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
Billy Budd is Britten’s second opera for his beloved tenor partner, and the Royal Opera got one thing right for this somewhat dubious new production by Deborah Warner: namely Toby Spence in Peter Pears’s role, Edward Fairfax Vere, captain of HMS Indomitable....read more
The dark, dank streets and tenements of London’s notorious borough of Whitechapel in 1888 are powerfully captured by English National Opera’s production of Jack the Ripper. Composer Iain Bell has created a rich and sumptuous score with a Romantic flavour in the...read more
In February, the Music Section presented two of its Critics’ Circle Awards. At the Hackney Empire, Mark Valencia was on hand to do the honours, presenting soprano Jennifer France her award after her incredible performance for Scottish Opera in Stuart MacRae’s new...read more
Misfortune cookies The Royal Opera has sold this production expensively and successfully not because of the work itself, however interesting (and it really is), but because of Anna Netrebko and Jonas Kaufmann as Leonora and Alvaro. Nobody likes Christof Loy’s muddled...read more