Classical Music News of the Week, March 24, 2013

Rise Stevens Dies at 99

Mezzo-soprano opera star Rise Stevens, who sang with the Metropolitan Opera for more than 20 years spanning the 1940s and 1950s, has died. She was 99. Stevens died Wednesday night at her Manhattan home, said her son, Nicolas Surovy.

Stevens started singing with the Met in 1938, on tour in Philadelphia. Among her greatest roles was the title character in the opera "Carmen," which she sang for 124 performances. The Met called her "a consummate artist, treasured colleague, and devoted supporter of the company for 75 years."

Stevens knew that the soaring notes and huge themes of opera "was her medium," Surovy said. "She knew it, felt it, lived it." Always one to chart her own way, Stevens turned down an early chance to sing at New York's Metropolitan Opera when she felt she needed more study in Europe. She turned her back on Hollywood in the 1940s after roles in two successful films because she loved opera so. And in 1961, she retired from performing opera, saying she wanted to bow out when she still had a great voice.

"It always bothered me, these great singers when I heard them again and again, remembering how magnificent they sounded once and no more," she said.

While she largely left performing behind, she remained active behind the scenes as an administrator of a touring opera company and as an educator, helping to foster the growth of opera across the country and the rise of singers trained in the U.S.

--Deepti Hajela, Associated Press

The National Philharmonic, in Residence at the Music Center at Strathmore, Announces 2013-2014 Season
Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski and the National Philharmonic, in residence at the Music Center at Strathmore, today announced its 2013-2014 concert season featuring superstar violinist Sarah Chang performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; cellist Zuill Bailey playing the complete cello works of Robert Schumann; and pianist Brian Ganz, continuing his cycle of music by Chopin. The season will also showcase the music of Handel, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Verdi, among others.

In its tenth year of residency at the Music Center at Strathmore, the National Philharmonic is performing to nearly 50,000 people each year. The Philharmonic will continue its commitment to education and outreach by offering free concerts to every second and fifth grade student in Montgomery County Public Schools, free pre-concert lectures, master classes with renowned guest soloists and high quality summer string and choral programs.

The success of the Philharmonic over the past 30 years is largely credited to its critically acclaimed performances that are filled with great, time-tested music and its family friendly approach. All young people age 7 to 17 attend National Philharmonic concerts free of charge through its unique ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program.

Repeat Sunday matinee performances of the Philharmonic’s most popular programs (seven concerts in total) will also be offered again this year. In addition, concertgoers can attend National Philharmonic’s pre-concert lectures on featured composers and music 75 minutes before performances.

The 2013-2014 season will feature performances with such great artists as violinists Sarah Chang and Soovin Kim; pianists Brian Ganz, Thomas Pandolfi and Gabriela Martinez; cellist Zuill Bailey; sopranos Danielle Talamantes , Rosa Lamoreaux and Julie Keim; and mezzo-sopranos Magdalena Wór and Margaret Mezzacappa, among others. It will include music by Handel, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Verdi, among others.

Highlights include:
Season kickoff concert featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor and Violin Concerto with violinist Soovin Kim.
Violinist Sarah Chang performing Vivaldi’s most popular work, The Four Seasons.
Cellist Zuill Bailey playing an all-Schumann recital plus the composer’s lyrical Cello Concerto.
Award-winning pianist Brian Ganz in his fourth all-Chopin recital at Strathmore and a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
A concert performance of a new opera, Lost Childhood, by American composer Janice Hamer, which explores one boy’s struggle to survive the horrors of the Holocaust.
A performance of Verdi’s powerful and timeless Requiem with two recent winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions—mezzo-soprano Margaret Mezzacappa and tenor William Davenport.
Bach’s Mass in B minor with soprano Rosa Lamoreaux, tenor Matthew Smith and the National Philharmonic Chorale.
An all-Strauss concert with pianist Thomas Pandolfi.
Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 with National Symphony Orchestra concert master Nurit Bar-Josef.
National Philharmonic’s annual “impressive” and “splendidly rich-toned” (The Washington Post) holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah.

For the fifth year, National Philharmonic is offering its subscribers a flexible custom series. This allows subscribers to create their own packages and receive discounts of 15-30% on tickets, depending on the number of concerts that are ordered. Season and subscription information are available at or by calling 301-581-5100. Single tickets will be on sale in August 2013.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

92nd Street Y Announces Its 2013-2014 Concert Season, Hanna Arie-Graifman, Director
Season Highlights:
Season-opening concert with pianist and YouTube Sensation Valentina Lisitsa in her first solo recital in New York; 92Y audience and Lisitsa fans will choose from among three possible programs. Legendary Hagen Quartet celebrates 30th Anniversary with Beethoven’s complete string quartets —
First North American performance of the cycle at 92Y in November. Brentano String Quartet: New York premieres of quintets by Eric Moe, Vijay Iyer and Felipe Lara with guest performers. A tribute to influential guitarist Andrés Segovia. Premieres and commissions by Vijay Iyer, Felipe Lara, Eric Moe, Tamar Muskal, Esa-Pekka Salonen and George Tsontakis. New partnership with New York Philharmonic: Yefim Bronfman chamber concert and CONTACT! new-music series. New “Listen Up” series offers adventurous programming in a relaxed atmosphere to expanded audiences

Plus, 92Y debuts by accordionist Julien Labro, guitarists Xuefei Yang and Oscar Ghiglia, Kremerata Baltica, soprano Christine Brandes, pianists Olga Kern, Jenny Lin and Vijay Iyer, and the Cypress String Quartet. Returning artists include pianists Jonathan Biss, Yefim Bronfman, Jeremy Denk and Peter Serkin, cellist Steven Isserlis, and guitarists Eliot Fisk, David Russell and Jason Vieaux, among many others.

Subscription packages are available at or 212-415-5500. Single tickets on sale July 2013.

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Music Institute Welcomes Two Academy Faculty Members: Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Richard Hirschl, DePaul University’s Ilya Kaler
The Music Institute of Chicago is pleased to welcome two new faculty members, cellist Richard Hirschl and violinist Ilya Kaler, to its prestigious Academy program for gifted pre-college musicians. Founded in 2006, the Academy’s instructional model places significant focus on the student-teacher relationship. The 25 carefully assembled faculty members include teaching artists with a passion for developing young talent and established reputations for nurturing student achievement.

“I am eager to join the outstanding faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy,” said cellist Richard Hirschl. “The students I know who have attended the Academy have been so well served that I am delighted to be associated with such a fine institution.”

Richard Hirschl earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Leonard Rose and Channing Roberts. He went on to serve as an associate teacher at Juilliard before moving to Chicago and joining the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s cello section in 1989.

Ilya Kaler, currently professor of violin at DePaul University, has won Gold Medals at three of the world’s most prestigious competitions: Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, and Paganini. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Moscow Conservatory. He served as concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as well as guest concertmaster with the Aspen Music Festival and the Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Baltimore Orchestras.

“I am happy to be joining the Academy faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago,” said Kaler. “This distinguished organization has produced hundreds of outstanding musicians during its existence, unparalleled by any in the world. I strongly believe it to be a cultural pillar of the community, contributing enormously to the growth and education of our children. I am greatly looking forward to working side by side with my outstanding colleagues at the Music Institute.”

Spring auditions for the 2013–14 Academy session take place Thursday, April 25, 3–8 p.m. at the Music Institute’s Thoresen Performance Center, 300 Green Bay Road, Winnetka. Additional auditions take place on Sunday, April 28, 12–4 p.m. at the Music Institute’s Lake Forest Campus, 40 East Old Mill Road. For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

ArtistWorks Classical Campus: The Worldwide Interactive Online Learning Community for Classical Musicians Offers Student the Ability to Study with World-Class Teaching Artists in a Virtual Master-Class Setting
ArtistWorks Classical Campus is the first and only interactive, worldwide online learning community for classical musicians, offering aspiring professionals and enthusiastic amateurs the unprecedented opportunity to take lessons with esteemed soloists, conservatory teachers, and principal players of leading orchestras (including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Pittsburgh Symphony) in a virtual master class setting. Seven instruments are currently available for study: violin, piano, flute, clarinet, horn, trumpet, and guitar.

ArtistWorks democratizes classical music education, allowing students anywhere in the world access to lessons with top-tier teaching artists, removing the barriers of time, location, and cost. Membership in the ArtistWorks Classical Campus is offered at an affordable $90 for 3 months, $150 for 6 months, or $240 for 12 months.

The ArtistWorks Classical Campus includes instructors Jeffrey Khaner (Principal Flutist, Philadelphia Orchestra, Curtis Institute); David Bilger (Principal Trumpet, Philadelphia Orchestra, Curtis Institute, University of Georgia, Temple University); Ricardo Morales (Principal Clarinetist, Philadelphia Orchestra, Curtis Institute, Juilliard, Temple University); William Caballero (Principal French Horn, Pittsburgh Orchestra, Carnegie Mellon University School of Music); violinist Nathan Cole (First Associate Concertmaster, Los Angeles Philharmonic); guitarist Jason Vieaux (Curtis Institute, Cleveland Institute of Music); and pianist Christie Peery (Peabody Institute).

The Classical Campus uses ArtistWorks’ Video Exchange™ Feedback Platform, which combines the best of online learning with the best of face-to-face lessons. Membership provides students with unlimited access to a comprehensive collection of streamed video music lessons. Each expert teacher has personally developed their curriculum through the ArtistWorks school, resulting in hundreds of illuminating online lessons that explore technique and fundamentals, etudes, key orchestral excerpts, and solo repertoire.

When students want feedback, they submit videos of their own practices sessions, and receive video responses from their teachers with personalized guidance. All online student-teacher interactions are visible to the entire membership, resulting in a virtual master class where each student can benefit from one-on-one teaching.

Instructors of the ArtistWorks Classical Campus are motivated by a desire to share knowledge of their instruments with as wide an audience as possible – from high school and college students preparing for auditions, to amateurs who studied in their youth but pursued other professions, to aspiring multi-instrumentalists.

“The possibilities with ArtistWorks are really terrific,” says flute instructor Jeffrey Khaner. “I can work with people all around the world. It offers me unprecedented direct access to the students, and it offers them direct access to me. It’s a very cutting edge way of teaching classical music. The potential for how people can use ArtistWorks is limitless.”

Within their ArtistWorks schools, students are encouraged to participate as much as they like – chatting online, posting questions and comments to forums about their instrument, and even seeking out others to play music with in person, fostering a diverse virtual community centered around students’ common goals of learning and improving their musicianship.

“The dream of every student is to study under a world-renowned master,” says David Butler, CEO of ArtistWorks. “The ArtistWorks Classical Music Campus makes this dream a reality by offering music students everywhere an opportunity to get direct guidance and individualized instruction from some of the greatest classical musicians teaching and performing today.”

For more information, visit

--Christina Jensen PR

“Zelda” Is Coming Back to San Francisco
Back by popular demand, “The Legend Of Zelda: Symphony Of The Goddesses” returns to Davies Symphony Hall on June 10 with breathtaking new material.

As part of the global “The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses” tour” for 2013, the acclaimed concert will revisit Davies Symphony Hall on June 10 and once again capture the hearts of video game enthusiasts and music lovers. Following the huge success of the tour in 2011 and 2012, concert goers in Bay Area will be able to journey back to Hyrule and enjoy a new season of breathtaking new material exploring even more chapters from the Zelda franchise, in addition to the beautifully orchestrated four-movement symphony from last season.

Based on one of the most popular and beloved video game series of all time, the tour—which has been hailed as a modern classic—features live orchestral performances of theme music from Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda franchise. The name "Symphony of the Goddesses" refers not only to the concert program but also to the four-movement symphony recounting the classic storylines from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Eímear Noone will conduct the full orchestra with arrangements by music director Chad Seiter.

“Last year’s Zelda concert in San Francisco was truly magical,” notes Jason Michael Paul, CEO of Jason Michael Paul Productions, which is producing the concert tour. “Now, we are thrilled to return to Davies with incredible new material. Plus, I live in the Bay Area, so this is a sort of wonderful hometown show for me as well as the concert series,” adds Paul.

Guests will relish in their favorite moments from the game, carefully and beautifully timed with a gorgeous orchestral score approved by Nintendo sound director and Zelda franchise composer, Koji Kondo. The concert is a festive experience for all walks of fans, some of which have been known to attend donning green tunics while wielding legendary master swords. Cosplay encouraged!

To view a complete tour schedule with ticketing information, and also sign up for a regularly updated digital newsletter, visit

--Jeannine Jacobi, Fresh PR

News from American Bach Soloists
Mischa Bouvier and Mary Wilson to perform Bach and Handel, May 3 - 6, 2013 in Belvedere, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Davis, California.

Our 2013 main subscription series will close in early May with a program that features two brilliant vocal soloists in the title roles of Handel's dramatic and exquisite cantata Apollo and Dafne, written when the composer was in Venice.

Soprano Mary Wilson, whose performances in December of Handel's Messiah and motet, Laudate pueri, were nothing less than phenomonal, will also sing Handel's motet, Silete venti. And baritone Mischa Bouvier, "discovered" by ABS at our 2010 Academy, will perform a group of bravura Bach arias that also feature ABS flutist Sandra Miller, 'cellist William Skeen, violone player Steven Lehning, and organist Corey Jamason.

May 3 - 6 2013 in Belvedere, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Davis
Tickets and more information:   

The next month, the 2013 FESTIVAL features mastworks by Bach, Handel, and Biber, July 12 - 21, 2013, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

This year’s American Bach Soloists Festival and Academy will focus on masterworks by Bach and Handel and the rich tradition of musical splendor and imagination from the pens of Heinrich Biber, Johann Schmelzer, and Georg Muffat.

A program, called "The Glories of Salzburg," will feature Biber's 53-part polychoral extravagance for nine different groups of instruments, probably the largest-scaled surviving work from the Baroque period. First performed in Salzburg's stunning cathedral by "choirs" of trumpets, trombones, strings, cornettos, viols, recorders, oboes, continuo instruments, and two eight-part vocal ensembles, this rare performance will feature the combined forces of the American Bach Soloists and Academy members. Other large works by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, one of the most celebrated and demanding composers of the 17th Century, will be performed.

ABS musicians will present chamber works by Bach and Telemann, among others, and Handel’s Esther, known as the first English oratorio, will be performed by members of the 2013 Academy. Distinguished Artist Tanya Tomkins will present a solo recital and free public lecture/demonstrations on Bach’s Suites for Solo Violoncello. And, each Festival weekend will culminate with a performance of Bach’s magnificent Mass in B Minor. More than a dozen free events are offered.

FESTIVAL: July 12 - 21, 2013 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

--American Bach Soloists

Orion Concludes 20th Anniversary Season with “Folk Inspirations with a Mexical Flair,” Featuring Miguel de la Cerna World Premiere
Márquez, Ponce, Brahms Also on Program May 5 (Geneva, Il), 8 (Chicago, Il), 12 (Evanston, Il)

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, concludes its 20th Anniversary Season with “Folk Inspirations with a Mexican Flair,” welcoming back violinist-violist Stephen Boe and featuring a 20th anniversary commission by jazz musician Miguel de la Cerna. Performances take place May 5 at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church in Geneva, Il, May 8 at Roosevelt University’s Ganz Memorial Hall in Chicago, and May 12 at Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.

Following his triumphant first work for Orion during the 2011–12 season, Miguel de la Cerna returns to contribute a 20th anniversary commission. Almas Perdidas (Lost Souls) is based on the experience of the indigenous people of the Americas—according to the composer, “those, in particular, who lost their lives mostly due to exposure to germs carried by European explorers. It is a one-movement piece based on a 12-tone row, but not limited to serial rules. I like to call it romantic serialism with jazz elements.”

Two delightful, though very different, works by Mexican composers provide a hint of the breadth of music coming from the U.S.’s neighbor to the south.

Mexican composer Manuel Ponce wrote his Piano Trio (Romantico) in 1912, the same year he composed his well-known song “Estrella.” He is responsible for musically bringing the world to Mexico and Mexican music to the world through his compositions, performances and lectures. He had a long association with guitarist Andreas Segovia, and his music employs a range of styles, including romantic, nationalistic, impressionist and avant-garde.

Several generations after Ponce, Arturo Márquez’s Zarabandeo for Clarinet and Piano reflects his interest in dance music from Cuba, as well as his family background in mariachi and Mexican folk music. Its rhythmic play gives a feel of improvisation and a sense of joy and freedom. In addition to works for orchestra, he wrote ballet and film music, and he continued to use Mexican, Cuban and Latin American musical resources, combined with rhythms and melodic ideas from 20th century popular urban music.

Johannes Brahms’ Quartet in G Minor for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, Op. 25, one of two referred to as the Hamburg Quartets, shows characteristics of the young composer, along with hints of the more mature Brahms. For example, like many of his early works, the movements are large and have many themes. Although the textures are thick, with the piano and strings often doubling or contrasting each other, there are hints, especially in the second movement, of the more mysterious and somber colors that became characteristic in his later oeuvre. The third movement combines lyricism with grandeur, and the final “Gypsy” movement is among the most exciting in the repertoire.

The Orion Ensemble’s “Folk Inspirations with a Mexican Flair” concert program takes place Sunday, May 5 at 7 p.m. at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, 227 East Side Drive in Geneva, Il; Wednesday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Roosevelt University’s Ganz Memorial Hall, 430 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; admission is free for children 12 and younger. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets.

For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

The Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition Finals Concert, Monday, April 1 at 8:00 p.m. in Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) and the New York Opera Studio (NYOS) present the Finalist Concert of the 3rd edition of the Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition on Monday, April 1 at 8:00 pm at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Chosen from an outstanding field of up-and-coming singers, eight candidates have been invited to perform one oratorio selection and one opera aria on the evening’s concert program. At the conclusion of the Finals Concert, one male and one female singer will be declared this year’s Master Singers.

This finalists are: mezzo-soprano Teresa Buchholz, tenor David Guzman, and soprano Heather Phillips, all from New York City; bass-baritone Stephen Lancaster from South Bend, Indiana; soprano Kimberly Giordano from Kirkland, Washington; soprano Jill Dewsnup from Fruit Heights, Utah; baritone Jeremy Ludwig from Toronto; and Spanish tenor Aurelio Gabaldon, from Madrid

The Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition for aspiring singers (from age 21 with no upper age limit) who wish to advance their careers to the next level, acknowledges excellence in vocal technique and artistry in the fields of opera and oratorio. The competition is overseen by the legendary artist and scholar Nico Castel, a member of the Metropolitan Opera Company for 40 years. The undisputed and internationally acclaimed expert on language, diction and style for singers, Mr. Castel is currently on the faculty of The Juilliard School of Music and teaches master classes for singers at universities and opera companies throughout the world.

Joining Mr. Castel on the Finals Jury are Jonathan Griffith, DCINY Co-Founder, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor with over 25 years of conducting experience across the globe; Metropolitan Opera conductor Paul Nadler; opera conductor Lucy Arner; Piano accompanist and Manhattan School of Music Faculty member Tom Muraco; and soprano Jennifer Ringo Conlon.

Each 2012 Nico Castel International Master Singer will be awarded a $1,000 prize in addition to a soloist role in a major choral masterwork with orchestra in an upcoming DCINY Concert Season. Most recently, 2012 male winner, baritone LaMarcus Miller was featured in Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man, presented at Carnegie Hall in January. The audience will also have the opportunity to show their appreciation by texting their vote for “Audience Favorite” during the intermission.

Founded by Iris Derke (General Director) and Jonathan Griffith (Artistic Director and Principal Conductor) Distinguished Concerts International is driven by passion, innovative vision, a total belief in its artists, and unwavering commitment to bringing forth unforgettable audience experiences.

Tickets: or 212-247-7800 or in person at the Carnegie Hall Box Office.

--Shira Gilbert, DCINY

Helmuth Rilling Steps Down; Matthew Halls Steps Up
Helmuth Rilling will celebrate his 80th birthday and his concluding season as founding artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival with a total of 60 events between June and July 14th 2013 and on July 6th the Stuttgart-born Bach expert will ceremoniously pass the Festival’s leadership on to his successor Matthew Halls in a concert where the pair share the podium. Rilling will conduct the Brahms Double Concerto for violin and cello in the first half of the program and Matt Halls steps forward in the second half to  conduct Mendelssohn’s Psalm 95 and Brahms’s Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny).

