Classical Music News of the Week, August 5, 2012

The New Century Chamber Orchestra Announces Mark Salkind as New President of the Board of Directors

Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra announce that Mark Salkind has been named President of the Board of Directors, effective September 2012. Mr. Salkind has served on the board since 2007 and succeeds Founding President Paula Gambs who will step down after twenty years of leadership.

A nationally respected leader in education and a musician himself, Mark Salkind is currently in his 26th year as Head of The Urban School of San Francisco. Under his tenure, the school has established a national reputation for educational excellence and innovation. Urban has pioneered forward-looking programs and practices in the areas of block scheduling, collaborative learning, public purpose partnerships, community service, and the integration of technology into the curriculum.

Music has always been a pervasive part of Mr. Salkind’s life. He first studied piano with his parents beginning at age six and then transitioned to oboe in the sixth grade. As a young performer, he appeared with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in a nationally televised Young People’s Concert in 1966. In 1967, he appeared as soloist with Seiji Ozawa and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and in the summer of the same year, he soloed with Arthur Fiedler and the San Francisco Symphony in a summer “Pops Concert.” While he was in college, he began teaching music to junior high and high school students in a summer program in the San Francisco public schools.

“Although I no longer perform, music has always been central to me and I believe deeply in its ability to transform all of us – young and old – and make society richer and more fulfilling,” said Mark Salkind. “I look forward to working with Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the members of the Orchestra as we continue to make the New Century Chamber Orchestra a vital, exciting presence on the musical scene, both here in the Bay Area and around the country.”

“This is wonderful news for everyone at New Century,” said Executive Director Parker Monroe.  “Mark brings deep experience as a non-profit leader as well as a strong musical performance background and a discerning ear to the Orchestra. Mark Salkind was the clear and overwhelming choice of the Board to be the next President.”

As a member of the Board of Directors of the New Century Chamber Orchestra, Mr. Salkind’s distinguished service has included the multi-year leadership of the Committee on Directors, which has been responsible for expanding the Board and significantly upgrading the governance functions of the Board.

An alumnus of Marin Country Day School and The Urban School, Mark graduated from Yale University in 1974 and pursued graduate studies in English literature at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to the New Century Chamber Orchestra, Mark has served on the Board of Directors of the California Association of Independent Schools, and has been a trustee of Aim High, Marin Country Day School, Oxbow School, and Town School for Boys. In addition to working with Board of Trustees of local independent schools, he has been a frequent presenter at the CAIS Trustee/Head conference on a wide range of topics.

Paula Gambs, who has led the organization with great distinction for twenty years as President, was recently feted onstage at the Herbst Theatre during the final program of the season, and at honorary events in the Green Room and the home of Honorary Chair Gordon Getty. She will remain a member of the Board of Directors. “I couldn’t be happier in turning over the reins to Mark in September,” said Ms. Gambs. “He has been a leader on the Board from the beginning, and he has done great work. I look forward to being on the team with him in the coming years as the orchestra continues its ascendancy.”

--Karen Ames Communications

Anne Akiko Meyers Launches Contest for Aspiring Violinists. Prize Will Be Arcus Gold Bow Valued at $5k
On July 15, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers announced that she will give away an Arcus Cadenza Gold carbon fiber violin bow (valued at over $5,000) to an aspiring violinist.

Musicians who wish to participate can enter to win by uploading a video that shows, in two minutes or less, how they are the best fit for this bow. Entries can be submitted on Meyers’s Facebook page until September 1st, 2012.  Anne Akiko Meyers will announce the winner on Facebook on September 15th, 2012. 

An active educator and adjudicator, Anne Akiko Meyers is passionate about encouraging young players and this contest gives her a chance to virtually “meet” promising players and fans around the world. Meyers has written on her blog of her excitement about giving away one of her gold Arcus violin bows as a prize. She describes it as “extremely light” and “pretty indestructible” and cites its ability to produce “super-clean (spiccato) at lightning speed.” The video entrants should include performance footage and the winner will be chosen by Meyers. The contest is open to fans of all ages.

About Anne Akiko Meyers:
One of the world’s premier concert violinistsAnne Akiko Meyers has performed as guest soloist with the  most prestigious orchestras, in recital, and on television and radio. Anne is also a top-selling recording artist with more than 24 albums in her discography. 

Ms. Meyers has collaborated with top jazz artists such as Chris Botti and Wynton Marsalis, performed the National Anthem in front of 42,000 fans at Safeco Field in Seattle, and appeared twice on The Tonight Show.

This season, Meyers will premiere the Mason Bates violin concerto, a piece she commissioned, with Leonard Slatkin and the Pittsburgh Symphony and Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony. Her 2012-13 schedule also includes a Carnegie Hall performance of the Barber Violin Concerto with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

In February 2012, Meyers' newest recording, ‘Air-The Bach Album’, debuted at #1 on Billboard charts and has been a bestseller at iTunes and Amazon. The recording features Bach’s solo violin concerti as well as the double concerto where Meyers played both solo parts on the 1697 ex-'Napoleon/Molitor' and the 1730 'Royal Spanish' Stradivari violins with the English Chamber Orchestra.  Meyers has recorded for labels including Avie, eOne/Koch, Hyperion, Naxos, RCA, Sony and Warner Classics.

Anne Akiko Meyers was born in San Diego, California and grew up in Southern California. She studied with Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld at the Colburn School of Performing Arts, Josef Gingold at Indiana University, and Felix Galimir, Masao Kawasaki and Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School. At age 23, she was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, the only artist to be the sole recipient of this annual prize.

Anne performs on the 'Ex-Napoleon/Molitor' Stradivarius violin from 1697 and the 'Royal Spanish' Stradivarius violin dated 1730. Please visit for more information.

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Conductor Nicholas McGegan Leads the Merola Grand Finale Concert at the War Memorial Opera House on Saturday, August 18, 2012
The Merola Opera Program will present the Merola Grand Finale on Saturday, August 18 at 7:30 PM at the War Memorial Opera House. Conductor Nicholas McGegan will lead San Francisco Opera Orchestra members and 2012 Merola Apprentice Stage Director Jennifer Williams will stage this varied musical program featuring works by Barber, Berlioz, Britten, Donizetti, Flotow, Handel, Lehár, Lully, Massenet, Meyerbeer, Mozart, Nicolai, Offenbach, Puccini, Rossini, Strauss and Verdi.

Nicholas McGegan has been Music Director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra for 26 years and was Artistic Director of the International Handel Festival Göttingen for 20 years. He has been a pioneer in the process of exporting historically informed practice beyond the world of period instruments to
conventional symphonic forces, guest-conducting orchestras including the Chicago, St. Louis, Toronto and Sydney Symphonies, the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong Philharmonics, the Northern Sinfonia and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, as well as opera companies in Covent Garden, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Washington. Born in England, Nicholas McGegan was educated at Cambridge and Oxford. He was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to music overseas.” His awards also include the Halle Handel Prize, the Order of Merit of the State of Lower Saxony in Germany, the Medal of Honour of the City of Göttingen and an official Nicholas McGegan Day, declared by the Mayor of San Francisco, in recognition of his distinguished work with Philharmonia Baroque.

Apprentice Stage Director Jennifer Williams recently completed the Artist Diploma program in Opera Stage Directing at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music where she directed La Cenerentola, the Saint Matthew Passion and Offenbach's L'ile de Tulipatan. As a 2012-2013 Fulbright grantee, she will work with David Alden, Peter Konwitschny and Barrie Kosky at the Deutsche Oper, Oper Leipzig and the Komische Oper next season. Other recent engagements include Rigoletto with Bleecker Street Opera, Le nozze di Figaro with OSH Opera and the world premiere of The Offshore Pirate with Christopher Street Opera in New York. She also directed young artist scenes with Cincinnati Opera, Wolf Trap Opera Company, Opera North and Chicago Opera Theater. Ms. Williams holds a B.A. with honors in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities from the University of Chicago and an M.A. in Theater Studies from Cornell University.

The first Merola Grand Finale was held in 1957 as both a concert and an audition for San Francisco Opera’s general director. In 1986 the concert was opened to the public as the Merola artists’ final performance of the summer. Showcasing the progress made by the Merola artists during the course of the Program and highlighting their unique talents, this year’s Merola Grand Finale will feature all 23 Merola 2012 singers. The five 2012 apprentice coaches involved in musical preparations for the concert will also make a special onstage appearance in the final number.

--Karen Ames 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 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