Classical Music News of the Week, February 17, 2013

Four Score Festival Highlights Zappa, Rzewski, Misurell-Mitchell, and Daugherty March 10
Also, Benefit Concert with Abraham Stokman March 3 and Young Composer’s Competition Winners March 8

The Music Institute of Chicago’s annual Four Score Festival, which highlights contemporary music, this year features the music of Frank Zappa, Frederick Rzewski and Michael Daugherty under the banner “Power to the People” March 10. The Festival begins with a special concert fundraiser March 3. In addition, the Music Institute showcases the winner of the Generation Next Young Composer’s Competition and other young composers in a free performance March 8. All performances take place at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

The March 3 benefit concert offers a relaxed and fun evening of music, conversation, food and wine. Performances feature Four Score Festival core ensemble members. As a highlight of the evening, Music Institute piano faculty member and Four Score Festival Director Abraham Stokman improvises on popular themes requested by the audience. All proceeds benefit the 2013 Four Score Festival.

The first half of the March 10 concert features music by Frederic Rzewski, Janice Misurell-Mitchell, and Michael Daugherty. Abraham Stokman performs Rzewski’s Mayn Yingele and Down by the Riverside; flutist Janice Misurell-Mitchell performs her composition Everything Changes, joined by percussionists John Corkill and Christopher Jones; and the Academy Chamber Orchestra of the Music Institute’s prestigious Academy for gifted pre-college musicians performs Michael Daugherty’s Strut, conducted by Academy Director Jim Setapen.

The second half of the program celebrates the 20th anniversary release of Frank Zappa’s album The Yellow Shark, which Zappa described as one of the most fulfilling projects of his career and the best representation of his orchestral works. A Four Score Festival faculty and guest artist ensemble, conducted by Jim Setapen, performs several works from this album of orchestral music.

Generation Next/Composer’s Lab Concert
On March 8, a free concert showcases the Music Institute’s Generation Next Young Composer’s Competition, which encourages and promotes the development of young composers. The concert program includes Things I’d Like to Have for string quartet by first place winner Zara Ali (age 17, Cordova, Tennessee); Negotiation of the Winds for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon by second place winner Morgan Harry Kane (age 16, New Haven, Connecticut); and Metamorphosis, a piano solo by third place winner Robert Didier (age 18, St. Charles, Illinois). Receiving Honorable Mentions in the competition are Alex Yuill (age 18, Naperville, Illinois) and Blake Pilger (age 15, Rancho Palos Verdes, California).

The program also will feature works from the Music Institute’s Composer’s Lab Program, created by Composer-in-Residence Mischa Zupko, and performances by young composers from the studios of Chicago-based guest composers Patricia Morehead and Ilya Levinson. Morehead’s student Brandon Anthony Bruscato (age 14) offers his work A nEw Fase for violin, clarinet, and cello, and Levinson’s student Josh Fletcher (age 22) has composed Deep Sea for French horn and piano.

The Music Institute again has partnered with 98.7 WFMT to record the performance for future broadcast on the popular radio program Introductions, which celebrates talented pre-college classical musicians.

The Four Score Festival’s benefit and main concerts take place Sundays, March 3 and 10 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students for each concert, available online or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. The Generation Next Winner’s Concert Friday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall is free.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Violinist Elena Urioste to Play Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade at Strathmore
Eminent violinist Elena Urioste joins the National Philharmonic in Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade, a musical tribute to love’s power, on Saturday, March 2, at 8 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore, North Bethesda, Maryland. The program, led by National Philharmonic Music Director and conductor Piotr Gajewski, will also include  Russell Peck’s Signs of Life II,  Andreas Makris’s Violin Concerto and a world premiere of Steven Gerber’s Two Lyric Pieces. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ms. Urioste brings her formidable talent to this concert featuring American works for violin. Showcased will be Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade, a five-movement concerto written in 1954 as a musical tribute to love’s power. Bernstein was inspired by Plato's Symposium, a dialogue of statements in praise of love, each made by a distinguished speaker. Although the Serenade is scored for violin, harp and percussion, the violin is the most prominent solo instrument.

The concert also features Ms. Urioste playing Signs of Life II, by the late-American composer Russell Peck, featuring lush and invigorating music for string orchestra. The evening will also include the world premiere of Two Lyric Pieces by Steven Gerber, one of America’s most accessible contemporary composers, and the compelling Violin Concerto of the late-Washington, DC, composer Andreas Makris, who was a composer-in-residence for many years at the National Symphony Orchestra.

About the Soloist:
Elena Urioste, recently selected by Symphony Magazine as an emerging artist to watch, has been hailed by critics and audiences alike for her rich tone, nuanced lyricism, and commanding stage presence. Since making her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age thirteen, she has appeared as soloist with major orchestras throughout the United States, including the Boston Pops, National Symphony Orchestra, and Cleveland, Atlanta, Baltimore, New Mexico and San Antonio symphony orchestras. Ms. Urioste has collaborated with such acclaimed artists as pianists Ignat Solzhenitsyn and Christopher O'Riley, conductors Robert Spano and Keith Lockhart, and violinists Cho-Liang Lin and Shlomo Mintz. Elena plays a Michelangelo Bergonzi, Cremona (circa 1750). She is a two-time winner of the national Sphinx Competition, which honors outstanding young musicians of Latino and black descent.

The National Philharmonic also offers exceptional and unique education programs, such as the Summer Strings and Choral Institutes. Students accepted into the Summer String Institutes study privately with National Philharmonic musicians, participate in coached chamber music and play in an orchestra conducted by Maestro Gajewski and Philharmonic Associate Conductor Victoria Gau. For more information, visit

A free lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on Saturday, March 2 in the Concert Hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to the American Virtuoso Violin concert on March 2 at Strathmore, please visit or call the Strathmore ticket office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets are $28-$81; 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. Parking is complimentary.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Robert Spano Conducts Two Performances at Carnegie Hall
Robert Spano is known worldwide for the depth and intensity of his artistry, as well as his unique communicative abilities. Currently in his 12th season as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Spano is recognized internationally as one of the most imaginative conductors today. Since 2001 he has invigorated and expanded the Orchestra’s repertoire while elevating the ensemble to new levels of international prominence and acclaim. Mr. Spano recently brought his orchestra to Carnegie Hall in a performance of Bernstein, Copland, and Walton in October of 2012 to rave reviews. This spring he rounds out the season with two additional performances in the hall that are sure to highlight his distinguished abilities as a conductor, educator and pianist.

He conducts the highly anticipated Osvaldo Golijov's La Pasión según San Marcos (St. Mark Passion) at New York's Carnegie Hall on March 10th. This performance will feature soprano Jessica Rivera, jazz vocalist Luciana Souza, members of the Venezuelan chorus to which the piece is dedicated, and high school singers from throughout New York City. Drawing on the sounds of Latin America with texts in Spanish, Latin, and Aramaic, the piece is evocative, wildly inventive, and entirely characteristic of Golijov's personal aesthetic. Mr. Golijov, well known for his wildly successful and critically acclaimed opera Ainadamar, is the holder of the 2012–2013 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall.

As an educator who finds inspiration through his work with young musicians, Maestro Spano will join the Ensemble ACJW in partnership with the New York City Department of Education to present Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles. Every two years, up to 20 of the world’s finest young professional musicians are chosen by application and audition as Fellows of the Academy. They are selected for their extraordinary level of musicianship, deep commitment to education and community engagement, and leadership qualities. On March 19th in Zankel Hall, Maestro Spano will lead this twelve movement work with featured pianist Juho Pohjonen, Laura Weiner, horn, Ian Sullivan, Xylorimba, and Jared Soldiviero, Glockenspiel.

Robert Spano is one of the brightest and most inventive conductors of his generation. As Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, he has elevated the ensemble to new levels of international prominence. As Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs for 630 students, including Aspen’s American Academy of Conducting.

Under Maestro Spano’s guidance, The ASO and audiences explore a creative programming mix, recordings, and visual enhancements. The Atlanta School of Composers reflects Mr. Spano’s commitment to American contemporary music. He has led ASO performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and at the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah Music Festivals. Guest engagements include the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, San Francisco, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, and Philadelphia Symphony Orchestras, as well as Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony, and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He has conducted for Covent Garden, Welsh National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and the 2005 and 2009 Seattle Opera Ring cycles. 

With an extensive discography of 21 recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon and ASO Media, Robert Spano has garnered six Grammy Awards. Dedicated to pedagogy and multi-disciplinary studies, he completed a three-year residency at Emory University, is on faculty at Oberlin Conservatory, and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University and Oberlin. In May 2009, Spano was awarded Columbia University's Ditson Conductor's Award for the advancement of American music. Robert Spano is proud to live in Atlanta.

