Classical Music News of the Week, March 18, 2012

Acclaimed Lincoln Trio Performs at Nichols Concert Hall April 29
Violist Roberto Díaz Joins Music Institute of Chicago Ensemble in Residence

The Music Institute of Chicago presents ensemble in residence and faculty members The Lincoln Trio with guest violist Roberto Díaz in concert April 29 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

The program includes Patrick Zimmerli's Piano Trio No. 1; the premiere of Music Institute composer in residence Mischa Zupko's Occupy Piano Quartet; and Gabriel Fauré's Piano Quartet No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 15.

About The Lincoln Trio:
The celebrated, Chicago-based Lincoln Trio, made up of violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, cellist David Cunliffe, and pianist Marta Aznavoorian, has been praised for its polished presentations of well-known chamber works and its ability to forge new paths with contemporary repertoire. The Lincoln Trio performs frequently, including recent engagements with Chicago's WFMT radio, Music in the Loft, NEIU Jewel Box Series, Fazioli Concert Series, and the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series. Champions of new music, the Lincoln Trio has performed numerous compositions written especially for them. The trio made its Ravinia Festival debut in 2009.

About Roberto Díaz:
A violist of international reputation, Roberto Díaz holds the prestigious position of President and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music. A professor of viola at Curtis and former principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Díaz has performed with symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles around the world. He has several recordings on the Naxos label.

About the Music Institute of Chicago:
The Music Institute of Chicago believes that music has the power to sustain and nourish the human spirit; therefore, our mission is to provide the foundation for lifelong engagement with music. As one of the three largest and most respected community music schools in the nation, the Music Institute offers musical excellence built on the strength of its distinguished faculty, commitment to quality, and breadth of programs and services. Founded in 1931 and one of the oldest community music schools in Illinois, the Music Institute is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Each year, the Music Institute's world-class music teachers and arts therapists provide the highest quality arts education to more than 5,000 students of all ability levels, from birth to 101 years of age at campuses in Evanston, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Winnetka, and Downers Grove. The Music Institute also offers lessons and programs at the Steinway of Chicago store in Northbrook and early childhood and community engagement programs throughout the Chicago area and the North Shore. Nichols Concert Hall, an education and performance center in downtown Evanston, reaches approximately 14,000 people each year. The Music Institute's community engagement and partnership programs reach an additional 6,500 Chicago Public School students annually. The Music Institute offers lessons, classes, and programs through four distinct areas: Community School, The Academy, Creative Arts Therapy (Institute for Therapy through the Arts), and Nichols Concert Hall.

The Lincoln Trio and guest Roberto Díaz perform Sunday, April 29 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students, available online or 847.905.1500 ext. 108.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

PARMA Recordings Announces 2012 PARMA Student Composer Competition
PARMA Recordings is pleased to announce the inaugural PARMA Student Composer Competition, the first in a series of annual competitions for student composers. The official Call For Scores was distributed on February 29th.

Ten winners will be selected by an award-winning panel of three independent judges, and the winners' pieces will be published in the digitally-distributed 2012 PARMA Anthology Of Music: Student Edition.

One Grand Prize Winner will be selected to have their piece professionally recorded and produced for release by PARMA.  All recording, production, and publicity costs will be completely subsidized by PARMA, and the master will be released on a collection to be distributed through industry leader Naxos.

As with all PARMA projects, the composers will retain their rights to the composition and master recording. One of the goals of this competition is to usher in new music from the next generation of composers, and PARMA feels strongly that artists should retain rights to their intellectual property, particularly at the outset of their professional musical careers.

This competition gives young composers a career-advancing and career-positioning opportunity to be published, produced, and distributed by an established music company while still a student.  The Grand Prize Winner will have a chance to enjoy a singular recording experience, fully funded and produced by PARMA, and all composers selected for the Anthology will have their work introduced to the listening public with the same high level of attention and quality given to all PARMA artists.

"We are pleased to offer student composers the chance to have their music published, performed, and recorded in an immersive, interactive environment," says PARMA Recordings CEO Bob Lord.  "PARMA has dedicated itself to promoting new music by living composers deserving of wide recognition, and this Anthology will offer students the same opportunities provided to all of our artists."

There is no fee for entry.  The call for scores and full submission details will be distributed on February 29th, and submissions will be accepted from March 1st until March 31st. Submitted pieces can be written for up to 5 performers and have a duration of up to 10 minutes. More information will be sent in the official Call for Scores and on the PARMA Web site, http://www.parmarecordings.com/.

