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TECHNOLOGY FOCUS Classical streaming The future for recording artists Digital sheet music Tools of the trade Virtual realities The sci-fi technologies transforming the classical industry Issue 5 – Spring 2019 askonasholt.com

Haitink Celebrating the legendary conductor in his 91st year PLUS

Gabriella Reyes · Fatma Said · Karen Gomyo · Domingo Hindoyan

Cover photograph Bernard Haitink & the Royal Concertgeouw Orchestra head for New York, 22 April 1964. Photo: Harry Pot / Anefo, National Archives of the Netherlands, CC0 Guest editor Jo Fry

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Contributors Claire Jackson, Samuel Johnstone, Chris McMullen-Laird, Andrew Mellor & Yehuda Shapiro


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Welcome We are constantly told “we live in uncertain times”, but that phrase seems more relevant now than ever. Everywhere around us in our daily lives we are shown that these are times of huge scientific and political challenges, alongside rapid technological advances. Classical music and technology are not often discussed in the same breath, but in recent years this has changed significantly: last year saw the largest growth in streaming of classical music; more musicians than ever now perform and learn from scores on tablets; and the tech company Huawei recently developed a phone with software that ‘finished’ Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony – imagine what Franz would have made of that!

JO FRY senior artist manager

After reading music at Edinburgh University, Jo joined the record company Select Music – working as a label manager and then in international A&R for Naxos Records. He then went to Decca Records as an Executive Producer making a series of acclaimed albums with world class soloists, before moving across to the world of management at Askonas Holt in late 2009. Outside work (before children came along!), Jo founded and conducted the chamber choir VOX, and composed and recorded scores for short films, film trailers, adverts and numerous choral works. In 2017, Jo fulfilled a life long dream by running the London Marathon. Jo sits on IAMA’s Media & Broadcasting committee.

In this issue, we cover the three main areas of digital innovation most present in our industry; streaming, digital sheet music and Artificial Intelligence (AI): Andrew Mellor talks to streaming services Idagio and Primephonic about their visions, and explains how the artist, rather than the record company, now takes centre stage (p. 13); Claire Jackson meets some new digital sheet music companies and discusses their rise and potential future with artists including the Heath Quartet’s Chris Murray (p. 26); and Samuel Johnstone talks to Sean Michael Gross and Dr Marcus Pearce about new technologies permeating our business, such as virtual reality and new apps – can they help? (p. 20) Our industry has a unique chance to explore ways to embrace this wave of change – hopefully reaching new and younger audiences so they can experience all the incredible music we surround ourselves with on a daily basis. The question is, why shouldn’t classical music take the lead with this latest technological surge? From emerging technologies to a recognised great… In the month of his 90th birthday, Martin Campbell-White pays tribute to Bernard Haitink, whose career spans an incredible seven decades (p. 16). It is always fascinating to see the juxtaposition of old and new – Haitink joined Askonas Holt (as Harold Holt Ltd) back in the 1960s, the black and white photographs reminding us of the importance of our history and tradition, but at the same time showing us how far technology has come in the past century. Echoing our theme, the On Tour pages (p. 30) of this issue highlight the National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa’s upcoming 50th anniversary European tour, during which they perform the extraordinary Life Reflected, a multi-media presentation immersing the audience in sound, motion, imagery and design. Yehuda Shapiro speaks to two singers at the start of exciting careers: Egyptian soprano Fatma Said, who talks about her love of song and wanting to die on stage (p. 10); and Nicaraguan-American soprano Gabriella Reyes, who discusses her swift journey to the Met and the importance of her Latin-American identity (p. 23). We also shine a spotlight on Swiss-Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan (p. 8), Japanese-Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo (p. 9), and our own Director of Tours & Projects, Sergio Porto Bargiela (p. 29).

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IN THIS ISSUE 3 EDITOR’S WELCOME 6 NEWS Ludovic Morlot, David Afkham, Nicola Benedetti, Ailyn Pérez, Ilya Kutyukhin, International Opera Awards plus eight recent signings 8 SPOTLIGHT ON... Swiss-Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan 9 SPOTLIGHT ON... Japanese-French-Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo 10 INTERVIEW Egyptian soprano Fatma Said on becoming a singer, her love of song, and wanting to die on stage 13 FOCUS BRAVE NEW WORLD Streaming and the future for recording artists 16 COVER STORY Celebrating Bernard Haitink on his 90th birthday, with archive photos and a personal tribute from Martin Campbell-White 20 FOCUS THE FUTURE'S DIGITAL The sci-fi technologies transforming the classical music industry 23 INTERVIEW Nicaraguan-American soprano Gabriella Reyes on making her Met debut, her Latin American identity, and her dream role 26 FOCUS DIGITAL SHEET MUSIC The new apps and devices available to musicians 29 MEET THE TEAM Sergio Porto Bargiela, Director, Tours & Projects 30 ON TOUR Upcoming projects in Europe, Asia & Australasia

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Photos, clockwise from top left: Fatma Said © Felix Broede, nkoda platfom, Domingo Hindoyan © Victor Santiago, Karen Gomyo © Gabrielle Revere, NAC Orchestra My Name is Amanda Todd © Fred Cattroll, Idagio platform © Idagio, VR headset photo by rawpixel.com, Gabriella Reyes © Suzanne Vinnik, Bernard Haitink with the Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam on 9 September 1983 © Lucerne Festival Archiv, Ailyn Pérez © Dario Acosta

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News Read all news stories at askonasholt.com/news

GRAMMY No. 5 for Ludovic Morlot & Seattle Symphony Following GRAMMY wins in 2015, 2016 and 2017, Seattle Symphony’s recording of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Violin Concerto, performed by violinist James Ehnes and conducted by Ludovic Morlot, won two awards in the classical category at the 61st GRAMMY Awards. The Violin Concerto, which was commissioned and given its US premiere by the Seattle Symphony, received both Best Classical Instrumental Solo and Best Contemporary Classical Composition. grammy.com

David Afkham appointed Chief Conductor & Artistic Director of OCNE Building on the success of his tenure as Principal Conductor (since 2014), David Afkham will assume his new position in September 2019. David said: "After five years of rewarding collaboration with this wonderful group of musicians as its Principal Conductor, this is the beginning of a new chapter and I am looking forward to many more beautiful musical moments, and to our continued growth together.” ocne.mcu.es

Awards & competitions Baritone Ilya Kutyukhin won both the “Claude Dassault” First Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2019 Paris Opera Competition Soprano Ailyn Pérez is to be honoured at the 14th Annual OPERA NEWS Awards on 7 April, for her outstanding contribution to the opera world Nominees for the 2019 International Opera Awards have been announced, and include Myung-Whun Chung, Rosa Feola, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Asmik Grigorian, Deborah Warner, Dame Sarah Connolly, Sonya Yoncheva, Sir George Benjamin & Soraya Mafi

© Andy Gotts

© Gisela Schenker

Nicola Benedetti awarded CBE Violinist Nicola Benedetti has been appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2019 New Year Honours List, for services to music. This follows an MBE in 2013 and The Queen’s Medal for Music in 2016, of which she was the twelfth and youngest ever recipient of the award. A passionate advocate for quality music education, the role of arts and culture in the wider community and the transformational effect it has on all young people, Nicola has recently launched two new projects: The Benedetti Foundation, and “With Nicky” – an online series of educational videos that intends to provide information, guidance, and support for young musicians throughout their musical and personal development. askonasholt.com/nicola-benedetti

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Recent new signings

Marta Gardolińska conductor

Leverhulme Young Conductor in Association at Bournemouth Symphony Associate Fellow of Marin Alsop’s Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship (2017-19) Represented by Terry Shew & Hannah Bishay

Ryan Speedo Green bass-baritone

Victoria Karkacheva mezzo-soprano

Andrei Kymach

Marc LeroyCalatayud



European management, in partnership with Promethean Artists

Member of the Young Artist Programme at the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia

Graduated from the

Assistant Conductor at Opéra National de Bordeaux, regularly conducting opera, ballet & symphonic performances

Appears with the most prestigious opera houses and orchestras in the world Represented by Joel Thomas, Camilla Wehmeyer & Natasha Worsley

This summer, she will join the Atelier Lyrique at the Verbier Festival Represented by Mark Hildrew & Nathan Morrison

Bolshoi Young Artist programme in 2018 This season includes debuts at Gran Teatro del Liceu & Auditorio de Tenerife Represented by Mark Hildrew &

Conducting fellow of the Akademie Musiktheater Heute (2018-20) Represented by Olivia Lyndon-Jones & Sara Edwards

Paul Meyer zu Schwabedissen

 Read online exclusive interviews with Marta, Marc & Corinna at askonasholt.com/interviews

Corinna Niemeyer

Pavel Petrov



Alexandros Stavrakakis bass

Assistant Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

First Prize and Don Placido Domingo Ferrer Prize of Zarzuela, Operalia 2018

Upcoming debuts with the Orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin & Opéra National du Rhin

Member of the ensemble at Oper Graz

Second Prize & Audience Prize at 2018 Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition

Represented by Mark Hildrew, Camilla Wehmeyer & Natasha Worsley

Represented by Mark Hildrew, Paul Meyer zu Schwabedissen & Jessica Wadey

Represented by Rachel Bertaut & Niall Houlihan

Photos, clockwise from top left: Gardolińska © Bart Barczyk, Green © Dario Acosta, Karkacheva © Peter Kolchin, Leroy-Calatayud © Cyrill Cosson, Niemeyer © Simon Pauly, Petrov © Daniil Rabovsky, Stavrakakis © Matthias Creutziger, Yoncheva © Kristian Schuller

Member of the ensemble at Semperoper Dresden

Sonya Yoncheva soprano

One of the most acclaimed artists of her generation, appearing on the world's most important stages Exclusive Sony Classics artist & Rolex ambassador Represented by Imogen Lewis Holland & Jessica Wadey

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Domingo Hindoyan Newly-appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) Domingo Hindoyan will begin his first tenured position in September 2019. The announcement of his appointment came during a somewhat pivotal year for the Swiss-Venezuelan conductor, which included debuts with Dresdner Philharmonie, Helsinki Philharmonic, The Metropolitan Opera, Mariinsky Theatre and Lyric Opera of Chicago among others. Recalling his reaction to the NOSPR’s invitation, Domingo said, “I was proud and honoured, and at the same time very happy that the work and chemistry the orchestra and I had in the invitations that preceded the proposal would be able to develop further in a long-term relationship.”

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Having first made his debut with the NOSPR in March 2015, Domingo is now looking forward to continuing his relationship with the orchestra, and “[developing] it in terms of sound and interpretation, giving the best of my knowledge, temperament and hard work, in order to get the best from them, and together make a signature sound.” “It is a brilliant and virtuosic orchestra,” he says. “I have done Stravinsky Petrushka, Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 and Nielsen Symphony No. 4 – very demanding pieces – and the sound, temperament and discipline were fantastic!” Making strides on both the concert and opera podium, Domingo began his career as a violinist. How does he balance his work in the opera house with his symphonic conducting? “I

“Hindoyan’s confident leadership inspired the orchestra to gorgeous playing and striking precision. His utter assurance in every measure made it plain that he knew the score well” Roy C. Dicks, CVNC

feel the need to do both,” he told us. “I am a violinist myself and a symphonic conductor by origin, but my passion for the voice and my relationship to music theatre is a necessary part of my artistic life. I will always try to have mixed seasons as equal as possible.” Domingo’s forthcoming engagements include concerts with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, Mozarteumorchester Salzburg on tour in South America, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, his debut in China with both the Shanghai and Guangzhou Symphony Orchestras, opera debuts at the Wiener Staatsoper, Opéra de Paris and Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, and returns to The Metropolitan Opera and Chicago Lyric. 

© Victor Santiago


Karen Gomyo “captivating, honest and soulful, fuelled by abundant talent but not a vain display of technique.” Cleveland Plain Dealer Having relocated from New York to Berlin last year, Japanese-FrenchCanadian violinist Karen Gomyo is quickly making her mark on the European stage. Already wellestablished in North America, she has performed with orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, National Symphony in Washington, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Toronto Symphony and San Francisco Symphony among others. In Europe, the list includes City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony, Danish National Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Radio France, Residentie Orkest, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Polish National Radio Orchestra (where her last-minute debut was greeted with an immediate re-invitation). This season, she adds BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Dresden Philharmonic and the Philharmonia to her range. Speaking to The Green Room, Karen said: “It has been a lifelong dream of mine to move to Europe, to immerse myself in music and history in the midst of such cultural richness and diversity. Having been particularly drawn to Berlin, I feel deeply fortunate to be able to call it my home today. The city is

© Gabrielle Revere

endlessly inspiring, thriving with tremendous artistic, innovative, and multi-ethnic energy. "I’m incredibly happy, also, to be closer to my many friends and colleagues around Europe, and to keep on exploring projects together. I am excited about the prospect of building new friendships as well, and look forward to the opportunity to expand on my musical pursuits in Europe, while continuing with my activities abroad.”

with Jörg Widmann, Olli Mustonen and Sofia Gubaidulina; and a close collaboration with Piazzolla’s longtime pianist and tango legend Pablo Ziegler, and his partners Hector del Curto (bandoneon), Claudio Ragazzi (electric guitar) and Pedro Giraudo (double bass). Karen plays on the Aurora Stradivarius violin of 1703, bought for her exclusive use by a private sponsor. 

The young violinist displays an impressive range of repertoire: alongside the more traditional violin repertoire of Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky etc., Karen is strongly committed to contemporary works, and has a real passion for the Nuevo Tango music of Astor Piazzolla. The latter have led to some particularly interesting projects over the past few years, including premieres of concertos by Matthias Pintscher (including with the composer at the helm), and Samuel Adams (written especially for her and commissioned by the Chicago Symphony); chamber music collaborations

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Fatma Said

Š Irina Litvinenko

The Egyptian soprano speaks to Yehuda Shapiro about becoming a singer, her love of song, and wanting to die on stage

10 The Green Room Winter 2018


Egypt has a population of 100 million and Verdi’s Aida was famously commissioned for the opening of Cairo’s opera house, but the country is not known for producing opera singers. How did you come to choose this career? You could say that it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. It’s not usually an option for a young Egyptian to pursue an operatic career and my family is more active in sport than music. This is not to say that Egyptians aren’t musical: the country is No. 1 when it comes to both popular and classical Arabic music, and Umm Kulthūm, who is known as ‘The Golden Voice’, was the most celebrated Arabic singer of the 20th century. She performed in the classical Arabic-Egyptian tradition, which requires a completely different technique and approach from European classical music. There are a lot of international schools in Egypt, and I happened to go to German-language schools in Cairo from kindergarten upwards. This meant that there was a strong emphasis on music education, and from an early age I learned how to play instruments and sang in the choir. I had a wonderful teacher who let me sing solos and then introduced me to an Egyptian singing teacher, Dr Neveen Allouba. I was only 13, but I was very lucky to fall into her hands. She studied singing in Germany and really understands about the world of opera. There are so many

teachers who wouldn’t know what to do with a young voice, but she kept it natural, not trying to make it into something that it wasn’t, and she provided a great basis for my subsequent studies. I stayed with her until I was 17, when I auditioned for the Hanns Eisler Conservatory in Berlin. Music had always been part of my life and by that point I wanted to know more about it – this was not just about singing. I wanted to understand the relationship between poetry and music, to study form and analysis. Music takes you into languages, literature and history, but also into physics, biology and mathematics. In a song that’s just one page long, I can study all these things, and the learning will never stop. At the age of 17 I was like a sponge and I wanted to soak up as much as I could. The opportunity in Berlin came up at a late stage, since I already had a place to study music at the American University in Cairo. My father was the deciding factor in my going to Germany. Apart from him, everyone around me thought I should stay in Egypt, but he challenged the norms by letting me go alone to another continent – and not to study medicine or architecture. He wanted me to study something that I loved. Music became the priority and focus in my life and I started to look at singing from a more professional angle. It took me a few months to get used to the freedom and independence and to start learning what responsibility really is. It was tough, but it was very important, and I think that going to Berlin was the best step I could have taken. Why is song so important to you? I started with song when I was in Cairo – I remember singing Mozart’s Das Veilchen when I was 13 and beginning to learn how to interpret, to create colours. Though I already spoke German, I discovered that you produce the words differently when you sing them, and the same is true

© Irina Litvinenko

Cairo-born soprano Fatma Said studied at Berlin’s Hanns Eisler School of Music before winning a scholarship to the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala. She went on to perform Pamina in new production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the legendary Milanese theatre. The winner of a number of high-profile singing competitions, from 2016 to 2018 she was a member of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme, and she has now appeared on major operatic and concert stages around Europe and beyond.

