Classical Music News of the Week, February 24, 2013

Rachel Podger Leads Philharmonia Baroque in The Italian Violin, a Concert of Virtuoso Violin Concerti, March 15-17 and 20, 2013, Berkeley - San Francisco - Standford

Violinist Rachel Podger, past leader of The English Concert, and regular collaborator with the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, leads Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra on a tour of virtuoso 18th century Italian concerti for one, two, and four violins. These concerts feature Philharmonia concertmasters, Elizabeth Blumenstock, Katherine Kyme, and Carla Moore, alongside Ms. Podger.

On the program is Antonio Vivaldi’s spirited Concerto for Two Violins in A major, from L’estro armonico, as well as Arcangelo Corelli’s Concerto Grosso No. 1 in D Major, and Giovanni Mossi’s Concerto for Four Violins in G major.

Rachel Podger was the leader of The English Concert from 1997-2002, frequently performing as the soloist in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, before becoming guest director at the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, which she led on an acclaimed tour with J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. She appears as guest director and soloist with numerous Baroque music ensembles in the United States and Europe, and teaches at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. Ms. Podger performs on a 1739 violin made in Genoa by Pesarinius, a late student of Antonio Stradivari.

The March edition of Philharmonia Baroque’s regular show on KDFC (90.3 San Francisco / 89.9 Wine Country / 104.9 San Jose) includes works by Vivaldi and other Italian composers - Sunday, March 10 at 8:00 PM. For more information, please visit or call 415-252-1288 x. 315.

Rachel Podger, violin and leader
Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Katherine Kyme, violin
Carla Moore, violin
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto for Violin in A major, RV 348
from La cetra, Op. 9 No. 2 and Concerto for Two Violins in A major, RV 519
from L’estro armonico, Op. 3 No. 5
Arcangelo Corelli: Concerto Grosso No. 1 in D major, Op. 6
Giovanni Mossi: Concerto for Four Violins in G minor, Op. 4 No. 12
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: Concerto for Violin in B-flat major
Pietro Locatelli: Concerto for Four Violins in F major No. 12, Op. 4

Featuring some of the 18th century’s most thrilling violin music, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra takes a whirlwind tour through the works of Vivaldi, Corelli, Pergolesi, and more. Led by Rachel Podger, an acclaimed interpreter of the Baroque period and guest director at Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the concert also features Philharmonia concertmasters Elizabeth Blumenstock, Katherine Kyme, and Carla Moore.

Friday, March 15, 2013 at 8:00 pm
San Francisco - Herbst Theater (401 Van Ness Avenue)

Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 8:00 pm
Berkeley - First Congregational Church (2345 Channing Way)

Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 7:30 pm
Berkeley - First Congregational Church (2345 Channing Way)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm
Stanford – Bing Concert Hall (327 Lasuen Mall) in partnership with Stanford Live
Tickets: Tickets start at $25.
Please visit us online at to purchase tickets.

--Ben Casement Stoll, Philharmonia Baroque

American Bach Soloists Present Bach, Vivaldi & Handel - March 1-4
Elizabeth Blumenstock, viola d’amore; Debra Nagy, oboe d’amore; and the American Bach Choir are featured in a program of concertos and choral works.

After a sensational start to the 2012-13 season with sold-out performances of Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, and intensely moving performances of Bach’s St. John Passion, the American Bach Soloists (ABS) turn their focus to concertos and psalm settings by the Baroque’s big three: Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi. Maestro Jeffrey Thomas and ABS will present a pair of glorious choral works that represent the epitome of 18th-century Roman and Venetian traditions: Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Vivaldi’s Beatus vir. These exuberant works for soloists, chorus, and orchestra will feature the American Bach Choir, an ensemble that “sets the standard in choral singing” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Vocal soloists will include soprano Kathryn Mueller, mezzo soprano Danielle Reutter-Harrah, baritone Robert Stafford, and, in his ABS debut, countertenor Eric Jurenas.

The instrumental portion of the program boasts two artists known for their abilities to communicate beauty and pathos through virtuosic performances. A frequent soloist and concertmaster with ABS, violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock is widely admired for her work with many of the finest period instrument ensembles in the country. Known for her “technical flair and melodic elegance” (San Francisco Chronicle), Blumenstock will be the soloist in one of Vivaldi’s enthralling concertos for viola d’amore, an exotic 12-stringed instrument with likely origins in Turkey or India. Vivaldi was a prolific composer of concertos—he wrote more than 500, including 350 for solo instruments, 230 of which were for solo violin—and this Concerto for Viola d’amore in D Major is a superb showcase for the instrument, rarely heard in solo concertos yet known for its especially beautiful timbre. Blumenstock performing as a featured soloist with ABS always generates thrilling musical results and this pairing of an exquisite composition and an extraordinary interpreter should not be missed.

Oboist Debra Nagy will be featured in Bach’s Concerto for Oboe d’amore, BWV 1055, composed for a solo instrument that, in name and tone, conjures images of love, with its warm and deeply rich tone. Hailed for her “dazzling technique and soulful expressiveness” (Rocky Mountain News), and recognized as “a Baroque oboist of consummate taste and expressivity” (Cleveland Plain Dealer), Nagy lends her sensitivity as a musical communicator to Bach’s work, which was once feared lost. Reconstructed from a later version for harpsichord, Bach’s original composition for oboe d’amore soloist—with its jubilant outer movements and poignant Larghetto—is an ideal setting for a performer of Nagy’s virtuosity.

A free, pre-concert lecture—“Insights”—by ABS oboist Debra Nagy will begin one hour prior to each performance.

Tickets: $20 - $60
For tickets or information, please visit or call 415-621-7900.

Bach, Handel & Vivaldi:
Handel: Dixit Dominus
Vivaldi: Beatus vir
Bach: Concerto for Oboe d’amore, BWV 1055
Vivaldi: Concerto for Viola d’amore, RV 392

Friday, March 1, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
St. Stephen’s Church, 3 Bayview Avenue at Golden Gate, Belvedere, California
Saturday, March 2, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way at Dana, Berkeley, California
Sunday, March 3, 2013, 4:00 p.m.
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 1111 O’Farrell Street at Franklin, San Francisco, California
Monday, March 4, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Davis Community Church, 412 C Street at Fourth, Davis, California

--Christopher D. Lewis, American Bach Soloists

Pianist Jeffrey Kahane Plays Liszt Transcriptions, Chopin Boat Music, Haas Piano Suite, and Music About His Dog in Recital on Sunday, March 10, in Hertz Hall, Berkeley, California
Pianist Jeffrey Kahane comes to Cal Performances on Sunday, March 10 at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall, playing an eclectic mix of works from the 16th to 21st centuries. Kahane began his musical career as an acclaimed solo pianist in the early 1980s, and later that decade expanded into orchestral conducting, where he earned additional accolades. Of late, he has returned to the intimate setting of the solo piano recital. Kahane performs “with expressive warmth and fleet-fingered high spirits” (Los Angeles Times).

Kahane’s program will lean heavily on the brilliant piano transcriptions of Franz Liszt. Liszt’s transcription for piano of J.S. Bach’s Organ Prelude and Fugue in A minor simulates the organ’s pedal parts with the left hand while retaining Bach’s intricate melodic figurations. Two other Liszt transcriptions—of Robert Schumann’s Widmung (Dedication) and Franz Schubert’s Auf dem Wasser zu singen (To be Sung on the Water)—cast these emotional lieder as equally heartfelt solo piano works. Another Schumann composition, the C major Fantasy, consists of three movements, the first of which is based on a motif from a Beethoven song cycle. The two works by New York–based musician (and Jeffrey’s son) Gabriel Kahane—Django: Tiny Variations on a Big Dog (commissioned by Jeffrey Kahane, the subject being the family dog) and Where are the Arms—were composed in the last five years. Pavel Haas’s Suite for Piano shows the Czech composer’s mastery of technique learned from his teacher Leoš Janá?ek, including the use of brief motives and folk-musical elements. Frédéric Chopin’s Barcarolle in F sharp Major is a transcendent, technically demanding example of a form—the “boat song” or “gondolier’s song”—that many composers wrote for 19th-century piano salons.

Jeffrey Kahane was born in Los Angeles in 1956 and began studying piano at age five. He trained with Howard Weisel and Jakob Gimpel, graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and in 1981 was a finalist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. In 1983 he won first prize at the Rubenstein Competition and received the Avery Fisher Career Grant; in 1987 he won the first Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award, and the next year made his conducting debut at the Oregon Bach Festival. He has appeared in recital and as soloist in major music centers throughout the United States, Europe, and Israel, and guest conducted orchestras and festival orchestras across the United States. He has also recorded widely, including works of Gershwin and Bernstein with Yo-Yo Ma. Kahane has been music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra since 1997, and in that capacity performed all five Beethoven piano concertos with the orchestra over two consecutive nights at the Hollywood Bowl in 2003—a feat he repeated twice in 2004. Kahane also served as director of the Colorado Symphony from 2005–2008, but a bout with hypertension—now controlled—led him to resign that post to focus more of his creative energy on piano performance.

Ticket information:
Tickets for Jeffrey Kahane, piano on Sunday, March 10 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; 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 10 at 3:00 p.m.                                             
Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley Campus
Way at Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, California
Koret Recital Series
Jeffrey Kahane, piano

Bach-Liszt: Organ Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543
Schumann: Fantasy in C, Op. 17
Haas: Suite for Piano, Op. 13
G. Kahane: Django: Tiny Variations on a Big Dog
G. Kahane: Where are the Arms
Schumann-Liszt: Widmung
Schubert-Liszt: Auf dem Wasser zu singen
Chopin: Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, Op. 60

Tickets: $42.00 subject to change, and are available through the Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at; and at the door.

--Christina Kellogg, Cal Performances

Longwood Gardens Announces Competitors for International Organ Competition
Longwood Gardens today announced the ten talented organists who will compete in the inaugural International Organ Competition.  The international performers will compete on the 10,010-pipe Longwood Organ for the $40,000 first prize. All contestants will compete in the preliminary rounds June 18-19, with the top five contestants competing in the final round on June 22. The competition takes place in the magnificent Ballroom at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Tickets are available now at

The competitors include:
Daria Burlak, 27, was born in Vladivostok, Russia. She began studying piano at age five in Moscow and studied at the Moscow State Central Music School, at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and at the Cologne Conservatory of Music.

Thomas Gaynor, 21, from Wellington, New Zealand, began his music studies at age 10 with piano lessons, moving on to the organ at 13. In 2004, he began an organ scholarship at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Wellington, New Zealand, a position he held for seven years until being awarded the title of Honorary Sub-Organist.

James Kennerley, 28, a native of the UK, is working as an organist, conductor, singer, coach, and educator. Kennerley has been Organist and Music Director at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Times Square, since 2008.

Jinhee Kim, 27, of Seoul, South Korea, studied organ with Dr. Tong-Soon Kwak at Yonsei University in Seoul. She graduated with highest honors and was awarded both the university designated scholarship and the Yonsei Alumni Scholarship.

Matthieu Latreille, 29, Quebec, Canada, received a Diplôme d'études supérieures en musique I from the Gatineau Conservatory of Music. In September 2005, he entered the organ class at the Montreal Conservatory, studying with Jean Le Buis.

Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvard, 30, began studying piano in France at age 4. He later studied organ, conducting, composition and improvisation at Conservatoire National Supérieur de musique de Paris where he graduated with honours.

Silviya Mateva, 27, of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, started studying piano at the age of seven and began her organ studies when she was 16.

Yuri McCoy, 28, of Huntington, West Virginia, is a first year graduate student at the Shepherd School of Music where he studies with Kenneth Cowan.

Adam Pajan, 26, a Monroeville, Pennsylvania native, is a DMA degree student in organ with a church music emphasis at the University of Oklahoma’s American Organ Institute where he studies with John Schwandt and is both a Graduate College Research Fellow and Graduate Assistant.

Benjamin SheenBenjamin Sheen, 23, from London, UK, is a first year Master's student at the Juilliard School in New York, studying with Paul Jacobs.

