When the Critics Circle started in 1913, it was launched by a group of theatre critics. But distinguished past presidents have included such well-known figures as Philip Hope-Wallace, William Mann, Andrew Porter, Charles Osborne and Rodney Milnes.
Our current chairman is Guy Dammann, who writes for The Guardian and Times Literary Supplement, and the Section secretary is Amanda Holloway.
The aims of the Music Section of the Critics’ Circle are, to quote the Circle’s rulebook, a) to promote the art of criticism and to uphold its integrity in practice; b) to foster and safeguard the professional interests of its members and to provide opportunities for social intercourse among them: and c) to support the advancement of the arts. Though the Circle is decidedly not a trade union, it tries to encourage best practice.
The music section from time to time has acted for its members in connection with scales of fees for programme notes and magazine articles. We have recently been concerned that some concert and opera promoters have been trying to force members to sell their copyright for fees that would previously have bought only “first serial rights”. Music critics tend to be among the least well paid in the Circle. They really need repeat fees for re-use of programme notes they have penned.
We meet to discuss and decide bread and butter matters three times a year for about 90 minutes maximum.
Occasionally we hold meetings where a leading performer or a concert hall or opera manager will answer questions from members about their work. We also irregularly hold luncheons or dinners to celebrate the lifetime achievement of some very special artist, writer, composer or instrumentalist. The music section has about 80 members. At present, it consists overwhelmingly of classical music and opera critics, though we would welcome as members critics of other kinds of music (jazz, pop, and world music) if they want to join us.
News & Reviews
Khovanshchina, Millennium Centre, Cardiff 23 September Lucien Jenkins After opening with some lovely woodwind playing, Musorgsky’s libretto (all his own work) sets up three groups in a 17th-century power struggle. Perhaps to help the audience navigate the politics,...read more
Zazà Opera Holland Park 18 July Endless revivals of “great” operas are legion. But sometimes a work pops out of the undergrowth and catches the imagination of a new era. Zazà, by Ruggero Leoncavallo, the composer of Pagliacci, burst (back) onto the scene with an...read more
Orfeo ed Euridice Longborough Festival Opera 29 July It’s no secret that Wagner is at the heart of Longborough Festival Opera’s artistic mission, but even they have never mounted quite such an unashamedly Germanic season as this summer. Following on from a (refocused...read more
La clemenza di Tito Glyndebourne 31 July Each time I hear Mozart’s final opera I thank heaven we live in a world perceptive enough to realize that this piece, dismissed as a “German pig’s breakfast” by the wife of its dedicatee and disparaged pretty much ever since,...read more