Classical Music News of the Week, July 29, 2012

Chicago Human Rhythm Project Leads American Rhythm Center
New Arts Facility and Collaborative Business Model Located at Chicago’s Fine Arts Building

The Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) announced the establishment of the American Rhythm Center (ARC), a new initiative to provide a shared, affordable and sustainable education, rehearsal and administrative facility for several leading Chicago arts organizations. This new institution will be located in renovated spaces at Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL.

CHRP will develop ARC, a collaborative effort to foster community growth through rhythmic expression, in several phases. The aim is to offer diverse, high-quality dance and movement classes to the general public while centralizing the education programs, rehearsal space and administrative offices of several core groups, as well as additional emerging companies and independent artists.

The idea for ARC grew from a CHRP strategic planning process followed by intensive, collaborative planning with participating community partners, including:

    Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre
    Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute
    Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (already in residence at the Fine Arts Building)
    Giordano Dance Chicago
    Kalapriya, Center for Indian Performing Arts
    Luna Negra Dance Theater
    Ping Pong Productions, which facilitates collaborations between Chinese and international artists
    River North Dance Chicago (studio space to expand educational programs)

In the first phase of development, CHRP is updating space occupied for three decades by the Boitsov Ballet, which will feature three professional, flexible-use studios ranging from 750 to 1,500 square feet, as well as a remodeled lobby, dressing rooms and a separate floor of administrative offices. In the second and third phases, CHRP will add supplemental program space, a black box theater and updated administrative facilities. Limited operations will begin at the end of July in conjunction with CHRP’s 22nd annual Rhythm World Festival; a grand opening with all the partners will take place in early September.

CHRP’s ARC will provide a long-term platform for stability and growth in several key areas by addressing the near-universal need among small and mid-sized dance and other arts organizations for professional administrative, rehearsal and education spaces as well as a desire to unify as many organizational functions as possible in a single location; creating a venue that will allow arts organizations to develop and maximize earned income from tuition-based education programs while lessening reliance on subsidies; enabling longer-term program planning as well as enhancing the potential scope and impact of tuition-based education programs; attracting thousands of students from Chicago, the U.S. and around the world to study dance in Chicago’s emerging dance corridor, furthering Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision for Chicago as a center for dance education and performance; and managing the facility, mitigating many users’ current space management burdens

“We are proposing to alter the traditional business model by offering arts groups the opportunity to shift their reliance on contributed income and dwindling revenue from ticket sales to self-sustaining revenue via educational programming,” commented CHRP Founder and Director Lane Alexander, who had the original vision for ARC. “The value proposition for most people has changed, and making art has become more nourishing than watching others make art. CHRP’s ARC will serve a two-fold purpose: to offer world-class dance instruction for the public and provide a stable platform for small and medium-sized nonprofit companies in Chicago’s emerging dance corridor.”

According to new CHRP Executive Director Frank Sonntag, who recently led the opening of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis, “Lane’s vision is all about creating a collaborative environment with shared resources, which will provide the partnering organizations with a creative hub and educational platform greater than the sum of its parts. I think such efforts will become more commonplace and integral to capacity-building efforts throughout the arts and culture field in the future.”

CHRP’s ARC has raised more than $1 million to date as part of a multi-phased $2.5 million capital start-up campaign. Jenner & Block LLP has provided pro bono legal support. Major funding for capital and start-up operations has been provided by Elaine Cohen and Arlen Rubin, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Joyce Foundation and The Boeing Company, with additional support from Pamela Crutchfield, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for the Arts and Culture at Prince, Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development, the James. S. Kemper Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, matching funds from the Polk Bros. Foundation through IFF and many generous individuals.

CHRP Board President and ARC lead donor Elaine Cohen said, “It is very exciting for us to think of how much vitality ARC will add to Chicago--providing myriad opportunities not only to CHRP but to a host of ARC resident companies as well as tourists and the public looking to participate in an amazing variety of dance class offerings taught by professionals.”

About Chicago Human Rhythm Project
Founded in 1990, Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) builds community by presenting American tap dance and contemporary percussive arts in world-class and innovative performance, education and community outreach programs. During the last 22 years, CHRP has produced multiple community-based collaborations involving shared revenue programs, concerts and touring opportunities, including:  annual National Tap Dance Day concerts, featuring an array of tap and percussive dance artists; a shared revenue program designed to assist Chicago’s budding tap community to build capacity through audience development; Thanks 4 Giving, another innovative shared revenue program launched as part of its annual Global Rhythms concerts at the Harris Theater, through which CHRP has partnered with more than 100 Chicago-based nonprofits to raise funds for a wide variety of service agencies; and participation in the 5th Anniversary Beijing International Dance Festival, assembling 70 artists to represent the United States.

CHRP’s vision is to establish the first global center for American tap and percussive arts, which will create a complete ecosystem of education, performance, creation and community in a state-of-the-art facility uniting generations of diverse artists and the general public.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Merola Presents Susan Graham with Distinguised Alumni Award
The Merola Opera Program presented mezzo-soprano Susan Graham with the Merola Distinguished Alumni Award at a private reception on Saturday, July 14, 2012. The award, which has only been given out six times in the program’s 54 year history, is given to recognize extraordinary contributions to the world of opera by graduates of the Merola Opera Program. Susan Graham will join past winners Thomas Hampson, Patrick Summers, Ruth Ann Swenson, Carol Vaness, Deborah Voigt and Dolora Zajick as a recipient of Merola’s highest honor.

“This award recognizes those Merola alumni that have gone on to forge truly remarkable careers – careers that change the face of opera. As one of the world’s foremost stars of opera and recital, the compelling and versatile Susan Graham is most deserving of this honor,” said Merola Board President Donna Blacker. “Regarded as ‘America’s Favorite mezzo’ by Gramophone magazine, Susan’s astonishing voice, presence and charisma have captivated audiences around the world. Merola is extremely proud to have her as a distinguished alumna.”

“Merola changes the lives of young singers, making possible something that, 25 years ago, I never dreamed would happen to me. It provides a springboard and exposure to the opera world and as they say in New York, ‘If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.’ I cherish this award and Merola will be in my heart forever.”

Celebrated as an expert in French music, Graham was named Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by the French government. Recently, she sang Mahler's Rückert-Lieder with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony and recorded the song cycle for the Symphony's own record label. Other recent performances include: Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier with the Metropolitan Opera; Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Nicholas McGegan; Berlioz's Damnation de Faust with Lyric Opera of Chicago, which she also performed during the 2008-09 season at the Met and in The Met: Live in HD; the title role in Handel's Xerxes with San Francisco Opera; and Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer with the New York Philharmonic under Sir Andrew Davis.

Known for her performances reviving Gluck operas, Graham sang the title role of Iphigénie en Tauride in a new production staged for her by the Metropolitan Opera which was also performed at Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera and Royal Opera House.

At home and abroad, Susan Graham has sung leading roles from the 17th to 20th centuries in the great opera houses of the world, including Milan's La Scala, Royal Opera House, Vienna State Opera, Opéra national de Paris, Dresden's Semperoper and the Salzburg Festival. In addition, she has appeared with many of the world's leading conductors and orchestras.

Born in New Mexico and raised in Texas, Susan Graham studied at Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music, which awarded her an honorary Doctor of Music in 2008. She won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Schwabacher Award from San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program, as well as a Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Graham was Musical America's 2004 Vocalist of the Year, and in 2006 her hometown of Midland, Texas declared September 5 “Susan Graham Day” in perpetuity.

--Karen Ames Communications

Strathmore Presents the National Youth Orchestra of Canada
Free concert features crème de le crème of young Canadian musicians, U.S. premiere.

Heralded as “Canada’s most important orchestra” (The Vancouver Sun), “outperforming the professional ensembles” (The National Post) and “the cradle of today’s professional musicians” (Le Choix), Strathmore will present the National Youth Orchestra of Canada’s (NYOC) unparalleled musicianship in the Music Center during a free concert on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 7 p.m. The 95 members, ages 16 through 28 years old, will assert their musical agility with a technically-challenging program of Antonin Dvorák and Dmitri Shostakovich, with the U.S. premiere of Canadian composer Adam Sherkin’s Terra Incognita. For more information, call (301) 581-5100 or visit

Conductor Maestro Alain Trudel has led orchestras in the UK, USA, Sweden, Russia and Japan, and has worked with many world famous artists, among them Ben Heppner, Anton Kuerti, Measha Brueggergosman, Pinchas Zukermann and Isabel Bayrakdarian. He returns to the NYOC this year reaffirming his dedication to this remarkable new generation of musicians. Dvorák cello soloist, Cameron Crozman, at 16 is a prime example of these rising stars. Studying cello since the age of 7, Cameron has won numerous awards and has performed widely, including a 2010 tour of China as part of the Talbot Duo, with a performance at the prestigious Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre.

The NYOC was the founded by conductor Walter Susskind, Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. After an astonishingly successful and well received summer pilot workshop for young musicians in 1960, the organization quickly became a federally chartered, non-profit organization devoted to the discovery and training of accomplished young Canadian musicians. As it has matured, the NYOC has become Canada’s preeminent training body dedicated to perfecting the skills and talents of young musicians for careers as professional orchestral players through intensive summer session programs and touring opportunities. More than 40 percent of professional orchestral musicians in Canada are NYOC alumni. The NYOC’s concert tours have included every major Canadian city as well as occasional trips to the United States, Europe and Asia. The Juno-nominated NYOC earned the title “Best Youth Orchestra in the World” at the World Youth Orchestra Conference and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

--Michael Fila, Strathmore

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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 ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine 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