Classical Music News of the Week, November 24, 2012

Jazz and Classical Nutcrackers Duke It Out December 8

Music Institute Welcomes Families for Music/Dance Concert and Instrument Petting Zoo.

The Music Institute of Chicago welcomes families for “Duke It Out,” a concert showcasing both traditional and jazz-inflected versions of The Nutcracker Suite, preceded by an open house on Saturday, December 8 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

“Duke it Out” pairs the classical (Tchaikovsky) and jazz (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn, transcription by James Stephenson) versions of the holiday favorite, performed by Music Institute Ensembles-in-Residence Axiom Brass and Quintet Attacca. Providing a visual illustration of the two musical versions are dance students, ages eight to 18, from Foster Dance Company, as well as Foster Dance Studios tap teacher Phil Brooks and Chicago-area professional dancers, totaling approximately 50 dancers. Choreography is by Ronn Stewart, Sarah Goldstone and Phil Brooks.

This morning of music for families, which is sponsored by First Bank & Trust, begins at 9 a.m. with an open house in the Nichols Concert Hall lobby. Kids can enjoy playing a variety of instruments at the Music Institute Instrument Petting Zoo, parents can talk with faculty and staff, and everyone can take advantage of special discounts on lessons and classes.

Foster Dance Studio/Dance Company:
Foster Dance Studios opened in Evanston in September 2011, founded by four partners with a unique vision: to create a dance studio where students receive exceptional instruction in a nurturing environment. The goal is to offer an outstanding dance education, train healthy dancers, and encourage students to achieve their personal dance goals. The sought-after teachers are known for their ability to nurture, inspire and respect the dancer within. Whether the goal is a future in professional dance or simply to learn and embrace the joy of movement, the classes are designed to provide a creative, physical and enjoyable outlet for children and adults. Foster Dance Company is the student performance ensemble at Foster Dance Studios.
Foster Dance Artistic Director Ronn Stewart has been a professional dancer and teacher for 20 years and is an award-winning choreographer. He is artistic director emeritus of Moving People Dance in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Santa Fe Dance Festival and resident teacher at Joffrey Ballet Academy of Dance in Chicago. Stewart created his own dance technique called MoPeD, or More People Dancing: improvisational movement to guided imagery that creates a foundation for each dancer to open up to all the possibilities of movement. The other partners at Foster Dance Studios are Assistant Artistic Director Sarah Goldstone, a graduate of The Juilliard School; Executive Director Sally H. Turner; and Studio Manager Kathryn Ebert.

Axiom Brass:
Axiom Brass, in residence at the Music Institute, is the only brass quintet in 27 years to win the prestigious Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition (2012), Axiom was also named winner of the 2008 International Chamber Brass Competition and prize winner of the 2010 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, the Preis der Europa-Stadt Passau, the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, and the Jeju City International Brass Quintet Competition in South Korea. The Axiom Brass is dedicated to enhancing the musical life of communities across the globe and educating the next generation of musicians. Axiom’s commitment to education and blend of virtuosic performances and dynamic teaching have inspired young audiences around the nation, earning the ensemble the 2011 Fischoff Educator Award. Internationally recognized for its groundbreaking programming, Axiom performs repertoire ranging from jazz and Latin music to string quartet transcriptions, as well as original compositions for brass quintet.

Quintet Attacca:
Founded in 1999, Quintet Attacca is one of Chicago’s most dynamic chamber music ensembles, dedicated to bringing the unique sound of the wind quintet to all types of audiences. Grand Prize Winner of the 2002 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the quintet has spent the past four years in residence as the Outreach Ensemble for the Chicago Chamber Musicians, in addition to being in residence at the Music Institute. Quintet Attacca is one of only two wind quintets in the 35-year history of the Fischoff Competition to receive the Grand Prize. In that same year, the quintet was invited to be a finalist for Chamber Music Society Two at Lincoln Center. Quintet Attacca delights in bringing music education to all ages and abilities and prides itself on its imaginative and engaging outreach programs.

Music Institute of Chicago:
The Music Institute of Chicago believes that music has the power to sustain and nourish the human spirit; therefore, our mission is to provide the foundation for lifelong engagement with music. As one of the three largest and most respected community music schools in the nation, the Music Institute offers musical excellence built on the strength of its distinguished faculty, commitment to quality, and breadth of programs and services. Founded in 1931 and one of the oldest community music schools in Illinois, the Music Institute is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Each year, the Music Institute’s world-class music teachers and arts therapists provide the highest quality arts education, reaching more than 10,000 students of all ability levels, from birth to 102 years of age, at campuses in Evanston, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Winnetka, and Downers Grove and through its longstanding partnership with the Chicago Public Schools. The Music Institute also offers lessons and programs at the Steinway of Chicago store in Northbrook and early childhood and community engagement programs throughout the Chicago area and the North Shore. The Music Institute offers lessons, classes, and programs through four distinct areas: Community School, The Academy, Creative Arts Therapy (Institute for Therapy through the Arts), and Nichols Concert Hall.

The Music Institute of Chicago’s family open house (9 a.m.) and Duke It Out (10 a.m.) take place Saturday, December 8 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. Tickets are $10 per family (up to six family members), available online or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. In addition, the Music Institute is accepting donations of new toys, clothing and gift cards (no gift wrap please) for Connections for the Homeless and Operation Homeland's families of U.S. Veterans of War.  For more information visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Cleveland Orchestra Music Director, Franz Welser Most, To Lead the Vienna Philharmonic for the 2013 New Year’s Day Concert
This is his second time since the success of his debut in 2011. Welser-Most has also been a guest conductor for all of the leading orchestras in Europe and the US including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia.

The program for the New Year’s Day Concert traditionally revolves around waltzes and polkas by the Strauss family. Welser-Most has a personal connection with this music as his grandmother was an owner of Vienna’s old established Café Dommayer, where many works by the Strauss dynasty and Josef Lanner were premiered. This year, the program for the New Year’s Day Concert will feature more premieres than ever before, and Sony will release the recording of the concert in early January.

--Elisa Peimer, Sony Classical

National Philharmonic Singers Present Free Holiday Concert
The National Philharmonic Singers, under the direction of conductors Stan Engebretson and Victoria Gau, will present a free holiday concert on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 8 pm at Christ Episcopal Church, 107 South Washington Street, Rockville, Maryland.

The concert will feature famous carols, including the Hallelujah Chorus; Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols with harp; John Rutter’s Three Carols for Choir and Harp; and The Blessed Son of God from Hodie by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Other highlights include music from various periods, with a special audience sing along.

The National Philharmonic Singers, led by Stan Engebretson and Victoria Gau, is a chamber choir and one of several performing ensembles of the National Philharmonic. The group promotes works suited for smaller ensembles, whether with accompaniment or a cappella. Its repertoire ranges from 15th to 21st centuries, and it often premieres new compositions by local composers.

The December 15 holiday concert at the Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville is free but donations in support of the Community Ministries of Rockville will be gratefully accepted. Christ Episcopal Church is located at 107 South Washington Street in Rockville, MD.  Directions to the church may be found at or by calling the church at 301-762-2191, ext. 3. For more information, please visit  for call 301-493-9283, ext. 116.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Washington Symphonic Brass Presents Holiday Concert at the Music Center at Strathmore
National Philharmonic Associate Conductor Victoria Gau will lead the Washington Symphonic Brass (WSB) and National Philharmonic Chorale in a holiday concert at the Music Center at Strathmore on Tuesday, December 18 at 7:30 pm.

The critically acclaimed 17-member brass and percussion ensemble will ring in the holidays with arrangements of holiday favorites, including a medley by WSB Director Phil Snedecor called Christmas Memories; an arrangement by Tony DiLorenzo of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas; and an exuberant version of Beethoven's Ode to Joy with the National Philharmonic Chorale. In addition, the group will present holiday music from France, Norway, Britain, Russia, Finland and Poland.

About the Washington Symphonic Brass:
The Washington Symphonic Brass is composed of professional musicians in the Washington/Baltimore area who have assembled to play some of the great literature
written for large brass ensemble and percussion.  Members of the WSB have performed
with many of the nation's best orchestras, such as the National Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, among others.  The group performs throughout the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan area and its repertoire covers five centuries.

About the Conductor:
Lauded by critics for her “strong sense of style and drama” and her “enthusiastic and perceptive conducting,” National Philharmonic Associate Conductor Victoria Gau is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Capital City Symphony and former Conductor and Music Director of the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra.

Gau is a familiar face in the Washington area, having conducted such groups as The Other Opera Company (which she co-founded), The Washington Savoyards, the IN-Series, and the Friday Morning Music Club Orchestra. Other guest conducting engagements include the Akron (OH) Symphony and the Kennedy Center Messiah Sing-Along. She is in demand as a conductor and string educator at youth orchestra festivals and workshops and has been conductor of the Young Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra of the DC Youth Orchestra Program, the Akron Youth Symphony and Assistant Conductor of the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra.

Ms. Gau has served on the opera faculty at George Mason University and worked as a pianist for the Cleveland, Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington Opera Companies. She holds degrees in Viola Performance and Conducting from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she won the Phi Kappa Lambda Prize for Musicianship.

To purchase tickets to the Washington Symphonic Brass concert on December 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore, please visit or call the Strathmore box office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets are $28-$48; kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette).  ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Music Institute of Chicago Presents December Music Programs
Name of Presenter: Music Institute of Chicago
Event: Adult Student Recital
Day/Date/Time: Saturday, December 1, 2012, 2 p.m.
Location: Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Admission: FREE; “meet and greet” reception follows performance
Information: 847-905-1500;

A musical potpourri featuring students from the Music Institute’s Adult Studies Program.
The Music Institute of Chicago’s Adult Studies Program welcomes anyone older than 18 and offers a wide selection of opportunities including private instruction, chamber music, group classes, musicianship, music appreciation, bands, and orchestras. The faculty excels in adult education and provides a supportive environment. Beginners, returning students, and lifelong learners are welcome.

Name of Presenter: Music Institute of Chicago
Event: Community Symphony Concert
Day/Date/Time: Wednesday, December 12, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Admission: FREE; “meet and greet” reception follows performance
Information: 847-905-1500;
Featuring conductor Lawrence Eckerling, violin soloist Stephen Boe, and host John Piepgras, the concert features Strauss’s Emperor Waltz, Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 in G Minor, and Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations.

Name of Presenter: Music Institute of Chicago
Event: New Horizons Band Concert
Day/Date/Time: Thursday, December 13, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Admission: FREE; “meet and greet” reception follows performance
Information: 847-905-1500;

Featuring conductor Carolyn Merva Robblee, the concert features Russian Sailor’s Dance by Reinhold Gliere, Mystery on Mena Mountain by Julie Giroux-West, and holiday favorites.

Name of Presenter: Music Institute of Chicago
Event: Music Institute of Chicago Chorale Concert
Day/Date/Time: Sunday, December 16, 3 p.m.
Location: Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Admission: $15 adults, $10 seniors, $7 students; “meet and greet” reception follows performance
Information: 847-905-1500;

Featuring conductor Daniel Wallenberg, this “Bon Appétit” concert is a multi-sensory choral celebration of food and drink, featuring works by Lasso, Brahms, Vaughan Williams, Paul Carey, and Jean Belmont. Special guests include host Matthew Owens, members of the Music Institute’s recorder ensemble, and guest instrumentalists and dancers.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC 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 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