Classical Music News of the Week, November 6, 2011

Spring for Music Invites the Public to Comment on the Festival's 2014 Programs 

New York, NY-- Spring for Music was inaugurated in 2011 in part to spark conversations about repertoire, about audience expectations and about how programming--both adventurous and complacent--affects how we think about classical music. Last May, seven orchestras from across North America performed at Carnegie Hall, pushing the limits of conventional programming and presenting holistic artistic evenings. After a successful first season, the programs for 2012 (found at the end of this press release) were announced, and audiences are eagerly awaiting the new season. Even before Spring for Music 2012's May 7 opening night and second season, however, there is already a lively debate over the 2014 programs. All are invited to voice their opinions.

On Spring for Music's Web site, the potential 2014 orchestras have submitted program proposals and written notes explaining their choices, which are posted anonymously. The programs range from an evening of new music showcasing Canada's rising generation of iconoclast composers, to a thematic program centering around suffering and resilience, to a night featuring works about New York and its complicated mythology...by composers not from New York. Comments and debates have sprung up and only aid Spring for Music's goal of opening up questions about programming and starting discussions. Comments on the website range from excitedly positive, "What a wonderful, imaginative program! Must hear and experience this one", to thought-provoking, "I think the theme and the content of this program is particularly relevant and poignant for the times that we are experiencing now in our great country. The message is one of hope and strength; remembering those who have gone before to secure our freedoms and bring optimism for the future", to whimsically specific, "Schafer and Tanya on the same program? Like dark chocolate and merlot...perfect!"  To date, there have been more than 3,000 votes and 19,000 visitors. The 2014 programs and orchestras will be announced on February 1, 2012, and potential orchestras will be able to modify their programs based on the website comments before final submission.

Spring for Music is an annual concentrated festival of concerts by North American symphony and chamber orchestras presented at Carnegie Hall. Six orchestras--the Houston Symphony, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and Nashville Symphony--will perform on May 7 to May 12, 2012. Tickets will be priced at $25 throughout the hall. Through a unique marketing structure involving shared costs, shared risks, and generous donations, the festival allows participating orchestras to showcase their artistic philosophies through distinctive and adventurous programming in one of the world's most competitive musical environments. The festival hopes to provide a laboratory, free of the usual marketing and financial constraints, for an orchestra to be creative with interesting, provocative and stimulating programs reflecting its beliefs, its standards, and vision.

The programs for the 2012 Spring for Music festival, May 7 through 12:

Monday, May 7, 2012:
Houston Symphony, Hans Graf, music director
Dmitri Shostakovich: Anti-Formalist Rayok. Mikhail Svetlov, bass
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11, The Year 1905

Tuesday, May 8, 2012:
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, William Eddins, music director
Robert Rival: New work (ESO Comission; U.S. Premiere)
John Estacio: Triple Concerto (ESO Comission; U.S. Premiere). Angela Cheng, piano; Juliette Kang, violin; Denise Djokic, cello
Allan Gilliland: Dreaming of the Masters III (ESO Comission; U.S. Premiere). Jens Lindemann, trumpet
Bohuslav Martinu: Symphony No. 1

Wednesday, May 9, 2012:
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Jacques Lacombe, music director
Edgard Varèse: Nocturnal. Hila Plitmann, soprano; Men of the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Joe Miller, director
Kurt Weill: Symphony No. 1, Berliner Symphony
Ferruccio Busoni: Piano Concerto. Marc-André Hamelin, piano; Men of the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Joe Miller, director

Thursday, May 10, 2012
Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Justin Brown, music director
Avner Dorman: Astrolatry (ASO Comission; New York Premiere)
Paul Lansky: Shapeshifters for Two Pianos and Orchestra (ASO Comission; New York Premiere).
Quattro Mani: Susan Grace and Alice Rybak, pianos
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7

Friday, May 11, 2012:
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Edo de Waart, music director
Olivier Messiaen: Les offrandes oubliées
Claude Debussy: La Mer (1909 edition)
Qigang Chen: Iris dévoilée. Xiaoduo Chen, soprano; Meng Meng, Peking Opera soprano; pipa soloist tba; zheng soloist tba; Hong Wang, erhu soloist

Saturday, May 12, 2012
Nashville Symphony, Giancarlo Guerrero, music director
Charles Ives: Universe Symphony (as realized and completed by Larry Austin; New York Premiere)
Terry Riley: Concerto for Electric Violin, The Palmian Chord Ryddle (NS Comission; New York Premiere). Tracy Silverman, electric violin
Percy Grainger: The Warriors

For more information about the potential 2014 programs, or to request press tickets to Spring for Music, contact:

Mary Lou Falcone
M.L. FALCONE, Public Relations
MLFPR@mlfpr.com
ph. 212.580.4302
or
Amanda Ameer
First Chair Promotion
amanda@firstchairpromo.com
ph. 212.368.5949

Hilary Hahn Announces On-line Contest to Select the 27th Encore for Her "In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores"
New York, NY--At age 31--32 on November 27--Hahn has already made a lasting impact on the violin repertoire, premiering a concerto by Jennifer Higdon in addition to another by Edgar Meyer and championing both well- and lesser- known works in performance and recording. This season, Hahn delves deeper into the world of contemporary classical music, commissioning over two dozen composers to write short-form pieces for acoustic violin and piano. She will tour these new works over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons and then record them. The project is called "In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores."

The 26 commissioned composers represent a large range of contemporary music being written today. Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Lera Auerbach, Richard Barrett, Mason Bates, Tina Davidson, David Del Tredici, Avner Dorman, Søren Nils Eichberg, Christos Hatzis, Jennifer Higdon, James Newton Howard, Bun-Ching Lam, David Lang, Edgar Meyer, Paul Moravec, Nico Muhly, Michiru Oshima, Krzysztof Penderecki, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Max Richter, Somei Satoh, Elliott Sharp, Valentin Silvestrov, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Gillian Whitehead, and Du Yun have all written new encore pieces for Hahn.

The final, 27th composer will be selected by Hahn from blind submissions on a website. Anyone from anywhere can submit a potential 27th encore. Hahn's goal is to give equal opportunity for participation, and to help create a positive environment in which everyone who is interested in expressing themselves musically can be heard. One Grand Prize winner will be named the 27th composer for "In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores." The Grand Prize winning piece will be programmed on Hahn's 2012-13 recital program with 13 other previously commissioned works for the project; toured around the world; and recorded for release in the 2013-14 concert season. Honorable Mentions (not to exceed ten in number) will also be awarded to the pieces that Hahn finds most compelling besides the Grand Prize winner. These Honorable Mentions will be listed on HilaryHahn.com. For every submission received, $2 will be donated to the music programs of Dramatic Need.

The competition is open to composers of all nationalities, with no age restrictions. The compositions submitted for the competition must use both acoustic violin and piano, and nothing else, and may not involve any form of electronic or pre-recorded sounds or vocalizations. The pieces must be between 1.5 and 5 minutes in length, and only completed works will be considered. Each entry must be original music written by the composer, and only one entry per composer is allowed. No changes may be made once a piece is submitted, though the Grand Prize winner will have a chance to make small revisions once the piece is chosen. The submitted compositions must be written specifically for this project and not submitted to any other contest, and must not have been performed, published, or recorded in any form.

Submissions will be accepted on the website from November 15, 2011 to March 15, 2012. Each submission must be comprised of a PDF and a MIDI file. Results will be announced on this site on June 15, 2012. For the full list of rules and submission requirements, please visit the website.

The idea for "In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores" began to take shape nearly a decade ago, when Hahn noticed that new encore pieces were not being showcased as much as other types of contemporary works. Shorter pieces remain a crucial part of every violinist's education and repertoire, and Hahn believed potential new favorites should be encouraged and performed as well. In a recent interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Hahn describes her experiences to date with this project: "What surprised me most is the way each piece represents its composer's specific musical language. I find myself working very hard to get into each composer's way of writing, so that I understand on an innate level how they have structured every aspect of their pieces, from phrases to harmonies and even violinistic techniques. In that sense, this project has been much bigger than I anticipated. But I like challenges."

Once a month over the next two years, Hahn will post interviews with the "In 27 Pieces" composers on her YouTube channel. To date, she has interviewed Max Richter, Bun-Ching Lam and Søren Nils Eichberg. Click on the images below to watch.

--Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotion

Handel's Messiah … Refreshed!
Lincoln Center Premiere of the Thomas Beecham/Eugene Goossens' 1959 Re-Orchestration for Full Symphony Orchestra
Sara Jean Ford, soprano – Nicholas Tamagna, countertenor
Ryan MacPherson, tenor –  Michael Scarcelle, bass
Jonathan Griffith, Conductor
Distinguished Concerts Orchestra International & Distinguished Concert Singers International
Thanksgiving Weekend!
Sunday, November 27 at 2:00pm
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center

For Immediate Release, October 26, 2011, New York, NY  …. Distinguished Concerts International (DCINY), now in its 4th season, proudly ushers in the holiday season on Sunday, November 27 at 2:00pm with the Lincoln Center premiere of Sir Thomas Beecham/Sir Eugene Goossens' 1959 re-orchestration for full Symphony Orchestra of Handel's beloved Messiah. The re-orchestration, which reappeared in 1999 after a 40-year absence, fills the concert hall with the gloriously rich tonal color of a full, symphony orchestra, to the enthusiasm of audiences wherever it is performed. Featured soloists include soprano Sara Jean Ford, currently starring as Christine Daae in Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera, countertenor Nicholas Tamagna, 2011's Nico Castel International Master Singer Male winner, tenor Ryan MacPherson, and bass Michael Scarcelle. DCINY's Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Jonathan Griffith, leads the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra International and Distinguished Concert Singers International.

In 1959, Sir Thomas Beecham, founder and Music Director of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), commissioned Sir Eugene Goossens to orchestrate Messiah for a full, symphony orchestra. Long before the current Early Music movement had taken hold, Beecham fully believed that unless a work was written for the full force of a modern orchestra, it would not be programmed. After completing the commission - thus supposedly saving the treasured work from oblivion - the new Goossens' orchestration was performed live at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland and recorded by the RPO. Soon afterwards, however, the score and parts were "lost" and no other live performances of the work were presented in Europe or in the United States. Meanwhile, the recording became a huge hit for RCA Red Label and remains one of the top ten most popular Messiah recordings of all time.

Following the first live performance of Goossens' Messiah at Royal Albert Hall in London in 1999, Dr. Jonathan Griffith conducted the United States premiere in April 2000 at Carnegie Hall. While Goossens' epic, romantic take on Handel's masterpiece has somewhat divided critics over the last decade, audiences have responded with unequivocal enthusiasm, as comments Dr. Griffiths: "Even the most novice of audience members recognizes the familiarity of the overall music, but is deeply touched by the sheer sound and richness of full winds, full brass, strings and percussion in those moments that call for musical exuberance, such as the 'Hallelujah' chorus, 'Worthy is the Lamb', and of course, the concluding 'Amen'."

From the opening chords of the Overture, the listener is gradually introduced to the color palette of the expanded orchestra, leading from the opening strings and oboe, to a harp and flute duet accompanied by pizzicato strings, to the full brass section, punctuating the final measures. Most poignant is the soprano recitative; 'And lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them,' where ascending arpeggios played by the harp (originally written for the violins) add a sense of mystery and awe. In another beautiful use of tonal color, Goossens' uses only the woodwind section in selected passages of 'I know that my Redeemer liveth,' adding additional warmth and color to the text.

DCINY is pleased to welcome back Sara Jean Ford as soprano soloist, last heard with the company in the role of Pieta in Eric Whitacre's critically-acclaimed Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings at Carnegie Hall, Chicago's Auditorium Theatre and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Currently starring as Christine Daae in Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera, Ford also counts Finian's Rainbow and A Little Night Music among her Broadway credits. Rising New York City countertenor Nicholas Tamagna won the Nico Castel International Mastersinger Competition in the male category in 2011 and was recently praised by The New York Times for his "charismatic" and "vibrant" portrayal of Farnace in Mozart's Mitridate for Little Opera Theatre of New York. Tenor soloist Ryan MacPherson has performed frequently with New York City Opera, as well as with opera companies across the country, in roles including Anatol in Samuel Barber's Vanessa and Don José in Carmen. Bass-baritone Michael Scarcelle was recently acclaimed for his Elviro in Handel's Serse with Boston Baroque and performances of Candide with the Munich Philharmonic and on tour with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets ($20-100) at www.lincolncenter.org or by calling CenterCharge 212.721.6500

--Shira Gilbert PR

Music Institute of Chicago Concert Benefits Area Homeless/Hunger Groups
Organ Invitational Recital Takes Place November 13 at Nichols Concert Hall
 The Music Institute of Chicago presents acclaimed organists from Evanston's houses of worship in concert Sunday, November 13, at 3 p.m. on the gloriously restored, three manual E.M. Skinner pipe organ at Nichols Concert Hall.

The Music Institute is presenting this special concert to raise awareness about the scourge of hunger and food insecurity in the community and will contribute 100 percent of the proceeds to support Connections for the Homeless and the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

The program includes:
Eric Budzynski, organist and music associate for Alice Millar Chapel at Northwestern University in Evanston
Dr. Robert Horton, organist and choirmaster at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Evanston
Dr. John W.W. Sherer, director of music and organist at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago

The organ invitational recital benefit takes place Sunday, November 13 at 3 p.m. at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students, available at musicinst.org or 847.905.1500 ext. 108.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

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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