19 January 2024, in just a few days' time, is the centenary of the birth of British composer and conductor Gerard Schurmann. He was born to Dutch parents in Java in the Dutch East Indies on 19 January 1924 and lived to be ninety-six years old. Schurmann and his widow, Carolyn Nott, have both contributed to this magazine. Carolyn also joined us for our February 2021 video newsletter to talk about her husband's music.
Australian conductor Simone Young (born 1961) seems not to be content with her track record of 'firsts'. She was the youngest person and the first woman to be a resident conductor with Opera Australia (1986) and the first female to conduct at Vienna State Opera (1993). She went on to become the first female conductor to record the complete symphonies of Anton Bruckner and Richard Wagner's complete Der Ring des Nibelungen and the first female to become chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (from 2022). Now, in 2024, she is set to become the first Australian conductor to perform at Germany's Bayreuth Festival and the first woman to conduct Wagner's Ring there. (She was narrowly beaten by Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv in 2021 as the first female to conduct at Bayreuth.) Bayreuther Festspiele is reporting that there will be more female than male conductors at the 2024 festival, since Oksana Lyniv and French contralto and conductor Nathalie Stutzmann will also be working there this year.
British conductor, horn player, researcher and former soldier Dwight Pile-Gray recently won a claim of racial harassment against the UK's Ministry of Defence at an employment tribunal. Pile-Gray was a soldier for sixteen years, as a member of the Royal Corps of Army Music, finally becoming one of the British Army's first Rastafarian members of the Grenadier Guards. A row broke out in 2021 between Pile-Gray and some of his colleagues at Wellington Barracks in London, UK, which resulted in Pile-Gray leaving the army. The Ministry of Defence didn't comment on this particular case but said in a statement that they do not tolerate bullying, abuse and discrimination of any kind, that they actively encourage staff to report unacceptable behaviour and that they have introduced measures to improve working conditions for everyone in the armed forces. (In the interest of full disclosure, the person writing this, Keith Bramich, who has attempted to keep this item as factual as possible, has also had an altercation with Pile-Gray, although in that instance the argument was not race-related.)
Applications are now open for the NZ Composer Sessions 2024, closing on 4 March 2024. Applicants must be SOUNZ composers. The NZ Composer Sessions is a collaboration between the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, RNZ Concert and SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music. The aim is to create high-quality NZ orchestral recordings and to promote the works to a range of orchestras and broadcasters. Following the concert and the final editing process, the recordings will be available as audio on the SOUNZ and RNZ Concert websites. The 2024 recordings will take place over four days (2-5 October) at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington.Further information: news.sounz.org.nz
British conductor Jan Latham-Koenig, music director of Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires since 2022 and of the Festival Puccini at Torre del Lago since 2023, was arrested on 10 January 2024 at Victoria Station in London, UK and charged with 'arranging or facilitating an offence and sexual communication with a child'. He was released on conditional bail and has a hearing on 9 February 2023. He has been dismissed from his position at Teatro Colón.
Posted 14 January 2024 by Keith Bramich