Classical Music News of the Week, June 17, 2012

Sonoma State University’s Inaugural Season for Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, Lawn and Commons at the Donald & Maureen Green Music Center Begins September 29, 2012

Located on the picturesque Sonoma State University campus in the heart of California’s Sonoma wine region, Weill Hall officially opens Saturday, September 29 with an Opening Night concert featuring Lang Lang 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.

A focal point for music in the region, the Inaugural Season in Weill Hall features an array of internationally acclaimed performers including vocalists Stephanie Blythe, Eli-na Garanca, 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 and the San Francisco Symphony will perform four concerts.

Beginning in June 2013, Sonoma State University and New York’s Carnegie Hall will launch a new partnership to include a year-long residency at SSU by young professional musicians, all alumni of The Academy, the prestigious program created by Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. As Visiting Artists in Residence, a small number of specially-selected Academy alumni will reside on the SSU campus for a year, fully engaging musically with the SSU community: presenting performances, offering lessons, chamber music coachings, and workshops; participating in community outreach to K-12 schools and other community partners; mentoring students; and coordinating audience development and concert preparation activities in residence halls for on-campus performances, among many other duties. This marks the first time that Academy alumni will create such an extended residency, working in a university setting.

Complementing this new Visiting Artists in Residence program, a partnership with the Santa Rosa Symphony will bring Carnegie Hall’s Link Up National program for grade school students to Sonoma County. Link Up will join other educational programs currently offered by the Symphony – Music For Our Schools and Training Young Musicians – as the orchestra creates an El Sistema based program for local students. The Symphony’s five-year pilot program, Simply Strings, will provide daily after-school instruction on violin or viola to first through fifth grade students, culminating each spring in a live performance in Weill Hall with the Santa Rosa Symphony. Students will also have the opportunity to learn pieces of music on the recorder, enabling them to take part in a joint performance – children and the Symphony – at the Green Music Center.

Created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, Link Up National is an interactive and engaging music education program that currently connects more than 30 orchestras across the country with schools in their local communities. As part of the partnership, Carnegie Hall will provide free music education curriculum materials for use in Sonoma County schools as well as complimentary resources to support the culminating concert for students in Spring 2013.

--Karen Ames Communications

Strathmore Announces 2012-2013 Season
Storied Strings: The Violin in America: Exploration of the versatile string instrument and its impact on American music, featuring performances by Mark O’Connor, Alasdair Fraser, and Natalie MacMaster.
Founding of the Strathmore Children’s Chorus: Choral music explored, preserved, and brought to more young ears through New Initiative.
Theatrical Productions Fully Maximize Adaptability of Music Center Concert Hall: Tap Dogs, VOCA PEOPLE, and Luma Theater.
Strathmore speakers, social commentators, poets, satirists take the mic for one week before the Presidential election: David Sedaris, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Fran Lebowitz, and Frank Rich.
Renowned Entertainers and Artists Patti LuPone; Kathleen Battle; Marvin Hamlisch, Angélique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright in “Sing the Truth,” Mannheim Steamroller; Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
D.C. Debuts and Premieres: Jennifer Koh’s “Bach and Beyond Series”; Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; Casey Driessen’s “Singularity Tour”; Carpe Diem String Quartet; Chelsey Green World Premiere Strathmore Commission.
Solo Piano: Maurizio Pollini; George Li; and George Winston.
Intimate Concerts with Inspired Emerging Artists: Kristin Lee; Julie Fowlis; Mak Grgic; Mattias Jacobsson; Aaron Weinstein Trio; and the Tia Fuller Quartet.

Strathmore announces its 2012-2013 season, September 27, 2012 - May 18, 2013, marked with the sweeping, season-long “Storied Strings: The Violin in America,: an 11-concert series that explores this most versatile of the string instruments and its influence on iconic forms of American music. Exposing young people to music is an unwavering initiative at Strathmore—to advance this goal, the arts center launches the Strathmore Children’s Chorus in its new season. Twelve artists are making their debut on the Music Center stage, including the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, eccentric organist Cameron Carpenter and local favorite Pat McGee, with return engagements from high-caliber performers such as Patti LuPone, Kathleen Battle, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Keb’ Mo’. Season highlights in the Music Center include Sing the Truth, bringing together Angélique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright for the first time together on Strathmore’s stage to pay homage to legendary black women in music. Renowned Scottish fiddler Alasdair Frasier will premiere a new program of traditional American music at Strathmore with fellow strings players Natalie Haas, Jay Ungar, Molly Mason and Dirk Powell. Performances by iconic pianists Marvin Hamlisch, Cyrus Chestnut (with Kathleen Battle), George Winston and Maurizio Pollini show a strengthened commitment to utilize the acoustic properties of the Music Center for piano.

A hallmark of Strathmore is its student concerts, which introduce more than 20,000 elementary school children to orchestral music each year—now it will touch even more young lives through music by founding the new Strathmore Children’s Chorus. This is the first time in Strathmore’s 33 year history that it has lent its name to a performing ensemble, and also the first time that it has pioneered the creation of an ensemble for promising young musicians. At its start, the group will consist of about 50 members ages 8-16. Chorus members will receive exemplary instruction under Artistic Director Christopher G. Guerra and will perform in the Mansion and the Music Center at Strathmore.

“By establishing the Strathmore Children’s Chorus, we hope to provide a professional children’s chorus experience in Montgomery County that celebrates the diverse musical traditions of our residents, engages talented youth in joy-filled and uplifting music-making, and provides Strathmore with a living, breathing, singing presence in our community,” said Strathmore President Monica Jeffries Hazangeles.

Strathmore continues to assert the versatility of the Music Center stage by presenting technically challenging and elaborate theater and dance productions. The 2012-2013 season features the high-energy, athletic theater experience Tap Dogs; off-Broadway sensation VOCA PEOPLE; the gravity-defying acrobatics of Cirque Ziva; and the light marvels of Luma Theater. Strathmore will also present complementary performances of Spanish-influenced dance by Ballet Folklórico De México and Flamenco Vivo/Carlota Santana.

“This season, Strathmore stretches the boundaries of our stage into a full-scale theatrical venue filled with torrid dance, new spectacles of light and sound, and thrilling cirque choreography that will redefine audiences’ concept of our Concert Hall,” said Strathmore founder and CEO Eliot Pfanstiehl. “From the onset, the Hall was conceived as a flexible space that could accommodate a range of art forms, and as we mature as an arts presenter, it’s exciting that we can grow to fully utilize the space for all its potential. We're not just for music anymore.”

Salon-style Mansion concerts continue to incubate remarkable emerging talents, many making their Strathmore debut in the early stages of already impressive careers, including George Li, piano; Mattias Jacobsson and Mak Grgic, guitar; Kristin Lee, violin; Aaron Weinstein Trio; Aviv Quartet; Duo Amaral; Guido’s Ear; and the Tia Fuller Quartet. Highlights in the Mansion including the Washington, D.C. premiere of violinist Jennifer Koh’s Bach and Beyond Series, the Washington-area premiere of Korine Fujiwara’s Fiddle Suite Montana performed by Carpe Diem Quartet and a world premiere Strathmore commissioned work by composer Robert Miller, performed by violinist and former Strathmore Artist in Residence Chelsey Green. Also among the Mansion’s standout programs are the premiere of fiddler Casey Driessen’s Singularity Tour and Celtic vocalist Julie Fowlis, gaining notoriety for her work on the soundtrack to Pixar’s new film, Brave.

Additional world premiere performances will be offered by Strathmore’s six new Artists in Residence, emerging musicians cultivated and educated by Strathmore staff and mentors to make the arts a sustaining career.

Tickets for the 2012-2013 season go on sale to Strathmore Stars on June 5, 2012 and to the general public on June 28, 2012. Ticket prices listed represent single, not “Strathmore Stars,” prices. “Strathmore Stars” receive a 10 percent discount on all listed prices.