"Very few people sing these songs, so if I don’t, how will people get to know them and form an opinion of them?" of French or Italian or Arabic. All these principles have to be applied in opera too. Opera can’t just be about sound or a beautiful voice. Songs become small operas, and a recital becomes a kind of compendium of 25 operas in an hour-and-a-half. Opera is very intense too, but in opera you are one person for three hours. In a recital, you need to switch all the time. The most wonderful, but also the most difficult thing, about performing song is being myself. In an opera I am someone else – I put myself in the shoes of a queen, or a princess or a slave, but in song I can really be me. It makes me feel very naked and vulnerable. I perform the song as I feel it at that very moment – it could be completely different the next day.

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"I love sharing music with people – that’s why I sing. I’d hate to put myself in a box where I could only sing opera or art song." My time as a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist let me indulge my passion for song and chamber music. It offered me great opportunities for mastering the repertoire, and singing for the microphone was a new experience – when you listen to yourself afterwards you find out whether you were really delivering the message in the way you thought you were. I love sharing music with people – that’s why I sing. I’d hate to put myself in a box where I could only sing opera or art song. I have huge passions and I love so many different types of music and styles – zarzuela, for instance. Sometimes I include 20th century Egyptian art songs in my programmes. It’s quite natural for me: Egypt is my country and Arabic is my native language. Singing these songs is something I know how to do and it gives audiences the chance to hear something new. Very few people sing these songs, so if I don’t, how will people get to know them and form an opinion of them?

And opera? This sounds strange, but I always wanted to die on stage – I always looked forward to singing Violetta, Mimì and Manon. Though I aspire to Verdi and Puccini, my voice isn’t ready for them yet. My first ‘dying role’ will be Manon next year. She’s the French Violetta. Because of the language and the way the role is written, it suits the current maturity of my voice. Even though I spent several years studying at the Accademia of La Scala, Italian repertoire remains more of a challenge for me. People tell me I’m ideal for Donizetti’s Adina or Norina, but I don’t feel as ready to sing them as I do Manon. I love Mozart. Pamina at La Scala was a revelation for me, and later this year I’ll be singing the role in Shanghai. I learn so much when I sing Mozart, about my technique and about myself. It’s good for my voice, it’s good for my soul and it’s good for my being. I’ve studied Zerlina and Despina, and I recently

Fatma in Thamos, König in Ägypten at the 2019 Mozartwoche by Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation © ISM/ Matthias Baus

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sang in Thamos, König in Ägypten at the Mozartwoche in Salzburg. Arias from Die Zauberflöte and Zaide were added to the score and La Fura dels Baus did a very interesting production, set not in Ancient Egypt, but in the near future, with technology taking over. Digital media have made music so much more accessible – and as a professional musician it makes such a difference to be able to find and download a score in moments – but it can also be confusing to have so many options at your fingertips. Where do you want to be in 10 years’ time? I just hope that I can still be myself. It’s a crazy life, pretending to be other people all the time, and I’m sceptical about thinking too far into the future. In Egypt, our way of saying good night is to say, “I wish you a nice morning.” We just want to survive until the next day! 


Brave new world 2018 saw the biggest rise in classical music streaming since the technology came to maturity – so what have platforms been doing to fix our genre’s streaming frustrations, and what does the future look like for artists who record? Andrew Mellor investigates In 2018, the number of classical music streams – individual online ‘listens’ to a piece of recorded music – increased by 42% on the previous year. And for once, classical music overtook mainstream growth with an increase of 9% more than the average across genres. We may have started from a low base, but this near doubling of our streaming interaction represents a giant leap forward for the small yet resilient corner of the record industry that represents the classical music sector. The timing is no coincidence. Classical music and streaming have not been the easiest of bedfellows for the last two decades. Though some of us were streaming classical music way back in 1998 while the Millennium Dome was still being built, only in the last few years has the sector seized the initiative, offering tailormade alternatives to the industry giants whose streaming services are

undeniably a bad fit for classical music – whether you listen to it or conduct, play and sing it.

FAIR TRADE STREAMING One of the main reasons we’re streaming more classical music is that a handful of new apps have made it far easier to listen to classical music online without downloading it. That means we can leave the industry behemoths to do what they do best. Spotify and Apple Music were never designed for classical recordings. Their millions of tracks are anchored in the digital ether by means of three identifying data points: artist, album, song. That was never going to work for classical music, where the search parameters – conductor, orchestra, year, soloists and casting (even before you’ve considered the composer and the work) – are far more complicated. “On Spotify, you can only find a

recording if you already know it exists,” says Thomas Steffens, CEO of Holland-based streaming service Primephonic. “If you type in 'Beethoven Symphony 7', you’ll get a few seventh symphonies, some seventh string quartets and a lot of works by Beethoven with 7 in the opus number. Primephonic gives you a clean overview of recordings of the Symphony.” His company is one of a handful of classical-only streaming apps that have become prominent in the last few years, providing an alternative to the big beasts that have long given classical streaming a bad name. It’s not just poor user experience these apps are addressing. Many independent classical labels quit the likes of Spotify because of the

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left: Christoph Lange, Idagio far left: Thomas Steffens, Primephonic

yet been persuaded, he believes, are mostly “frustrated by the concept of streaming because of the Spotifys and Apple Musics of this world.” Will he convert them all? “Maybe a handful will never be converted, and those will go out of business,” he says. “We are moving into a streaming only world – a streaming only generation. It’s a case of change, be changed, or be replaced. There’s a 5-10 year horizon.”

“We are moving into a streaming only world – a streaming only generation. It’s a case of change, be changed, or be replaced." thomas steffens tiny revenues generic sites deliver to classical artists, the head of one small indie claiming recently that there were ‘too many zeros in front of the amount-per-stream figure’ to make it viable. In most cases, those labels saw a system unfairly rigged in the favour of other, mainstream genres. Christoph Lange, co-founder of streaming site Idagio, explains: “Whenever you listen to 20 or 30 seconds of a track on Spotify, that counts as a track play,” says Lange. “The problem is, if I’m listening to a 30-40 minute movement of a Mahler symphony, that counts for the same amount as a song of two-and-a-half minutes. The big streaming sites put all this revenue into one bucket and the revenue share is divided up into tracks played, which means genres like classical have a unfairly low market share.” The problem is confounded by the fact that we tend to listen to pop music all day as background music, but listen to classical music more intensely and for shorter periods of time. “Basically we get punished twice, first because the platform doesn’t work properly and secondly because the payments

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are fundamentally imbalanced,” says Steffens. Idagio has been referred to as a ‘Fair Trade’ streaming service because, like Primephonic, it pays rights holders per second of track played (rather than a flat rate per track). But it also focuses its play fees on the habits of its users. Revenue, as at Primephonic, comes from pay-monthly user subscriptions. But if a user spends his or her entire listening time in a given month absorbed in recordings made by violinist Vilde Frang, for example, the producers of Frang’s recordings will be the sole recipients of the revenue from that subsrciber. In the case of recordings where the artists are also the exclusive rights-holders – a common trend in the last decade – that model becomes even more significant.