Competition Timeline:
February 29, 2012 - Call for scores distributed
March 1, 2012 - Submission period opens
March 31, 2012 - Submission period closes
April 1, 2012 - April 30th - Judging period
May 1, 2012 - Winners announced

Guidelines:
Composer must be enrolled in a composition program or studying privately with a professional composer
Composer must be under the age of thirty
Piece must be written for up to five acoustic instruments
Piece must be ten minutes or less in duration

To Enter:
Fill out the submission form to submit your information and a PDF of your score, along with an MP3 or MIDI recording. Submission limit is one work per composer.
To submit your piece to the competition, please fill out the Submission Form at the Web site.
To view a list of frequently asked questions, visit the Competition FAQ page at the Web site.
To learn more about the judges and the judging process, visit the Judging Process page at the Web site.

--Rory Cooper, PARMA Recordings

Spring For Music Announces The Great 2012 Arts Blogger Challenge!
Winner awarded $2,500 and tickets for all Spring For Music Concerts at Carnegie Hall, May 7-12, 2012.  Bloggers from all cultural genres are invited to participate.

The first week's blog challenge is: "New York has long been considered the cultural capital of America. Is it still? If not, where?"

From March 26-April 20, arts bloggers will compete to find the best arts blogger in North America. First prize is $2,500 and six pairs of tickets to the Spring For Music festival, May 7-12, 2012, at Carnegie Hall. The prize is $2,500, which, should the blogger not live in New York City, will cover his or her trip there. From May 7-12, the winner will be encouraged to blog about the New York arts scene and experience all six Spring For Music concerts. All culture blogs--music, dance, theatre, visual, general culture, architecture, movies, television, books--are invited to enter. The organizers of Spring For Music strive to promote a national conversation about contemporary culture in and out of the classical music field, and eagerly anticipate contributions from a diversity of arts bloggers. Blog posts will be featured on the Spring For Music website and promoted by the festival's social media outlets, driving traffic to the blogs of all the participants and promoting the many fine arts writers in this country.

Here's how it works:
Bloggers will enter a four round process with eliminations following each round.
Your blog must have been started prior to January 1, 2012.
Each week, a new challenge will be posed and competing bloggers are invited to respond. Readers will vote on the blog entries, and the audience vote plus votes from our team of four judges will determine which bloggers advance to the next week's challenge.
Blog entries can be of any length and will be considered on the basis of their originality and persuasiveness.
The first blog challenge is: "New York has long been considered the cultural capital of America. Is it still? If not, where?"
To enter, answer the first challenge question and visit http://springformusic.com/arts-blogger-challenge for specific instructions.
The entry deadline is March 21 at noon EST.

Here's the schedule:
The list of entered blogs will be posted on the Spring For Music website on Monday morning, March 26.
Voting will occur through Thursday, March 29 at 6PM EDT.
The sixteen bloggers advancing to ROUND TWO will be announced on Friday, March 30 at noon EDT.
Second round posts are due Sunday, April 1 at 6PM EDT.
Voting for second round will occur until Thursday, April 5 at 6PM EDT.
The eight bloggers advancing to ROUND THREE will be announced Friday, April 6 at noon EDT.
Round three posts are due by 6PM EDT on Sunday, April 8.
Round three voting will occur through Thursday, April 12 at 6PM EDT.
The FINAL FOUR bloggers will be announced Friday, April 13 at noon EDT.
The Final Four posts must be posted by Sunday, April 15 at 6PM EDT.
Voting for Final Four continues until Thursday April 19 6PM EDT.
The Winner will be announced at noon on April 20!

There will be three official judges, who will account for two-thirds of the vote. Public voting accounts for one-third of vote, so bloggers should encourage their friends and followers to support them in their quest to be the best arts blogger in America! The three official judges are composer Nico Muhly, ArtsJournal founder and editor Douglas McLennan, and Katrine Ames, former senior editor at Newsweek.

About Spring For Music:
Spring For Music is a new orchestra festival at Carnegie Hall built around innovative programming that had its first season in May 2011. Called "fresh at every turn" by The New Yorker's Alex Ross, Spring For Music aims to be more than a series of concerts. This May 7-12, the second Spring For Music festival welcomes the Edmonton, Nashville, Houston, Alabama, New Jersey, and Milwaukee symphonies.  Tickets are priced at $25 throughout Carnegie Hall. 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. For more information, visit the Spring For Music Web site.

--Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotion

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Announces 2012-2013 Season
Orpheus celebrates its 40th season with trailblazing collaborations and fresh takes on masterworks.  Guest artists Sasha Cooke, Nathan Gunn, Anne Akiko Meyers, the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Richard Goode, and Gabriel Kahane join Orpheus at Carnegie Hall and on U.S. tours. Orpheus also tours Japan with violinist Ryu Goto and Europe with pianist Brad Mehldau.

The diverse programs feature major premieres from Augusta Read Thomas, Wayne Shorter and Gabriel Kahane, plus the Orpheus debut of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and signature works by Mozart, Rossini, Ives, and Prokofiev.

In 1972, a group of like-minded musicians founded the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as a democratically organized ensemble aspiring to perform orchestral repertoire with the spirit of chamber music. Forty years later, their vision continues to expand through groundbreaking partnerships and probing interpretations of classics. Highlights of Orpheus' 2012-13 season include favorites by Beethoven, Rossini, Mozart, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, more recent works by Barber, Ives, Schoenberg, and Wolf, significant commissions from Augusta Read Thomas and Gabriel Kahane, and an adventurous collaboration with the Wayne Shorter Quartet.

Of Orpheus' landmark 40th season, Artistic Director Ronnie Bauch writes, "Musical invention comes in many varied and distinct genres, styles, and systems. Like a universal translator, great ensemble playing has the ability to cut across all musical forms and languages. The techniques of perpetual listening, constant learning, and integrated dialogue that are so fundamental to classical chamber music and the Orpheus Process are also common threads in the worlds of jazz, tango, world music, indie rock, and others. Orpheus will collaborate with the giants of these musical worlds—not only great instrumentalists and composers, but each one an extraordinary ensemble player—to form new artistic bonds, explore new intersections, and create new works of musical convergence."

This summer, Orpheus embarks on a tour of Japan with the ascendant violinist Ryu Goto. Goto and Orpheus, who collaborated at the orchestra's annual gala event in 2011 and on a previous tour of Asia, will bring Rossini, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven to Tokyo's Suntory Hall and Osaka Symphony Hall among other Japanese cities.

The orchestra begins its Carnegie Hall season on October 11, 2012, with a much-anticipated premiere by Augusta Read Thomas, featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone Nathan Gunn. Earth Echoes, commissioned by Orpheus, is Thomas' homage to Gustav Mahler. The orchestra sets the mood for this dramatic evening with Rossini's Overture to L'Italiana in Algeri, and concludes the program with Beethoven's 5th Symphony in its Orpheus debut.

In November 2012, Orpheus tours Germany with pianist and composer Brad Mehldau, performing a work the orchestra commissioned. This collaboration with one of the foremost jazz artists of our era with performances at the Vienna Musikverein and Berlin's Philharmonie, among others, confirms Orpheus' commitment to sharing the stage with sensitive chamber musicians of all disciplines.

On December 1, 2012, Orpheus welcomes violinist Anne Akiko Meyers to perform Barber's lyrical Violin Concerto. The program also features Mozart's Symphony No. 41 and Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony, selections that highlight the confluence of classical and neoclassical strains in Orpheus' repertoire.

On February 1, 2013, the Wayne Shorter Quartet joins Orpheus to debut a new work by Shorter, the legendary jazz saxophonist and composer. The program also includes Beethoven's Overture to Creatures of Prometheus and Ives' Symphony No. 3, The Camp Meeting.

On March 23, 2013, Orpheus celebrates its long-standing relationship with pianist Richard Goode. Their 1998 recording, featuring Mozart's Piano Concertos Nos. 23 and 24, was nominated for a Grammy Award; this season, Goode performs Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor. Two other effervescent works complete the program: Copland's Short Symphony and Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony.

On April 27, 2013, Orpheus caps the two-year residency by composer/performer Gabriel Kahane with the premiere of a genre-bending new work. Kahane has led the orchestra to Galapagos in Brooklyn, worked on educational initiatives in New York City, offered his musical insights in program notes and blog posts, and helped to expose Orpheus to a wider audience. This Carnegie Hall performance showcases a new work inspired by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Wolf's Italian Serenade for Viola and Orchestra and Schoenberg's Transfigured Night round out this season's final event.

The October 11, 2012, December 1, 2012, March 23, 2013, and April 27, 2013 concerts will be broadcast live on WQXR-New York Public Radio.

As a self-governing organization, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra performs without a conductor and rotates musical leadership roles for each work. Striving to empower its musicians by integrating them into virtually every facet of the organization, Orpheus is changing the way the world thinks about musicians, conductors, and orchestras. The effect is extraordinary: The New York Times raves, "Orpheus, whose string players perform with the physical verve of members of a string quartet, produced a convincingly full-blooded sound."

The Residency of Gabriel Kahane is made possible through Music Alive, a residency program of the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA. This national program is designed to provide orchestras with resources and tools to support their presentation of new music to the public and build support for new music within their institutions. Funding for Music Alive is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and The ASCAP Foundation.

--Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotions

Merola Opera Program Announces a Royal Affair
Annual Benefit and Silent Auction to be Held April 21, 2012, at the Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco

The Merola Opera Program's 2012 Spring Benefit will be held Saturday, April 21, 2012, from 6:00 – 11:00p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco. "A Royal Affair" celebrates royal opera characters and will feature a silent auction, a three-course seated dinner, a concert by the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows and a post-concert reception with drinks and dancing. Proceeds from the evening will support the Merola Opera Program, one of the most respected young artist training programs in the world. A recognized leader in the opera community, Merola provides invaluable training and financial support to the next generation of young opera talent.

"We wanted our theme this year to be luxurious, but also playful," said Merola Spring Benefit co-Chair Mary Sue Bizzarri. "We think people will have fun playing at being royalty for the night and we know they will enjoy celebrating the royal opera characters we all know and love."

The silent auction will have a special emphasis on wines and wine events this year, in addition to featuring entertainment, dining and travel items. "While the whole auction will be spectacular, wine lovers are in for a real treat this year," said Auction Chair Jane Burkhard. The wine auction will feature more than fifty bottles of fine wines and experts will be on hand to answer guests' questions and assist them in choosing the perfect bottle of wine. Merola will also be auctioning off several spectacular travel packages, including a very special one week stay for up to ten people at the Greystone Estate in Sonoma with daily VIP tours and tastings at local wineries.

Merola's annual gala is well-known for its unique "Signature Events." Many guests attend the event just to secure a spot at these once-in-a-lifetime experiences. They will not be disappointed by this year's line-up, arranged by Board Member Tracy Grant, with highlights including recitals with renowned artists Leah Crocetto, Quinn Kelsey and Melody Moore, as well as conversations with Carol Vaness and Samuel Ramey.

The Merola Opera Program is dedicated to the continuing education and training of the finest young operatic talent, and to the development of this talent into professional opera singers, coaches and stage directors of the highest artistic caliber. Merola operates in close artistic collaboration with San Francisco Opera, but is an independent nonprofit organization. Governed by a separate board of directors, Merola is responsible for its own long-term financial stability and fundraising, and is grateful to the hundreds of loyal members, donors and foundations who support the Program.

TICKETS for "A Royal Affair" are priced at $300, $600, $1,200 and $3,000. All tickets are available through the Merola Opera Program and can be purchased by calling/emailing: (415) 551-6299 / aelliott@sfopera.com or online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/209170.

--Karen Ames, Alexandra Elliott, Merola Communications

Violinist Sarah Chang Debuts at Strathmore Playing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto
The brilliant violinist Sarah Chang will make her debut at the Music Center at Strathmore performing  Mendelssohn's popular Violin Concerto in E minor with the National Philharmonic, under the direction of Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 8 pm and on Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 3 pm. The concert will also feature Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture and Brahms's Symphony No. 3 in F Major.

Ms. Chang is recognized as one of the world's great violinists.  Since her debut with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 8 she has performed with the greatest orchestras, conductors and accompanists in a career spanning more than two decades. In 2012, she will have recorded exclusively for EMI Classics for 20 years.

Ms. Chang tours extensively throughout the year. Highlights in 2010/11 in Britain and the United States included appearances with the London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra (Washington), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Pittsburgh and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. She also performed in Norway, Romania, Austria, Canada, Poland and Denmark. Ms. Chang appears regularly in the Far East and returns to Seoul for concerts with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and to Guangzhou to perform with the Symphony Orchestra as part of the Asian Games Opening Festival.

First on the program is Mendelssohn's tone painting, the Hebrides Overture, which was inspired by the stunning beauty of Fingal's Cave, found on one of the Hebrides Islands off the west coast of Scotland. One can hear the breaking of waves, see the rich colors and, above all, experience the overwhelming vastness of a cavern in this remarkable work.

Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 is one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin concertos of all time. The composer started the concerto in 1838, but did not complete it until six years later. Although this Romantic work consists of the three traditional concerto movements  (fast–slow–fast), its unique features include the immediate entrance of the violin at the beginning of the work and the linking of the three movements. Its final movement pays proper homage to the virtuoso tradition of the concerto, displaying buoyant themes at breakneck speed.

The last work of the evening is Brahms's Symphony No. 3 in F Major, his shortest symphony, written when he was a 50-year-old bachelor. At that point of his life, Brahms declared himself "frei aber froh" ("free but happy"). The composer gave the symphony a motto (F–A flat–F) based on this declaration and used it throughout the work, thus revealing himself in a novel, yet personal and intimate way.

A free pre-concert lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on Saturday, April 28 and at 1:45 pm on Sunday, April 29 in the Concert Hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to the Sarah Chang concerts, please visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore box office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets are $28-$81; kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette). ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

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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