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 76 members. It at present consists overwhelmingly of classical music and opera critics, though we welcome critics of other kinds of music (jazz, pop, and world music).
Nicholas Anderson, Tim Ashley, Edward Bhesania, Augustin Blanco-Bazin, Richard Bratby, Geoff Brown, Antony Bye, Hugh Canning, Rupert Christiansen, Michael Church, Keith Clarke, Alexandra Coghlan, Clare Colvin, Antonia Couling, Della Couling, Martin Cullingford, Kimon Daltas, Guy Dammann, Clive Davies, Chris de Souza, Jessica Duchen, Rian Evans, Richard Fairman, John Fallas, Neil Fisher, Ian Fox, Rebecca Franks, Professor Christopher Green, David Gutman, George Hall, Ivan Hewett, Amanda Holloway, Fiona Hook, James Inverne, Erica Jeal, Dr Lucien Jenkins, Stephen Johnson, Rick Jones, Graeme Kay, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Ashutosh Khandekar, Nick Kimberley, Alison Latham, Richard Lawrence, Robert Layton, Jonathan Lennie, Paul Levy, Fiona Maddocks, Barry Millington, Kate Molleson, Christopher Morley, Bryce Morrison, Richard Morrison, Owen Mortimer, Geoffrey Norris, Meredith Oakes, Richard Osborne, Matthew Peacock, Gerhard Persche, Stephen Pritchard, Mark Pullinger, Peter Reed, Tim Rutherford-Johnson, Matthew Rye, Edward Seckerson, Hugo Shirley, Geoffrey Smith, Harriet Smith, Tom Sutcliffe, Michael K Tanner, Robert Thicknesse, Warwick Thompson, Mark Valencia, Kenneth Walton, Nicholas Williams, Hans-Theodor Wohlfahrt.
Honorary members are:
David Cairns, David Gillard, Robert L Henderson, Adrian Jack, Max Loppert, David Mellor, Diana McVeagh, Stephen Pettitt, Stephen Walsh.
News & Reviews
One-sword wonder By Lucien Jenkins One of the first decisions in any opera production is the setting. For Wagner, the old-school approach was to tog up in faux Dark Age armour. The epoch-making Chéreau-Boulez centenary Bayreuth Ring was famously costumed for Wagner’s...read more
Suffragette set | By Lucien Jenkins | As its contribution to the centenary of a historic widening of the franchise, WNO has commissioned a work on the subject of a south Wales suffragette. The score, from Elena Langer (whose Figaro Gets a Divorce WNO toured in 2016)...read more
Pale and uninteresting | by Tom Sutcliffe | Two operas about Edward II, his relationship with Piers Gaveston, and his bizarre death, is two too many. Yet another British monarch with marriage problems - whose son was much more important and interesting than he was -...read more
Into the woods | By Robert Thicknesse | If you want to see Weber’s seminal Romantic opera these days, you pretty much have to go to Germany. Just as well, too – imagine the camp horrors that would be inflicted on it here out of a mixture of embarrassment and snobbery....read more