A distinguished panel of experts will judge the competition including Paul Jacobs, Chair of the Organ Department at The Juilliard School; Thomas Murray, Professor of Music at Yale University; Oliver Condy, Editor of BBC Music Magazine; Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin, Titular of the Grand Orgue of Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle in Paris; and Peter Richard Conte, Grand Court Organist of the renowned Wanamaker Organ and Principal Organist at Longwood Gardens.

“We are pleased to have ten such outstanding young organists competing in the inaugural Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition,” said Longwood Gardens Director Paul B. Redman. “They are truly among the finest young talents in the organ world today and we look forward to hearing them perform on The Longwood Organ and helping them to further their music careers.”

Longwood Organ is among the world’s largest concert organs, with 146 ranks and 10,010 pipes. After a seven-year restoration completed in 2011, the organ is restored to its original 1930 condition and incorporates today’s most innovative technology.  

The winner receives the $40,000 Pierre S. du Pont First Prize, a contract with Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists, and a 2013-14 performance at Longwood. Second place receives the Firmin Swinnen $15,000 prize and third place receives the Clarence Snyder $5,000 prize. Swinnen and Snyder were past resident organists at Longwood.

About Longwood Gardens:
Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s great gardens, encompassing 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ and a 4-acre conservatory. Longwood continues the mission set forth by founder Pierre S. du Pont to inspire people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education and the arts. More information at

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Eric Whitacre Singers U.S. Tour
The Grammy-Award winning ensemble makes its U.S. debut with appearances in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York March 18-21, 2013.

Visionary composer and conductor Eric Whitacre and the Eric Whitacre Singers – winners of the 2012 Grammy for Best Choral Performance for their Decca debut album Light & Gold – will embark on a four city US tour this March, marking the first American appearances for the American Whitacre’s UK-based namesake ensemble. The tour is presented by Distinguished Concerts International (DCINY) a creative producing entity and a presenting organization with a long history of collaboration with Whitacre.

The tour begins at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, MD (March 18) and goes on to Boston’s Symphony Hall (March 19), Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center (March 20), and finally New York’s Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center (March 21). The concert program, entitled Inspirations, will feature works from the  Eric Whitacre Singers’ Decca recordings – including Light & Gold and 2012’s Water Night – alongside works by American composers Morten Lauridsen and John Corigliano and beloved works by Monteverdi and Bach.

“This is, quite simply, one of the most exciting tours of my life,” writes Eric Whitacre about the upcoming American visit. “The Eric Whitacre Singers is a stunning group of musicians, singers and friends who brilliantly and uniquely combine intimacy and excellence in their performances. The idea of bringing them home to the U.S. for what I hope will be the first of many trips is thrilling beyond belief.”

March 18, 8 pm:
The Music Center at Strathmore, Bethesda, MD

March 19, 8 pm:
Symphony Hall Boston, MA

March 20, 8 pm:
Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, PA

March 21, 1 & 7 pm:
Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York, NY

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Joseph C. Phillips, Jr. Unveils Two New Works at Kaufman Music Center's Ecstatic Music Festival, Including Collaboration with Imani Uzuri
The polyglot composer leads Numinous in a pair of premieres commissioned by the postclassical music festival on March 16th at Merkin Concert Hall, New York City, NY.

Joseph C. Phillips, Jr. will unveil his two new works at the Ecstatic Music Festival, presented by Kaufman Music Center, as well as a brand new collaborative piece with the soulful songstress Imani Uzuri. They will perform on March 16th at 7:30 pm at Merkin Concert Hall (129 W. 67th Street, New York, NY 10023). Tickets ($25; $15 Students with ID) can be purchased by visiting or by calling 212 501 3330.

Brooklyn-based composer Joseph C. Phillips, Jr., an adamant proponent of individuality over genre affiliation, unlocks his earliest musical influences in Changing Same, a new piece commissioned by the Ecstatic Music Festival. The piece is also a central element for the forthcoming disc of Phillips’s music that is being planned for release by New Amsterdam Records. With a title inspired by Amiri Baraka’s seminal 1966 essay “The Changing Same (R&B and the New Black Music),” Changing Same acknowledges the black popular music that infiltrated Phillips’ childhood.

“This piece is a philosophical and musical departure for me,” explains Phillips, who was struck by the indie/alt-classical scene’s penchant for art rock as source material for new chamber works and wanted to apply this sensibility to black vernacular music. Over the course of six movements, Schoenberg sidles up against Curtis Mayfield, Bach collides with Donny Hathaway, Prince gives way to Holst and the Love Train gets a joyous minimalist-tinged makeover. The result is a highly personal musical memoir that follows an emotional arc from youthful whimsy through existential despair and finally transcendent joy.

“For the opening movement, I basically ask is it possible to make Schoenberg funky,” says Phillips. “And throughout the piece I am responding to memories of my early musical heritage through the unavoidable prism of my life and musical interests since then. In many ways this is a journey ‘home’, a genuine search for an organic fusion of artistic and cultural influences, to create a new personal artistic statement that is more than the sum of its parts. This is what I mean when I describe my work as mixed music.”

As the Ecstatic Music Festival’s stock-in-trade is devising intriguing musical matches, Phillips will also be teaming up with the alluring, globally-minded vocalist and composer Imani Uzuri. Like Phillips, Uzuri’s eclectic style and musical versatility makes it impossible for her to be pigeonholed into any one genre. “We both make music that is hard to define and really embrace individuality,” says Phillips. “There’s also a clear spirituality in both of our music although we come at it differently.” If Phillips’s music evokes the cool aesthetic of a scientist beholden to the beauty of the universe, with the elegant scores to go with it, Uzuri’s is steeped in oral tradition and earthly passion.

Their collaboration has resulted in a five-movement piece inspired by the themes of awe and humility that exploits these different perspectives, with Phillips setting a starry poem by Heinrich Heine and an excerpt from Jhumpa Lahiri’s novella The Namesake. For her part, Uzuri has set Mary Oliver’s poem “Peonies” and a self-penned text.

The other piece on the program is an original multi-voice and multi-instrument musical suite by Uzuri titled Placeless, with orchestrations by Phillips. This work explores the loaded concept of “home” and makes use of the Psalms, the writings of Sufi mystic and poet Rumi and the folk hymnody African-American Spirituals.

All music will be performed by Phillips’s chamber orchestra Numinous, which features some of NYC’s most intrepid and versatile musicians. The Ecstatic concert follows on the heels of a screening of Ernst Lubitsch’s recently restored silent film The Loves of Pharaoh, which featured Phillips’s critically acclaimed new score that was commissioned for the 2012 BAM Next Wave Festival, and To Begin the World Over Again, a collaboration between Phillips and choreographer Edisa Weeks that explored the revolutionary writings of Thomas Paine.

--Julia Casey, BuckleSweet Media

Baritone Nathan Gunn Comes to Cal Performances Saturday, March 9, at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church in Berkeley, California
After receiving rave reviews as Papageno in the San Francisco Opera’s recent production of The Magic Flute, Nathan Gunn fans have a chance to hear him perform in the intimate setting of First Congregational Church in Berkeley, CA, on Saturday, March 9 at 8:00 p.m. With his compelling stage presence and musical versatility, Gunn will give a program that blends classical and contemporary songs. The first half of the concert will consist of Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann lieder, while the second half will feature works by Samuel Barber, Charles Ives and William Bolcom. Gunn will be accompanied on piano by Julie Gunn, his collaborator and wife. “He brings all kinds of excellence to his work: musical intelligence, crisp rhythmic delivery and sensitivity to the text, impressive acting skills, and daring physicality” (The New York Times).

Nathan Gunn was born in 1970 in South Bend, Indiana. After graduating from the University of Illinois he participated in the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artists Program and, at 24, won the Met’s National Council Audition. He has since won accolades and awards, including the 2006 Beverly Sills Career Grant and in 2008 was included in People magazine’s “The Sexiest Men Alive” list.

Known for his dramatic talents, Gunn recently played the titular role in Billy Budd, a recording of which won the 2010 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. This season, Gunn will return to the Metropolitan Opera as Raimbaud in Le Comte d’Ory before heading to the Dallas Opera to play the Lodger in Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers. In addition to his opera roles, Gunn maintains a busy recital and concert schedule. He has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Chicago, Boston and London symphony orchestras. Recital appearances have been given at Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall.

