James Bowman

It just came to my attention that James Bowman died. I always found that while somehow widely recognized, at the same time, he remains strangely underrated.

Bowman has shaped the vocal ideal of a generation. Many eulogies praise his lyrical works – and justly so – so I see it as my duty to highlight one of his underrated sides.


New Horizons

It’s settled, then: the current mini-tour marks a turning point in Mr PJ’s career. “I’m going to sing arias that I love which I will then never sing again – like the famous ‘Scherza infida’. But that shouldn’t make anyone sad,” Mr PJ is quoted as saying. [x] We take note of the first, but obviously cannot easily commit to the second!
This circumstance makes the concerts at the TCE and at the Kursaal Donostia-San Sebastián “Last Chances to See” – and hear:

20th November 2021, Théâtre des Champs-Elysees, 20:00

22th November 2021, Palacio de Congresos y Auditorio Kursaal. 19:30

cordes sensibles featured

“Cordes sensibles” – The Académie Needs You!

Dear all, the Académie is looking for your support!

Donations will be used to fund the photography exhibition “Cordes sensible” at Boulogne-Billancourt documenting the incredible journey of the Académie. Any excess money goes directly to supporting their important work.

With your help, a new generation of the most deserving students will get a head start.

If it is at all possible for you, please consider donating: [x]

shanghai march featured

Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall Cancels All Concerts For March

I have just been informed that, responsibly, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall decided to prologue its cancellations until end of March to prevent further spreading of COVID-19.

Among others, Mr Jaroussky’s concert on March 15 2020 is affected.

We’re very sorry for the Chinese fans and all the ones who intended to travel.

We will keep you informed should other changes to Mr Jaroussky’s schedule occur as soon as we’re made aware.

Here is the original press release: [x]

recording video

An Easy Way To Screen-Capture Transmissions

Sometimes – and more often than we would like – it’s impossible to get at the direct URL for a stream. That’s when desperate times call for desperate measures, and we need to just “film what’s on the screen.” So we need a screen-capture program!

The best free option for screen capturing I came across is OBS (Open Broadcaster Software.)

Screen-capturing is only one of many features this tool is great for. For simplicity, I’ll stick to this one in this post.


Official download site: https://obsproject.com/

Select the appropriate OS from the list. The install file will land in your download folder.

First hurdle: During install, the program might complain it is missing files.

If that happens, it automatically redirects you to right site on microsoft.com, you check all options and click download.

Now you have to double-click on the components you just downloaded once to run them and install them. (Which takes about two seconds each.)

When you try to run the install file again, it should work without any more problems. If you run Windows 10, the program now appears in your list if you just start typing “OBS” into the little window on the bottom of your screen.

Settings and options


First of all, you can set the language. Go to File -> Settings and it’s right on top in “General.” You have to restart the program for the changes to apply.

When the program opens, it looks quite empty.

Just start from left to right and work your way through!


Here you give the scene a name. It won’t turn up as the file name, but you have to create one for the program to work. Click on the little “+” below “Scene” and add one.


Now it gets important. When you click on the “+” symbol there you see a lot of options. Feel free to play with the program there a little. You can record video sources directly, and capture games as well. Choose “Display Capture” for now.

When you do (you can always change the settings for “source” later by clicking the little wheel right below it), you see two options. One is the offset and size (default should be your full screen size, but it’s worth double-checking), and the other is for showing the cursor. If you do a tutorial, it might make sense to include the cursor, if not, leave the check-box empty.

Don’t panic if you see cascading windows on the display. It makes sense when you think about it – everything is fine!


Next is “Settings,” and now this is where it really gets relevant.

Go to “Output,” and select where your video files are supposed to go. Make sure you have enough disk-space on the partition you assign. I’m serious: If you record full-screen, the files will be huge. Also you might want to not choose your slowest hdd, if you have more than one.



Go to your Windows settings, and “Energy Options” in particular. Set “Turn off screen” and “Go to sleep” to “Never” – or your recording will black out after the time that is set there.

Back in OBS

Hit “Start Recording.” (“Start Streaming” would apply if you were the one broadcasting.)

The program records everything now that is showing on your display, together with the sound you hear on your PC. Choose the best quality for the stream you want to record, switch to full screen mode, and turn off everything that makes “pling” in the background, such as Facebook, screen alerts, and similar. The video you are recording needs to be in the foreground.

Remember, the screen capture will just record what you see. Which means, the OBS will be somewhere in the background, and you cannot see if it is recording or not.

Once you started recording, the text on the button changes to “Stop Recording.” Make a little test, and check the file that is going to appear in the location you assigned before under Settings -> Output.

Check double, check with music, check if the audio sounds okay if you choose a reasonable volume.

For Mac users

On Mac, everything is a little special. (Thanks for the great contribution!) To record audio properly, you might have to go to “System Preferences -> Sound Effects -> Output” and change it to “Soundflower (2ch)”:


Then do the same in OBS:

To listen your movie, you have to go to system preferences again and switch back to internal speakers.

Playing the file

A great free option to play almost any video file is VLC media player: http://www.videolan.org/

It also comes with a bunch of free codecs. (A codec is a certain way to encode a file, and read it. Without the right codec, your PC cannot play a video file.)

I hope the little post helped; best of luck with recording!








2017-01 featured

Philippe Jaroussky sings at the inauguration of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

It’s hard to say for whom it was the greater honour: for Philippe Jaroussky to be the very first singer ever at the Elbphilharmonie, or for Hamburg, and, on a larger scale, Germany, to have secured a musician of indisputable world class to open the new venue.

After a stony trail of mismanagement and miscalculations concerning the planning of the gargantuan project, the Elbphilharmonie was finally inaugurated. Accordingly, a great amount of pressure was on the shoulders of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and Thomas Hengelbrock, and also on that of the organisers. They had to balance introducing the hall as a public property, where everyone would be welcome and invited (the tickets for the two opening nights were all given away via a lottery), and creating an event that would be up to international standards in terms of performance, before an audience including our chancellor and other government officials, in an arena where the sound of the hall, designed by famed acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, would be under public scrutiny. You can read more about his work here: [x]

Summary: it turns out you can’t please everybody. Some weren’t entirely happy with the sound (from a weird angle, as has been amended), some were overjoyed, some bemoaned the choice of pieces and composers. Actually, there was only one thing that drew unanimous consent: Mr. Jaroussky’s performance.

No matter what the general mood of the review, no one managed to find any fault in him. He was amazing. You don’t have to take me word for it; here’s…

… Die Welt, …

“Zum Glück werden die frühbarocken de Cavalieri- und Caccini-Solomadrigale von dem hinreißenden Philippe Jaroussky gesungen.”

[Luckily, the early baroque madrigals by de Cavalieri and Caccini are sung by the ravishing Philippe Jaroussky.]

Die Zeit, …

“Als der Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky kurz vor der Pause die Arie Amarilli Mia Bella von Giulio Caccini singt, lediglich von einer Barockharfe begleitet, wirkt das Publikum zum ersten und einzigen Mal gebannt und betört, der angespannten Situation völlig entrückt.”

[Only right before the intermission, when the countertenor Philippe Jaroussky sings “Amarilli, mia bella” by Giulio Caccini, the audience seems to be spellbound and enraptured, completely set free from the tension.]

… FAZ, …
“Gute Sänger haben es gut: Wenn Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky mit seiner schmelzenden Zauberstimme den Renaissance-Schlager „Amarilli mia bella“ von Giulio Caccini hoch oben von Block L heruntersingt, sparsam begleitet von den glockig-zirpenden Stütztönen, die Barockharfenistin Margret Köll zuliefert, so wird das zum kulinarischen Hochgenuss.”

[That’s good news for good singers: when countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, with his mellifluous enchanting voice, is singing the Renaissance evergreen “Amarilli mia bella” by Giulio Caccini, from high above at block L, sparingly accompanied by the bell-like, chirping sustaining notes provided by the Baroque harpist Margret Köll, it turns out to be a feast.]

and my personal favourite, ... Die Süddeutsche Zeitung

“… Wer aber Jaroussky schon an anderen Orten und unter schlechteren akustischen Bedingungen gehört hat, weiß, dass dieser Mann immer so gut singt: androgyn, distanziert und mit einer leichten Drohung in der Tonfärbung, irgendwo zwischen Sadismus und Exzess. Die Akustik Yasuhisa Toyota[s] ändert rein gar nichts an Jarousskys phänomenalem Können. Sie erlaubt es aber dem Konzertbesucher, jede noch so feine Nuance seines Gesangs zu hören. Das allein ist schon grandios.”

[… However, [anyone] who has listened to Jaroussky before, in other locations, and under worse acoustic circumstances, knows that this man always sings this well: androgynous, distanced, and with a slight menace to the colouring of his voice, somewhere between sadism and excess. Yasuhisa Toyota’s acoustics change nothing at all about Jaroussky’s phenomenal skill; however, it allows the listener to experience the slightest nuances of his singing, This alone is terrific.]

But hear for yourself!

Because I didn’t see it mentioned anywhere, let me add an extra credit because only the day before the inauguration, Jaroussky had sung the last performance of Alcina in Zürich – Ruggiero, a whale of a role. So, probably as the only one from the cast, he wasn’t allowed to party after the dernière but had to get ready for Hamburg without any break. Furthermore, I can only imagine what it means to sing as the very first singer at an event of that scale, and without the comforting blanket of an orchestra, knowing every shade of what you do is going to be perceptible, for good and for worse, by the roughly 2000 people in the live audience, and the audience following the live stream worldwide, with people zooming in on Google 3D – including many people who most likely will never have heard you before. In short: a true feat, and a memorable performance.

Let’s hope his glorious singing broke the spell of bad luck that was hovering above the project!

Finally, my own two cents: as a person from Stuttgart, I’d happily take roughly ten times an Elbphilharmonie (and counting) for a probably eternally unfinished Stuttgart 21. 

You can still watch the stream! Head to the …

Youtube channel of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester: [x]
… or to ARTE Concert! [x]




pj low new final

Philippe Jaroussky joins Marc Almond and stargaze for Bowie tribute at the Proms

While I prepared for this concert (mentally), I noticed I might have a different take on the topic than most. Which isn’t to say mine is better – far from it. Bowie was my youth. I saw him live, and it’s one of my most cherished concert experiences ever. Never, not even at Parsifal in Bayreuth, nor at a Pope audition have I seen an audience so transfixed, so part of an experience that can only be called transcendent.

The most striking property of Bowie for me was his unabating interest for new things, for different things, for things he had never done before, or styles he never ventured in. Most people may be familiar with pieces like “Let’s Dance,” and the collaboration with Queen, on the immortal “Under Pressure,” or, if they feel extra nostalgic, maybe “Heroes.” Yet Bowie’s discography isn’t a collection of hit singles. I love the odd pieces, the weird pieces as much as much I love the hits, as they are all part of a picture.

When I heard that Mr. PJ was going to sing at the proms, together with a line-up of other great artists and the project s t a r g a z e, on top of it, with a piece composed for him by a fantastic composer by all accounts, I was ecstatic. There is hardly any classical singer I could imagine who would be more deserving of the honour. Mr. Jaroussky is no Bowie, because one individualist is never like the other. However, he has broken more glass ceilings in his own right than any other countertenor. There is no other like him, just like there is never going to be another Bowie.

The ensemble/collective called  s t a r g a z e  is defying any classification concerning a genre. You can find more about them, and about the concert too on their site: [x]

I’m just going to share a few useful links with you, so you can read up a little before tomorrow!

The Prom 19 concert is going to be broadcast, on BBC Four (TV) as well as on Radio 3
Here is the direct link to the program on BBC Four: [x] (I am not sure if it’s going to be live on TV, but it will be on replay after as it looks like.)

You can find more about the event on the BBC page: [x]

The full line-up will be as follows:

Marc Almond singer
Jherek Bischoff instrumentalist
Paul Buchanan singer
John Cale singer
Anna Calvi singer
Neil Hannon singer
Philippe Jaroussky counter-tenor
Laura Mvula singer
Conor O’Brien singer
Amanda Palmer singer
s t a r g a z e
André de Ridder conductor

I won’t introduce everyone from the list now – Marc Almond you will be familiar with anyway; he’s a household name, especially since his project Soft Cell.

Mr. PJ is going to sing a piece composed for him by Pulitzer Prize awarded David Lang. You can find more about him on his website, including some audio samples of his work: [x]

The song that David Lang is going to be re-composing for Mr. PJ is called “Always crashing in the same car.” It’s originally from the album “Low,” the first in Bowie’s so-called Berlin Trilogy, the other two albums also being collaborations with Brian Eno, namely “Heroes” and “Lodger.”

Lyrics can be found here, together with some annotations (just click on the grey or yellow lines to make them appear on the side): [x]

If you live in London, you can try your luck and maybe get some last minute tickets yet tomorrow: [x]


TOI TOI TOI, fingers crossed for all the performers – we’ll be watching!

(And just one more Bowie – just because I run this blog and I happen to feel like it.)

2016-03-13 featured press blog

Saariaho’s “Only The Sound Remains” premieres at the Dutch National Opera

It’s only two days now – time to get excited! – and “Only The Sound Remains” is going to premiere at De Nationale Opera (the Dutch National Opera) in Amsterdam. For the ones who’d like to get familiar with the project, I put together some useful links and information for further reading, just to have it all in one place!

“Only The Sound Remains” is a piece written specifically with Philippe Jaroussky’s voice in mind, and it will be staged by the legendary Peter Sellars. The composer is Kaija Saariaho. She is the first female composer who has been contracted by the MET since 1903, so it’s definitely time to remember the name if you haven’t already. Here’s a very nice introduction by the Guardian: [x]

Saariaho’s music is imaginative, colourful, drawing from various backgrounds and seems to be influenced by many sources, …  just hear for yourself! Here is a short excerpt performed for the Dutch TV Show “De wereld draait door.”

“Only The Sound Remains” is based on two separate Noh pieces. Kaija Saariaho isn’t the first western composer to get inspired by the classic Japanese plays; Benjamin Britten’s “Curlew River” is maybe one of the most famous western classical works that is based on a Noh play.

The two pieces used for “Only The Sound Remains” that share some motives but are entirely independent pieces are …

羽衣, Hagoromo, The Feather Mantle, and

“経政, Tsunemasa, Always Strong

In addition to the University of Virginia Library I linked above, there is another online resource I found very valuable, called the-noh.com: [x]

Next to Philippe Jaroussky, baritone Davone Tines is going to play the respective counterpart. In “The Feather Mantle,” it is a fisherman, in “Always Strong,” it’s a monk evoking the spirit of a dead warrior, Taira no Tsunemasa. If you never heard Davone Tines before: here he is singing a bit from Bellini’s “I Puritani,” Riccardo’s “O Elvira, Elvira, o mio sospir soave …”
A graduate from Juilliard, he is up to a couple of very interesting projects soon; you might want to keep an eye on him!

Be sure to visit the website of De Nationale Opera (The Dutch National Opera), with lots of introductions, interviews, a great video and additional information: [x]

For the dates of the performances, please see the website of De Nationale Opera, or just head over to our Concert Dates page: [x]

Finally – Toi toi toi to all of the cast and crew!