Halls, who was designated as the OBF's next artistic director in 2011, also conducts "A Night at the Opera" July 2 as the centerpiece of three concerts honoring the anniversaries of Verdi, Wagner, and Benjamin Britten. Soprano Tamara Wilson is featured in the opera program, which includes, from Verdi, Pace, pace, mio Dio from La Forza del Destino and Ernani! Ernani, involami from Ernani; Wagner's Prelude & Liebstod from Tristan and Isolde; and the Four Sea Interludes and arias from Britten's Peter Grimes.

An "Anniversary Soiree" July 1 showcases OBF vocal soloists in works by Britten and other celebrated composers with 2013 milestones: Lutoslawski, Poulenc, and Hindemith. On July 3 the piano duo of Ya-Fei Chuang and Robert Levin explore piano transcriptions, souvenirs, and fantasies of Verdi and Wagner themes.

In the case of the British conductor Matthew Halls, the description “versatile” is more than richly deserved. Halls first came to prominence as an acclaimed keyboard player, but was soon conducting regularly. Now, he has established himself in Europe as one of today’s leading young conductors, and is rapidly gaining an equally enthusiastic following on podiums in North American concert halls and opera houses. Mr. Halls has been named Artistic Director Designate of the renowned Oregon Bach Festival, where he will take over from founding Artistic Director Helmuth Rilling following the 2013 season.

Beyond the early music repertoire with which he launched his conducting career, Halls has demonstrated equal skill as a conductor of later Germanic works, particularly Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann and Schubert. His interpretation of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony was called a “brilliantly rich and rewarding rendition” (Exeter Express and Echo), and in his reading of Mozart’s “Paris” Symphony with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, “he reconciled elegance and pomp in the first movement, emphasized the graceful in the second and gave the last a seal of skittish vitality” (Ösgöta Correspondenten). Upcoming programs in Dublin, Houston, and Washington DC will include works by Ravel, Dutilleux, Vaughan-Williams, Beethoven, Dvorak and Rachmaninov, and he is moving increasingly into explorations of the choral and orchestral works of his countrymen Benjamin Britten, William Byrd, and Michael Tippett.

--Schwalbe and Partners

Brooklyn’s AOP to Select Composers, Librettists for Free Training in the Fundamentals of Opera. Applications Now Available for 7th Season of “Composers & the Voice” Program Beginning in Fall, 2013
American Opera Projects (AOP) announces the return of its popular Composers & the Voice program for its 2013-14 season. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, six composers or composer/librettist teams will be selected for a year-long fellowship, working with the company's Reside  nt Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team. Applications and additional information can be found at AOP's website The deadline for applications is May 17, 2013. All sessions will be at AOP's home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and opera stage. The workshop sessions between September 2013 and April 2014, include composition of solo works for six voice types (coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone and bass) and "Skill-Building Sessions" for composers and librettists in acting, improv games, and libretto development, providing an in-depth and firsthand knowledge of how singers build characters, act in scenes and sing text.

"I can think of no better forum for a composer with a passion for learning the traditions of so-called progressive American opera theater than AOP's program," said opera composer and guest C&V instructor Daron Hagen.

Previous seasons of Composers & the Voice have featured guest lectures from notable artists such as composer Mark Adamo (Little Women, Lysistrata) and librettist Mark Campbell (Volpone, Later That Same Evening). Past "Composer Chairs," sponsorships named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice, have included Mr. Adamo and composers John Corigliano, Tan Dun, Daron Hagen, John Musto, Richard Peaslee, Tobias Picker, Kaija Saariaho, Stephen Schwartz, and the late Lee Hoiby.

At the end of the program, AOP will present the results of the participants' work in public performances - First Glimpse, a concert of songs in Spring 2014, and Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes in Fall 2014. One of these operas-in-progress will be selected to receive a staged reading at Manhattan School of Music in Spring 2015. AOP has an eight-year relationship with Manhattan School of Music Opera Studies Program, in which students work alongside the composer and librettist and other professionals provided by AOP.

More information available at

--American Opera Projects

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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to

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

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa