Classical Music News of the Week, August 26, 2012

Six Scenes from Composers & the Voice

Concert and dialogue with AOP composer fellows
Mentors: John Corigliano, Daron Hagen, John Musto, Tobias Picker, Kaija Saariaho, and Stephen Schwartz

A dominatrix dungeon, a Nazi concentration camp, and the end of space and time are just three of the places audiences will find themselves at when AOP (American Opera Projects) presents Six Scenes 2012, concert readings from operas-in-development created during AOP's Composers & the Voice (C&V) program. Performances will be held on Friday, September 7 and Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 7:30PM, at South Oxford Space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, home of AOP. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students/seniors and are available at or at the door.

Six emerging composers were chosen in 2011 by AOP to spend a year writing for the operatic voice. The Six Scenes program for voice(s) and piano, represents compositions created during the free fellowship - "The Waiting Woman" by Ronnie Reshef, "Stop and Frisk" by Sidney Marquez Boquiren, "Companionship" by Rachel Peters, "Safe Word" by Robert Paterson, "Decoration" by Mikael Karlsson, and "Male Identity" by Zach Redler and Sara Cooper. The composers will discuss with the audience what it takes to create new operas that range from topical subjects like repercussions from a stop-and-frisk incident to the dark humor of an emotionally delicate woman's relationship to her sentient baking dough.

Members of the AOP Resident Ensemble of Singers for the 11-12 season will perform the scenes: sopranos Amy Shoremount-Obra (Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera), mezzo-sopranos Rebecca Ringle (Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera) and Rosalie Sullivan (Carnegie Hall, SF Opera Merola program), tenor Brandon Snook (Cincinnati Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Sarasota Opera), baritone Jorell Williams (New York City Center Encores!, Caramoor International Music Festival, Ravinia Festival), and bass Justin Hopkins (Fort Worth Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia). Supporting on piano will be Composers & the Voice Music Directors Jeanne-Minette Cilliers, Mila Henry and Kelly Horsted.

Selected scenes from this concert will perform later in September as part the inaugural BEAT (Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater) Festival and in March 2013 at the Manhattan School of Music as part of the New American Opera Previews: "From Page to Stage."

Previous Six Scenes by C&V alumni produced in the Brooklyn-based bi-annual series featured the first performances of Jack Perla's Love/Hate (World Premiere 2012, San Francisco Opera at ODC Theater) and Gregory Spears's Paul's Case (World Premiere Spring 2013, in Washington, DC and New York).

--Matt Gray, American Opera Projects

Out of Nowhere: World-Premiere Recordings of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Wward-Winning Violin Concerto and Nyx to be released October 16 on Deutsche Grammophon
The works are performed by violinist Leila Josefowicz and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Salonen embarks on U.S. tour with the Philharmonia Orchestra this fall; additional engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony this season.

On October 16, Deutsche Grammophon will release Out of Nowhere, a collection of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto and Nyx, featuring Leila Josefowicz and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Trained in the austere world of European modernism and enjoying a close relationship with the sunny city of Los Angeles, Salonen moves freely between contemporary idioms in his compositions. Combining intricacy and technical virtuosity with playful rhythmic and melodic innovation, the two works on Out of Nowhere deliver Salonen's distinctive sound. The title of the disc comes from the pencil markings Josefowicz and Salonen wrote over the first movement of the original score for the Violin Concerto.

Both the conductor and composer of these pieces, Esa-Pekka Salonen holds a rare place of being equally invested in these disciplines. His understanding of both sides of the podium is on full display here. The Violin Concerto was written at the end of his 17-year tenure as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and, consequently, was crafted with a complete understanding of orchestra and orchestration. Personally, the composer notes, the work was in many ways, "a summary of my experiences as a musician and a human being at the watershed age of 50." Salonen has also written that the concerto is "not reflecting upon what was, but something that might still come, for my own sake, if not for anything else." The piece was written specifically for the soloist on the disc, Leila Josefowicz, with whom Salonen enjoys a close relationship. Josefowicz has performed the concerto in Paris, Stockholm, Lisbon, London, Berlin, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Brussels, Luxembourg, Dortmund, Ferrara and New York City with the composer conducting.

The Violin Concerto was critically acclaimed upon its 2009 premiere: The Los Angeles Times called the piece "pure, euphoric poetry with a singular sound and voice;" the Boston Globe reported that the work was "a fascinating hybrid, a combination of European modernist rigor and polyglot Californian cool;" and the New York Times cheered that it sounded "like some hip West Coast answer to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring." In 2010, the concerto was used in a Peter Martins premiere for the New York City Ballet, with Salonen conducting and Josefowicz performing. In 2012, Salonen's Violin Concerto won the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, one of the most prestigious international awards for new music.

Nyx received its world premiere in February 2011 at the final concert of Festival Présences Paris with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. Salonen's first fully orchestral piece since 2005, Nyx was commissioned by Radio France, Carnegie Hall, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Centre and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Named after the Greek goddess of night, Nyx is a mysterious and shadowy rumination. In program notes, Salonen writes, "Rather than utilizing the principle of continuous variation of material, as is the case mostly in my recent music, Nyx behaves rather differently. Its themes and ideas essentially keep their properties throughout the piece while the environment surrounding them keeps changing constantly. Mere whispers grow into roar; an intimate line of the solo clarinet becomes a slowly breathing broad melody of tutti strings at the end of the 18-minute arch of Nyx."

--Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotion

Lang Lang and Friends in Concert, Hosted By Alec Baldwin
Performances by renowned pianist Lang Lang with Joshua Bell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Oh Land, and surprise special guests, October 30, 2012, at Carnegie Hall. One night only concert benefiting the Lang Lang International Music Foundation.

The international megastar pianist Lang Lang will give a special one-night only concert, hosted by Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award-winning entertainer Alec Baldwin, at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium on Tuesday, October 30 at 6:30PM to raise funds for the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell, Grammy and Tony Award-winning jazz artist Dee Dee Bridgewater and Danish singer-songwriter Oh Land will make special guest appearances along with other surprise star performances to be announced.

Lang Lang will offer solo piano works by Frederic Chopin which are featured on his new Sony Classical recording “The Chopin Album,” available October 9, 2012. For the first time ever Joshua Bell will join him in a performance of the Grieg Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in C minor, and Dee Dee Bridgewater will sing Broadway hits. Six child prodigies from three different continents, who have been supported by the Foundation in their music studies, will perform alongside Lang Lang. The program will be followed by a gala dinner. All proceeds from the event will benefit The Lang Lang International Music Foundation, which the celebrated pianist created to enrich the lives of children through a deeper understanding and enjoyment of classical music and to inspire and financially support the next generation of musicians.

Since 2008, the mission of The Lang Lang International Music Foundation is to educate and inspire the next generation of classical music lovers and performers by cultivating tomorrow’s top pianists, delivering music education, and building a young audience through live music experiences. Lang Lang’s commitment to music education is at the core of the Foundation’s programs designed to cultivate tomorrow’s top pianists and build a young audience through memorable and exciting live music experiences. The vision of the Foundation is based on one simple principle: music is a universal language of the world. For more information about the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, visit

Lang Lang, the megastar pianist has played sold out recitals and concerts in every major city in the world and is the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by every top international orchestra. Lang Lang has appeared in Time Magazine's annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. His 2008 Grammy's performance was broadcast live to 45 million viewers worldwide. More than 5 billion people watched Lang Lang play at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. His influence transcends the classical music world. His audience includes millions of young forward-thinking and ambitious people. His brand is associated with cutting-edge technology and social responsibility. He represents today's open, fast and connected world.

Listings Information:
Acclaimed pianist Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Oh Land, host Alec Baldwin and other stars TBA play Carnegie Hall, Tuesday, October 30 at 6:30 PM. The program will be followed by a gala dinner. All proceeds from the event will benefit The Lang Lang International Music Foundation. Via Subway: take the N/R/W to 57th Street, the F to 57th Street or the 1/A/C/B/D to Columbus Circle. Tickets, which are $18-$109, are available through, 212-247-7800, or at the Carnegie Hall box office. Student discount tickets are available at the box office with valid ID on the day of the concert. Discounts for groups with 10-25 are available by contacting 212-903-9705 or

For more information about Lang Lang visit

--Elisa Peimer, Sony Masterworks

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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 Jon 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 simpleminded, 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 Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. 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 cell phone. 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.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

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