Classical Music News of the Week, January 1, 2012

USC's Visions and Voices Series to Underwrite Opening Concert of Piatigorsky International Cello Festival

Piatigorsky International Cello Festival
Friday, March 9 - Sunday, March 18, 2012
Ralph Kirshbaum, Artistic Director
http://piatigorskyfestival.com/

Underlining the University of Southern California's commitment to the inaugural Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, the university's "Visions and Voices" series has generously underwritten the Festival's opening concert as part of a comprehensive support for the goals and ideals of this celebratory event. The opening concert introduces the Festival Orchestra, led by conductor Hugh Wolff, and comprised of members of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO)--led by Margaret Batjer, concertmaster--together with some of the finest students from the USC Thornton School of Music and The Colburn School. Featured in the concert are seven distinguished international artists supported by some of the most esteemed talent in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Visions and Voices aims to educate and inspire through interdisciplinary activities which cut across the breadth of study areas found at USC including theatrical productions, music and dance performances, film screenings, lectures and workshops. In anticipation of the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, Ralph Kirshbaum, USC's Piatigorsky Endowed Chair in Cello, will present "Performance and the Art of Piatigorsky" as part of USC's "Visions and Voices" series on Wednesday, February 15 at Newman Hall on the USC campus. The presentation will feature a historical video, a talk on the life and career of Gregor Piatigorsky and the performance of an eclectic variety of musical selections by USC Thornton School of Music students.

Reaffirming USC and Greater Los Angeles as a hub for artistic edification, the scheduled master classes and workshops of the Festival will bring forty-five cellists (several being international prizewinners) from the most prominent conservatories and music schools in the world to work with some of today's most illustrious performers and pedagogues. Representing virtually every continent, fifteen students from across Europe, Japan, China, Australia, Africa and South America; sixteen students from US universities and conservatories including Juilliard, Curtis, Eastman, Yale, Indiana, Peabody and Cleveland ; and 14 students from Los Angeles institutions will come together to participate in the wealth of initiatives on offer at the Piatigorsky Festival. As a recent addition to the schedule, Sunday, March 18 brings internationally recognized artist Antonio Lysy to lead a free workshop for young, emerging, LA-based cellists between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Lysy will work with students to prepare for a morning concert at Colburn's Thayer Hall. Echoing the fusion of art and technology, auditions for this workshop will be submitted exclusively on YouTube. A select number of participants will be chosen to perform as part of the Festival's closing concert, joining over 100 cellists on stage at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

This coming February, Artistic Director Ralph Kirshbaum, and USC Thornton School students will engage with the community through an outreach program designed to raise awareness of the Festival and its namesake, Gregor Piatigorsky. Incorporating musical presentations and talks, Kirshbaum will appear at local schools, educating students about the cello and highlighting the Festival's mission.

Bringing together four prestigious Los Angeles organizations, the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival aims to highlight and bring awareness to the cello against the backdrop of one of the most culturally vibrant metropolitan areas in the United States. Combining the forces of the USC Thornton School of Music, the LA Philharmonic, The Colburn School, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, current and past members from all these organizations, together with colleagues from around the world, will participate in concerts, master classes and workshops in a ten-day celebration of the cello, its music, and its musicians.

Cellists:
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:
Ayke Agus, Bernadene Blaha, Rina Dokshitsky, Kevin Fitz-Gerald, Jeffrey Kahane, Antoinette Perry, Connie Shih, and Robert Thies.

Narrator:
John Rubinstein.

Conductors:
Neeme Järvi, Courtney Lewis, and Hugh Wolff.

--Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

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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.

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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.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa