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A Competition, a Resignation and a New Opera

The Global Music Education League's competition returns to China after a four-year break, Martyn Brabbins resigns from English National Opera with immediate effect, and excerpts from Jaap Nico Hamburger's new opera 'Ariella' are to be performed across Canada


The Global Music Education League Competition will take place in Beijing from 3-13 November 2023 after an absence of four years caused by the global pandemic. This year's Competition is dedicated to the violin with Professor Liguang Wang, chairman of the Global Music Education League, serving as the president of the Competition and Professor Bin Huang serving as chairman of the jury.

The Competition is organised by the Global Music Education League (GMEL), together with the China Conservatory of Music. As in the inaugural edition of the competition, the Philadelphia Orchestra will play in the final.

The jury consists of nine violinists: Bin Huang (chairman), Giovanni Angeleri, Friedemann Eichhorn, Lorenz Nasturica-Herschcowici, Mariusz Patyra, Lucie Robert, Joel Smirnoff, Weidong Tong and Pavel Vernikov.

The Global Music Education League will award a first prize of US$100,000 and a gold medal; a second prize of US$65,000 and a silver medal, and a third prize of US$30,000 and a jade medal to the top three winners of the competition. The gold medallist will also receive a three-year contract with a major international artist management company and international concert tours.

Liguang Wang, founder of GMEL and the Competition, commented:

The mission of GMEL is to promote music as a great force promoting global dialogue. It is also the very reason this Competition was founded. It is my hope that the Competition will become a cultural brand for Beijing that becomes a platform for launching the great musicians of the future. The competition attracted lots of applications from accomplished young violinists who have gained extensive attention worldwide in recent years, many of them already prize winners at important competitions. Bearing the stamp of the competition, they will surely one day become musical ambassadors promoting world peace.

Bin Huang, director of the Orchestral Instrument Department of the China Conservatory of Music commented:

The Competition will host some of the most talented young violinists from all over the world and a jury of internationally renowned musicians and educators. It will be a great cultural and educational musical feast.

Ryan Fleur, executive director of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association commented:

The Philadelphia Orchestra was honoured to be part of the Global Music Education League's inaugural music competition in 2019, and we are excited our partnership continues so that we can keep providing more training and development opportunities for these musicians.

The Global Music Education League

The GMEL Violin Competition received applications from thirteen countries, including Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Russia, South Korea and the USA. Twenty-four violinists have been selected to travel to Beijing to take part in the Preliminary Round, performing a recital of no more than thirty minutes.

Twelve violinists will then be chosen to advance to the Semifinal Round and perform a recital of no more than seventy minutes. The Finals are in two parts - when the twelve semi-finalists become six and then when the final three will perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the National Center for the Performing Arts.

Further information:




In other news, British conductor Martyn Brabbins resigned yesterday (15 October 2023) as music director of English National Opera (ENO) with immediate effect, in protest at the proposed cuts by Arts Council England (ACE), writing:

As Music Director of English National Opera for the past seven years, and Head of its orchestra, chorus and music staff, I cannot in all conscience continue to support the Board and Management's strategy for the future of the company. While my feelings on this have been developing for some time, it reached its nadir this week, with the internal announcement of severe cuts to its orchestra and chorus from 2024/25 season. In protest, this afternoon I tendered my resignation with immediate effect.

Although making cuts has been necessitated by Arts Council England's interference in the company's future, the proposed changes would drive a coach and horses through the artistic integrity of the whole of ENO as a performing company, while also singularly failing to protect our musicians' livelihoods.

This is a plan of managed decline, rather than an attempt to rebuild the company and maintain the world-class artistic output, for which ENO is rightly famed.

I urge ACE to reassess this situation and recognise the devastating implications their funding decisions will have on the lives of individual musicians, as well the reputation of the UK on the international stage.

My wholehearted thanks and support go out to the entire ENO team, especially those in the departments I oversaw. I am incredibly proud of everything we accomplished, and I sincerely hope that the company will find a path that puts exceptional artistry front and centre of its future.

Martyn Brabbins. Photo © Ben Ealovega
Martyn Brabbins. Photo © Ben Ealovega

A surprised English National Opera was quick to respond:

The ENO is surprised that Martyn Brabbins has decided to end his tenure as Music Director so abruptly.

As a member of the ENO's senior leadership, Martyn has been party to all key discussions at all stages and the extremely difficult decisions that have to be made by the Board and Management in constrained financial circumstances.

After nine months of negotiation with Arts Council England, the ENO has reached a position where we are confident we can maintain a substantial level of operatic work – as opposed to the original reality of total redundancy across the entire company (following Arts Council England's previous decision to remove the ENO as a National Portfolio Organisation in November 2022).

As recorded in Board minutes, an all-staff meeting and in correspondence with Management and the Board, Martyn agreed that the position reached with Arts Council England in July 2023 provides a workable outcome.

As the ENO's musical leader, we are disappointed that Martyn has chosen to resign rather than support the company by engaging with the process of creating a sustainable future for the ENO.




GFN Productions and Ensemble Classico-Moderne present the first performances of composer Jaap Nico Hamburger's new opera Ariella, on an exclusive tour of Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City on 22, 28 and 29 October 2023.

Audiences can look forward to a performance filled with drama and emotion in this dual program that balances tradition and renewal, with pianist Jean-Philippe Sylvestre joining the cast. With the Ensemble Classico-Moderne, he will deliver a rendition of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2, a piece renowned for its melodic richness and emotional depth.

The evening continues with excerpts from Hamburger's Ariella. This powerful opera, inspired by the novels of Ariella Kornmehl and featuring a captivating libretto by Thomas Beijer, explores the profound and transformative journey of a traditional family faced with the loss of its matriarch. As the story unfolds, the audience witnesses a journey of love, loss and the resilience of the human spirit.

The cast comprises of Aline Kutan (Mother), Myriam Leblanc (Ariella), Eric Laporte (Father) and Enzo Sabbagha (Brother).

Originally from Amsterdam, where he took up music at the age of three, Hamburger first practiced a brilliant career as an interventional cardiologist before devoting himself full-time to his music and has served as composer-in-residence at Mécénat Musica in Montreal since 2019.

After composing for orchestra and chamber ensemble across Canada, the Netherlands and Israel, he was commissioned by the United Nations and the Dutch government to compose a new concerto for harp and orchestra to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the International Court of Justice. Nominated for a JUNO Award in 2022 for best classical composition with his second chamber symphony, Children's War Diaries, Hamburger unveils his first opera with Ariella.

Tickets and further information:

Posted 16 October 2023 by Keith Bramich



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