Classical Music News of the Week, March 25, 2012

Pinchas Zukerman Announces Plans to Leave the National Arts Centre Orchestra

Pinchas Zukerman, one of the world's premier violinists, violists and conductors announced today that he will not renew his contract with the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) and will depart at the close of NACO's 2014-2015 season. After a tenure of 17 years as Music Director Designate and Music Director, Mr. Zukerman's will step down August 31, 2015.

In a statement issued today, Mr. Zukerman said:  "It has been my great pleasure and honor to lead this outstanding orchestra for the past 13 years. I have fallen in love with the city of Ottawa, its citizens and our audience, and I truly consider Canada my second home. My collaborations with the Orchestra and interactions with the audience have been very meaningful for me. I look forward to continuing this musical journey in Ottawa over the course of the next three concert seasons with the same satisfaction and joy I have felt since the first day of my contract in 1998."

Pinchas Zukerman has remained a phenomenon in the world of music for four decades. His musical genius, prodigious technique and unwavering artistic standards are a marvel to audiences and critics. Devoted to the next generation of musicians, he has inspired younger artists with his magnetism and passion. His devotion to teaching has resulted in innovative programs in London, New York, China, Israel and Ottawa. The name Pinchas Zukerman is equally respected as violinist, violist, conductor, pedagogue and chamber musician.

As he completes his 13th season as Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Mr. Zukerman is recognized for elevating the ensemble's caliber of performance and reputation, inaugurating the prestigious National Arts Centre Summer Music Institute, and expanding the ensemble's repertoire to include large-scale works. Performances under Maestro Zukerman have included the Brahms, Mozart, Verdi and Fauré Requiems, Opera Lyra Ottawa's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute and major works by Beethoven, Berlioz, Bruckner, Dvorák, Elgar, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Schumann, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.

Mr. Zukerman has enriched the National Arts Centre Orchestra's cultural identity within the region, and since his appointment has taken an interest in virtually every aspect of Ottawa's artistic community. He has made five recordings with the Orchestra, procured a new Acoustic Control System for the NAC's Southam Hall, and been involved in a number of national radio and television broadcasts. Countless educational initiatives have been established under his leadership, including the NAC Institute for Orchestral Studies and the Summer Music Institute which brings students to Ottawa from around the globe to participate in the Young Artist, Conductors and Composers Programs. The Zukerman Musical Instrument Foundation for the NAC Orchestra was created to acquire donated and new instruments for the Orchestra's musicians. He has championed contemporary Canadian composers, conducting works by Linda Bouchard, Jacques Hétu, Alain Perron, Peter Paul Koprowski, Gary Kulesha, Denis Bouliane, Alexina Louie, Denis Gougeon and Malcolm Forsyth.    

Since Zukerman's arrival  as Music Director in 1998, the National Arts Centre Orchestra has renewed its commitment to touring, both nationally and internationally. He led enormously successful Canadian tours in 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2005, as well as critically acclaimed tours to the Middle East and Europe in 2000 and the United States and Mexico in 2003. Under his direction all touring was coordinated with hundreds of education outreach activities, including ground-breaking and innovative use of the internet.  Mr. Zukerman plans to tour with NACO in China before the conclusion of his tenure.

--Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

The National Philharmonic in Residence at the Music Center at Strathmore Announces 2012-2013 Season
Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski and the National Philharmonic, in residence at the Music Center at Strathmore, today announced its 2012-2013 concert season that features the music of Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Prokofiev and Wagner, among others. In its ninth year of residency at the Music Center at Strathmore, the National Philharmonic is performing to nearly 50,000 people each year. The Philharmonic will continue its commitment to education and outreach by offering free concerts to every second and fifth grade student in Montgomery County Public Schools, free pre-concert lectures, master classes with renowned guest soloists and high quality summer string and choral programs.

The success of the Philharmonic over the past 29 years is largely credited to its critically acclaimed performances that are filled with great, time-tested music and its family friendly approach. All young people age 7 to 17 attend National Philharmonic concerts free of charge through its unique ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program.

Repeat Sunday matinee performances of the Philharmonic's most popular programs (six concerts in total) will also be offered again this year. In addition, concertgoers can attend National Philharmonic's pre-concert lectures on featured composers and music 75 minutes before performances.

The 2012-2013 season will feature performances with such great artists as pianists Orli Shaham and Brian Ganz; violinists Stefan Jackiw and Elena Urioste; cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski; sopranos Danielle Talamantes and Audrey Luna; and mezzo-sopranos Denyce Graves and Magdalena Wór, among others. It will include music by Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Prokofiev, Wagner and more.

Highlights include:
Season kickoff concert featuring Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica") and Piano Concerto No. 3 with pianist Orli Shaham.
Award-winning pianist Brian Ganz in his third all-Chopin recital at Strathmore and performing Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3.
An All-Brahms concert with superstar mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves singing the Alto Rhapsody and the National Philharmonic performing the composer's Symphony No. 4.
An evening celebrating the viola, with violist Victoria Chiang playing the Telemann Concerto for Viola and Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante with violinist Stefan Jackiw.
Cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski performing Witold Lulos?awki's Cello Concerto.
Violinist Elena Urioste playing the late-Washington, DC composer Andreas Makris's compelling Violin Concerto.
National Philharmonic's annual "impressive" and "splendidly rich-toned" (The Washington Post) holiday performances of Handel's Messiah.
An All-Bach concert featuring the Brandenbrug Concertos No. 1 and 5 and his Cantata No. 140, Wachet Auf ("Sleepers Awake").

For the fourth year, National Philharmonic is offering its subscribers a flexible custom series. This allows subscribers to create their own packages and receive discounts of 15-30% on tickets, depending on the number of concerts that are ordered. Season and subscription information are available at or by calling 301-581-5100. Single tickets will be on sale in August 2012.

The complete National Philharmonic 2012-2013 season schedule appears at their Web site,

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Music Institute of Chicago Chorale Continues 25th Anniversary Season with Three Choirs Festival March 31
Welcoming two guest choirs, the Music Institute of Chicago Chorale, conducted by Daniel Wallenberg, continues its 25th Anniversary Season with the Three Choirs Festival, presented by the Music Institute of Chicago, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

Joining the Music Institute of Chicago Chorale are City Voices (based in Oak Park), directed by William Chin, and the Choir of the First Congregational Church of La Grange, directed by Ryan Cox. Singers from all three choirs come together in polychoral works with brass by early Baroque composers Giovanni Gabrieli and Heinrich Schütz, in Josef Rheinberger's Abendlied, and contemporary New Zealand composer David Hamilton's The Moon Is Silently Singing for two choirs and two French horns. The program also includes performances by the individual choirs featuring music by Henry Purcell, Gabriel Fauré, Healey Willan, Robert Applebaum, Rene Clausen, Edwin Fissinger, and Percy Grainger.

The Chorale's 25th season concludes at Nichols Concert Hall with "25 Great Years" Sunday, June 10, highlighting audience favorites from the Chorale's history.

Daniel Wallenberg, conductor of the Chorale since 1987, noted, "Although our Chorale is Evanston-based, participants come from as far south as Chicago and far north as Zion and everything in between. Several members have been in the Chorale for more than 15 years, and a few have been members since its inception in 1986."

About the Music Institute of Chicago Chorale:
The Music Institute of Chicago Chorale is a community chorus that provides an opportunity for adult singers with prior experience to study and perform the best in sacred and secular choral music. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Chorale has one continuing goal: to perform the finest sacred and secular choral music with the highest of standards in a community setting. Under the leadership of Conductor Daniel Wallenberg, the Chorale has developed a wide range of repertoire, including motets, madrigals, part-songs, folk songs, and larger choral-orchestral works by Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Durufle, and many others. Throughout the years, the Chorale has collaborated with local choirs and symphony orchestras and has produced two fully costumed Elizabethan madrigal dinners. In addition, the Chorale has collaborated several times with the Music Institute's voice faculty for concerts of opera and Broadway music.

Chorale conductor Daniel Wallenberg is also on the staff of the Chicago Children's Choir, working with the In-School Chorus and After-School Programs for the Rogers Park and Humboldt Park Neighborhood Choirs, as well as its world-renowned Concert Choir with whom he toured Ukraine and the United States. He is the director of the junior and adult choirs at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation and the founder and artistic director of "Zemer Am," the Chicago Jewish Choral Festival. A native of Bogota, Colombia, Wallenberg founded several adult and children's choirs while living in Israel.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Sonoma State Universtity Announces Inaugural Season for Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, Lawn and Commons at the Donald & Maureen Green Music Center
Sonoma State University (SSU) today announced inaugural season programming for Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, Lawn and Commons in the Donald & Maureen Green Music Center located on the picturesque campus in the heart of California's Sonoma wine region. SSU has programmed a season of the highest artistic excellence offering a diverse array of the world's most distinguished performers from classical music, opera, jazz and world music--the majority of whom make their first appearances in Sonoma County with these performances.

Weill Hall officially opens Saturday, September 29, in a celebratory Opening Night concert featuring piano sensation Lang Lang in recital, followed on Sunday with a Choral Sunrise Concert, a concert with Bruno Ferrandis and the Santa Rosa Symphony, and a special evening performance with Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas. Respected arts leader Robert Cole led artistic programming, working in close collaboration with Jeff Langley, Artistic Director of the Green Music Center and Director of SSU's School of Performing Arts. The news was announced in Weill Hall by SSU President Ruben Armiñana and Green Music Center Board of Advisors Chairman Sanford I. Weill.

Highlights include acclaimed vocalists Stephanie Blythe, Eli-na Garanc(a, Joyce DiDonato and Barbara Cook; celebrated classical soloists Yo-Yo Ma, Vadim Repin, Wynton Marsalis and Anne-Sophie Mutter; acclaimed early music ensembles Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, Tallis Scholars and Il Complesso Barocco; and Latin jazz greats Chucho Valdés and Buika.

The Santa Rosa Symphony, Resident Orchestra, offers a full season of programming at the Green Music Center including classical subscription series and family concerts. The San Francisco Symphony will perform four concerts, two with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. On-Campus Presents, a student-centered presenting group, will showcase contemporary artists, legends of the recording industry, comedians, a speaker and lecture series, and dance events. More details will be announced as On-Campus Presents events are confirmed.

For further information,visit the Web site at, phone 1-866-955-6040, or e-mail

--Karen Ames News

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Musicians Perform at Nichols Concert Hall
Music Institute Presents Civitas May 12. 
Two of Chicago's leading music institutions collaborate when the Music Institute of Chicago presents Civitas—Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians Yuan-Qing Yu, violin; Kozue Funakoshi, violin; Kenneth Olsen, cello; J. Lawrie Bloom, clarinet; and Winston Choi, piano—in concert May 12 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

The program includes Beethoven's Clarinet Trio, Op. 11; Milhaud's Clarinet Trio; and Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A Major No. 2, Op. 81.

About Civitas:
Civitas is a nonprofit performing arts group featuring members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble's goals are to provide classical chamber music at the highest possible level to people who are passionate about live music, present educational programs to young audiences, and bring music to those who would have limited access to the healing power of live classical music. Civitas strives to achieve these goals through creative programming, which includes working with other nonprofit organizations, collaborating with other artists and visual arts, and presenting new compositions.

Civitas performs Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 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

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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

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.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

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. --John J. Puccio

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa