Classical Music News of the Week, December 30, 2012

Music Institute Announces 2012-2013 Academy Fellows and Special Merit Scholars

The Music Institute of Chicago, established as one of the most respected pre-collegiate conservatory programs in the United States, announces its second year of distinguished Academy scholarships to recognize extraordinarily talented musicians. This year there are two categories of recognition: Fellows and Special Merit Scholars.

“Every student accepted into the Academy program is among a group of the very best young musicians in the country,” said Music Institute President and CEO Mark George. “A small number of students achieve an unusually elevated level of proficiency and musicianship: Academy Special Merit Scholars. Another group of students achieves an even more extraordinary level of technical proficiency and musical maturity: Academy Fellows. The Music Institute awards each group maximum tuition support in recognition of their hard work and profound dedication.”

The Fellowships and Scholarships are named for the generous benefactors who are underwriting the program:

2012–13 Sage Foundation Fellow: Rebecca Benjamin, 18, Warsaw, Indiana violin student of Roland and Almita Vamos
2012–13 Bev and Warren Hayford Fellow: Andrew Guo, 14, Chicago piano student of Alan Chow
2012–13 Susan and Richard Kiphart Fellow: Gallia Kastner, 15, Arlington Heights violin student of Roland and Almita Vamos
2012–13 Susan and Richard Kiphart Fellow: Nathan Walhout, 15, Wheatoncello student of Gilda Barston
2012–13 Betsey and John Puth Fellow: Williams, 15, Chicago violin student of Roland and Almita Vamos
2012–13 Susan and Richard Kiphart Scholar: Serena Harnack, 14, Glen Ellyn violin student of Almita Vamos and Hye-Sun Lee
2012–13 Geraldi-Norton Foundation Scholar: Giancarlo Latta, 17, Ann Arbor, Michigan violin student of Almita Vamos

Chosen from a field of 17 young students who auditioned before a distinguished panel of internationally recognized music educators and performers, each Academy Fellow and Special Merit Scholar is receiving a scholarship covering 95 percent of tuition for a year of study in the Academy and exclusive opportunities to perform and coach with an array of world-class guest artists. Fellows also receive a stipend for professional recording and piano accompanist services for competitions and conservatory auditions.

The Music Institute of Chicago established the Academy Fellowship program to serve pre-collegiate students of the absolute highest talent level, offering them the tools and opportunities to pursue and fulfill their professional aspirations. The Academy Fellows and Special Merit Scholars have a promising chance at professional solo, chamber music, or orchestral careers; they must exhibit an uncommon level of dedication and work on the most advanced repertoire.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Cal Performances’ Third Annual Ojai North! Features World Premier of New Mark Morris Choreograpy for Rite of Spring
Ojai North!, a collaboration with the Ojai Music Festival, runs Thursday-Saturday, June 13-15, at Hertz Hall, Berkeley, CA, and features nine concerts with works by Lou Harrison, John Cage, Henry Cowell, Charles Ives, and John Luther Adams, employing Ethan Iverson, Colin Fowler, and the American String Quartet. Free outdoor performances, artist talks and film screenings are planned.

Cal Performances’ third annual Ojai North!, a multi-year partnership with the esteemed Ojai Music Festival, opens with the world premiere of new choreography to Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring by the 2013 Ojai Music Director and choreographer Mark Morris on June 13-15, 2013. Set to The Bad Plus’s rescoring of the explosive masterpiece for piano, bass and drums, Rite of Spring will be performed by the jazz trio and the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG). Highlighted by works that Morris champions, the festival programming also includes compositions by Lou Harrison, John Cage, Henry Cowell, Charles Ives and John Luther Adams. Joining Morris in Berkeley will be his MMDG Music Ensemble as well as long-time collaborators Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus, recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as “about as badass as highbrow can get,” pianist/organist Colin Fowler, the American String Quartet, percussion ensemble red fish blue fish and Gamelan Sari Raras from the University of California, Berkeley. All performances will be at Hertz Hall unless otherwise noted.

Each summer the Ojai Music Festival (June 6-9, 2013), explores the musical interests of its Music Director, a position that is held for the first time this year by a choreographer. “The Bay Area understands the genius of Mark Morris and his talents as a dancer, choregrapher and musician, perhaps better than anywhere else in the world,” said Cal Performances’ Director Matías Tarnopolsky. “We are proud to support Mark as Music Director of Ojai North! and introduce his fans here to this new endeavor.” Morris, who considers Cal Performances his West Coast home, has partnered with the institution since 1987, presenting numerous world, United States and West Coast premieres. A series of education and community events to compliment Ojai North! programming, including film screenings and talks with the artists, are being planned, and will be announce at a later date.

This season’s Ojai North! marks the third year of a residency partnership between Cal Performances and the Ojai Music Festival; the Festival will continue in Berkeley at the end of every annual music festival in Ojai Valley. This collaborative effort makes possible annual reprises of Ojai concerts in Berkeley, as well as co-commissions and co-productions. More than just a sharing of resources, Ojai North! represents a joining of artistic ideals and aspirations. The combined efforts of Ojai’s legacy of artistic innovation and Cal Performances’ tradition of groundbreaking productions create a joint force that allows artists to achieve more than would be possible by each organization separately.

The Program:
Ojai North! kicks off on Thursday, June 13 at 5:00 p.m. with an outdoor performance of John Luther Adams’s A Strange and Sacred Noise with red fish blue fish; this free and open to the public event will be held on the Faculty Glade. At 8:00 p.m., the world premiere takes place of Mark Morris’s newest work Rite of Spring, set to Stravinsky’s masterwork, reinterpreted and performed by The Bad Plus and danced by MMDG. His company will also dance Mosaic and United (1993) set to Henry Cowell’s Quartets No. 3 and No. 4, performed by the American String Quartet. Closing out the day is a late night jam session with The Bad Plus at 10:00 p.m.

Two concerts on Friday, June 14 at 5:00 p.m. and at 8:00 p.m. showcase Lou Harrison’s work and those inspired by the legendary American maverick composer. At 5:00 p. m. Gamelan Sari Raras from UC Berkeley will perform Lou Harrison’s Music for Gamelan and Solo Instruments. That evening at 8:00 p.m. members of the MMDG Music Ensemble will perform Harrison’s Suite for Symphonic Strings under the baton of Joshua Gersen, conducting assistant to Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony. The American String Quartet along with pianists Colin Fowler and Yegor Shevtsov will counter with John Luther Adams’s haunting work For Lou Harrison. Day two concludes at 10:00 p.m. with a second John Luther Adams work, staged outdoors, titled Songbirdsongs with red fish blue fish.

Saturday, June 15, is a full day of adventurous repertoire starting at noon with John Cage’s Four Walls, which will be performed by pianist Ethan Iverson and soprano Yulia Van Doren. At 2:00 p.m., the American String Quartet will offer Charles Ives’s String Quartet No. 2 followed by a selection of songs by Ruth Crawford Seeger, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison and John Cage with Doren, Jamie Van Eyck, mezzo-soprano and Douglas Williams, baritone performing. The audience joins in with the performers for the final song, Carl Ruggles’ great hymn, Exaltation, conducted by Mark Morris.

At 7:30 p.m., Joshua Gersen conducts Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Organ and Percussion with Colin Fowler and red fish blue fish. The final concert of Ojai North! at 9:00 p.m. begins with a pair of works by Henry Cowell performed by MMDG Music Ensemble: Heroic Dance, written for Martha Graham, and his cantata Atlantis with vocalists Doren, Van Eyck and Williams. The short Fugue for Percussion by Lou Harrison, one of his most fiendishly difficult pieces, and his Concerto for Piano and Gamelan with Colin Fowler and Gamelan Sari Raras round out the concert.

Mark Morris:
Morris is noted for his musicality and has been described as “undeviating in his devotion to music.” He has conducted performances for the MMDG since 2006. He has worked extensively in opera, directing and choreographing productions for the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Gotham Chamber Opera, English National Opera, The Royal Opera and Covent Garden.  In 1991, he was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation.  He has received eleven honorary doctorates to date.  In 2006, Morris received the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture and a WQXR Gramophone Special Recognition Award “for being an American ambassador for classical music at home and abroad.”  He is the subject of a biography, Mark Morris, by Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and Marlowe & Company published a volume of photographs and critical essays entitled Mark Morris’ L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato:A Celebration. Morris is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.  In recent years, he has received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2007), the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society (2010) and the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity (2012).

Ojai Music Festifal:
The Ojai Music Festival is an annual four-day immersion experience of concerts, symposia and auxiliary events set in the picturesque Ojai Valley, just north of Los Angeles.  Founded in 1947 by John Bauer, the Festival receives a constant stream of innovative programming and fresh ideas as the Music Director changes each year.  Administratively, Thomas W. Morris celebrates his ninth year with the Festival that turns 66 this season.  Acclaimed conductors, composers and artists who have led the Festival in the past include Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, Ingolf Dahl, Pierre Boulez, Robert Craft, Michael Tilson Thomas, Calvin Simmons, Kent Nagano and John Adams, among many others. Pianist Jeremy Denk assumes the leadership for the 2014 season. For further information go to

Ticket Information:
Tickets for Ojai North!, Thursday-Saturday, June 13-15, at Zellerbach Playhouse range from $20.00-$110.00 and are subject to change; single tickets will go on sale February 1, 2013. Tickets are available through the Cal Performances’ Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at; and at the door.  Half-price tickets are available for purchase by UC Berkeley students. UC faculty and staff, senior citizens, other students and UC Alumni Association members receive a $5.00 discount (Special Events excluded). For select performances, Cal Performances offers UCB student, faculty and staff, senior, and community rush tickets.  Rush tickets are announced three hours prior to a performance on Cal Performances’ Facebook page and at 510-642-9988 and are available in person only at the Ticket Office beginning one hour before the performance; one ticket per person; all sales are cash only. For more information, call Cal Performances at (510) 642-9988, or visit

--Joe Yang, Cal Performances

The National Philharmonic Awarded NEA Challenge Grant
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman recently announced that The National Philharmonic is one of 153 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Challenge America Fast-Track grant.  The National Philharmonic is recommended for a $10,000 grant to support its March 2, 2013 American Virtuoso Violin concert and associated outreach initiatives.

The National Philharmonic is honored that the NEA Challenge Grant will support The American Virtuoso Violin concert, featuring contemporary classical music of the late Andreas Makris and Russell Peck, a world premiere of Steven Gerber’s Two Lyric Pieces and accompanying outreach programs.  The concert will showcase the preeminent violinist Elena Urioste, who will also conduct a lecture-demonstration and peer session for an underserved Washington, D.C. urban school, the William E Doar Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts. In addition, Mr. Gerber and Ms. Urioste will participate in a panel discussion at Strathmore, immediately following the concert. An art exhibit inspired by contemporary American art, created by Doar school students, will complement the concert performance.

In this FY 2013 funding round, the NEA received 393 eligible Challenge America Fast-Track applications, requesting a total of $3,930,000.  The NEA will award 153 Challenge America Fast-Track grants totaling $1.53 million awarded to organizations in 41 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Challenge America Fast-Track category offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.

“We are delighted that the NEA is as excited about this project as we are.  It highlights modern music and outstanding youthful artists, whether it be a professional musician like Ms. Urioste or our aspiring musicians at the Doar School,” said Kenneth A. Oldham Jr., President of The National Philharmonic . "The NEA was founded on the principle that the arts belong to all the people of the United States," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "We're proud that Challenge America Fast-Track grants bring more opportunities for arts engagement to underserved communities."  See the complete listing of projects recommended for Challenge America Fast-Track grant support at

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

New Philharmonic Cancels February and March 2013 Concerts
New Philharmonic (NP) announced today they will be canceling the concert staging of “Cosi fan tutte," originally scheduled for Feb. 16 - 17 at The Lund Auditorium at Dominican University Performing Arts Center in River Forest, Il; and "Great Russian Classics" with guest artist Alexander Toradze, originally scheduled for March 15, at Wheaton College's Edman Memorial Chapel, Il.

“The closing of the McAninch Arts Center for renovation through the spring of 2014 has proven challenging,” says Stephen Cummins, Director of the McAninch Arts Center. “Unfortunately the alternate venues secured for NP’s 2012-2013 season have not been embraced by patrons as we had hoped, making it financially imprudent to present the full season.”

New Philharmonic’s December 2012 and January 2013 concerts will go on as scheduled. These include “Viennese Pops with a French Twist,” Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, 7 p.m. at The Lund Auditorium at Dominican University Performing Arts Center in River Forest; and "New Philharmonic: Mahler," Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 8 p.m. at Wheaton College's Edman Memorial Chapel.

Patrons holding subscriptions or single tickets to the February and March concerts may call the box office at 630-942-4000 to exchange their tickets for seats for remaining New Philharmonic, MAC, or Buffalo Theatre Ensemble events scheduled during the remainder of the 2013 season performances, request a refund, or donate those monies to the McAninch Arts Center.

For more information about New Philharmonic call 630-942-4000 or visit:

--Ann Fink, New Philharmonic

Music Institute of Chicago Announces Deadlines and Competition Dates for Emilio Del Rosario Piano Competition
Application deadlines and competition dates:

Young Artist Division:
Early Application Deadline: January 12, 2013
Late Application Deadline ($20 late fee applies): January 26, 2013

Preliminary Competition Round: February 10, 2013
Final Competition Round: February 17, 2013

General Division:
Early Application Deadline: March 1, 2013
Late Application Deadline ($20 late fee applies): March 15, 2013

Preliminary Competition Round: March 30, 2013
Final Competition Round: May 12, 2013

Established in 2010, the Emilio del Rosario Piano Concerto Competition honors the late master piano teacher Emilio del Rosario, who dedicated his life to the art of teaching and nurturing pianists to the highest standards. Many of his students have gone on to noteworthy careers in music and have achieved great success largely due to his guidance and aim for perfection.

The Music Institute of Chicago established a Young Artist Division of the Emilio del Rosario Piano Concerto Competition in 2012. Pre-college pianists, younger than 20, will compete for the opportunity to perform a complete concerto with the Lake Forest Symphony, a professional orchestra directed by Alan Heatherington, March 15 and 16, 2013. Additional cash and scholarship prizes also will be available.

The Young Artist Division competition is open to pre-college pianists from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A preliminary round will take place Sunday, February 10 at the Music Institute’s Winnetka Campus, 300 Green Bay Road, Il. Three finalists will compete Sunday, February 17 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Il. Information regarding applications and repertoire requirements is available at The early application deadline is January 12, 2013.

The Young Artist Division is part of the larger Emilio del Rosario Piano Concerto Competition, which takes place in the spring of 2013 at Harper College. Competition Director and Music Institute faculty member Brenda Huang said, “The Young Artist Division is an important addition to our competition. Emilio del Rosario dedicated his life to the art of teaching and nurturing pianists to the highest of standards. We hope to continue his legacy of excellence by providing the next generation of pianists an opportunity to perform with a professional orchestra and help them realize their musical potential.”

For further information, click on: or

--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 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