GROWING THE MARKET Steffens has done the maths and is adamant that of the 1,200 significant classical record labels he believes exist, Primephonic has contacted 1,000 and is edging closer to having “the most extensive classical music catalogue in the world.” Those labels that haven’t

Classical music accounts for just 5% of music listened to via technological means, from streaming to CD to radio. But those who do listen expect more from the experience than, say, the teenagers who stream chart music throughout the day and form the bulk of the wider industry’s target audience. Subscribers to classical-only streaming services are willing to pay more per month for a higher quality of sound (nearly half, in the case of Primephonic’s subscribers) and are hungry to discover new music or have works curated for them by nonalgorithmic means. While algorithms and popularity dictate the suggestions offered by big streaming services when you get to the end of a track – anyone who has used Spotify will be familiar with the questionable assumption that if you like Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli then you’ll love One Direction’s Drag Me Down – the likes of Primephonic, Idagio and high-end streaming specialist Qobuz have clocked that subscriber loyalty depends on a more sophisticated (and more human) method of leading listeners from music they know into music they should know. Idagio launched its new recommendation system in February, in which “very talented engineers and musicologists work on what would be a really good recommendation” (Lange) when you reach the end of the album or work you actually chose. But the site uses even more ingratiating techniques to guide its users through the repertoire, including curated playlists with philosophical, temperamental,


That is an almost unspeakably valuable marketing tool and, when coupled with social media, a vital and close means of communication between artist and fan-base. Primephonic has explored similar avenues, in tune with Steffens’s missionary zeal when it comes to the amount of music there is lying undiscovered: “The whole classical music world is about 100,000 works,” he says; “if you know a lot about classical music, you know 10,000 of them. That means you still have to be introduced to 90,000.” It’s a little unclear how he arrived at those figures, but you get the point. Either way, those figures suddenly look very small when you consider the markets involved. The base technology behind streaming is delightfully simple and dependent solely on an internet connection. Rights and language issues are complications, but Idagio – in effect a global service, notwithstanding geo-blocking – has seen strong growth since its launch in the US in the Autumn and has started to make bespoke-translated versions of its app for the Spanish-speaking market. “If you have your recording on Idagio it’s available from Mexico to South Korea,” says Lange, but he is keen to point out that focussed marketing and strategic work on certain markets will follow what might be considered a soft launch.

not going to be found. We cater to an audience who cares and who responds to stories like Ivan’s.”


“I think the role of the label will change,” says Steffens. “My hunch is that some A-list artists will always need record labels – to make sure their albums are featured on the right streaming services, are pushed onto the right playlists and are wellmarketed and promoted. For more independent or specialist artists, labels will increasingly conclude that they cannot make money through them; they will be the artists who reach out to streaming services themselves.” Might that, in turn, breed a new generation of streaming services altogether? For artists, managers, listeners and tech gurus, the question is not whether to get involved, but how to. 

While all this has implications for consumers and record labels, the potential for artists is massive. Idagio, which increasingly streams exclusive content often lifted from live performances, made a particularly interesting move in the summer of 2017. The young pianist Ivan Krpan won the Busoni Competition, and within a week of his victory the app had published a series of the pianist’s recordings, ready for his imminent tour of South Korea. “That meant Ivan had a platform and an audience overnight, which would have been far more difficult to reach without Idagio. You can put your music on SoundCloud or YouTube, but it’s not enough. You are

That raises the question of whether the middleman – record labels – will ultimately be needed at all. Though he’s cautious with details, Lange speaks of making Idagio “more and more into a self-service opportunity” for artists, which could have seismic consequences and hand even more control to those who make the music we love (the natural legacy of those labels which started issuing artistowned recordings in the noughties). “Over the next few years, we will be offering musicians a way to contribute to the platform and promote themselves on it,” Lange says – one of a few ways in which Idagio will constantly strive to “introduce special features.”


Currently, Primephonic is available

in the Netherlands, the UK and the USA and Steffens is reluctant to be drawn on how quickly he will expand outside those markets. “We could do it in a couple of weeks if we wanted,” he says, “but we have chosen to be successful in our home markets first.” Idagio enjoys the benefit of having made the first move globally, but both Lange and Steffens cite the legwork needed to crack the Asian market that seems to hold so much potential. “It’s a different way of interacting digitally,” says Lange of the Far East. “Obviously these are huge markets with a strong interest in classical music, but I feel they need a specific, tailor-made product.” With China now in the top 10 territories for streaming in the world and predicted to enter the top 5, they may want to get working on some prototypes.


geographical or even meteorological themes and, vitally, playlists curated by recording artists themselves.

Spring 2019 The Green Room 15


Bernard Haitink Martin Campbell-White, who has worked with the conductor for several decades, pays tribute to Haitink and his 65 years on the podium This month, many of the staff at Askonas Holt have enjoyed the privilege of attending one of Bernard Haitink’s concerts at the Barbican with his beloved London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). The programme for the concert contains, of course, his biography, from which I quote its final paragraph: “After the 2018/19 season, during which he celebrates his 90th birthday (4 March, actually) and a 65-year conducting career, Bernard Haitink will take a sabbatical” No fanfares. No listing of his numerous achievements. No valedictory comments. Typical of the man’s modesty. It has been an honour for us to work for such a great and unique artist, who has been with Harold Holt and Askonas Holt since the early 1960s. That is very nearly 60 years with the agency; truly a record. It was the pianist Claudio Arrau who told then Managing Director Ian Hunter that he had just been working with an amazingly talented young Dutch conductor in Amsterdam and that we should sign him up. Since that time, there has been a line of managers including Sir Ian Hunter, Diana Rix and myself working with Bernard over these many decades. I have had the good fortune to witness so many great performances. Particular highlights include: The Ring Cycle at Covent Garden; Mozart at Glyndebourne; concerts

16 The Green Room Spring 2019

Haitink in 1959. Photo: Herbert Behrens / Anefo, National Archives of the Netherlands, CC0


Bernard Haitink in rehearsals at Glyndebourne for The Rake's Progress, with Director John Cox and Designer David Hockney, 1975 © Glyndebourne Productions Ltd / ArenaPAL

"It was the pianist Claudio Arrau who told Ian Hunter that he had just been working with an amazingly talented young Dutch conductor in Amsterdam and that we should sign him up."

in Boston and Chicago; Mahler and Bruckner with the Concertgebouw Orchestra; and visits to the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics (both of which have granted him honorary membership). I have accompanied him on tours to Asia with the Chicago Symphony and the LSO, the last only three seasons ago. He has developed an especially close bond with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, touring with them in Europe and appearing most Easters and Summers at the Lucerne Festival. We shouldn’t forget the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (BRSO) with whom he has made many recordings for EMI – most notably The Ring Cycle and Der Rosenkavalier – and still today he enjoys a very happy concert connection with them. An 11-CD box set of his recordings with the BRSO was released earlier this

year to coincide with the conductor’s milestone birthday and, in fact, with all the orchestras that enjoy a close relationship with Bernard, there are, happily, countless audio and video recordings for us to enjoy for years to come. Lucerne is also the place where Bernard has one his most satisfying ventures; his conducting masterclasses. Ten times oversubscribed, every aspiring young conductor hopes to be accepted. He gets immense pleasure in helping these young people find and develop their own individual voices, shown further still by his generosity in giving his time for the Royal College of Music in London and the Hochschule in Zurich. Nor should we forget his work as Music Director of the European Union Youth Orchestra. It was heart-warming to be present

at the Barbican earlier this month to hear his concerts with the LSO. The audiences’ affection for him was immediately palpable; from the moment he came on stage to begin the concerts to the standing ovations at the end. He acknowledged the ovations with his typical modest gesture – almost a shrug with the hands – as if to say, “Come on. What’s all the fuss about?” There’s a story (perhaps apocryphal) that, having been pressed by a journalist to reveal his ‘secret of conducting’, Bernard said: “It’s quite simple... 1. Trust your musicians. 2. Don’t talk too much. and 3. Just occasionally, just occasionally, tell the brass that they’re too loud... that’s all, that’s all!” Many an aspiring young conductor could do well to follow those three points... You will find a timeline of just some of Bernard’s accomplishments over the past seven decades on the next page; a quite remarkable list of landmarks and achievements to date. As he moves into his 91st year, we all salute the man who is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest conductors. 

Spring 2019 The Green Room 17




Born in Amsterdam on 4 March


Studied violin at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam

Became Chief Conductor of the RCO (until 1988)


Made Berliner Philharmoniker debut Became Guest Conductor with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO)

Attended annual conducting course organised by the Netherlands Radio Union for first time, with Ferdinand Leitner

Toured the US with the RCO

Conducted first public concert, with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic 1955

Became second conductor of the Radio Union, sharing responsibility for four orchestras


Made Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) conducting debut with Cherubini’s Requiem at The Hague, stepping in for Carlo Maria Giulini



Became Principal Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 27

Heading for the US with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, 1964. Photo: Harry Pot / Anefo, National Archives of the Netherlands, CC0


Made American debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Made debuts at both the BBC Proms (with BBC Symphony) and the Lucerne Festival (with Swiss Festival Orchestra)

Made Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks debut 1959

Named RCO’s youngest ever Principal Conductor, in a joint appointment with Eugen Jochum


Made British debut on tour with the RCO 1960 At the Lucerne Festival with RCO in September 1983 © Lucerne Festival Archiv

1,500+ Rehearsing with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1960. Photo: Harry Pot / Anefo, National Archives of the Netherlands, CC0



concerts with the RCO since his debut in 1956

Made first appearances in the UK with UK orchestras: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and BBC Symphony

BBC Proms performances since 1966


Became Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the LPO


Awarded Honorary Medal of the Order of Orange-Nassau (The Netherlands)


Became Artistic Director of the LPO (until 1979), and took the orchestra to the States for the first time


Made Boston Symphony (BSO) debut Awarded Gold Medal of the International Gustav Mahler Society Vienna

Made The Hallé debut 1972 Bernard Haitink & Eugen Jochum in 1962. Photo: Jack de Nijs / Anefo, National Archives of the Netherlands, CC0

Made British opera debut at Glyndebourne conducting Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail Made Wiener Philharmoniker debut Awarded Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters (France)


Made New York Philharmonic debut



Made Chicago Symphony debut



Succeeded John Pritchard as Musical Director of the Glyndebourne Festival (until 1988)

Appointed Honorary Conductor of the RCO, the first time the title has been awarded


Awarded Honorary Medal for Arts and Science of the Order of the House of Orange (The Netherlands)


Became Chief Conductor of Staatskapelle Dresden (until 2004)

Made Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (UK) Became Officer of the Order of the Crown (Belgium) Made Royal Opera House, Covent Garden debut conducting Don Giovanni 1982

Made Metropolitan Opera debut conducting Fidelio


Awarded Honorary Companion of Honour (UK)

450+ recordings released

At the BBC Proms in 2014 © Clive Barda


Became Conductor Emeritus of the Boston Symphony


Appointed to newly created role of Principal Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (until 2010)


Appointed Conductor Laureate of the EUYO

In discussion with Vladimir Ashkenazy during a recording session in 1986 © Clive Barda / ArenaPAL


Became Music Director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (until 2002)

Awarded Liftetime Achievement Award at Gramophone Awards 2017

Promoted to Commander of the Order of Lion of The Netherlands, the country’s oldest and most distinguished civil order

At ROH with John Tomlinson in 1987 © Clive Barda / ArenaPAL


Awarded the Erasmus Prize


Became Music Director of the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO)


Became Principal Guest Conductor of the BSO (until 2004)


Made Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE) debut, leading to a long and close relationship


Made London Symphony Orchestra debut

560+ performances with the BSO since 1971

© Mladen Pikulic

Bernard Haitink is also an honorary member of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

With thanks to Chris McMullen-Laird for his research

Spring 2019 The Green Room 19


The future’s digital

© Philharmonia Orchestra / Marina Vidor

Samuel Johnstone explores the sci-fi technologies transforming the classical industry

Chinese tech giant Huawei recently announced a headline-grabbing move into the classical music business with a rather unlikely star signing: its latest smartphone, the Mate 20 Pro. In a move calculated to demonstrate the processing power of the new device, Huawei proclaimed that the phone’s artificial intelligence had composed a completion of Franz Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ Symphony No. 8, and it would be premiered at a gala event at London’s Cadogan Hall. This was the stuff of science fiction, a giant step forward for machine intelligence.

20 The Green Room Spring 2019

Of course, the headlines didn’t reveal the full story: the Mate 20 Pro had a sympathetic collaborator in film composer Lucas Cantor, who searched through the melodic material created by the smartphone, editing and orchestrating them to create the new third and fourth movements. Excerpts of the final result are available to hear online: even the executives at Huawei would have to admit that the symphony’s “Mate 20 Pro completion” is unlikely to break into the standard orchestral repertoire. But away from PR stunts, new technological developments are

already making a real impact on the way we interact with classical music. Virtual Reality (VR) is one technology that has many exciting possible applications for cultural organisations. No longer just a pipe dream or a feature of films such as The Matrix or Avatar, VR is now gaining traction as a viable technology, especially in video gaming, but also in the classical music world. The Philharmonia Orchestra was an early adopter, realising the technology’s potential to bring it closer to audiences in new, innovative ways.


“Some people see technology as contrary to classical music, that it is a purely analogue art form. But without technology we don’t have classical music; the two go hand in hand. The orchestra is a technological innovation!” In 2016 the orchestra teamed up with VR firm Inition to make a 360° concert film of Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony, presented as part of a touring installation entitled The Virtual Orchestra. The project’s success led to two further VR projects, and the orchestra plans to bring its VR production facilities in-house. Of course, it helped having a conductor in Esa-Pekka Salonen who is technologically savvy and enthusiastic about its possible applications.

for our sector. In the digital age, nothing is at a distance. We have instant access to any content: when we want, where we want,” says Gross. By engaging early with new technology, classical music organisations can improve accessibility and bring their product closer to their audience. “VR is the perfect example of a technology that enables an incredible kind of access and creates an experience that is the closest one can have to a live experience.”

Projects like The Virtual Orchestra put paid to the idea that new technology and classical music are incompatible. “Classical doesn’t exist without technological innovation,” says Sean Michael Gross, the newly appointed Director, Global Head of Strategy of Innovation at Askonas Holt. “Some people see technology as contrary to classical music, that it is a purely analogue art form. But without technology we don’t have classical music; the two go hand in hand. The orchestra is a technological innovation!”

One of the most exciting aspects for new technology in classical music is that it not only improves the listening experience for pre-existing fans, but also helps organisations find and develop new audiences. London Sinfonietta demonstrated the potential for this with their acclaimed Clapping Music iPhone app (pictured below), based on Steve Reich’s piece for two performers of the same name, which brought minimalist music to a whole new audience. The app turns Reich’s piece into a video

game, challenging the user to master the piece’s tricky changing second part, where the rhythm shifts by a quaver every 8-12 bars – each ‘level’ then increases the difficulty by raising the tempo. This taps into the recent trend for gamification, whereby techniques taken from video games are applied to everything from marketing to fitness to engage and motivate users – whether that be teaming up with apps such as Foursquare to digitally reward customers for regularly checking-in to a store on social media, or turning your weekly run into a simulated run for your life, as in the app Zombies, Run! “Our key research goal was to use gaming to engage people in learning to perform music, and with a new musical style,” explains Dr Marcus Pearce, Senior Lecturer in Sound and Music Processing at Queen Mary, University of London, who led the research project that developed the Clapping Music app. Reaching new audiences was of key importance.

Although classical music’s USP will always remain the unparalleled and irreplaceable experience of seeing a soloist or ensemble perform live, it has always thrived on new technology. In the same way that new, cheaper and better-quality recording formats such as vinyl, cassette, or compact disc helped record labels bring their product to an ever-greater audience in the 20th century, new technological advances in our time present possibilities for innovation and growth. “Technology presents an opportunity

Spring 2019 The Green Room 21


Philharmonia The Virtual Orchestra © Beth Walsh

"It is not such a cognitive jump to imagine a nearfuture where digital simulations of the concert hall experience are almost indistinguishable from the real thing" For the London Sinfonietta, it helped them bring their repertoire to those who had never encountered the ensemble before. For the university, it was important to reach users with no familiarity of minimalist music in order to gather useful data for a study into how we learn rhythm. They certainly succeeded in this goal, reaching a huge amount of people across the globe, and winning an endorsement from Steve Reich himself. “I think in the end we had over 200,000 users; in the first year we had over 100,000,” says Pearce. “We were expecting less than that! In fact, when we were having our initial meetings about the project, we were worried we wouldn’t get a large enough data set for our study. In the end we were very pleased, the response was certainly a lot larger than we were expecting.” Another goal for the Clapping Music project was to convert this huge online impact into the real world. The eight highest scorers in the app were invited by the London Sinfonietta to take part in a masterclass at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. They also teamed up with six local secondary schools, using the app

22 The Green Room Spring 2019

as a starting point for workshops about phasing and how minimalist music works. “It was important that it wasn’t just about digital experience, but also about real-life engagement,” emphasises Pearce. Technologies such as VR are still in their infancy, hampered by expensive production costs and requiring users to have access to specialist hardware. However, many organisations are investing heavily in research to make new technologies more accessible and create a tailored product offering. Google’s Arts & Culture platform is not only digitising some of the finest art collections, but also teaming up with the world’s most prestigious opera houses and concert halls to produce 360° video experiences. The BBC’s R&D department are leading the way in binaural sound technology, best described as spatial “3D” audio which creates a rich and immersive aural experience, whilst researchers at the University of York are working on technology that can replicate the famed acoustics of halls such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw or the Berlin Philharmonie. It is not such a

cognitive jump to imagine a nearfuture where digital simulations of the concert hall experience are almost indistinguishable from the real thing. For many arts organisations, investing in VR or developing apps can seem like an unnecessary distraction when margins are tight. But by investing in innovation, they can reach and engage new audiences. As Gross puts it: “It’s incumbent on us as an industry, and Askonas Holt as a leading arts management company, to find ways to better use technology, and to lead audiences through their journey discovering classical music.” More compellingly, in an ultracompetitive arts marketplace, it makes business sense to be a trendsetter and an industry leader when it comes to new technology. “Classical music shouldn’t be reactive. It should be closer to the cutting-edge and ride the wave as these technologies emerge. Then it is more likely that classical music will get noticed. That’s good for our industry.” 


Gabriella Reyes The NicaraguanAmerican soprano speaks to Yehuda Shapiro about making her Met debut, her Latin American identity, and her dream role Nicaraguan-American soprano Gabriella Reyes is currently a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. A member of the company’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, she made her Met debut in Autumn 2018 as the Priestess in Aida, with Anna Netrebko in the title role, and followed this with Nella in Gianni Schicchi, performing alongside Plácido Domingo. Things have moved fast for you. How did you come to make your professional debut with the Metropolitan Opera? It all began in 2017. Michael Heaston, who is director of the Met’s Lindemann programme, heard me in the New England semi-finals of the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions. It was the first competition I had ever entered. Within a week, he invited me to sing in New York for some of the most important people at the Met. I auditioned with three songs, and then, on my way home, Michael rang me and asked if I wanted to be on the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. I just broke down in tears. It was a very surreal moment. Three days later I flew out to Los Angeles and sang for Plácido Domingo, who had also heard about me. When

© Dario Acosta


"I can tell you, it was very hard to have to say no to Plácido Domingo!" me something, but I was born two houses away from where she was born in Meriden, Connecticut ... Both of us had immigrant parents – hers from Italy, mine from Nicaragua. She made her debut in opera at the Met, also in a Verdi opera, in 1918 – 100 years before I did. When I read her biography a couple of years before the whole Met thing happened, I thought, “If only that could happen for me …” What made you decide to become an opera singer?

© Suzanne Vinnik

Opera is the ultimate outlet for me – I’m a highly passionate person! There are other musical outlets that I enjoy, such as Nicaraguan and Latin American folk music, but there’s a different sense of fulfilment when I’m singing with my full voice and whole body, engaging every part of myself.

I finished singing, he came up to me, shook my hand and invited me to join the LA Opera’s Domingo-ColburnStein Young Artist Program. I can tell you, it was very hard to have to say no to Plácido Domingo! I was halfway through studying for a performing certificate at the Boston University Opera Institute, but after the the Grand Finals of the Met Auditions I left to join the Lindemann Programme. My debut as the Priestess in Aida came in September 2018. The Metropolitan Opera was my first professional engagement ever. Isn’t that quite insane, but I guess you’ve got to start big! I’d never even done a summer programme, since I had been working as a waitress to put myself through

24 The Green Room Spring 2019

school. As a student I’d sung the Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro, Emmeline in Tobias Picker’s opera and roles in Jonathan Dove’s Flight and Philip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox. And then the Met suddenly decided “She’s ready.” This season I’ve been lucky enough to sing 20 performances of three roles at the Met: the Priestess, Nella, alongside Plácido Domingo as Gianni Schicchi, and the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte. Next season I’ll be covering Liù in Turandot as well as singing one performance. This debut season has been incredible – I could really only have dreamed of that. One of the great singers of the past that I listen to is Rosa Ponselle. Maybe the universe is trying to tell

I was raised close to New York City, but I didn’t go to the Met when I was growing up. My father is a pastor, and whenever he visited the small Spanish churches in the Boroughs, he would also take my sister and me to see a museum. My parents have worked in factories to earn their living, but they made sure to set money aside for these museum visits, and I think that’s how I got my appreciation for art. I grew up singing in church. When I was five years old, I sang ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ in front of the entire congregation. I had no nerves or shyness and just loved to sing in front of everybody. Our church has a piano and a drum kit and congas and there’s so much rhythm and soul. Music started speaking through me, whether I


was worshipping or just singing at home. My grandmother has a beautiful voice, and she would make me ham and cheese sandwiches while singing along to her records of Domingo or Callas or Caballé. But it wasn’t until I went to college that I focused on classical singing. I started off as an instrumentalist, first of all playing saxophone, and then trombone and then tuba in a marching band. I really wanted that bass! When it came to college, I started off with Biblical Studies and Music in Springfield, Missouri, but I soon realised that what I really found fulfilling was playing tuba. One day in rehearsal I started joking around and singing along with the orchestra. The director said, “Hang on a minute, you can cut through all that sound, you’ve got something there – you should take singing seriously.” After two years at the Christian college in Missouri I decided to transfer to the Conservatory in Boston. Though I played saxophone in jazz bands, I was never one for improvisation. If I have my musical guidelines, my roadmap, I can expand upon that and develop my own interpretation without having to create something from nothing. In opera, I love that there are rules

– you are working within a tradition – but at the same time there’s always room for making it alive and new and different. As an opera singer, how important is your identity as a Latin American? Part of the reason my parents weren’t drawn to opera was because they didn’t see anyone who looked like them on stage. It makes a big difference these days to see people like Ailyn Pérez, Nadine Sierra, Mario Chang and Javier Camarena up there. Last summer I sang in one of the Met’s concerts in Central Park and the audience was full of Latin Americans. People came up to me in tears afterwards saying, “We’ve never seen someone who looks like us singing the way you sing. It makes us so proud.” I want to keep building this community of Latin American opera singers. My parents came to the US as immigrants, as refugees from a war-torn country, and in today’s political climate it’s especially important for me to talk about my background. I took every opportunity that America had to offer, so I feel I am truly living the American dream! My sense of hard work came from my parents. If you want to make

things happen for your life, you need to take it into your own hands. I made my game plan when I was still in middle school: I knew my parents didn’t have the funds to put me through university, so I made sure to get straight A’s and to get involved with every sport and extra-curricular activity. My goal was to get a full scholarship and the discipline paid off for me in the end. Now it’s about applying discipline to my vocal technique, and to learning my music meticulously, so that I can build a long career. And I hope I can use that career to inspire other Latin American singers growing up in a lower-income urban area like I did. What is your dream role? That’s easy: Tosca. I’ve always been drawn to Tosca. It always leaves me in tears when I see it. Act 2 is one of the most brilliant acts in opera. But I’m not rushing into roles like Tosca or Aida. For the moment I’m happy to be doing Mozart and lighter Puccini, taking things step by step. The key is longevity and not just instant gratification. I think people appreciate the heart that I bring to my singing, the way I connect with the character and with them. They see a real person – there’s something primal about it. 

Puccini's Gianni Schicchi at the Metropolitan Opera (l. to r.) Stephanie Blythe as Zita, Gabriella Reyes as Nella, Plácido Domingo in the title role, and Lindsay Ammann as Ciesca. Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Spring 2019 The Green Room 25


Playing from the screen Claire Jackson explores the latest developments in the world of digital sheet music

screen shots of the nkoda platform

The pianist enters the stage to thundering applause. She takes a seat at the piano stool, adjusting the height slightly. The audience holds its collective breath in anticipation. But wait, there's an empty seat. A man scuttles across the concert platform; trying (and failing) to look inconspicuous as he takes his position next to the soloist. The pianist adjusts the sheet music, and begins an exquisite performance of a lesser-known sonata. The drama is interrupted every few minutes by a nod that the pianist gives to her page turner to complete his duty. We've all seen this performance, and felt the

jarring inconvenience of those turns. But musicians cannot be expected to memorise everything – especially rarely performed repertoire. Happily, this is the twenty-first century, and, like most problems, there's a techbased solution. It was while he was preparing Jörg Widmann's cycle of string quartets that Chris Murray first began to use digital scores. The cellist, a member of the Heath Quartet, was aware that the page-turning was particularly awkward, compounded by the fact that the five pieces were meant to be played consecutively. “There was a lot of sheet music on the stand!”

says Murray. “There were a few places in the music where you couldn't turn without disturbing the performance or losing the theatrical tension.” Murray started using forScore, a music reader for iPad, which he found “surprisingly cheap and has lots of useful features”. The Widmann page turns now happen seamlessly, using a pedal connected to the tablet. Just like adopting a digital version of a novel or magazine over a paper copy, using screen-based scores comes down to personal preference. Plenty of chamber groups comprise players who use both methods, and that includes the Heath Quartet. “I think my colleagues are pretty impressed with the benefits of digital scores, but they aren't planning to ditch the paper just yet,” says Murray, adding “it's very much an individual choice. Most professional musicians are very keen to know about the latest product that can help them perform better or make their job a little easier. Cellists, for example, often have several boxes full of spikes, tailpieces and rosins at home, each used for a while and then replaced by a shiny new alternative. After a while you settle on what These come from the likes of Newzik, who provides software, training and

26 The Green Room

Molyvos Musical Moment © Molyvos International Music Festival / Ervis Zika


purchasing services for the necessary accompanying hardware. “Newzik was born out of passionate musicians coming together to solve a shared concern: that orchestras today don’t always benefit from advancements in technology,” says Zoé Gerdil, Newzik's business developer. The Newzik app allows users to import scores in PDF or MusicXML versions, or to receive rental material. It's possible to annotate scores and share those markings with a group – making it useful for ensembles. If that sounds daunting, you're not alone: Newzik believes that using digital scores “should be a transition, not a jump into the unknown”. To that end, staff work closely with orchestras, musicians and conductors to help them implement new workflows. “We know that digital scores are the future,” says Gerdil. “Musicians often already use technology as a tool when rehearsing privately, on their own, and it will also, soon, become a norm in orchestras, ensembles and operas. Switching from paper to digital scores will save precious time and resources.” It's not just musicians and orchestras who will benefit. Gerdil highlights the embedded editing tools that will “help stage managers to use their 600-page

booklets in a more efficient way” as one example. “Ultimately,” concludes Gerdil, “productivity during rehearsals is enhanced as everyone works collaboratively and not individually.” Digital sheet music can be especially useful for al fresco performances. The annual Molyvos International Music Festival, set on the Greek island of Lesbos, is notable not only for its high-quality recitals, but for the fact that the majority of music making takes place outside; either at a temporary stage built within the village's breath-taking – literally, due to the steep walk – Byzantine castle or in unexpected places, such as the prehistoric settlement of Thermi. A key feature of the festival are its 'Musical Moments' (known as MMs), which bring chamber music to different parts of Molyvos – the quirk is that the location for each MM is only revealed a short while before the performance; audiences get to experience parts of the village they may not have seen were it not for the guides leading the way to the concert. This delightful piece of programming, though engaging for audience members and the wider community, means the musicians can find themselves playing in a variety of

locations, for audiences on beach loungers and shoppers on a cobbled, hilly street. Although dry weather is practically guaranteed during the summer months, a strong breeze can whip along the Aegean coast. For musicians performing outside, that means constantly wrangling with pegs or magnets to keep pages from going rogue. “Using tablets means we can concentrate on our performance, and not keeping the pages on the stand!” says flautist Matvey Demin. “There's a lot of music to learn for chamber music events, so we don't always have the possibility to memorise everything. Playing outside can be a nightmare for musicians; we are constantly thinking about the acoustics and the sound, so not having to worry about the music blowing away is a good thing.” Newsik uses this element in an amusing video to promote digital scores: the narrative is centred around a chamber group giving a performance at a fancy mansion, complete with swimming pool. While the audience sips drinks and prepares to enjoy the music, a gust of window steals away the musicians' sheet music. One performer tries to rescue his pages – and falls in the water. As crisis reigns, only the trombonist

Spring 2019 The Green Room 27


“Ultimately it’s another way of enabling people to make music. Embracing it, as a community of music makers, is important because it’s a fundamental part of how we live today and will certainly be the environment the next generation will grow up in.” lorenzo brewer continues to play undisturbed by the elements. Turns out, she's playing from a digital device. There are further improved practicalities for travelling musicians: “My bag has got fifty per cent lighter since I started using digital pieces,” says Demin. “This is especially useful when you're playing at chamber music festivals or teaching. I recently gave masterclasses in St Petersburg, where I had eight students, all playing different pieces. That's where an iPad comes in very handy!” Each piece of software has its own features; Murray mentions the splitscreen turning available via forScore, which turns the page's top and bottom half separately. “This means you can be more flexible about exactly

when you turn, which helps a lot in faster music,” he says. As with other areas of the publishing industry, digitisation is slow but steady. Many publishers offer both digital and print formats, in the same way you can buy a blu-ray that comes with a downloadable option. “A lot of newer pieces are available in digital format like MusicXML or PDF, yet older ones are not,” explains Gerdil. “Digitalising the gigantic repertory of sheet music that we have will be a ‘work in progress’ for many years to come.” Digital subscription service nkoda already offers 110,000 titles, and also provides tools to annotate music, make playlists and share markings with colleagues. Lorenzo Brewer, nkoda's founder and CEO, has no doubts that the use

of digital sheet music will become more commonplace. “We see it already, with some of the world’s best-known artists moving exclusively to performing using a device,” says Brewer. Nkoda has some impressive advocates, not least Sir Simon Rattle, who describes the technology as “a view into the future of making music”. “To know that those artists who have reached the edge of human capacity and artistic expression find this tool useful, is something really meaningful,” says Brewer. “Ultimately it’s another way of enabling people to make music. Embracing it, as a community of music makers, is important because it’s a fundamental part of how we live today and will certainly be the environment the next generation will grow up in.”

The Heath Quartet © Kaupo Kikkas

Digital scores have brought with them a burgeoning range of supporting wizardry, from music stands specifically created for score-reading devices, to clamps to fasten iPads to mic stands and laptop holders. Of course, digital scores are not infallible. Tablets must be properly charged, and, where necessary, pedals connected. (I have attended several recitals that have had to be paused because a musician forgot a pedal.) And naturally there is plenty of room for operator error, even when everything is in place. Murray admits that the only problems he's had on stage have been “self-created, such as forgetting to switch the bluetooth on or pressing the backwards pedal instead of the forward one.” Maybe we won't cancel the human page turners just yet... 

28 The Green Room Spring 2019


Meet the team Sergio Porto Bargiela Director, Tours & Projects

Favourite musical memory? Going with my mum to a small concert in the town hall of my hometown when I was about 6 or 7. I know they were playing Mozart, but I can't remember what they were performing nor the name of the group. However, I recall as if it were yesterday the impact the music and the experience had on me.

Tell us a little about your dayto-day role at AH I run the Tours & Projects department of Askonas Holt, where, along with my amazing team, we collaborate with a variety of touring partners – including symphony and chamber orchestras, baroque ensembles, and dance companies – to develop their international touring strategies.

Achievement you’re most proud of?

What do you like most about your job?

What change would you most like to see take place in classical music?

Helping just a little bit to take music and fantastic experiences to so many wonderful new audiences and different cultures across the entire globe.

I would really like to see a change and increase in music education and exposure from early years, because I believe that is where the future lies.

Favourite food?

Mastermind specialist subject?


Star Trek, and if we get really specific, Star Trek TNG. Most underrated composer? That’s tricky, many have come to light in recent years… I would say Corelli, just because I think he is not programmed enough in baroque concerts!

Born in Spain, Sergio worked in government, business and arts philanthropy departments in Tokyo, Madrid and New York before joining Askonas Holt in 2007. He took on the leadership of the Tours & Projects Department when Donagh Collins became Chief Executive in January 2014, and became a member of the Board in October 2018.

And when you’re not at work…? The usual – friends, walking, travelling, cinema…

I am not sure you can call it achievement, but I have wonderful memories and a certain sense of pride for having climbed the Fuji Mountain overnight to reach the top in time to see the sunrise. I was much younger then!

Who would you invite to your ideal dinner party, living or dead? Abraham Lincoln, for a bit of political moderation and perspective in these crazy times; Rossini, because the extravagance of the food would be guaranteed; and my father’s mother, whom I never had the chance to know.

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On Tour Upcoming projects organised by our Tours & Projects department THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA & FRANZ WELSER-MÖST ASIA


28 & 29 Mar · NTCH, Taipei 31 Mar · Macau Cultural Centre 2 & 3 Apr · Shenzhen Concert Hall 6 & 7 Apr · Shanghai Symphony Hall 8 Apr · Nanjing Poly Grand Theatre 10 Apr · Qintai Concert Hall, Wuhan 12 & 13 Apr · NCPA, Beijing

24 May · Town Hall, Birmingham 26 May · Tivoli, Copenhagen 27 May · Music Theater Basel 28 May · Würzburg Residenz

THE OAE & SIR SIMON RATTLE BACH ST JOHN PASSION 2 Apr · Royal Festival Hall, London 4 Apr · Philharmonie Luxembourg 6 & 7 Apr · Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg 9 Apr · Alte Oper, Frankfurt




Including debuts in Hamburg, Budapest & Odense

7 Apr · Town Hall, Birmingham

23 Jun · Odense Concert Hall 24 Jun · Tivoli, Copenhagen 26 Jun · Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg


29 Jun · Philharmonie Berlin 2 Jul · Musiverein, Vienna 4 Jul · Margaret Island Summer Festival, Budapest

27 & 28 Jun · Xinghai Concert Hall, Guangzhou 30 Jun · Jiangsu Centre for the Performing Arts, Nanjing 2 & 3 July · Shanghai Symphony Hall BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA & SIR ANDREW DAVIS CHINA 30 Jun · Shenzhen Concert Hall 2 July · Tianjin Grand Theatre 3 July · National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing 5 Jul · Jiangsu Centre for the Performing Arts, Nanjing 6 & 7 Jul · Shanghai Symphony Hall

11, 12 & 13 Apr · Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre LSO © Ranald Mackechnie

NCPA ORCHESTRA & ZHANG YI SEOUL 21 Apr · Seoul Arts Centre IL POMO D'ORO & MAXIM EMELYANYCHEV AGRIPPINA with Joyce DiDonato, Samantha Hankey*, Luca Pisaroni, Kathryn Lewek, Marie-Nicole Lemiux, Franco Fagioli, Andrea Mastroni, Carlo Vistoli & Biagio Pizzuti

14 May · Luxembourg Philharmonie 16 May · Teatro Real Madrid 18 May · Liceu, Barcelona 29 May · Théâtre des ChampsÉlysées, Paris 31 May · Barbican Centre, London 3 Jun · Turku Music Festival*

30 The Green Room Spring 2019

LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA & SIR SIMON RATTLE SOUTH AMERICAN DEBUT 11 May · Teatro Colon, Bogota 12 May ·Teatro Metropolitano de Medellín 14 May · Gran Teatro Nacional, Lima 18 & 19 May · Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires 20 May · Auditorio Nacional del Sodre, Montevideo 22 & 23 May · CorpArtes, Santiago

View all projects at askonasholt.com/tours

ON TOUR: APRIL, MAY & JUNE 2019 LIFE REFLECTED Marking our first project with the National Arts Centre Ottawa, the NAC Orchestra and Music Director Alexander Shelley embark on a European tour celebrating the orchestra's 50th anniversary. In addition to symphonic concerts in Saffron Walden, London, Paris, Utrecht, Copenhagen and Stockholm, the orchestra presents the extraordinary Life Reflected to audiences in Paris and Gothenburg.

John Estacio's I Lost my Talk, based on the poem by Mi'kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe © Fred Cattroll

12 May · Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden 14 May · Cadogan Hall, London 17 & 18 May · La Seine Musicale, Paris 20 May · TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht 22 May · DR Koncerthuset, Copenhagen 24 May · Stockholm Concert Hall 26 May · Gothenburg Concert Hall

A stunningly original live performance, Life Reflected is a celebration of youth, promise and courage revealed in the compelling and diverse portraits of four Canadians: Alice Munro, Amanda Todd, Roberta Bondar and Rita Joe. Alexander Shelley brought together four remarkable composers to collaborate with Creative Producer and Director Donna Feore and an extraordinary Alexander Shelley © Rémi Thériault

ensemble of performers and multi-media artists to create Life Reflected – a unique symphonic experience that immerses the audience in sound, motion picture, photography, and graphic design.

The stories of these four women are some of the most captivating, personal and yet universal stories I have heard. What better way to share them than through the collaborative voices of an exceptional group of artists.” – Alexander Shelley Spring 2019 The Green Room 31

In 2018, Askonas Holt facilitated more than 8,000 performances in nearly 70 countries across 6 continents

Countries where Askonas Holt facilitated performances are highlighted in cream

Š Askonas Holt 2019 15 Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1BW +44 (0)20 7400 1700 info@askonasholt.com 32 The Green Room Spring 2019 askonasholt.com


Profile for Askonas Holt

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The Green Room Issue 5 Spring 2019: Technology focus  

"We are constantly told “we live in uncertain times”, but that phrase seems more relevant now than ever. Everywhere around us in our daily l...