Classical Music News of the Week: Sept. 11, 2011

Piatigorsky International Cello Festival
Friday, March 9 - Sunday, March 18, 2012
Ralph Kirshbaum, Artistic Director

The USC Thornton School of Music and the L.A. Philharmonic in partnership with The Colburn School and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra bring together masters of the cello and young cellists from around the world for the inaugural Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, a unique celebration of the cello, its music and its musicians. Twenty-two outstanding artists, representing twelve countries, converge on Los Angeles for ten days, March 9 through 18, 2012, to share their artistry and teaching experience through orchestral concerts, chamber music performances, master classes and interactive events. The Festival is led by Artistic Director and USC Thornton School of Music Piatigorsky Chair, Ralph Kirshbaum, in honor of Gregor Piatigorsky , one of the legends of the cello whose tenure at USC heralded a period of incredible vibrancy in the cultural life of Los Angeles.

The opening concert features the American premiere of Thomas Demenga's Double Concerto performed by the composer and his brother Patrick, and the appearance of 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition Gold Medalist Narek Hakhnazaryan performing Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Festival Orchestra. In addition to the American premiere of Demenga's Double Concerto, the Festival presents the American premiere of Miklós Perényi's Scherzo with Introduction, continuing the tradition of great cellist/composers exemplified by Piatigorsky. Other highlights include the unique opportunity to hear the six solo suites of Bach performed consecutively by six different cellists, and an evening of film and discussion celebrating the life and career of Gregor Piatigorsky enlivened by a panel that includes his grandson, Evan Drachman, and six of Piatigorsky's esteemed former students. Master Recital programs highlight an exciting diversity of works ranging from contemporary compositions to seldom performed masterpieces. Three of the Festival's concluding concerts, a Los Angeles Philharmonic subscription series conducted by Neeme Jä rvi, showcase outstanding soloists performing Dvorák, Shostakovich, and Tchaikovsky. The Festival's finale features over 100 cellists on the stage of Walt Disney Concert Hall for the West Coast premiere of Rapturedux by Christopher Rouse.

This ten day gathering of diverse musical values and points of view will strive to provide an inspirational showcase that will resonate throughout the world. The rich and varied kaleidoscope of master classes, recitals and concerts given by some of the greatest cellists of our time provides a unique opportunity to bring together the leading musical institutions of Los Angeles with representatives of the broader international music community.

Cellists will include Patrick Demenga, Thomas Demenga, Evan Drachman, Narek Hakhnazaryan,
Frans Helmerson, Gary Hoffman, Steven Isserlis, Terry King, Ralph Kirshbaum, Ronald Leonard, Laurence Lesser, Antonio Lysy, Mischa Maisky, Miklós Perényi, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Nathaniel Rosen, Andrew Shulman, Jeffrey Solow, Peter Stumpf, Raphael Wallfisch, Jian Wang, Alisa Weilerstein, and members of the L.A. Cello Society.

Pianists will include Ayke Agus, Bernadene Blaha, Rina Dokshitsky, Kevin Fitz-Gerald, Jeffrey Kahane, Antoinette Perry, and Connie Shih.  The narrator will be John Rubinstein, and the conductors
Neeme Järvi, Courtney Lewis, and Hugh Wolff.

--Nate Bachhuber, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Strathmore Announces Musicians in 2011-2012 Artists in Residence
AIR program expands with acceptance of first electronica, Gypsy jazz, R&B
North Bethesda, MD: Strathmore's burgeoning Artist in Residence (AIR) program continues to grow in its seventh season with the induction of its first electronica, Gypsy jazz and R&B musicians. Since its inception in 2005, Strathmore's AIR program has helped to support the local music community by nurturing the careers of 34 emerging musicians. 2011-2012 AIR participants are Gypsy Jazz vocalist Mary Alouette, singer-songwriter ellen cherry, soul electric guitarist Nate Foley, R&B vocalist Jay Hayden, electronica musician Yoko K and clarinetist Rob Patterson. AIR participants will be mentored by established local musicians Dan Hovey, Seth Kibel and Connaitre Miller.

AIR concerts in the Mansion begin on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. with clarinetist Rob Patterson in the Shapiro Music Room. All AIR concerts in the Mansion begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission to Artists in Residence concerts is $12 for the general public and $10.80 for Strathmore Stars. Admission to AIR mentor concerts is $15 for the general public and $13.50 for Strathmore Stars.

Strathmore's AIR program cultivates local musical talent in the Washington, D.C. area. Emerging talents hone their craft through intense mentor relationships with established performers. Artists in Residence build their business acumen through professional development workshops, create school outreach programs and perfect their stage presence and expand their audiences during live performances. Each Artist in Residence is a featured performer in the Mansion at Strathmore for one month, in which they present salon-style concerts. The AIR experience culminates in the premiere of a new work commissioned by Strathmore, reflecting each musician's growth during the program. AIR graduates include Grammy nominated hip hop artist Christylz Bacon, celebrity jazz harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet, Saddle Creek recording artist Laura Burhenn and her band, the mynabirds, and ukulele chanteuse Victoria Vox.

--Michael Fila, Strathmore

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

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.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa