Classical Music News of the Week, March 11, 2012

92nd Street Y Announces Its 2012/13 Concert Season

92nd Street Y and 92Y Director of Tisch Center for the Arts Hanna Arie-Gaifman today announced the institution's 2012/13 concert season, which encompasses an intriguing collection of repertoire by living composers alongside classical music's historic figures, works heard for the first time in New York, and appearances by 92Y favorites along with new artists making their institutional debuts. In addition to being the home of Kaufmann Concert Hall, one of the city's most acoustically inviting halls, the continued breadth and creativity of 92Y's programming reinforces its reputation as one of New York City's most important artistic and cultural centers.

Central to Dr. Arie-Gaifman's programming is her dual commitment to the world-class artists that return to 92Y season after season, as well as to musicians being introduced to 92Y audiences for the first time. Dr. Arie-Gaifman also understands the power in juxtaposing the works of classical music's founding fathers with living composers. Over the course of a season in which musical giant Johann Sebastian Bach is prominently celebrated, Arie-Gaifman also programs the works of 24 living composers, including Thomas Adès, Lera Auerbach, Phil Kline, Thomas Larcher, Arvo Pärt, Bright Sheng, Roberto Sierra, Jörg Widmann and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among many others. Three of these living composers—Marc-André Hamelin, Benjamin Verdery and Jörg Widmann—appear at 92Y this season in performances of their original works.

In addition, every performance at 92Y benefits from the freedom that Hanna Arie-Gaifman provides artists when working with them to design their programs. "I do not want musicians who come here to be bound by any strict parameters," Arie-Gaifman states. "I want them to pursue themes that are of interest to them, to ask questions of themselves and of their listeners, and to ultimately realize their own unique visions. One of the great joys of music is how profoundly personal it is for each individual, and it is my hope that performing in this hall gives artists a unique opportunity to tell audiences what moves them. In this way, it becomes a beautiful learning experience for everyone involved."

Examples of such inspired programs are evident throughout the 2012/13 season:
- András Schiff presents a trademark examination of J.S. Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier
- Christian Tetzlaff and Alexander Lonquich juxtapose the works of Mozart and Jörg Widmann in the new Contrasts series
- Julian Rachlin examines the evolution of Brahms' violin and viola sonatas in his own pair of concerts
- The Masters of the Keyboard and Distinguished Artists in Recital concerts consistently showcase today's major performing artists in intimate recitals of their own programming
- The artists of Chamber Music at 92Y and the Tokyo String Quartet curate concerts that illustrate the rich variety of sounds that even small ensembles can create
- Art of the Guitar takes audiences through the centuries and around the world to showcase the instrument's versatility and universal appeal.

92Y welcomes a number of artists making their debuts in 2012/13, including pianists Cristina Barbuti and Lars Vogt, Beijing Guitar Duo, Parker String Quartet, violinist/violist Julian Rachlin, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff and clarinetist/composer Jörg Widmann. Pianist Inon Barnatan and guitarist Raphaella Smits make their 92Y solo recital debuts, and New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert and Bach Collegium Japan founder Masaaki Suzuki appear at 92Y for the first time in an enlightening discussion on the various ways in which J.S. Bach's works have been interpreted, performed and reimagined over the years.

Reflecting 92Y's commitment to presenting the work of living composers, the season includes eight New York premieres, several of which are 92Y commissions. In November 2012, Peter Serkin and the Shanghai String Quartet perform the New York premiere of Bright Sheng's Dance Capriccio. January 2013 sees the first New York performance of Lera Auerbach's string quartet—a 92Y co-commission performed by the Tokyo String Quartet—and pianist Marc-André Hamelin plays his own Variations on a Theme by Paganini. Violinist Jennifer Koh includes a new work and 92Y co-commission by Phil Kline on her Distinguished Artists in Recital program in March 2013. The Art of the Guitar series also includes a number of New York premieres this season: the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet performs a 92Y co-commission by Carlos Rafael Rivera, and Manuel Barrueco's recital program features premieres by Roberto Sierra and Sérgio Assad. Pianist Lars Vogt rounds out the season's New York premieres with excerpts from Thomas Larcher's Poems.

