Classical Music News of the Week, January 29, 2012

TED2012 Invites Cameron Carpenter to Present at Famed Conference in Long Beach, CA, Feb. 27 - March 2

Cameron Carpenter is among the roster of presenters that will make TED2012 a summit of the great thinkers and revolutionaries of the world. He joins conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and banjoist Abigail Washburn, energy theorist T. Boone Pickens, choreographer Twyla Tharp and other leading intellectuals at the annual conference in Long Beach, California February 27-March 2.

TED has reinvigorated spoken word by the viral spread of the talks online and the explosion of their ideas and events around the world. At TED2012, they "plan to celebrate this phenomenon and nudge it a further step forward." In a gesture that gives muscle to such a statement TED will temporarily install a major digital organ, modified to Cameron's specifications, in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center for his use during the conference. Cameron is well known on the conference circuit, having been a featured speaker and performer at The Entertainment Gathering in Monterey (EG '08 and '09), and most recently IdeaCity '10 in Toronto.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It began in 1984 with the purpose of bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize. TED talks are watched by millions of people worldwide and reach a massive audience daily, a fact sure to contribute to Cameron's continuing ascent as the organist to watch.

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet Media

American Composers Orchestra Releases Second Digital Download Album, Emerging Composers Series: Vol. 1
World Premiere Recordings by Kati Agócs, Michael Gatonska, Fang Man, Clint Needham, and Gregory Spears

Release date: February 14, 2012
Available from iTunes, Amazon.com & other major retailers
Press Preview available – see Track List at end of release.
For more information: www.americancomposers.org

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces the February 14 release of its second digital download album, Emerging Composers Series: Vol. 1. Following the March 2011 release of the orchestra's inaugural digital album (Playing It UNsafe), this new album features world premiere recordings of music by rising-star composers performed between 2006 and 2009 as part of Orchestra Underground, ACO's cutting-edge orchestral series at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. By making available never-before-recorded orchestral music, ACO goes beyond the concert hall, reaching new listeners and gaining greater exposure and visibility for the young composers it showcases in this series. ACO will release two additional digital albums this spring – an album of new works for extended instruments with the orchestra, and an album of multimedia works.

Emerging Composers Series: Vol. 1 includes music by Kati Agócs, Michael Gatonska, Fang Man, Clint Needham, and Gregory Spears. Gregory Spears's Finishing was first developed as part of ACO's Readings and Lab at University of Pennsylvania in 2007 – a sublime work that uses dog whistles (which are audible) and tape recorders within the orchestra. Kati Agócs deftly strings together a series of exquisite, intimate sonorities in her ACO-commissioned Pearls. Clint Needham's Chamber Symphony explores themes of personal and universal transformation; the composition was the result of his winning ACO's prestigious Underwood commission. Fang Man, also an alumna of the Underwood program, combines clarinet soloist (ACO's own Creative Advisor, virtuoso clarinetist Derek Bermel) and electronic techniques (performed by the composer and Alexis Baskind) with melodies from Chinese opera in Resurrection. Michael Gatonska, another Underwood commissionee, uses the ever-shifting configurations of birds in flight as the organizing principal behind his After the Wings of Migratory Birds, creating music that migrates through space with dynamic energy. Four of the five works on this album are ACO commissions.

Creating opportunities for emerging composers is central to the mission of American Composers Orchestra, which seeks to be the leading research and development laboratory for American composers, orchestras and the wider cultural community. All too often it is the case that up-and-coming composers are excluded from professional orchestra programs, as better-known music is programmed. Yet, writing for orchestra remains one of the supreme challenges and rewards for most composers. The instrumental possibilities, the timbral nuances, the dynamic range, and the raw energy of dozens of talented instrumentalists unified in their musical execution is still, even in the 21st century, a singular and powerful sound experience. It is what has drawn these fine young composers to the orchestra, and it is the opportunity to see and hear what these composers might do with these possibilities that has drawn ACO to them.

For twenty consecutive years the orchestra has offered New Music Readings (first as the Whitaker New Music Readings, and now as the Underwood Readings) that have become one of this country's most coveted opportunities for emerging composers. Readings give emerging composers the opportunity to work with an orchestra singular in its commitment to the development of the American composer, and to hear their work performed by some of the country's most outstanding contemporary music instrumentalists. Composers also benefit from critical feedback and mentoring from conductor, players, and senior composers. ACO has brought its New Music Readings to composers around the country through touring and residency programs, and its national network, EarShot, that assists and advises other orchestras in mounting their own Readings. ACO commissions a lot of new music, well over 200 works to date, much of it from young composers – often their very first professional commission.

--Christina Jensen PR

Four Score Fesitival Highlights Ives and Copland March 4 and 11
Young Composer's Competition Winner Featured March 9

The Music Institute of Chicago's Four Score Festival, which annually highlights contemporary music, this year features Charles Ives March 4 and Aaron Copland March 11. In addition, the festival spotlights the winner of its Generation Next Young Composer's Competition and other young composers in a free performance March 9. All performances take place at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

By incorporating popular forms of American music such as jazz and folk into their compositions, Aaron Copland and Charles Ives created innovative compositions with a sound that became synonymous with the landscape. Four Score Festival 2012 celebrates the music of these 20th century masters and explores how their inspiration threads through the works of two of their students: the March 4 performance focuses on the music of Ives and Gunther Schuller; the March 11 performance features the music of Copland and Mario Davidovsky.

Performers on the programs include the Senior Chamber Orchestra of the Music Institute's prestigious Academy for gifted pre-college musicians, as well as members of the Music Institute's faculty and staff.

Young Composer's Concert:
On March 9, a free concert showcases the winner of the Music Institute's Generation Next Young Composer's Competition, which encourages and promotes the development of young composers. The program also will feature works from the Music Institute's Composer's Lab Program, created by Composer-in-Residence Mischa Zupko, and performances by young composers from the studio of Chicago-based composer Dr. Stacy Garrop. The Music Institute again has partnered with 98.7 WFMT to record the performance for future broadcast on the popular radio program Introductions, which celebrates talented pre-college classical musicians.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Vladimir Spivakov and Olga Kern U.S. Recital Appearances, February 2012
Internationally Acclaimed Violinist and Pianist Visit Boston, NYC, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco to Perform Repertoire of Brahms, Stravinsky, Pärt, Franck, Schnittke and Shostakovich

In February 2012, violinist Vladimir Spivakov and pianist Olga Kern will embark on a rare joint recital tour in the United States, visiting top concert halls in Boston, New York City, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco. This is the powerful duo's first ever joint recital tour outside of Europe, and they have created a dynamic program of works by Brahms, Stravinsky, Pärt, Franck and Schnittke.  At the Carnegie Hall concert only, Spivakov and Kern will be joined by celebrated cellist and 2012 Musical America Artist of the Year, David Finkel of the Emerson String Quartet for a special performance of Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2. (complete repertoire list below).

Throughout his career, spanning nearly four decades, violinist Vladimir Spivakov has been praised by critics for his deep insight into composers' intentions, the richness and beauty of his tone, his fine phrasing and nuance, his emotional impact on his audiences, and his refined artistry and intelligence. Mr. Spivakov made his United States recital debut in 1975 and international engagements quickly followed. He has performed as soloist with the most important orchestras in the world, and collaborated with some of the 20th century's most eminent conductors, including Svetlanov, Kondrashin, Temirkanov, Rostropovich, Bernstein, Leinsdorf, Ozawa, Maazel, Giulini, Masur, Chailly, Conlon and Abbado. In addition to performing major traditional works, Mr. Spivakov has continually treated his audiences to new and innovative repertoire, both in chamber music and orchestral works. Mr. Spivakov plays a violin by Stradivari. Spivakov is equally renowned as Conductor and Founder of the Moscow Virtuosi and as Founder, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the National Philharmonic of Russia.

