Classical Music News of the Week, June 24, 2012

Matthew Oltman Joins Distinguished Concerts International New York
Music Director Emeritus of Chanicleer Joins DCINY's Program Development Team.

Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) is delighted to welcome Matthew Oltman to the company’s Program Development team.

Throughout his career as a singer, conductor and educator, and as Music Director Emeritus of the Grammy award-winning male vocal ensemble Chanticleer, Matthew Oltman has experienced the profound impact of music on both performer and listener. During his tenure, Mr. Oltman led Chanticleer through three-critically acclaimed seasons, which included over 300 concerts in more than a dozen countries.  He helped launch the Chanticleer Live in Concert or "CLIC" recording label, and was the editor of the Chanticleer Choral Series, published by Hinshaw Music.  He also conducted over 450 high school choral and orchestral students from across the country in Chanticleer's first National Youth Choral Festival, The Singing Life, and led numerous day-long Youth Choral Festivals in communities in several states.

“DCINY is thrilled to have Matt on board,” says Iris Derke, General Director and Co-Founder, “He is uniquely positioned to connect with fine programs from around the world and to further DCINY’s mission of quality programming, education and exquisite memories for all involved.”

“DCINY is a company whose core values I have long admired,” says Oltman, continuing, “DCINY concerts are a once-in-a-lifetime experience for singers. In addition to being a part of a spectacular performance, they get to meet other talented musicians from across the globe who share their passion for singing and making music. I know first-hand how life changing this can be, and I am thrilled that I will get to spend my time enabling highly dedicated and motivated choirs to experience something unforgettable.”

Oltman will join DCINY starting immediately from his current home in San Francisco and will relocate to New York City in September.                                                                         

Matthew Oltman first joined Chanticleer in 1999 as a tenor and in 2004 was named Assistant Music Director under Joseph Jennings, a post which he held until his appointment to Music Director in 2009. During his decade singing with the ensemble, he appeared on twelve albums and toured extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, Mr. Oltman served as Guest Director of Choral Activities at UC Berkeley where he conducted the University Choir and the University Chamber Singers.  Recently, he was a featured clinician at the first Anúna International Choral Summer School (Ireland) and has led countless clinics and master classes with choirs from across the globe.   Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, Matthew Oltman earned a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Simpson College and an M.A. in Music from the University of York in England with the aid of a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. Before joining Chanticleer, Mr. Oltman sang with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale and was on the faculty of Simpson College where he taught harmony, French diction, choral techniques and voice.

Founded by Iris Derke (General Director) and Jonathan Griffith (Artistic Director and Principal Conductor) Distinguished Concerts International New York is driven by passion, innovative vision, a total belief in its artists, and unwavering commitment to bringing forth unforgettable audience experiences. DCINY is a creative producing entity with unmatched integrity that is a talent incubator, a star-maker, and a presenter of broadly accessible, world-class musical entertainment.

--Shira Gilbert PR

Jonathan Biss Announces Schumann: Under the Influence, an International Initiative of over 30 Concerts Examining the Works of Robert Schumann
Performances in London, Amsterdam, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Kansas City.

Collaborations with tenor Mark Padmore, soprano Camilla Tilling, violist Kim Kashkashian, clarinetist Romie de Guise-Langlois, violist Scott St. John, clarinetist Carey Bell, and the Elias String Quartet.

With over 30 concerts throughout Europe and North America over an eight month span from October 2012 to May 2013, Schumann: Under the Influence is a season-long exploration of the composer's role in musical history. Pianist Jonathan Biss and several hand-picked collaborators will perform Schumann's work, music by his notable influences such as Beethoven, Schubert, and Purcell, and selections from his long list of successors ranging from Berg and Janácek to 26-year-old composer Timothy Andres. As Biss explains, "This series of concerts takes a deeply affectionate look at the man whose music I find so endlessly fascinating and moving, and attempts to 'place' him--to explore the rather complex relationship he has with the composers who inspired him, and to show on every level how poor indeed we would be without him, his music, and his legacy."

The initiative is unique among presenters and soloists. Biss personally curated each concert with a mind towards creating a complete whole. He notes, "The impetus for Schumann: Under the Influence was--of course--Schumann's music itself. My feelings for this music go beyond love, though there's also plenty of that: silly as it may sound, I feel somehow protective of him. This is first of all because his music is so deeply personal and achingly vulnerable, it tends to inspire these feelings in those who respond deeply to his music. But equally, it comes from my sense that for a composer of his stature, he is subject to a remarkable number of misconceptions, and to an attitude that can at times be downright condescending. I wanted to show Schumann's music exactly as it is--deeply poetic, fragile, obsessive, evocative, whimsical, internal." Unlike a traditional artist-in-residency, Schumann: Under the Influence allows Biss to create a sprawling, roving Schumann festival in multiple countries, with various presenter partners, and, perhaps most importantly, with a diversified set of artist co-conspirators.

Biss will be joined in this project by tenor Mark Padmore, soprano Camilla Tilling, violist Kim Kashkashian, clarinetist Romie de Guise-Langlois, Scott St. John, Carey Bell, and the Elias String Quartet. Says Biss, "It is no accident that most of the music on these four programs is collaborative. Given that this project is to such a large degree about exploration, there is enormous pleasure to be found in opening it up to other viewpoints, to the voices--literal in some cases--of other musicians. And so, while the other performers involved are in many respects very different from one another, they are similar in that they all approach music with an attitude of curiosity." Over the course of the 2012-13 season, Biss also plays Schumann with orchestras including the Prague Philharmonia, the San Francisco Symphony, the Orchestra National de Belgique, and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Biss's May 2013 recital at Wigmore Hall in London will be recorded for the Wigmore Hall Live label. Launched in 2005, Wigmore Hall Live has released over 40 records to great critical acclaim. This performance includes Schumann's Phantasiestücke interspersed with selections from Janác(ek's Along an Overgrown Path. The evening concludes with Berg's Piano Sonata and Davidsbündlertänze by Schumann.

Jonathan Biss has appeared with the foremost orchestras of North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Widely regarded known not only for his artistry and poetic interpretations but also for his deep musical curiosity, Biss performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven, through the Romantics to Janácek and Schoenberg as well as works by contemporary composers such as Gyorgy Kurtág and including commission from Leon Kirchner, Lewis Spratian and Bernard Rands. Biss has a noted recording career. His recordings include an album of Schubert sonatas and two short Kurtág pieces that was named by NPR Music as one of the best albums of the year. His recent albums for EMI won a Diapason d'Or de l'année award and an Edison Award. In January 2012, Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven's complete sonatas. Biss wrote about this recording project and also and about his relationship with Beethoven's music more generally for a 19,000-word essay called “Beethoven’s Shadow” that was published electronically as a "Kindle Single" and is available from Amazon online stores. Biss studied at Indiana University and at The Curtis Institute of Music, where he was appointed to the piano faculty in 2010. His blog featuring music ruminations, reflections about his life as a musician, and interviews can be found at www.jonathanbiss.com.

--Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotion

Conductor Donato Cabrera 2012-2013 Concert Season
Cabrera continues as Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), Music Director of the SFS Youth Orchestra, and Director of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra.  And he will have additonal performances with Orquesta de Concepción, Chile; Orquesta Clásica Santa Cecilia, Madrid;
New Hampshire Music Festival; California Symphony; Elgin Symphony Orchestra; and the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Donato Cabrera: www.donatocabrera.com
Full Schedule: www.donatocabrera.com/Schedule.html

During the 2012-2013 concert season, conductor Donato Cabrera continues in his three posts as Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), Music Director of the Green Bay Symphony, and Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO). In demand as a guest conductor as well, this season he makes his debuts with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, and at the New Hampshire Music Festival, and returns to lead the California Symphony, the Orquesta de Concepción in Chile, and the Orquesta Clásica Santa Cecilia in Madrid.

At the San Francisco Symphony, Donato Cabrera works closely with SFS Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and frequently conducts the San Francisco Symphony throughout the year, including the annual Día de los Muertos Community Concert, as well as the Concerts for Kids, Adventures in Music, and Music for Families concerts, which annually draw more than 60,000 young people and their families from throughout the Bay Area to Davies Symphony Hall.

Under Cabrera’s direction, the SFSYO was awarded the 2011-2012 ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming for American Programming on Foreign Tours by the League of American Orchestras on June 8 at the League’s Annual Conference in Dallas.

Cabrera and the SFSYO depart for the orchestra’s eighth European tour, visiting some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, on June 20. Cabrera says, “I’m thrilled to be taking the SFSYO on a multi-city European tour, with a performance at the Berlin Philharmonie, at the invitation of Sir Simon Rattle, of John Adams’ Shaker Loops, Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the fantastic Lars Vogt as soloist, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. The tour will end in Salzburg where the American Austrian Foundation is celebrating my tenth anniversary as a Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellow for the Salzburg Festival.”

In addition to his work with the SFS and SFSYO, Cabrera took the podium as Music Director of the Green Bay Symphony in 2011. 2012-2013 will be the orchestra’s 99th concert season. Cabrera says, “As we approach the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra's 100th anniversary season in 2013, I’m very excited to begin a Beethoven cycle with them, as well as introduce new and engaging works to this great community of music lovers and enthusiasts which I’m so happy to have joined.” 

During the 2011-12 season Donato Cabrera made his debut conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Orquesta Clásica de Santa Cecilia in Madrid, immediately being reengaged for the 2012-13 season. He also debuted with the California Symphony, conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for their 25th Anniversary Season Finale, and will return for their 2012-13 season.  Cabrera was also a guest conductor for the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and The Bay Brass. During the 2010-11, season he made his Carnegie Hall and Cal Performances debuts, conducting the world and California premieres, respectively, of Mark Grey’s A(tash Sorushan. In April 2010, Cabrera stepped in on short notice for the acclaimed British composer/conductor/pianist, Thomas Adés, conducting the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Cabrera made his San Francisco Symphony debut in April 2009 when he conducted the Orchestra with 24 hours notice in a program that included Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 and Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  In March 2012, he conducted the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, with Paul Jacobs on organ, in the world premiere of Mason Bates’ Mass Transmission, subsequently conducting it with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City in Carnegie Hall for the American Mavericks Festival. From 2005 to 2008, Cabrera was Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Opera, where he prepared the cast and conducted the first rehearsals for the world premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic as well as conducting performances of Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, Tannhäuser, and The Magic Flute.  In December 2009, he made his debut with the San Francisco Ballet, conducting performances of The Nutcracker.

A champion of new music, Cabrera is a co-founder of the New York based American Contemporary Music Ensemble, which is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st Centuries, primarily the work of American composers.  He is dedicated to music education and has worked with members of the young artist programs of the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Portland Opera. Cabrera has also been a frequent conductor of Young People’s Concerts of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

In 2002, Cabrera was a Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellow at the Salzburg Festival.  He has served as assistant conductor at the Ravinia, Spoleto (Italy), and Aspen Music Festivals, and as resident conductor at the Music Academy of the West.  Cabrera has also been an assistant conductor for productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Cabrera was the rehearsal and cover conductor for the Metropolitan Opera production and DVD release of Doctor Atomic, which won the 2012 Grammy® Award for Best Opera Recording. In February 2010, he was recognized by the Consulate-General of Mexico in San Francisco as a, Luminary of the Friends of Mexico Honorary Committee, for his contributions to promoting and developing the presence of the Mexican community in the Bay Area.  In March 2009, Cabrera was asked to be one of eight participants in the 2009 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, leading the Nashville Symphony over two days in a variety of works.  He holds degrees from the University of Nevada and the University of Illinois and has also pursued graduate studies in conducting at Indiana University and the Manhattan School of Music.

--Christina Jensen PR

The National Philharmonic to Perform with Folk-Pop Sensation Sarah McLachlan at Merriweather Post Pavilion
The National Philharmonic will accompany Grammy Award-winner singer, songwriter Sarah McLachlan in a performance on Thursday, July 5 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Since her debut in 1988, Ms. McLachlan's atmospheric folk-pop has gained a devoted following not only in her native Canada, but also in the United States and England. Known for her emotional ballads, including Arms of the Angel and I Will Remember You, Ms. McLachlan has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. McLachlan's best-selling album to date is Surfacing, for which she won two Grammy Awards. In addition to her personal artistic efforts, she founded the Lilith Fair tour, which helped other female songwriters break into the mainstream during the late 1990s. Since 2006 she has also been known as a highly visible supporter of the ASPCA, as well as various other charities.

Doors open at 6 pm. Tickets start at $41 for the lawn & at $56 for the Pavilion. To purchase please visit http://ticketf.ly/JtRfcq. For more information about the concert and Ms. McLachlan, visit http://www.merriweathermusic.com and  http://www.sarahmclachlan.com/.

About the National Philharmonic:
Led by dynamic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, the National Philharmonic is known for performances that are “powerful,” impeccable” and “thrilling” (The Washington Post). The Philharmonic boasts a long-standing tradition of reasonably priced tickets and free admission to all young people age 7-17 under the All Kids, All Free, All the Time program, assuring its place as an accessible and enriching component in Montgomery County and the greater Washington, DC area.

As the Music Center at Strathmore’s ensemble-in-residence, the National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Gajewski and monumental choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson.

The National Philharmonic also offers exceptional and unique education programs. Each year, in partnership with Strathmore and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the Philharmonic performs for all MCPS 2nd and 5th grade students in concerts specifically catered to their age groups. The concerts take place at Strathmore over six days, making it possible for nearly 20,000 children to experience the thrill of hearing a live orchestra each year.  In addition, annual winners of the high school concerto competition are given the exciting opportunity to perform as guest soloists with the

Philharmonic at the fall concerts for MCPS second-grade students. Throughout the year, the Philharmonic offers master classes in which talented young musicians perform for and are mentored by critically acclaimed guest artists who appear in concert with the Philharmonic at the fall concerts for MCPS second-grade students. Throughout the year, the Philharmonic offers master classes in which talented young musicians perform for and are mentored by critically acclaimed guest artists who appear in concert with the orchestra. All National Philharmonic concerts at the Music Center at Strathmore are preceded by free pre-concert lectures at the Education Center.

Each summer, the National Philharmonic’s String Institutes offer talented and aspiring middle and high school musicians an intensive week of mentoring, chamber music coaching, individual lessons and ensemble rehearsals led by Maestro Gajewski, Associate Conductor Victoria Gau, members of the Philharmonic and other distinguished faculty. Another summer program invites talented high school singers for intensive vocal training, master classes and rehearsals led by National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson and Montgomery College Choral Director Molly Donnelly. For more
information, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org . The attached photo of the National
Philharmonic was taken by Jay Mallin.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

America’s First Yellow Lounge Kicks Off “A New York City Classical Summer”
Soho event on June 19 draws hundreds, including Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo and star violinist Johsua Bell, with performances by rising stars Avi Avital and Nicola Benedetti.

Established seven years ago in the Berlin club scene, Yellow Lounge is a classics-meets-club concept, seeking out new spaces for an innovative sound and visual experience. A growing global phenomenon, Yellow Lounge brings together the best emerging classical performers with cutting edge DJ sets and multi-media elements in urban spaces. London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna and Seoul have already experienced the exhilaration of Yellow Lounge, and on June 19th, the party came to America for its inaugural evening at New York City’s 82 Mercer in the heart of Soho.

With several hundred attendees, the event was sponsored by Decca & Deutsche Grammophon U.S., along with Karlson’s Gold Vodka, and featured performances by mandolin player Avi Avital and violinist Nicola Benedetti, each dazzling the audience with their own respective sets, and culminating in an inspired classical “jam” wowing the crowd.  The innovation extended to interactive stations including a graffiti wall and photo booth. VIP’s including Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo and Joshua Bell mingled among the guests. 

Max Hole, Chief Operating Officer of Universal Music Group International says, "In America, as elsewhere around the world, our goal with Yellow Lounge is to extend the reach of classical music to draw in audiences of all ages who are curious about the music but deterred by some of its long-standing conventions. This unique event breaks down boundaries and brings together audiences, performers and music more intimately than ever."

Paul Foley, General Manager of Decca & Deutsche Grammophon U.S. says, “Our first Yellow Lounge was a tremendous success. The enthusiasm and energy in the room makes it evident that audiences of all ages are excited and eager to hear classical music in a new and innovative environment. We look forward to launching our next Yellow Lounge on the West Coast later this year.”

--Olga Makrias, Universal Music

Young People's Chorus of News York City Closes Its 2011-2012 Season with "A New Beginning" at Manhattan's Church of the Holy Trinity, Friday, June 29, at 7 p.m.
YPC Introduces TRANSMUSICA with Guest Artists from Indonesia - Manado State University Choir

The Young People's Chorus of New York City and its artistic director/founder Francisco J. Núñez introduce TRANSMUSICA, their new music series, with a free concert on Friday, June 29, at 7 p.m. at Church of the Holy Trinity (316 East 88th Street). The first concert in the series, created to encompass cross-cultural and transformative musical ideas, will feature the award-winning Manado State University Choir, an a cappella choir from North Sulawesi, Indonesia, under the direction of conductor and professor of music at Boston University, André de Quadros. The Manado State University Choir is known for its internationally diverse programming, designed to build bridges to other cultures and communities of the world.

Each of the two choirs will sing a set of music individually and then come together to sing songs from three different lands: Janger, from Bali, I himmelen, from Sweden, and Vela! Asambeni Siyekhaya, a traditional Zulu piece. The choirs re-imagine choral music as a contemporary convergence of cultures expressed in drama, dance, and song.

Admission is free for TRANSMUSICA, and no reservations are required. For any additional information, call 212-289-7779, Ext. 10.

--Angela Duryea, Young People's Chorus of New York

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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