Subscription ticket packages for 92Y's 2012/13 are now on sale.  For more information, please visit www.92Y.org/Concerts or call the 92Y Box Office at 212-415-5500.

--Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

British Clarinetist Brenden Guy Joins Acclaimed Local Pianist Sarah Cahill, Valinor Winds and other Accomplished San Francisco Musicians in a "Celebration of Bay Area Music, including a World Premiere by David Conte
British clarinetist Brenden Guy presents "A Celebration of Bay Area Music" on Sunday, March 18. Celebrating the rich musical talents of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mr. Guy's program features the world premiere of David Conte's Sextet led by San Francisco Lyric Opera conductor Barnaby Palmer. Mr. Guy also welcomes acclaimed local pianist Sarah Cahill who will perform John Adams' China Gates, a work dedicated to her by the composer. Completing the program are works by past and present Bay Area composers Ernest Bloch, Dan Becker, Nicholas Pavkovic and Aaron Pike in addition to the premiere of a newly commissioned work by Joseph Stillwell. The concert takes place Sunday, March 18 at 4:30pm at The First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco (1187 Franklin Street, San Francisco, CA 94109). The program is free to the public with a suggested donation of $5-$10 at the door to go towards the Winter Homeless Shelter fund. The musicians are kindly donating their services in support of this important charity.

Pianist Sarah Cahill, described as "fiercely gifted" by the New York Times, is a passionate interpreter of new music and has commissioned, premiered and recorded numerous works for solo piano. Ms. Cahill has performed with various ensembles in the Bay Area including the Berkeley Symphony, New Century Chamber Orchestra and the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble as well as appearances at nationally renowned festivals such as Spoleto, Caramoor Center for Music and Arts and Portland Piano Festival. In addition to her numerous recordings on the New Albion label, she also presents her show 'Then and Now' which can be heard on KALW, 91.7 FM in San Francisco every Sunday evening from 8-10pm.

Barnaby Palmer, conductor of the San Francisco Lyric Opera, will lead David Conte's Sextet and Dan Becker's S.T.I.C.  In addition to his extensive work with San Francisco Lyric Opera, Mr. Palmer has also conducted the Livermore Valley Opera as well as leading performances in Michigan and the Czech Republic. A graduate of both the Cleveland Institute of Music and University of Michigan, Mr. Palmer has studied with acclaimed conductors such as Alan Gilbert, Rossen Milanov, Larry Rachleff and Michael Morgan with whom he is currently working.

Violinist Kevin Rogers, a member of Ensemble Parallèle, Nonsemble 6 and Friction Quartet, will perform Bloch's Nigun for violin and piano. As former president of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Ernest Bloch composed an impressive list of works and this is perhaps one of his most well known within the violin repertoire.

San Francisco's Valinor Winds will perform Pavkovic's Eight Figments, a wind quintet that was originally written as a set of miniatures for piano solo and later orchestrated and debuted by the San Francisco Conservatory New Music Ensemble. Valinor Winds is scheduled to record the quintet version for a multi-media eBook that will be released through Apple and Amazon.com in April, 2012. Also entitled Eight Figments, the eBook is part of a collaborative project that integrates text, visual art and music.

Also featured is Dan Becker's S.T.I.C which stands for Sensitivity To Initial Conditions, a variation on a phrase and phenomena often used in Chaos Theory; David Conte's Clarinet Sonata, a one movement work composed in 1978; and Child's Play by Aaron Pike, a work that won the 2011 Kris Getz Award for Composition. The premiere of Joseph Stillwell's Clarinet Quartet completes the program, a new work that was commissioned by Brenden Guy and Kevin Rogers in recognition of their ongoing musicial collaborations with the composer.

