Classical Music News of the Week, January 13, 2013

University Glee Club of New York City Launches 120th Anniversary of Its Founding with Concert at Carnegie Hall, Friday, January 18, at 7 p.m.

UGC Guest Artists are the Harvard Glee Club, the U.S. Naval Academy Men's Glee Club, and the Solisti Ensemble. The program includes the world premiere of UGC commission from Stephen Paulus, and a portion of concert proceeds will be donated to Manhattan's Bloomingdale School of Music.

The University Glee Club of New York City, the venerable all-men's choir established over a century ago to encourage male singing of the highest excellence, returns to Carnegie Hall to launch its 120th anniversary on Friday, January 18, at 7 p.m. Conducted by Francisco J. Núñez, the fifth conductor in UGC's history, the concert also features the gorgeously rich sounds of two other esteemed men's choirs, the Harvard Glee Club and the U.S. Naval Academy Men's Glee Club, as well as the Solisti Ensemble, an 11-piece string ensemble.

The January 18 program opens with Mr. Núñez conducting more than 100 members of the University Glee Club in the world premiere of a work it commissioned from composer Stephen Paulus, When Thou Commandest Me To Sing.

The three men's choirs will sing a wide variety of music ranging from classical and jazz to gospel, spirituals, and college songs. In a special highlight, as part of each of their sets, the three choirs-UGC, the Harvard Glee Club conducted by its Director of Choral Activities Dr. Andrew Clark, and the U.S. Naval Academy Men's Glee Club conducted by Dr. Aaron Smith--will each sing one of Poulenc's Quatre Petites Prieres de St Francois d'Assise. They will come together to sing the fourth prayer in the closing portion of the program, along with Franz Biebl's Ave Maria.

The program also features the Solisti Ensemble under its Artistic Director Byung-kook Kwak, who will perform works by Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Rhapsody after Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" by Russian-American composer/violinist Albert Markov.

Tickets, at $50 and $100, are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, from CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, or online at www.carnegiehall.org

As one of its mandates as a charitable organization, the UGC is donating a portion of the proceeds from the January 18 Carnegie Hall concert to the Bloomingdale School of Music, which, under its Executive Director Lawrence Davis, provides high quality music education, regardless of ability to pay, to some 750 students of all ages. More information from  http://www.bsmny.org/

Angela Duryea, University Glee Club of New York City

New Philharmonic Caps 2012-2013 Season with Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D major at Wheaton College’s Edman Memorial Chapel, January 26 at 8 p.m.
Maestro Kirk Muspratt leads the acclaimed New Philharmonic in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D Major at Wheaton College's Edman Memorial Chapel, 501 College Avenue in Wheaton, Ilinios, on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. For tickets call (630) 942-4000, or visit: www.AtTheMAC.org.

The evening will begin with "Kirk's Klassical Boot Kamp" using musical excerpts and video clips to provide insights and illustrate pivotal ideas on the symphonic structure found in Mahler's innovative composition and “Titan” orchestration.

Following intermission, the audience will be treated to Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major:
I.   Langsam, Schleppend --- Immer sehr gemächlich                     
II.  Kräftig bewegt
III. Feirlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen
IV. Stürmisch bewegt.

Tickets are $38 adult/$36 senior/$28 youth. To order tickets, call (630) 942-4000, or visit www.AtTheMAC.org.
                                                           
New Philharmonic is a fully-professional, 80-member orchestra that has inspired classical music enthusiasts in Chicago and the suburbs for three decades.  Under the direction of Conductor and Music Director Kirk Muspratt, named a 2006 Chicagoan of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, the group gives innovative treatment to both classic compositions and modern works and strives to make the music accessible to new audiences and youth through a variety of educational efforts.  New Philharmonic is the resident orchestra of the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill.

Wheaton College Edman Memorial Chapel, 501 College Avenue, Wheaton, Illinois is located north of Pierce Chapel, on the northeast corner of Washington and Franklin streets, and is a college and community resource and event venue. It features an auditorium that can seat more than 2,400 guests, and hosts concerts, commencements, social events, programs and other community events. For more information call 630-752-5010 or visit Wheaton.edu/Buildings/Edman-Chapel.

The McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage, located 25 miles west of Chicago near I-88 and I-355, houses three performance spaces, an art gallery and classrooms for the college’s academic programming.  This unique facility has presented theater, music, dance and visual art to more than 1.5 million people since its opening in 1986 and last year welcomed more than 75,000 patrons from the greater Chicago area to more than 230 performances. The MAC is currently undergoing major renovations which will update the major performance spaces, address significant infrastructure needs and improve several academic program areas. Scheduled completion date is spring 2014. The project will cost $35 million and is funded by the $168 million referendum that voters of District 502 passed in November 2010. Other projects in progress at College of DuPage include the renovation of the Physical Education Center, Student Resource Center and Seaton Computing Center, and construction of the Campus Maintenance Center. The mission of the McAninch Arts Center is to foster enlightened educational and performance opportunities, which encourage artistic expression, establish a lasting relationship between people and art, and enrich the cultural vitality of the community. For more information visit www.AtTheMAC.org.

--Ann Fink, New Philharmonic

Pianist Nicholas Hodges Gives the West Coast Premiere of Gigue Machine on Sunday, January 27, at 3 p.m. in Hertz Hall, Berkeley, California
Harrison Birtwistle’s Gugue Machine was co-commissioned by Cal Performances and Carnegie Hall.
"With an energy that sometimes defies belief,” (The Guardian) pianist Nicolas Hodges comes to Hertz Hall on Sunday, January 27 at 3:00 p.m. His program features the West Coast premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s Gigue Machine (2011), which was written for Hodges. The concert will also include Claude Debussy’s cool and virtuosic Etudes, Books I and II (1915), Ferruccio Busoni’s Giga, Bolero e Variazione (Study after Mozart – Book 3 of An die Jugend) (1909), and Igor Stravinsky’s tour de force, Three Movements from Pétrouchka (1921). “Hodges is a refreshing artist: he plays the classics as if they were written yesterday, and what was written yesterday as if it were already a classic” (Tempo).

Pianist Nicolas Hodges was born in London in 1970. He studied piano at Cambridge University with Robert Bottone, and other teachers have included Susan Bradshaw and Sulamita Aronovsky. Hodges has developed into an adventurous recitalist; “Hodges played this difficult music…with uncanny confidence,” said the Los Angeles Times of a typically varied Hodges recital. Hodges’ discography is similarly broad and challenging. In addition to recital performance and recording, Hodges has performed with the Chicago Symphony, the BBC Symphony, the Stockholm Philharmonic, the Tokyo Philharmonic, and many more. He has performed under the baton of today’s leading conductors including Daniel Barenboim, James Levine, Leonard Slatkin and James Levine.

Contemporary composers including Elliott Carter, Beat Furrer, Wolfgang Rihm, Salvatore Sciarrino and Birtwistle have written works for Hodges; he has also worked closely with composers including John Adams, Oliver Knussen, Olga Neuwirth and Stockhausen. Hodges is professor of piano at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart, Germany, where he educates young pianists on the relationship between performance of standard repertoire and contemporary works. One of his stated goals is to help young composers demystify the complexities of writing for the piano. For additional information, visit nicolashodges.com.

Ticket Information:
Tickets for Nicolas Hodges, piano, on Sunday, January 27 at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall are priced at $42.00, subject to change.  Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at www.calperformances.org; and at the door. Half-price tickets are available for 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. For more information about discounts, go to http://calperformances.org/buy/discounts.php or call (510) 642-9988.

--Christina Kellogg, Cal Performances

Music Institute of Chicago’s Duo Piano Winter Mini-Fest February 1-3 Features Guests Unison Piano Duo and Distinguished Faculty
The Music Institute of Chicago’s popular Chicago Duo Piano Festival kicks off its 25th anniversary with the annual Duo Piano Winter Mini-fest February 1–3 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, Ilinois.

The festival features two ticketed concerts:
Friday, February 1 at 7:30 p.m. features the  Unison Piano Duo—wife and husband Du Huang and Xiao Hu—who serve on the piano faculty at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and perform regularly around the world. The program will include piano duets by Schubert and Fauré (Dolly Suite); two-piano works by Albeniz and Piazzolla, and Stravinsky’s Petrouchka (arranged by Victor Babin).

Saturday, February 2 at 7:30 p.m. features Music Institute piano faculty Mio Isoda and Matt Hagle, Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem, Maya Brodotskaya and Irene Faliks, Sung Hoon Mo and Inah Chiu, Elaine Felder and Milana Pavchinskaya, Xiaomin Liang and Jue He, and Fiona Queen and Mark George.

Pianists are welcome to register for the February 1–3 mini-festival, featuring concerts, master classes, lectures, coachings, and student recitals on Sunday, February 3. All events take place at the Music Institute’s Evanston East Campus, 1490 Chicago Avenue. Tuition is $90 per student, which includes admission to all concerts and events, participation in student recitals, coachings, and a festival dinner. Registration deadline is January 18.

Chicago Duo Piano Festival:
Called a “duo piano mecca” by Pioneer Press, the Chicago Duo Piano Festival was founded in 1988 by Music Institute of Chicago faculty members Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem. Its mission is to foster a deeper interest in the repertoire, performance, and teaching of music for piano, four hands and two pianos, in a fun and supportive atmosphere. The Festival offers students age 12 through adult coaching, master classes, concerts with special guest artists, and student recitals.

Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem:
Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem, artists in residence and faculty members at the Music Institute, enjoy an international career as proponents of music for both piano duet and two keyboards. The duo has appeared with orchestras internationally, including the Chicago Philharmonic and the Vienna Tonkünstler. They have performed in recitals throughout the U.S. and Europe. Recent concerts include a 25th anniversary celebration concert at Merkin Hall in New York, an appearance at the Gina Bachauer Festival in Salt Lake City, and two recitals in Odessa, Ukraine. Aebersold and Neiweem have commissioned significant new works for the piano duo, including pieces by Joseph Turrin and Patrick Byers. The duo’s CDs on the Summit label include Four Hand Reflections and music of Brahms and Schubert.

The Chicago Duo Piano Winter Mini-Fest concerts take place Friday, February 1 and Saturday, February 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students, available at chicagoduopianofestival.org or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. For more information visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

American Bach Soloists Present Bach’s St. John Passion in Four Venues, January 25-28
Recognized worldwide for superb performances of Baroque masterworks, the American Bach Soloists (ABS) open their 2013 season with one of the cornerstones of the repertory: Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion. Music director Jeffrey Thomas—“unsurpassable as a Bach interpreter” (San Francisco Classical Voice)—will lead the period-instrument virtuosos of ABS and the American Bach Choir in four presentations of the 1725 version of Bach’s immensely beautiful and moving work from January 25-28, 2013, in Belvedere, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Davis.

Last season, ABS astonished audiences with inspired performances of an early version of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244b, that “communicated the Passion with extraordinary beauty and power” (SFCV) and left listeners blissfully transported by the experience. “I am so grateful I was there,” one patron excitedly proclaimed. Aided by an exceptional group of vocal soloists, including several returning from last year’s performances, Thomas and ABS are set to meet the very different challenges of Bach’s St. John Passion and reveal its unique virtues in definitive performances. Singing the important role of the Evangelist is Aaron Sheehan, a tenor lauded for his interpretation of the part: “The role of the Evangelist is a massively demanding one, and Sheehan maintained throughout a stern yet expressive pastoral presence that befitted the austere mood of the evening” (SFCV). The words of Christ will be sung by baritone William Sharp, an artist who has performed with ABS for more than two decades and been praised by the New York Times as “a sensitive and subtle singer” and Opera News as “downright brilliant.” Other soloists include soprano Clara Rottsolk, who “stood out for her power, dignity, and immensely sympathetic contributions” (SFCV) in last season’s performances; tenor Derek Chester, who has been praised by the New York Times for his “beautifully shaped and carefully nuanced singing”; and baritone Joshua Copeland whose lyrical artistry “could serve as a role model for singing ‘authentically’ with feeling” (SFCV). Making his ABS debut in these performances is countertenor Brennan Hall, an exciting young singer and former ABS Academy participant who recently distinguished himself in performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor at the 2012 ABS Festival & Academy.

A free, pre-concert lecture–“Insights”–by ABS violone player Steven Lehning will begin one hour prior to each performance.

The American Bach Soloists engage and inspire audiences through historically informed performances, recordings, and educational programs that emphasize the music of the Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic eras. Founded in 1989, the ensemble has achieved its vision of assembling the world’s finest vocalists and period-instrument performers to bring this brilliant music to life. For more than two decades, Jeffrey Thomas has brought thoughtful, meaningful, and informed perspectives to his performances as Artistic and Music Director of the American Bach Soloists. Fanfare Magazine proclaimed that “Thomas’ direction seems just right, capturing the humanity of the music…there is no higher praise for Bach performance.”

Performance schedule:
Press images, soloist bios, and other links are available in our online Press Room at americanbach.org/press.  Tickets: $20 - $60.
For tickets or information, please visit americanbach.org/tickets or call 415-621-7900

Friday, January 25, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
St. Stephen’s Church, 3 Bayview Avenue at Golden Gate, Belvedere, CA.
Saturday, January 26, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way at Dana, Berkeley, CA.
Sunday, January 27, 2013, 4:00 p.m.
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 1111 O’Farrell Street at Franklin, San Francisco, CA.
Monday, January 28, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Davis Community Church, 412 C Street at Fourth, Davis, CA.

About American Bach Soloists:
The American Bach Soloists engage and inspire audiences through historically informed performances, recordings, and educational programs that emphasize the music of the Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic eras. Founded in 1989, the ensemble has achieved its vision of assembling the world’s finest vocalists and period-instrument performers to bring this brilliant music to life. For more than two decades, Jeffrey Thomas has brought thoughtful, meaningful, and informed perspectives to his performances as Artistic and Music Director of the American Bach Soloists. Fanfare Magazine proclaimed that “Thomas’ direction seems just right, capturing the humanity of the music…there is no higher praise for Bach performance.”

--Christopher Lewis, American Bach Soloists

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

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.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa