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Mikhail Pletnev, who has denied charges in Thailand, withdraws from Proms and Edinburgh festival

Mikhail Pletnev, the founder and artistic director of the Russian National Orchestra (RNO), was charged last month with molesting a 14-year-old boy after police raided the musician’s home in Thailand and found incriminating photographs.

Pletnev said in a statement:

I do not wish to overshadow the wonderful music-making of the RNO and their tour in the UK with the current accusations surrounding my person. I will not comment on the ongoing investigation, but I hope the matter will be resolved speedily and it will be clear that I am innocent of the accusations against me. I look forward to returning to the UK with my orchestra soon.

There aren’t many ways you can be sure to make yourself feel happy, but there’s one that always seem to work for me. I listen to a piece of music, only a minute and a half long, that was originally written for a music box and then orchestrated. Its unwinding tune is immediately memorable. It is so shimmeringly coloured, so precisely made, so assured in the delivery of its climax that it always leaves my mood effervescent. It is called Two Organa: 1 (a misleadingly academic title), and Oliver Knussen, who wrote it, is one of Britain’s greatest living artists. If you have not heard of him, that is probably due to the fact that he works in the occluded, occasionally airlocked world of contemporary classical music. This is a great shame. His music is instantly likeable, elegant, melancholy and exhilarating.

Knussen conducted his own first symphony at the Proms at the age of 15. As the son of the principal bassist of the LSO, he grew up listening to the inordinate variety of noises an orchestra can make. This education gave him an expertise in combining instruments to produce exactly the right colour and temperature of sound. He writes his jewel-like scores carefully, with great technical rigour, but there remains at the heart of his music an unanxious playfulness. His works are often set in the childhood worlds of toys and storybooks and in that familiar, phantasmal place between waking and sleeping. He is a conductor famed for his perfectionism and generosity, a rare combination, and he is a significant teacher of other composers. His opera Where the Wild Things Are, written in collaboration with Maurice Sendak, is an adaptation of the book and far superior to the recent film.

He is a very recognisable figure, tall and fat with a Victorian thicket of beard. I’ve never tried to tell him how much I love his music when I see him at concerts. I admire him too much. He has added beauty to the world.

(Source: Guardian)

Five decades into his brilliant career as one of the world’s great tenors, Plácido Domingo – now a baritone – is working as hard as ever. Catch him while you can, says Peter Conrad.

Plácido Domingo’s name means Placid Sunday, which is not what he will be enjoying today. He may well sleep until the afternoon, but will make up for that inertia tonight on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, in a BBC Proms performance of the Royal Opera’s production of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, he will age half a century, beginning as a swashbuckling corsair and ending – after the lapse of a few decades between the acts – as the elderly, careworn Doge of Genoa, poisoned by a vindictive political crony.



Just a reminder that tickets go on sale at 8.00am on Tuesday 4 May online, by telephone and in person*, launching a greatly improved booking system. Tickets may also be requested by post.

Plan your concert-going before tickets go on sale by using the new online Proms Planner from 12 noon on Thursday 22 April until midnight on Monday 3 May.
Visit for details.

Full concert and booking details will be in the BBC Proms Guide, available from bookshops from Friday 23 April priced £6.00, and at from 12 noon on Thursday 22 April.

If you are intending to book online, in order to ensure your booking goes as smoothly as possible please visit and create an online account or check you are able to login to your existing account.

If you have any problems setting up your online account please contact the Royal Albert Hall Box Office on 0845 401 5040**.

From the BBC Proms team
BBC Radio 3

* The previous two-stage Advance and General booking system, together with the postal booking form and old online request system, has been discontinued.

** Calls cost up to 4p/min from a BT landline (plus a one-off connection charge of up to 8p). Charges from mobiles and other networks may be considerably higher.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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