Music History

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 chair is Robert Thicknesse, a critic of long standing, and the Section secretary is Guy Rickards.

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 91 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).

Members

John Allison, Nicholas Anderson, Tim Ashley, Edward Bhesania, Agustín Blanco-Bazán, Richard Bratby, Henrietta Bredin, 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, Charlotte Gardner, Professor Christopher Green, David Gutman, George Hall, Ivan Hewett, Brian Hick, Amanda Holloway, Fiona Hook, Christian Hoskins, 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, Bryan Magee, Heleen Mendl-Schrama, Barry Millington, Kate Molleson, Christopher Morley, Bryce Morrison, Richard Morrison, Owen Mortimer, Geoffrey Norris, Meredith Oakes, Richard Osborne, Matthew Peacock, Gerhard Persche, Gavin Plumley, Stephanie Power, Claudia Pritchard, Stephen Pritchard, Mark Pullinger, Peter Quantrill, Peter Reed, Guy Rickards, Tim Rutherford-Johnson, Matthew Rye, Sebastian Scotney, Edward Seckerson, Hugo Shirley, Geoffrey Smith, Harriet Smith, Michael Tanner, Robert Thicknesse, Warwick Thompson, Igor Toronyi-Lalic, Mark Valencia, Helen Wallace, Kenneth Walton, Richard Whitehouse, 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, Tom Sutcliffe, Stephen Walsh.

News & Reviews

The night Eurovision came to Umag

It's coming home! Or is it? An expectant crowd watches the show in Croatia... It was the second Saturday in May. At 8pm, as rosy dusk fell on the Croatian coastal resort of Umag, a lone herring-gull flew over the concrete hulk of the town's scruffy Shopping Centre, a...

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My Song in October

Seabourne Steps, Volume 8: “My Song in October”.  September, Just Septembers* Michael Bell (piano). *Karen Radcliffe (soprano). Sheva Contemporary  SH326 (75 minutes) Guy Rickards reviews the latest release of music by a composer who constantly flies under the radar....

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Turangalîla-Symphonie

Terrific performance of Messiaen's paean to love, joy and the flow of time, featuring a former CC Music Section laureate Thomas Kelly, piano, Imsu Choi, ondes martenot, Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra / Jac van Steen - Royal Festival Hall, May 1, 2024 “A...

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Donna Lennard, Kensington SO / Russell Keable

Sensational revival of McCabe's Notturni ed Alba; UK premiere of Kats-Chernin's Big Rhap; VW London St John’s Smith Square, London, October 16th, 2023 It has become something of a commonplace to regard the Kensington Symphony Orchestra as the finest amateur orchestra...

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