Mr. Guy will also be joined by numerous accomplished Bay Area musicians including pianist Miles Graber, who has performed with various orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, Berkeley Symphony and Santa Rosa Symphony; Michelle Kwon, a member of the Delphi Trio and Quartet San Francisco and Erin Wang who has also performed with Quartet San Francisco in addition to the New Century Chamber Orchestra and Aspen Chamber Orchestra.

"There is a wealth of talented composers living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area," says Brenden Guy. "As a British musician, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to experience this exceptionally rich and diverse arts scene. It has been an honor collaborating with these composers both as colleagues and as friends and this concert is a celebration of their talents. I am extremely grateful for the musicians that have come together to be a part of this special occasion because without these ongoing collaborative partnerships, the wonderfully diverse arts and culture scene wouldn't be what it is today."

--Karen Ames

Emerson String Quartet to Perform Three Concerts at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall
The Emerson String Quartet will present a three-concert series at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall in March and April, performing works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. With performances on March 21, April 4 and April 29, the Quartet seeks to match the Classic and Romantic periods with two of history's most recognized composers.

In October 2011, the Quartet recorded and released Mozart's "Prussian" quartets on Sony Classical. These pieces and others by Mozart, paired with later Beethoven works, highlight the late style that developed in each composer's voice as he approached the end of his life. In programming these late works, the Emerson String Quartet dissects the growth and influence of Mozart's and Beethoven's chamber music.

Mozart's last three string quartets—originally intended to be a set of six, dedicated to the King of Prussia--provide a glimpse into the composer's changing style. The cello receives much more prominence in these works; Mozart's nod to the King's passion for the instrument. Emphasizing a stylistic change in motivic cohesion, texture and phrasing, these pieces offer a look at the direction Mozart's writing was taking. As the Quartet showcases these pieces, it couples them with the late string quartets of Beethoven. Beethoven's forward-thinking approach to harmony and structure presents a future for compositional technique while he still looks to the past (using devices such as the Lydian mode, a medieval church scale, in his Opus 132.)

In the spirit of education and awareness, the concert on March 21 will feature a pre-concert lecture by Bryan Gilliam. The April 29 performance will include a post-concert discussion with the Emerson String Quartet and Ara Guzelimian.

--Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Music Institute Invites Families for Day of Music March 17
Rami Vamos Performance, Concerts, Instrument Petting Zoo Celebrate Music in Our Schools Month.
The Music Institute of Chicago will join the national celebration of Music In Our Schools Month with a day of concerts for all ages and an instrument petting zoo Saturday, March 17 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. The day's events, all free except where noted, are as follows:

9 a.m.: Open house including the Music Institute's instrument petting zoo, refreshments, early childhood demonstrations, Suzuki opportunities, and more.

10 a.m.: Family Concert by Rami Vamos: Introducing: Wolfgang Amadeus Schmutzinberry introduces children both to the instrumentation and textures of the string quartet as well as the compositional process. The mediocre genius Schmutzinberry creates his masterpiece to the sounds of a live string quartet. Ludwig van Beethoven even makes a cameo appearance! Cost: $10 per family.

1 p.m.: Music Institute Composer-in-Residence Mischa Zupko will explore all things musical with students from Skokie Montessori School. Building on the skills that the Skokie Recorder Level 1 and two students have developed with Music Institute instructor Rachel Page, Zupko will focus on the expressive qualities composers build into their works.

3 p.m.: In celebration of Music In Our Schools Month, the Music Institute honors the Joseph Sears School Band from Kenilworth, directed by Patrick Dawson, with its 2012 award for Excellence in Middle School Instrumental Music, which includes a $500 cash prize for the band program and five $100 scholarships for students to study at the Music Institute. The band performs with Music Institute ensembles-in-residence Quintet Attacca and Axiom Brass.

5 p.m.: To conclude the day's events, Evanston Escola de Samba, which offers classes at the Music Institute, performs a high-energy family concert, featuring a trumpet welcome by students from the Music Institute's Dawes School and Walker School "Brass for Beginners" Program, followed by an interactive samba experience. Brazilian Chicago website Chicagoano recently named Evanston Escola de Samba Chicago's Best Samba School.

About Rami Vamos:
Combining his talents as a performer, educator, writer, and composer, Rami Vamos has produced a wide array of creative output, ranging from children's musicals to chamber compositions. For the past 10 years he has used these creations to share an appreciation of classical music with people of all ages and backgrounds.

"Introducing: Wolfgang Amadeus Schmutzinberry" takes place Saturday, March 17 at 10 a.m. at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. Tickets are $10 per family and are available online or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. All other events are free.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

The Bach Sinfonia presents "You Decide:  Bach's Audition at Leipzig": Live Voting Immerses the Audience in the Experience
Cultural Arts Center at Silver Spring
Montgomery College
7995 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Tickets:
$30 adult
$27 seniors (60 and up)
$15 (ages 15 – University)
Free (ages 14 and under)
Order Online at www.bachsinfonia.org or call (301) 362-6525

The Bach Sinfonia presents "You Decide: Bach's Audition at Leipzig" on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 8 PM.  A free pre-concert discussion precedes this and all Bach Sinfonia performances at 7:15 PM led by Daniel Abraham.  During the performance, the audience will play the role of the Leipzig Town Council and determine whether Bach deserved the coveted position of Cantor at Leipzig through a systematic voting process using hand-held clicker polling machines by Turning Technologies. The Bach Sinfonia musicians will be joined by featured soloists Celine Ricci, soprano, Charles Humphries, countertenor, Craig Lemming, tenor, and Phillip Collister, bass.

Historical Context:
With the death of Johann Kuhnau in the fall of 1722, the position of Cantor of Leipzig became available. The appointment was offered to Georg Philipp Telemann, who turned down the privilege and recommended Bach. The Leipzig Town Council determined it would hold auditions to fill the position and seven composers vied for the coveted role. This upcoming performance highlights the surviving compositions associated with the auditions by three composers: Georg Friedrich Kauffmann, who auditioned on November 29, 1722, Johann Christoph Graupner, who auditioned on January 17, 1723 and Johann Sebastian Bach, who auditioned on February 7, 1723. During the actual competition, Bach emerged as runner-up to Johann Graupner, who was forced to turn down the role after his employer would not release him from his duties. After much political intrigue, Bach was granted the position and spent the remaining twenty-seven years of his life at Leipzig, during which time he composed his Passions, Magnificat, many cantatas, many civic pieces, and the Mass in B Minor. Conductor and Artistic Director Daniel Abraham will tell the intriguing tale of the auditions at Leipzig as part of a concert that re-imagines the fierce competition and allows the audience to fill the role of the Town Council of Leipzig – re-examining, once again, which composer should have been granted the position.

About Turning Technologies:
During the concert, audiences will rate each work using hand-held wireless clickers provided by Turning Technologies. At the end of each half, the software will aggregate the voting data and will display the audience tallies on a screen above the stage incorporating the use of a real-time audience response system to create a unique interactive concert experience.

About the Performers:
Celine Ricci, "a sensation, vital on stage and a dazzling coloratura" (LA Times), travels the world with early music playing a major component in her repertoire. Her first solo CD, Cirque, was released in late February 2011 on the Sono Luminus label, with another CD set for release in early 2012. She frequently appears with Philharmonia Baroque (Nicolas McGegan, cond.), at the Göttingen-Handel Festival, and with many of the great early music ensembles of Europe. Charles Humphries "mixes with and stands out through the orchestral sound in a very special way both ethereal and in its smooth, pure beauty." (Aarhus Stiftstidende, Denmark). He moved to Washington, DC from the UK and currently continues to perform in the area, nationally and internationally. Craig Lemming, a Zimbabwean tenor, focuses his voice particularly on the Baroque and Classical eras. He debuted his voice with the title role of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo during the 2007 Bloomington Early Music Festival, in which the Herald Times testified, "Craig Lemming offered a tour de force as Orfeo, dispatching every ornate melody with ease, while imbuing the musical and theatrical aspects of his role with endearing passion." Phillip Collister serves as associate professor of voice and music for the stage and assistant chairperson at Towson University's Department of Music. Collister has appeared as soloist at the Halle Handel Festival and with the Maryland Handel Festival as well as with Washington Bach Consort and the Handel Choir of Baltimore.

Free Educational Opportunies:
In addition to the free pre-concert lecture, the public can learn more about the history of Bach's audition at Leipzig in two full-length lectures with Sinfonia's Music Director and Conductor. Join Daniel Abraham for the lecture "Leipzig Idol—Bach's 1723 Leipzig Audition and the Job He Didn't Win." Hear the full story of how Bach lost to the competition but eventually was appointed cantor of Leipzig in 1723. With seven competitors, the competition was tense but politics eventually moved the Leipzig Town Council to offer the coveted position to Bach. Learn about this 18th century multi-week audition process, hear examples of the music heard by the town's people and council, and engage with Daniel Abraham in a conversation regarding the process that provided Bach with his most important and final 27-year post as Director of Choirs and Music of Leipzig. Two pre-concert lectures will take place. Tuesday, March 20 at 7 PM at Hill Center at Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave, NE, Washington DC 2003) and Wednesday, March 21 at 7PM and the Cultural Arts Center at Silver Spring, Montgomery College.

About Sinfonia:
The Bach Sinfonia is a Maryland-based organization dedicated to excellence in performance and public education of Baroque and Classical music. Now in its 17th season, Sinfonia presents an annual series of unique concerts, open dress rehearsals, and listening lectures of music from the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Sinfonia strives to create programs that differ from the standard classical music concert with performances that aren't just listening entertainments but are also learning experiences.

Program:                                                                      
Johann Sebastian Bach: Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe, BWV 22
Johann Sebastian Bach: Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn, BWV 23
Johann Christoph Graupner: Lobet den Herrn alle Heiden
Johann Christoph Graupner: Aus der Tiefen rufen wir
Johann Christoph Graupner: Magnificat
Georg Friedrich Kauffmann: Unverzagt, beklemmtes Herz (North American premiere)
Georg Friedrich Kauffmann: Die Liebe Gottes (North American premiere)

--Jennifer Buzzell and Daniel Abraham

Emilio del Rosario Piano Concerto Competition
The Emilio del Rosario Piano Concerto Competition, presented by the Music Institute of Chicago and Harper College, was established in 2010 to honor master piano teacher Emilio del Rosario, who dedicated his life to the art of teaching and nurturing pianists to the highest standards. Many of his students have gone on to flourishing careers in music and have achieved great success largely due to his guidance and desire for perfection. This competition hopes to continue his legacy of excellence by providing the next generation of young pianists an opportunity to perform with an orchestra and help them to realize their musical potential.

The competition includes three divisions:  Elementary (10 and younger), Junior (14 and younger), and Senior (18 and younger)

The final application deadline is March 15, 2012; any applications postmarked after March 15 will not be accepted. Application fees: Students of MTNA members: $70; students of non-members: $90

Elementary, Junior, and Senior Preliminary Rounds: April 1, 2012
Junior and Senior Final Round: May 13, 2012

Three finalists each from the Junior and Senior divisions will perform with the Harper Symphony Orchestra. Prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the May 13 performance .

Junior Division Prizes: 1st: $300; 2nd: $200; 3rd: $100
Senior Division Prizes: 1st: $500; 2nd: $400; 3rd: $300

Where:
Harper College Performance Arts Center
1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine, Illinois

Please visit EDRpianocompetition.org or call Brenda Huang at 847.963.1965 for more information.

--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