Strathmore Venues:
Mansion at Strathmore, North Bethesda, MD 20852; 10701 Rockville Pike
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852

Tickets and Information: (301) 581-5100 or

--Michael Fila, Strathmore

Jeff Myers Wins the 'In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores' Online Contest; 10 Honorable Mentions Chosen
Winner: Jeff Myers: "The Angry Birds of Kauai"

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order):
Philip Brownlee: "Pariwhero"
Nikolet Burzyn'ska: "Orna-mention"
Tristan D'Agosta: "Piece for Violin and Piano"
Mark Gresham: "Café Cortadito"
George Kontogiorgos: "Before the Rain Starts"
Marius Felix Lange: "Nutcracker's Nightmare"
Garth Neustadter: "Volitation"
Aaron Severini: "Catch"
Rani Sharone: "Tick"
Octavio Vazquez: "NGC 6611"

Since its inception, “In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores” has aimed not only to expand the violin repertoire, but to engage new fans and break down barriers between artists and audiences. In addition to commissioning 26 composers to write short-form pieces for acoustic violin and piano, Hilary Hahn put out an open call for submissions on her website. Over 400 composers of diverse ages and nationalities submitted works. Each entry was made completely anonymously. As Hahn says, "Reviewing the pieces, I was glad that everything about the scores and audio files was anonymous. All I had to go on was the music itself: no identifying titles, handwriting, or names. I was eager to open the files as they arrived. It was interesting to see how different composers interpreted the encore as a musical form." For every encore that was received, $2 has been donated to the music programs of Dramatic Need.

Today, Hahn is delighted to announce the winner: Jeff Myers. Due to an overwhelming number of wonderful encores, Hahn has also selected the works of Philip Brownlee, Nikolet Burzyn'ska, Tristan D'Agosta, Mark Gresham, George Kontogiorgos, Marius Felix Lange, Garth Neustadter, Aaron Severini, Rani Sharone, and Octavio Vazquez as Honorable Mentions.

Jeff Myers's work, "The Angry Birds of Kauai," will be performed on Hahn's 2012-13 recital program with 13 other previously commissioned works for the project and will be recorded for release during the 2013-14 concert season. The loudness and power of the native birds in Kauai, near his home in Honolulu, inspired Myers's encore. Of the new piece, Hahn writes, "It is smartly and efficiently structured, with soul and humor in the notes. The instruments are equals, and the violin's capabilities are exercised. There is tons to experiment with interpretively: the way the piano and violin trade ideas is something I had been curious to try in upcoming repertoire. I had been looking for a work like this outside of the contest without fully realizing it, and suddenly it dawned on me that that piece was right in front of me. It fits my technique really well. But not just mine: each musician who takes it on in the future will be able to put his or her stamp on it. And this encore was satisfying to work through in my head. It showed its character to me before I played even a phrase."

The music of Jeff Myers draws on preexisting musical works, styles and genres, as well as visual art and natural phenomena. Filipino kulintang music, works by M.C. Escher, overtone music, folk music, and animals have been a source for inspiration. Currently, Myers is working on an opera about 17th Century Norwegian witch trials (Maren of Vardø) with librettist Royce Vavrek for Center City Opera in Philadelphia, PA. Myers is also composing a one-act opera version of Edgar Allan Poe's "Premature Burial" (Buried Alive) with playwright Quincy Long for American Lyric Theater's "Poe" trilogy. Myers's music has been played by ensembles such as L’Orchestre National de Lorraine, American Composers Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, New World Symphony, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, JACK Quartet and by violinist Yuki Numata. He has received awards from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI, as well as fellowships from the Aspen Festival, Tanglewood, Festival Acanthes, and commissioning grants from institutions such as the Jerome Foundation, The Fromm Foundation and NYSCA. His music has been heard at Carnegie Hall, The Library of Congress, The Kimmel Center, Darmstadt, Gaudeamus, Symphony Space, and (le) poisson rouge. Myers holds degrees from San José State University, the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan. His Web site is

Honorable Mentions were awarded to 10 additional pieces that Hahn found compelling. These Honorable Mentions will be premiered by Hahn before the end of 2015. Hahn explains, "When I built the contest, I had intended for the Honorable Mentions to be listed on my site so that readers could look up the composers' work and keep their eyes out for those specific pieces once they might be available to the public. As I got to know these ten over the course of deciding the results, however, I discovered that they were such varied and appealing compositions that when it came to making my decisions, I didn't want to part with them! So, I have now committed to performing all of the Honorable Mentions by the end of 2015. How in the world I am going to learn so much music, I have no idea, but I can’t wait to get started."

The composers chosen for Honorable Mentions are a diverse group, from a conservatory student to an Emmy Award-winner to a former New York Ballet dancer to a bassist in an avant garde metal band. Their experience with Hahn's music is as equally diverse, ranging from devotee YouTube video followers, to sometimes radio listeners, to Carnegie Hall audience members. The inspirations for their encores, too, are scattered: the composer Ferruccio Busoni, the writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, the rocky hills of New Zealand, the economic situation in Greece. The composers hail from Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Pacific, North America, and the southern hemisphere. What unites them all is powerful work. As Hahn explains, "An encore has a complicated job to accomplish in a short period of time. If it is played at the end of a program, it has to capture an audience's attention after an evening of engrossing music, create and maintain an alluring aural atmosphere, and prove as evocative as good story-telling. It has to send people away with the feeling that they have just heard something extraordinary."

--Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotion

Birmingham Hosts England’s Opening Night Concert of the London 2012 Festival
All eyes will be on Birmingham next week as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra performs the opening concert in England for one of the largest arts festivals the UK has ever seen – the London 2012 Festival.

On 21 June, the CBSO, conducted by Edward Gardner, will be joined by the 250 massed-voices of the CBSO Chorus, CBSO Children’s Chorus and CBSO Youth Chorus, along with actor Samuel West and CBSO Associate Conductor Michael Seal, in the UK premier of Weltethos. This visionary and dramatic piece of music was created by one of the world’s greatest living composers, Sutton Coldfield born Jonathan Harvey.

“Weltethos is a thought-provoking, delicately woven piece which brings together the world’s great cultures in the search for goodness through our shared spiritual humanity”, said CBSO chief executive Stephen Maddock. “Whilst epic in scale, it conveys a tender but powerful message about moral purpose, through which we hope to bring the London 2012 Festival, in Birmingham, to life”.

Stephen added: “The CBSO offers an unrivalled diversity of programme and we are thrilled to be premiering this work by one of the world’s best contemporary composers. Our concert is just one of four taking place across Britain on the festival opening night; Derry~Londonderry, Stirling and Bowness-on-Windermere will also help us to showcase some of the artists that make our country an exciting hotbed of talent”.

London 2012 Festival Director Ruth Mackenzie said: “Sir Simon Rattle commissioned this piece and I heard the first ever performance in Berlin – it is a huge and ambitious piece which lives up to the themes of World Peace it tackles, and offers the huge orchestral and choral forces a challenge that is thrilling for them and audiences alike.  I am so proud that it opens the London 2012 Festival and my thanks to all who have made it possible”

Jonathan Harvey was commissioned by CBSO Chorus Director, Simon Halsey (and Chief Conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir) and ex-CBSO Music Director Sir Simon Rattle (Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) to write a 90 minute piece of music for Choir and Orchestra which was premiered in Berlin with the Philharmonic Orchestra and Berlin Radio Choir in October 2011.

Founded on texts from six of the world’s greatest religions: Confucianism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, it shares a complex yet heartfelt message of balance and harmony through layers of German text, (written by theologian Hans Kung) traditional writings and sounds akin to each of the six religions.

CBSO Chorus Director Simon Halsey said: “The overarching theme of this new work is world peace, also a major theme of the Olympic movement, so it is absolutely perfect for this concert. It is a complex work, in six movements and with two conductors, so will be quite a spectacular concert. We are looking forward to it immensely. And as Jonathan was born locally, it is also fitting that the UK premiere of the work will be on his home turf.”

The London 2012 Festival is a 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, opening on Midsummer’s Day, 21 June, and running until 9 September 2012. The spectacular ‘once in a lifetime’ festival features more than 25,000 artists from all 204 competing Olympic nations. Everyone will be able to join in the celebration with over 10 million free tickets and opportunities to take part in 12,000 events and performances at 900 venues all over the UK, including 130 world premieres and 85 UK premieres. The London 2012 Festival is the finale of the Cultural Olympiad, the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements, designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.

Weltethos takes place on 21 June at 7.30pm in Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Tickets are available from Symphony Hall or Town Hall box offices in person, by phone: 0121 780 3333, or online: (Please note a £2.50 transaction fee is charged by THSH Box Office on all bookings except those made in person)

--Ruth Green, CBSO

1 comment:

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