Ticket information:
Tickets for Nathan Gunn on March 9 at 8:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church are $56.00, 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 students, faculty and staff, senior, and community rush tickets.  For more information about discounts, call (510) 642-9988 or go to

--Christina Kellogg, Cal Performances 

Borough’s Brightest Belters in “Operation Brooklyn”
AOP and Opera on Tap showcase music from New Opera’s Decoration, Windows and Smashed.
On Saturday, March 23, 7:30pm, AOP (American Opera Projects) and Opera on Tap will present a new installment of their acclaimed series, "OPERAtion Brooklyn" a semi-annual festival that highlights Brooklyn as the cultural epicenter for progressive works of opera and classical music. Audiences will be guided around multiple floors of ART-NY's South Oxford Space (138 S. Oxford St., Brooklyn, NY 11217) in Fort Greene, Brooklyn to hear music from new operas by local talents Mikael Karlsson, James Barry and Zach Redler. Tickets are $20, available at The evening will run 1 hour, thirty minutes.

From a prostitute who is desperately in love with her pimp to a teenage father whose baby will not stop crying, six short monodramas conspire to explore the diverse life situations of the individuals in Windows, a new work by composer Zach Redler and librettist Sara Cooper. The 40-minute staged song-cycle will feature performances by Sumayya Ali, Amelia Watkins, Jeffrey Gavett, Justin Hopkins, Brittney Redler, and Etai BenShlomo. Noah Himmelstein directs with Mila Henry on piano.

Opera on Tap will present a preview of their latest project, SMASHED: The Carrie Nation Story, by James Barry and Timothy Braun, which premieres April 4-6 at HERE Arts Center in the Dorothy B. Williams Theater. Based loosely on the life and memoirs of temperance leader Carrie A. Nation, this absurdly comic opera about drinking booze (and about the people who don't) was commissioned by Opera on Tap for the inauguration of its Roadwork Series that creates operas in New York City that are subsequently presented by Opera On Tap chapters around the country. The OPERAtion Brooklyn preview will be conducted by Conrad Chu with stage direction by Jenny Lee Mitchell with Mila Henry on piano and performances by Patricia Vital, Seth Gilman, Joseph Flaxman, Michael Bragg, Cameron Russell, Christiana Little, Kayleigh Butcher, and soprano Krista Wozniak as the ax-wielding moral vigilante.

Two sisters, one pregnant and one dying, confront rabbits, diapers and the end of time itself in Decoration, music by Mikael Karlsson, libretto by the composer and David Flodén. Presented by AOP, in collaboration with Manhattan School of Music, scenes from the opera will feature mezzo-sopranos Rebecca Ringle and Raehann Bryce-Davis, soprano Margreth Fredheim, and baritone Jason Cox, direction by Caren France, and Scott Rednour on the piano.

--Matt Gray, Opera Projects

Beijing Guitar Duo in Concert with Manuel Barrueco, Saturday, March 9, 2013, 8:00 p.m., at the 92nd Street Y, New York City, NY
Manuel Barrueco is internationally recognized as one of the most important guitarists of our time. His unique artistry has been continually described as that of a superb instrumentalist and a superior and elegant musician, possessing a seductive sound and uncommon lyrical gifts.

The Beijing Guitar Duo is composed of Meng Su and Yameng Wang, who met at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, China, where they both studied with Chen Zhi. In 2006, they met Manuel Barrueco while he was on tour in Hong Kong. At his personal invitation, they applied and were accepted to the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, where they continued their studies with Mr. Barrueco. At his recommendation, they formed their duo.

DIABELLI: Trio in F major, Op. 62
TORROBA: Estampas
DUN: Eight Memories in Watercolor (trans. Barrueco) New York premiere
SIERRA: Sonata New York premiere, dedicated to Manuel Barrueco
S. ASSAD: The Enchanted Island New York premiere, dedicated to both Mr. Barrueco and the Beijing Guitar Duo
PIAZZOLLA: Fuga y Misterio

Pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. with Benjamin Verdery of Yale University.
Tickets are available at or 212-415-5500.

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

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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