Olga Kern is the striking young Russian Gold Medal winner of the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Her performance of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 made her the first woman to achieve this distinction in over 30 years. Kern made her New York debut at Carnegie's Zankel Hall in May, 2004, and eleven days later returned to New York to play again, this time on the stage of the Isaac Stern Auditorium at the invitation of Carnegie Hall. Ms. Kern is a magnetic performer with one of the most prodigious piano techniques of any young pianist. Last season, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Van Cliburn Foundation honored Ms. Kern's Cliburn victory 11 years ago with a co-presentation of her talents in March and April of 2011.  Also in 2011, Kern performed with the symphonies of Detroit, Anchorage, Nashville, Dallas, Virginia, St. Louis, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Madison, Johnson City, Syracuse and Colorado. Additionally in North America, she has been invited to perform at Longwood Gardens, the Sanibel Music Festival, the Winter Park Bach Festival, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and Drake University. Ms. Kern records exclusively with Harmonia Mundi, and her Chopin Sonatas CD was released in 2010.

Cellist David Finckel's multifaceted career as concert performer, recording artist, educator, arts administrator, and cultural entrepreneur places him in the ranks of today's most influential classical musicians. His concert appearances as orchestral soloist, duo recitalist with pianist Wu Han, and cellist of the Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet, take him to the world's most prestigious concert series and festivals. David Finckel's wide-ranging musical activities also include the launch of ArtistLed, classical music's first musician-directed, Internet-based recording company. David Finckel and Wu Han serve as Artistic Directors of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. They are also the founders and Artistic Directors of Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Spivakov and Kern's U.S. concerts are presented by Maestro Artist Management (MAM), a full-service production, touring and promotion company that focuses on presenting international artists in a variety of genres, from classical music and dance to theatre and world music, to audiences in the U.S. For more information about this tour and upcoming performances, visit www.maestroartist.com.

Vladimir Spivakov and Olga Kern 2012 Recital Tour:
February 17 Boston, MA - Sanders Theatre
February 18 New York, NY - Carnegie Hall
February 19 Chicago, IL - Orchestra Hall
February 25 Seattle, WA - Benaroya Hall
February 26 San Francisco, CA - Herbst Theatre

Program:
Johannes Brahms, Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, op. 108
Igor Stravinsky, 'Suite Italienne'
Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel (dedicated to Vladimir Spivakov)
Cesar Franck, Sonata in A Major

Program – February 18 (Carnegie Hall):
Johannes Brahms, Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, op. 108
Igor Stravinsky, 'Suite Italienne'
Alfred Schnittke,  Prelude in Memoriam Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Shostakovich, Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op.67 violin (with David Finkel)

--Liza Prijatel, Rebecca Davis PR

Strathmore Presents Spring Performance Calendar
Events from February through June 2012

Season Centerpiece:
"Discover Ellington," with performances by Brian Stokes Mitchell, Robert Glasper, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra led by Arturo O'Farrill, Paquito D'Rivera, Morgan State University Choir, Tap Dancing Manzari Brothers, Allan Harris, Kehembe Eichelberger, Julia Nixon

Classical highlights include
Joshua Bell and Academy of St. Martins in the Field
Tchaikovsky Competition winner, cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan
All-Debussy concerts with Katie Mahan and members of the National Philharmonic

Popular music highlights include
Soul diva Patti LaBelle
Sultry Valentine's Day concert from Ladino singer Yasmin Levy
Pint-size prodigy Ethan Bortnick, youngest headliner to perform at Strathmore
Hollywood heartthrob turned country crooner Kevin Costner
Residency and concert with Dallas Brass and 120 local high school musicians

Jazz highlights include
John Pizzarelli and Kurt Elling
Paco de Lucia
Connaitre Miller, director of ensemble Afro-Blue, which competed on NBC's Sing-Off

Other highlights include
Strathmore Launches its five-part Arts and the Brain lecture series
Host of NPR's "Fresh Air" Terry Gross
Poets Mary Oliver and Billy Collins

Strathmore venues
Mansion at Strathmore
10701 Rockville Pike
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Music Center at Strathmore
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Tickets and Information
(301) 581-5100
www.strathmore.org

--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