strong reaction to so-called ‘updated’ productions I describe to her the Michael Sturminger 2018 production of Tosca from Osterfestspiele Salzburg that I have seen (review click here). Sturminger moves the action from 1800, the time of Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory at the Battle of Marengo, to a Mafia-like underworld of present-day Rome. Serving as a prologue to Act I immediately before the music starts in an underground car park, shots are fired, and sirens wail as Angelotti who is under arrest is being transported in an Italian Police vehicle, before being sprung in an ambush. Angelotti then runs up a metal spiral staircase to appear in the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle. In Act II the twist is when Tosca stabs Scarpia with a large knife, she and the audience are supposed to think Scarpia is dead, but he is not. Later in Act III instead of throwing herself off the Castle ramparts, Tosca is startled to see an injured Scarpia appear and they simultaneously shoot each other with handguns. Tosca and Scarpia both fall down dead as the curtain closes.

Gheorghiu looks shocked and says she knows of this Sturminger production, seemingly incredulous why anyone would want to change this wonderful opera. ‘No one would want to change or alter a Caravaggio painting. Along with Tosca we are talking about masterpieces here. If you want a different story, then you need to go to a different composer.’ She asks me what I thought of the production and my response is that I have mixed feelings. Part of me thought it worked well. On the other hand, part of me feels it sacrilege to change a work of art like a painting, yet we do change our greatest operas.

Over the years I have heard mention of Gheorghiu performing the role of Desdemona from Otello. I wondered if this is a role she would sing. ‘To tell you the truth I would like to sing the role of Otello more than Desdemona.’ It seems she is saying that Otello is not only the starring role but also the better role. With Desdemona being the subordinate role maybe Gheorghiu doesn’t wish to be deferential to the tenor who has the title role. She says that in the past that is why she didn’t want to sing Gilda from Rigoletto, for instance. ‘Like Desdemona the heroine’s actions seem too stupid, they are the limit, the women can only explain their actions because they are in love with someone. They refuse to understand, making stupid decisions, they are the limit. In spite of everyone around saying things like, take care, watch out, be careful, the heroines refuse because they are in madly in love.’

Gheorghiu remembers the first time she was to sing in Otello, it was with Domingo in a new production at the Salzburg festival and Abbado was conducting. ‘It was many years ago now and I had to cancel because I decided the role of Desdemona was too early for me. There are some roles that I have considered and are the next step which are Manon Lescaut and Elisabeth de Valois (Don Carlos) but I want to keep the freshness in my voice because if you use it in something very tough and demanding you lose the freshness and I don’t want that. With my voice like it is today to sing the role Tosca I have to make more and more sacrifices, such as saying no and making people unhappy with that, c’est la vie. At my age I understand my limits and must be cautious so that no one can sing in my place. So, I’m glad that I have the possibility of singing new roles as well as the existing roles that I have been singing for years. It’s not easy deciding which new roles to do. My regular roles in Tosca, Traviata and Bohème are the best roles, absolutely.’

Gheorghiu’s viewpoint on the right time for opera singers to retire interests me. When I ask this, I sense her bristling slightly as if I am referring to her particular situation but actually, I am talking generally. ‘Opera singers when they are young all commonly say that when the time comes, they will know when to retire. But when they do, typically they are so unhappy to leave the stage. They don’t enjoy staying at home and miss being engaged and being on the stage.’

What fascinates me, too, is how a singer’s voice changes over the years. I ask if her voice has changed? ‘Not much. However, if anything it is more powerful, but it’s hardly changed. Thinking back to Luciano Pavarotti and singers from a past generation, the factor he considered as being the most important was keeping the voice fresh. If your voice changes, it’s not because something better is happening it’s because something is wrong. When a singer has the possibility of singing the major roles you must have a very fresh voice. I prefer to have Aida and Tosca and all the big roles, and this even applies to tenors not just sopranos the importance of having a fresh voice to sing a role. I don’t believe it’s necessary to become a mezzo-soprano to sing Aida; I don’t believe that. Also, physiologically sometimes women have a change of voice after giving birth. Sometimes a soprano can even become an alto or mezzo-soprano. My voice hasn’t changed much as I have got older, slightly more powerful but I have more courage to give more to my performances. In the past I have been reluctant to give everything to my performances as if I wanted to finish my performances relatively fresh, as if I could almost sing it again straight after. I’m not tired after a performance, I don’t want to be, and I don’t want to damage my vocal cords.’

Undoubtedly, she is an extremely disciplined singer and is reaping the benefits. Gheorghiu says she sets herself extra rules for new roles. ‘In my career I have said no, far more than yes, for offers of roles. Because I am always aware of my limits and also throughout my very demanding life, because when I was with Roberto everything was doubled emotionally; having to have my emotions doubled in every respect. Coping with all that was very hard because actually when you sing you feel you have a loss of power and draining of emotion.’ At this point Gheorghiu becomes notably fervent. ‘You see I am a very emotional person. My colleagues know this, but the public don’t.’ Highly sensitive? I ask. ‘Oh, yes, very sensitive. Too much. On stage, too much. My colleagues all say I should try to be cooler or more composed. But I say how? How?’ You can’t change the way you are, I respond. ‘No, I can’t, because this is something inside of me. Like it’s eating away inside. Everything I do, my costumes, my make-up, everything that I sing. I am emotional, but many others who are singing by comparison are empty inside. I have said to some, wake up. They can be this kind of cool on stage, but I certainly can’t. It’s not because I’m better than them, I cannot say that. It’s because that’s what I’m like. Everyone has their own character; everyone has their own way of dealing with things. I believe the public understand me, more than my some of my colleagues at times.’ Gheorghiu talks about being let down in her professional life by certain colleagues even by some that she has helped a lot in their careers, an attitude which she doesn’t understand and feels hurt by.

Gheorghiu has clearly been personally offended in her career and she brings up the subject of her sensitivity to criticism in the press. ‘I don’t know if critics generally know this but from 1996, I have made a point of never reading reviews. I really just want to see which picture has been used to accompany the review. I don’t need critics to tell me my bad points which I am aware of better than anyone. Thousands of people, audiences write to me giving me their opinion and praise me. And trust me when I go on stage, I try so badly to always do my best. I never go on stage to do even the tiniest thing wrong. Who would want to face an audience and purposely do badly. When the public listen to an opera singer on stage the singer has undertaken many years of study and experienced auditions. It is the intendent of the opera house who has signed the contract with the singer and is in charge, so in effect he is responsible. Then the next fault is the singer’s own colleagues and also the conductor. So, everyone in the opera house who have signed contracts have a joint responsibility. I try to explain that when a big artist makes a mistake it’s not their fault, it’s only human, it’s an accident, so they should not have to make a statement about a slip-up. In addition, I’m also against audiences that boo an opera singer as it’s humiliating in front of other people. If you don’t like a performance, then I say don’t applaud. I’m speaking generally when I say to offend a singer in front of their friends and colleagues is a horrible thing, this is an affront to someone who has made a mistake without deliberately wanting to.’

I ask Gheorghiu about the days of the claque – people hired to applaud or heckle especially in the era of Grand Opera – and she responds rather succinctly. ‘Oh yes, back in time the claque in France and Italy, people who ask for money. But I personally have never encountered that. This sort of mafia style-approach to want to take money off artists is very wrong.’

In interviews if I have the opportunity, I like to ask performers about their concert rituals or particular routines. Some artists can be quite guarded about this aspect but Gheorghiu was happy to talk. She explains that her main routine is to sleep as much as she can on the day of the concert. ‘I can’t eat, it’s not because of fear of the performance, it’s just that I have no appetite. But what I do is to warm up my voice and I always do my own stage make-up, and these routines all help me in my overall preparation. Then I put on the dress and I’m ready to perform. It’s as simple as that.’ I wonder if she suffers from pre-performance anxiety. ‘I have nerves of course but I’m not sure if they are good ones or bad ones, and excitement too. I try to put all that into my performance, put them into my overall sound to make it all feel alive. The text is never just words to me, I have something to say and together with the music it’s part of me. It’s a desire to impress and please everyone which is the reason that I go on stage. The reason to be an opera singer is to please and to entertain audiences, that is my aim and why, at 14, I started out on this career. It’s important to be myself in music that has been sung by the stars before me. I am aware that to do my best, I don’t sing too loud, or too high and I try to make my performance as theatrical as possible, because I believe in theatre. I don’t have or have never had a pianist, coach or vocal teacher because everything I learn myself, from the age of 18 I’ve been my only teacher.’

On a lighter note I ask about any amusing episodes that she has experienced on the stage. Immediately Gheorghiu says ‘On two occasions I’ve missed my entrances completely. Once I was in my dressing room and nobody called me, so I missed my entrance in La bohème and again it also happened in Carmen. At Covent Garden they stopped the performance and at The Met, New York they continued the performance without me (laughing).’ On another occasion there was a concert for my friend Luciano Pavarotti it was at Modena and during the concert I was singing La Wally and in the orchestra there was complete mess in the middle of the aria and I was unaware whether to continue or to stop. So, I decided to say stop and my good friend Franco Zeffirelli who I adore, was in the front row stood up and shouted “Brava Angela”. Yes, it was a mistake in the orchestra, this can happen in performance. Another occasion that she found extremely amusing was again with Luciano Pavarotti at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles. After the concert she was backstage with Roberto, and Luciano explained he was planning an all-tenor concert and that she could perform too as she is better than a tenor and must be there. She explained laughing ‘He meant that I have the same mentality as a tenor.’

I am curious if Gheorghiu has ever sung in English, and am taken by complete surprise when she says ‘when I was eighteen I sang this on television in Romania.’ She begins to sing me a few lines from the Henry Purcell song ‘Music for a While’. ‘You see at school we learnt English, German, Italian and French.’ I ask her if she had been taught Russian in Romania, but she explains there was no Russian as it was the generation before her who were supposed to learn Russian. ‘Actually, now I’m sorry that I didn’t learn Russian as it has another alphabet, Cyrillic script, and I know that it would have helped me singing Tchaikovsky for example. You know that in my career I have sung in twenty-eight different languages including Chinese, Russian and Greek but it’s very tough as you need to learn from the beginning. Now I prefer to sing in the languages that I understand perfectly. If I sing in Russian, well it’s not the same as I need to know the full details, the meaning of the words, that’s my view.’

Looking at Gheorghiu’s future plans there appear to include more Tosca performances in Johannes Schaaf’s staging for the remainder of 2019 into 2020 at Semperoper, Dresden, and then Tosca directed by Alvis Hermanis at Staatsoper Berlin in 2020. Gheorghiu announces to me that she has recorded in the studio a recital album containing new repertoire with pianist Alexandra Dariescu that is be released later this year on Decca. ‘As you will know this is a very exposed way of recording without an orchestra as a partner, so it’s just me and the pianist, which is a way that I love to record.’

Michael Cookson

For more about Angela Gheorghiu click here.

NEW! Opera Loki’s Madam Butterfly can be seen in Alton and London this September


Opera Loki’s Madam Butterfly

Opera Loki cuts right to the soulful heart of Puccini’s famous tale of love, desire and betrayal Read more

The Refugee Orchestra Project Comes to LSO St Luke’s on Sunday 1st September



A one-off concert in aid of Refugee Action

LSO St Luke’s, Sunday 1st September 2019 Read more

NEW! The Joys of the Marlboro Music Festival: Chamber Music’s Best-Kept Secret


2019 Marlboro Music Festival – Haydn, Harbison, Schubert, Beethoven: Participating and senior artists, Marlboro College, Vermont. (CSa)

Peter Wiley (cello), János Palojtay (piano) and artists (c) Pete Checchia

Read more



Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet Comes to Cinemas
in the UK and Ireland in October

Running time 93 mins / BBFC TBC / Released in cinemas nationwide
22 October 2019


Saffron Opera Group’s Tristan und Isolde on Sunday 15 September





‘A most remarkable concert performance… superb’
(Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph, on Parsifal)

Saffron Opera Group intends to build on its critically-lauded run of Wagnerian triumphs with the composer’s sublime hymn to the agonies and ecstasies of love, Tristan und Isolde. The concert performance takes place on 15 September in Saffron Hall. Read more

NEW! IMS Prussia Cove: Autumn Tour 2019


Shai Wosner © Miles Essex

IMS Prussia Cove is celebrated for its biannual seminars, which bring exceptional musicians from across the world to study, rehearse and perform together in a remote part of Cornwall. Over the last nearly 50 years, IMS Prussia Cove have established a reputation as one of the most exciting and respected organisations in classical music, and continue to flourish under the Artistic Director of Steven Isserlis.

The annual Autumn Tour offers audiences across the UK an opportunity to glimpse some of the work which has taken place in Cornwall during the seminars, featuring a group of musicians especially chosen by Artistic Director Steven Isserlis. This week-long tour gives insight into the unique atmosphere created during the renowned IMS Prussia Cove seminars, showcasing chamber groups which combine emerging artists with established world-class performers.

In autumn 2019, a star line-up and programme featuring Schumann, Fauré, Kurtág and Mozart is not to be missed, and we are pleased to announce that BBC Radio 3 will be recording the concert in Cedars Hall in Wells on Monday 30th September for broadcast in their lunchtime series later in the year. The hugely talented young cellist Zlatomir Fung, who recently attended the IMS Prussia Cove Masterclass Seminar, and who is taking part in this year’s Autumn Tour, was the winner of the celebrated Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow earlier this summer.

FREE tickets are available to all young people aged 8-25 for the concerts in Falmouth, Wells and Cambridge thanks to support from the Cavatina Chamber Music Trust.

Sunday 29th September, 3pm – King Charles the Martyr, Falmouth
Monday 30th September, 7pm – Cedars Hall, Wells
Tuesday 1st October, 7.30pm – Wigmore Hall, London
Wednesday 2nd October, 7.30pm – West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
Thursday 3rd October, 7.30pm – Champs Hill, West Sussex

Schumann – Fairy Tales Op.132
Fauré – Piano Quintet No.2 in C minor Op.115
Kurtág – Hommage à Robert Schumann Op.15d
Mozart – Clarinet Quintet in A K581

Sacha Rattle (clarinet)
Irène Duval and William Hagen (violin)
William Coleman and Clare Finnimore (viola)
Zlatomir Fung (cello)
Shai Wosner (piano)

Sacha Rattle (clarinet) Sacha has become an established soloist since his highly praised 2009 solo debut at Berlin’s Philharmonie. Noted for his immense sensitivity, warm character and unique sound, his career has developed rapidly with performances throughout Europe and in Asia. Sacha is an avid chamber musician, having collaborated with artists such as Lars Vogt, Isabelle Faust, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Pascal Moragues and Gustavo Dudamel. He performs regularly with duo partner Zeynep Özsuca, and is a founding member of the ensemble Berlin Counterpoint, a wind and piano sextet that enjoys world-wide success. Sacha helped to create Classical Revolution Berlin, which brings chamber music to unusual locations.

Irène Duval (violin) Irène has been praised for her ‘infinite delicacy’ (Le Populaire de centre) and ‘astonishing virtuosity’ (Revelation Classiques Prades). Winner of multiple national and international competitions, Irène has established herself as a compelling and versatile performer of concerti, recitals and chamber music and has appeared frequently as a soloist both throughout her native France and abroad. Irène regularly performs with the pianist Pierre-Yves Hodique, cellist Aurélien Pascal, and forms the duo La Rose et le Réséda with violinist Virgil Boutellis. She has also performed with Gidon Kremer, Steven Isserlis, Christian Tetzlaff and Mate Bekavac.

William Hagen (violin) William has performed as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician across the USA, Europe and Asia since his debut with the Utah Symphony aged nine. William’s 2018 season featured debuts with the San Francisco Symphony and Alexander Prior, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Brett Mitchell and an appearance at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago with Carolos Kalmar. William has performed with conductors such as Marin Alsop, Christian Arming, Placido Domingo, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Michel Tabachnik and Hugh Wolff, and with orchestras including the Brussels Philharmonic, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the ORF RadioSinfonieorchester, Vienna, the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, and the Yokohama Sinfonietta and the Sendai Philharmonic in Japan.

William Coleman (viola) William Coleman has made many appearances as a chamber musician and soloist, and as the violist of the acclaimed Berlin-based Kuss Quartet. His concert schedule has included concerts at the Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals, at the Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus and Musikverein, Wigmore Hall, Theatre du Chatelet Paris, Washington Library of Congress and Carnegie Hall. He has performed with some of the world’s finest musicians, including Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Christian Tetzlaff, Yuri Bashmet, Miklos Perenyi, Kim Kashkashian, Boris Pergamenschikov, Leif Ove Andsnes, Til Felner, Antje Weithaas and Clemens Hagen, as well as working directly with contemporary composers such as Helmut Lachenmann and György Kurtag.

Clare Finnimore (viola) Clare has played Principal Viola in Britten Sinfonia for the last 12 years, as well as with her regular chamber group – the Britten Oboe Quartet – which performs regularly at Festivals around the UK. She has also played as a guest with the Aronovitz Ensemble and the Nash Ensemble. As soloist, Clare has performed at the Aldeburgh, Brighton and Malvern festivals, at the Wigmore Hall and throughout the USA. While still a student she cofounded and was principal viola in the Guildhall String Ensemble, an internationally prize-winning group who toured worldwide for 20 years, making their Carnegie Hall Debut in 1991. They appeared on Blue Peter and Omnibus, made numerous recordings for RCA Red Seal and broadcast frequently on BBC Radio 3.

Zlatomir Fung (cello) Zlatomir was recently awarded First prize at the XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition and, among many other international awards in recent years, also won First Prize at the 2018 Alice & Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition. He is a regular member of the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players for their 2018-2019 season, and has been featured on NPR’s radio show From the Top six times, as well as on Performance Today. Zlatomir has been a soloist with the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ann Arbor Symphony, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, the Santa Cruz Symphony, the Boston Pops, the Lausanne Sinfonietta, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the State Philharmonic of Sibiu, and the New England Philharmonic, among others.

Shai Wosner (piano) Shai has attracted international recognition for his exceptional artistry, musical integrity and creative insight. His performances have made him a favourite among audiences and critics alike. This season, Shai continues his career-long engagement with Schubert’s music, including performances of his latest recital series Schubert: The Great Sonatas, at the Konzerthaus, Berlin, a residency at Cal Performance, Berkeley. This series will be recorded for a new double album on Onyx, released in the spring. His concerto performances this season include appearances with the Detroit and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and many others. Shai is a recipient of Lincoln Centre’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery G. Fisher Career Grant, and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. He has worked with conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Jiří Bělohlávek, James Conlon, Alan Gilbert, Gunther Herbig, James Judd, Zubin Mehta, Peter Oundjian, Donald Runnicles, Leonard Slatkin, Jeffrey Tate, and Yan Pascal Tortelier.

Further information available at

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  • NEW! Opera Loki’s Madam Butterfly can be seen in Alton and London this September __________________________________
  • NEW! The Joys of the Marlboro Music Festival: Chamber Music’s Best-Kept Secret __________________________________
  • NEW! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • REVIEWED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
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