Robert Spano, conductor
Sunday, March 10, 3:00 PM
Carnegie Hall
with Orquesta La Pasíon
Jessica Rivera, Soprano
Luciana Souza, Jazz Vocalist
Members of Schola Cantorum de Venezuela

Robert Spano, conductor
Tuesday, March 19, 6:00 PM- Zankel Hall
Ensemble ACJW
Juho Pohjonen, Piano
Laura Weiner, Horn
Ian Sullivan, Xylorimba
Jared Soldiviero, Glockenspiel

--Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

2013 American Bach Soloists Festival Tickets on Sale Now
Tickets are now on sale for the 2013 American Bach Soloists Festival at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, July 12-21, 2013. This season’s two-week festival offers a considerable line-up of concerts, lectures, and master classes that allow patrons the chance to immerse themselves in the music and culture of the Baroque. The rich array of events, including many free attractions, have made the ABS Festival & Academy—San Francisco’s Summer Bach Festival—one of the most appealing summer music festivals in the United States. This year ABS artistic and music director Jeffrey Thomas will lead the ABS orchestra, “some of the greatest period-instrument players in the world” (San Francisco Classical Voice), in authoritative performances of the best of the Baroque repertory including the West Coast premiere of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s gargantuan opus Missa Salisburgensis (July 13), Handel’s dramatic oratorio Esther (July 19), and two performances of a festival tradition and ABS specialty, J.S. Bach’s sweeping masterwork Mass in B Minor (July 14 & 21). This season’s Distinguished Artist Series (July 20) will feature a recital by renowned Baroque virtuoso Tanya Tomkins, “a cellist with a very special and unusual intensity” (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Ms. Tomkins will perform an intimate program of solo and chamber works.

Tickets for the ABS Festival & Academy may be purchased online at or by calling (415) 621-7900. All-inclusive Festival Pass subscription packages (8 concerts) range from $100-$204 and single tickets are available from $20-$60. Academy-in-Action concerts featuring participants in the ABS Academy—the educational component of the Festival—are $10, but Festival Pass subscribers attend these concerts for free. All Festival events will take place at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco, 94102, near the Civic Center BART and Van Ness MUNI stations. For more information, visit or call (415) 621-7900.
2013 American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy Schedule of Events, July 12-21, 2013:

Friday, July 12, 2013
5:00 p.m. Opening Night Gala Dinner: Dobbs Ferry of San Francisco
8:00 p.m. Chamber Series: Music by J.S. Bach, Biber, Muffat, and Schmelzer

Saturday, July 13, 2013
2:30 p.m. Public Colloquium: “Pitch, Tuning, and Scordatura”
8:00 p.m. Masterworks Series: The Glories of Salzburg - Biber’s Missa Salisburgensis

Sunday, July 14, 2013
7:00 p.m. Masterworks Series: Bach’s Mass in B Minor

Monday, July 15, 2013
8:00 p.m. Academy-In-Action Series: Chamber works by Baroque masters

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
12:00 p.m. Special Event: Tanya Tomkins on Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied ‘Cello
3:00 p.m. Master Class Series: Harpsichord
5:00 p.m. Lecture Series
8:00 p.m. Academy-In-Action Series: Chamber works by Baroque masters

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
12:00 p.m. Special Event: Tanya Tomkins on Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied ‘Cello
3:00 p.m. Master Class Series: Violin & Viola
5:00 p.m. Lecture Series
8:00 p.m. Academy-In-Action Series: Chamber works by Baroque masters

Thursday, July 18 2013
3:00 p.m. Master Class Series: Violoncello, Viola da gamba, Violone, & Contrabass
5:00 p.m. Lecture Series

Friday, July 19, 2013
3:00 p.m. Master Class Series: Winds & Brass
5:00 p.m. Lecture Series
8:00 p.m. Masterworks Series: Handel’s Esther

Saturday, July 20, 2013
3:00 p.m. Master Class Series: Voice
5:00 p.m. Lecture Series
8:00 p.m. Distinguished Artists Series: Tanya Tomkins, violoncello

Sunday, July 21, 2013
2:00 p.m. Masterworks Series: Bach’s Mass in B Minor

--American Bach Soloists

Brentano String Quartet Returns with a Program of Haydn, Purcell, Bartok, and Beethoven on Sunday, March 3, 3:00 p.m. at Hertz Hall, Berkeley, CA
A Cal Performances’ favorite, the Brentano String Quartet, returns to Berkeley’s Hertz Hall on Sunday, March 3, with a program of chamber music classics. The quartet, made up of Mark Steinberg (violin), Serena Canin (violin), Misha Amory (viola) and Nina Lee (cello), is known for performing with “an almost unearthly level of perfection” (The Times, London). Their concert will include Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 33, No. 2; a group of Henry Purcell’s Fantasias; Béla Bartók’s Quartet No. 4; and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 74, No. 2. Additionally, the ensemble can be heard playing Beethoven’s String Quartet No.14, Opus 131, in the critically acclaimed film A Late Quartet starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, and Catherine Keener; Nina Lee plays a cameo role as herself in the film.

The Brentano String Quartet was formed in 1992. The group takes its name from Antonie Brentano, considered by many to be Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” the intended recipient of his famous confession of love. The Quartet first rose to prominence by winning the first Cleveland Quartet Award and the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award and has been praised by The New York Times for its “tight interplay and beautiful hues.” The ensemble is also internationally renowned for its stylistic elegance and deep insight and has performed on many renowned stages, including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Wigmore Hall, Sydney Opera House, and Royal Concertgebouw. In addition to standard quartet repertoire, the ensemble performs many works that pre-date the string quartet as a medium, including works by Gesualdo, Purcell and Josquin. The group is also interested in new music and has commissioned works by contemporary composers Charles Wuorinen, Bruce Adolphe, John Mackey, David Horne, and Gabriela Frank. Distinguished collaborators include soprano Jessye Norman and pianists Richard Goode and Mitsuko Uchida. Their discography includes a recording of the Op. 71 String Quartets of Hayden and a Mozart album for Aeon Records, as well as contemporary works.

Violinist Mark Steinberg is both an active chamber musician and recitalist. He has participated for four summers in the Marlboro Music Festival, with which he has toured extensively. He has also been a soloist with the London Philharmonia, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Philadelphia Concerto Soloists in addition to working with conductors Kurt Sanderling, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Violinist Serena Canin is an accomplished chamber musician who has toured the United States with Music From Marlboro, Brandenburg Ensemble and Goliard Concerts. She holds teaching positions at Princeton University and New York University. Violist Misha Amory won the 1991 Naumburg Viola Award and has been an active solo and chamber performer ever since. He has released a recording of Hindemith sonatas on the Musical Heritage Society Label. Amory is a faculty member of both the Juilliard School of Music and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Nina Lee, cellist, has performed at Tanglewood and Marlboro Music Festivals and has toured with other musicians as part of Musicians from Marlboro. She currently teaches at Princeton University and Columbia University.

Ticket information:
Tickets for Brentano String Quartet on Sunday, March 3 at 3:00 p.m. at Hertz Hall are $46.00, and are subject to change. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at; 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 or call (510) 642-9988.

Sunday, March 3, at 3:00 p.m.                   
Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley Campus               
Bancroft Way at Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, California

Haydn: String Quartet Op. 33 No. 2
Purcell: Group of Fantasias (3 or 4 to be announced)
Bartók: Quartet No. 4
Beethoven: Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 74, No. 2 (“Harp”)

--Christina Kellogg, Cal Performances

Emmanuel Morlet Appointed Artistic Director of the Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA
Sonoma State University President Ruben Armiñana today announced the appointment of Emmanuel Morlet as Artistic Director of the Green Music Center (GMC). Morlet, a native of France, is currently Director of the Music Office for the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and a Program Officer of the French-American Cultural Exchange (FACE) Foundation in New York. He begins his new position on April 1, at which time he assumes responsibility for all artistic programming at the complex.

“During my visits to Sonoma State, I was extraordinarily impressed with the University’s deep commitment to making the arts a vibrant part of college education,” said Morlet. “Weill Hall is one of the most beautiful concert halls I’ve ever seen and is truly an amazing resource not only to the campus, but the local community as well. To join a new performing arts center at this inaugural moment is a real honor and I look forward to working together to bring Sonoma County the very best that the performing arts have to offer.”

As artistic director at the GMC, Morlet will be responsible for setting the Center’s artistic vision and programming, working closely alongside newly appointed Executive Director Larry Furukawa-Schlereth. He will also be actively engaged with GMC leadership and its donor community, and will oversee collaborations between the University and the Center.

Since 1998, Morlet has served at the French Embassy overseeing multiple offices nationwide, supervising all music-related activities, working directly with artists and ensembles, and fundraising to support these efforts. An accomplished musician, Morlet was responsible for programming across a number of genres including classical, jazz, popular, world, and electronic.

Among the many projects he coordinated in conjunction with universities, festivals, and international venues, Morlet led all aspects of “Sounds French,” a month-long festival of contemporary music, and is co-founder of the acclaimed annual “GlobalFest” world music festival.

A citizen of both France and the United States, Morlet studied at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and Blaise Pascal University in Clermont-Ferrand, where he majored in French literature while also studying communications, music, and arts administration.

“I am very pleased that Emmanuel is joining us as artistic director,” said President Armiñana. “His international experience working with world-class performers and emerging artists is just the right mix for the excellence of the Green Music Center and Weill Hall. His work has been of the highest caliber and we are pleased to provide him a new canvas on which he can further the arts in the North Bay and beyond.”

“Emmanuel is the ideal person to serve as our artistic director.  His unique background of bringing different cultures together through music and the arts bodes for an exciting future as we continue to attract the world’s best artists to our widely acclaimed venue.  He and his family will be a terrific addition to the Sonoma County community and we look forward to welcoming them and working together,” said Sandy Weill, Chairman of the GMC Board of Advisors.

“I want to thank our campus committee of faculty, staff, and student representation, as well as the GMC Board of Advisors who conducted an extended search for the artistic director position, said Executive Director Larry Furukawa-Schlereth.

Furukawa-Schlereth will carry on in his role as executive leader of the GMC, working alongside the Board of Advisors and overseeing the staff and operations of the year-round performance center.

Nestled in the picturesque foothills of Northern California’s esteemed wine country, the GMC is a focal point for arts in the region, with its spectacular 1400-seat Weill Hall. A program of Sonoma State University (SSU), the GMC’s inaugural season launched in fall 2012 with an international array of top classical, jazz, and world music presentations. Earlier this year, a first-of-its-kind collaboration was announced between SSU and The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education.

--Karen Ames Communication

San Francisco Girls Chorus Announces New Artistic Leadership: Composer-Vocalist and SFGC Alumna Lisa Bielawa Named Artitist Director
Montpellier National Opera and Symphony Youth Choral conductor Valerie Sainte-Agathe has been appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor.

The Board of Directors of the five-time Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) has announced its new artistic leadership. Composer-vocalist, long-time member of the Philip Glass Ensemble, seasoned choral music veteran and SFGC alumna Lisa Bielawa has been named Artistic Director, and Valerie Sainte-Agathe, former Musical Director for the Junior Opera and Young Singers program of the Montpellier National Symphony and Opera in Montpellier, France, will serve as Music Director and Principal Conductor. Bielawa will oversee the artistic vision and programming of the Chorus, forge compelling partnerships with other organizations and artists, engage audiences and uphold the highest standards of excellence and innovation for the 35-year-old Chorus. She will hold the primary responsibility for long-range artistic planning and programming for specific performances, collaborations, tours and recordings for Chorissima, the premier performing ensemble of the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Sainte-Agathe will conduct performances of Chorissima, develop the overall musicianship of its young artists focusing on vocal technique, music theory and history, as well as teaching and preparing repertoire for performances. She will work collaboratively with Ms. Bielawa in planning concerts, collaborations, tours and recordings for Chorissima. Bielawa will divide her time between New York and San Francisco. These appointments culminate a year-long search and a multi-year strategic planning process. For more information about the San Francisco Girls Chorus, visit

Natasha Hoehn, Chairman of the San Francisco Girls Chorus Board of Directors and SFGC alumna said, “We are pleased and honored to welcome Lisa Bielawa and Valerie Sainte-Agathe to the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Their roles, experience, dedication and energy perfectly match our vision and goals to be an outstanding performing ensemble made possible by a unique and rigorous choral training program pursuing collaborations, commissions with prominent artists and ensembles and creating opportunities for touring, recording and other projects.

“It is very exciting to have an illustrious Girls Chorus alumna as our new Artistic Director, affirming our 35-year history of excellence in musical training and performance and Lisa’s innovative, high-energy collaborative vision is perfectly suited to the Girls Chorus. Valerie Sainte-Agathe brings the highest standards of musicianship and a wealth of experience with young performers, musical organizations and educational programs in the US and abroad. The model of an Artistic Director and Music Director is a forward-looking one for a choral organization, but one with many successful precedents in the opera and orchestra worlds and it is well-suited to the Girls Chorus.”

Bielawa says about her new role: “In addition to composing, and touring and performing as a vocalist, I have always looked for ways to create musical community, both through specific projects and by working within organizations. Now that the MATA Festival is thriving under the leadership of a new generation of young composer directors, and now that my tenure as composer-in-residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project has ended, I am delighted to begin a new relationship with an organization that has been part of my musical life from the very beginning. For me it is a new vehicle for advocacy - of vital music-making; of community among audiences and music-lovers; and of young women in the music field.”

Sainte-Agathe says, "I am delighted to conduct the renowned San Francisco Girls Chorus.  In my years of conducting and teaching young singers in France, I have greatly enjoyed preparing talented young musicians for opera and choral performances and I am eager to begin working with such a highly accomplished ensemble as the Girls Chorus."

--Christina Jensen PR

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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

Contact Information

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa