Classical News of the Week: July 3, 2011

National Philharmonic Fosters Musicians Through Summer Programs

North Bethesda, MD, June 28, 2011--This summer, the National Philharmonic will engage some of the area's most promising young musicians through its String and Choral Institutes. The institutes, for middle/high school string players and high school/college vocalists, nurture young talent and teach musical skills and techniques while preparing the participants for a performance. In addition, the National Philharmonic offers the Adult Summer Chorale Institute, whose participants work with National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson. "Nurturing the next generation of audiences and performers is at the heart of our mission in the community," said National Philharmonic's Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski.

The High School/College Summer Choral Institute (July 18-22, 2011, Monday-Friday from 2:30-8:30 pm, Montgomery College, Rockville Camapus) offers young singers an intensive, weeklong immersion in voice building, musical interpretation and performance techniques. The institute, produced through a partnership between the National Philharmonic and Montgomery College Institute, is led by Dr. Engebretson, Dr. Molly Donnelly, a Professor of Music at Montgomery College, and Victoria Gau, Assistant Conductor of the National Philharmonic. The High School and College Choral Institute Chorus will sing works ranging from the beautiful Domine ad adjuvandum me by the 18th century composer Giovanni Martini to rhythmically compelling world music such as Niska Banja by Nick Page. This group will also join the adult singers in John Rutter's uplifting set of spirituals, Feel the Spirit. The week culminates in a free public concert at Montgomery College School, Rockville Campus on Friday, July 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm.

The Adult Summer Choral Institute (July 12-12, 2011, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 pm, Montgomery College) offers adult singers (college age and over) from around the area an opportunity to sing with members of the National Philharmonic Chorale under Dr. Engebretson in four intensive rehearsals over two weeks. The Adult Choral Institute will sing movements from Mozart's Solemn Vespers, "The Spheres" from Sunrise Mass by Ola Gjeilo and John Rutter's set of spirituals, Feel the Spirit. The week culminates in a free public concert with the High School/College Choral Institute at Montgomery College School, Rockville Campus on Friday, July 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm.

The Summer String Institutes (High School String Institute August 1-5; Middle School String Institute August 8-12, Bethesda Presbyterian Church) immerse talented and aspiring middle school and high school string musicians in an intensive week of mentoring, chamber music coaching, individual lessons and rehearsals led by National Philharmonic Music Director & Conductor Piotr Gajewski, Philharmonic Assistant Conductor and String Institutes Director Victoria Gau, musicians of the Philharmonic and other well-known music pedagogues. The High School String Institute will study and perform works by Grieg, Mozart, Benjamin Britten and Vivaldi; the Junior High School will study and perform works by Jean Berger, Peter Warlock and Mozart.

This year marks the 14h anniversary of the High School String Institute and the 13th year of the Middle School String Institute. The High School String Institute will culminate in a free public performance at the Bethesda Presbyterian Church, 7611 Clarendon Rd, Bethesda, MD on Friday, August 5 at 7:30 pm and on Friday, August 12 at 7:30 pm for the middle school session. For more information on the Summer String and Choral Institutes, please visit

--Deborah Birnbaum, Director of Marketing and PR

Ludovic Morlot Named Chief Conductor at Belgium's La Monnaie
Seattle Symphony's New Music Director Assumes Second Post in 2012

Seattle, WA – Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony's new Music Director, has accepted a second position as Chief Conductor of one of Europe's leading opera houses--La Monnaie/De Munt--in Brussels, Belgium. The five-year appointment, commencing on January 1, 2012, will allow him to broaden his career as a conductor of opera, and add to his already impressive work with symphony orchestras. During his first full season at La Monnaie, starting in the fall 2012, his programs will include Alfred Bruneau's Requiem as well as his first performances of Debussy's Pélleas et Mélisande.

Commenting on Morlot's new European position, Seattle Symphony Executive Director Simon Woods remarked, "We are thrilled by Ludovic's appointment to one of Europe's top opera houses. His selection to this position demonstrates the growing international profile of our amazing new Music Director. We can't wait to welcome him to the podium for the start of our new season in September."

Peter de Caluwe, General Director of La Monnaie, noted, "I am proud of Ludovic Morlot's nomination as he is, without a doubt, one of the greatest talents amongst the new generation of conductors. I am pleased that an artist with such an impressive international reputation will be at the helm of the Monnaie Symphony Orchestra. His experience with the major international orchestras will give a positive input for our musicians. I look forward to our future collaboration together in both orchestral and operatic performances."

Ludovic Morlot: "It is such a privilege to be associated with La Monnaie as its new Chief Conductor. I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to collaborate with this wonderful orchestra in both concert and opera productions and to work closely with Peter de Caluwe and his excellent artistic and administrative teams. I am very much looking forward to working with the players, singers and the many individuals who help make this opera house so successful.  I feel extremely honored and excited as we embark on this musical journey together."

Morlot, his wife and two young children are currently moving to their new Seattle home where he takes up his position as Music Director of the Seattle Symphony on September 1. Morlot's first season will see him leading the Orchestra in more than a dozen different programs, including Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, a gala concert with Renée Fleming, and, as a season finale, performances of Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust with Ruxandra Donose, Eric Cutler and David Wilson-Johnson. He has also programmed and will conduct a unique program, Sonic Evolution, on October 18; this concert celebrates the past and future of Seattle's music scene.    

Ludovic Morlot
French musician Ludovic Morlot is quickly establishing a reputation as one of the leading conductors of his generation. During the 2010–2011 season, he conducted Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tirésias at Opéra National de Lyon and Opéra Comique in Paris. Morlot has also collaborated with many other distinguished singers including Barbara Hannigan, Dawn Upshaw, Jessye Norman and Thomas Hampson. He also has made debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic and NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, and next season, he will conduct the Orchestre National de France for the first time.

Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London and then at the Royal College of Music as a recipient of the Norman del Mar Conducting Fellowship. Morlot was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2007 in recognition of his significant contribution to music.

--Nate Bachhuber, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa