Classical Music News of the Week, April 14, 2013

Berkeley Symphony Announces 2013-2014 Season
 
The season is highlighted by world premieres from Edmund Campion and Samuel Carl Adams, in addition to Bay Area premieres from Esa-Pekka Salonen and Kaija Saariaho. The programs also feature masterworks from Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Beethoven and introduce audiences to mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, pianist Alessio Bax, and violinist Anthony Marwood.

Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony today announced programming for the 2013-2014 season including a world premiere by Edmund Campion, co-commissioned with Cal Performances; a world premiere work for violin and ensemble by Samuel Carl Adams; and the Bay Area premieres of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Nyx and Kaija Saariaho’s Adriana Songs.

Recognized for its exuberant spirit and steadfast commitment to presenting original and unique programs, Berkeley Symphony has received ASCAP awards for adventurous programming in eight of the past 11 seasons. The Orchestra continues this commitment with a 2013–2014 season that combines important contemporary works alongside masterworks of the standard repertoire including Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

“I am thrilled to continue the Orchestra’s passionate devotion to performing new works and to explore the relationships between composers past and present,” says Music Director Joana Carneiro. “Our audiences continue to welcome this exploration which enables us to pave the way for the repertory of tomorrow. I am honored to present two new world premieres by Berkeley composers, whom I have long admired, in addition to bringing Bay Area premieres by two of the finest contemporary composers of our generation. And with the combination of perhaps some of the most defining classical masterworks in history, our season will showcase the best of both worlds.”

For further information, visit the Berkeley Symphony Web site: http://www.berkeleysymphony.org

--Karen Ames Communications

Mezzo-Soprano Denyce Graves Performs Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody With National Philharmonic at Strathmore, North Bethesda, MD
Superstar mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves will perform Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody with the National Philharmonic, led by Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, on Saturday, May 4 at 8 pm and Sunday, May 5 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. The concert will also feature the composer’s Symphony No. 4 and Schicksalslied (“Song of Destiny”), performed by the Philharmonic’s nearly 200-voice Chorale.

Maryland-based mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves has garnered popular and critical acclaim worldwide for her expressive and rich voice, elegant stage presence and exciting theatrical gift. Recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting vocal stars, Ms. Graves continues to gather unparalleled popular and critical acclaim in performances on four continents. USA Today identifies her as "an operatic superstar of the 21st Century," and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution exclaims, "if the human voice has the power to move you, you will be touched by Denyce Graves."

Her career has taken her to the world's great opera houses and concert halls. The combination of her expressive, rich vocalism, elegant stage presence, and exciting theatrical abilities allows her to pursue a wide breadth of operatic portrayals and to delight audiences in concert and recital appearances. Ms. Graves has become particularly well known to operatic audiences for her portrayals of the title roles in Carmen and Samson et Dalila and in 2012-13, she brings into her repertoire the roles of Mrs. Miller (Doubt); Herodias (Salome); Katisha (The Mikado); and Emelda (Champion). Her concert tours abroad have included performances in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Peru, and Japan.

A work for alto, male chorus and orchestra, Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody was written in 1869 as a wedding gift for a daughter of fellow composers/pianists Robert and Clara Schumann. The Rhapsody is a setting of verses from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Harzreise im Winter poem, which portrays a suffering misanthrope who attempts to find spiritual sustenance.

Schicksalslied (“Song of Destiny”), a beloved work for chorus and orchestra, is characterized by lush harmonies and beautiful Romantic melodies. A choral setting of a poem written by Friedrich Hölderlin, the Schicksalslied  is considered to be Brahms’s greatest choral work.

The concert’s final work, Symphony No. 4, one of the cornerstones of the symphonic repertoire, has been described as “elegiac” and a “character symphony,” reflecting the introspection of Brahms’s later years.

Led by dynamic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, the National Philharmonic is known for performances that are “powerful,” impeccable” and “thrilling” (The Washington Post). The National Philharmonic boasts a long-standing tradition of reasonably priced tickets and free admission to all young people age 7-17, assuring its place as an accessible and enriching component in Montgomery County and the greater Washington, DC area.

As the Music Center at Strathmore’s ensemble-in-residence, the National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Gajewski and monumental choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson.

For more information, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org.

A free lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on Saturday, May 4 and 1:45 pm on Sunday, May 5 in the Concert Hall at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to the all Brahms concert on May 4 and 5, please visit nationalphilharmonic.org 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

Merola Opera Program 2013 Summer Festival
The Festival will include Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.  Everett Auditorium and Nourse Theatre have been added as new performance venues, joining Yerba Buena Gardens and the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, California.

Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro highlight the Merola Opera Program’s 2013 summer season which also includes the annual Schwabacher Summer Concert and the traditional Merola Grand Finale. Everett Middle School has been named as the new performance venue for the staged operas and the Schwabacher Summer Concert due to simultaneous renovations on both Herbst Theatre and Cowell Theater.

Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia opens the season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11 and 2 p.m. Saturday, July 13 at the Everett Auditorium at Everett Middle School and will be directed by Peter Kazaras and conducted by Mark Morash. The annual Schwabacher Summer Concert, conducted by Kevin Murphy and directed by Roy Rallo, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18 at the Everett Auditorium at Everett Middle School and again at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 20 in a free outdoor concert at Yerba Buena Gardens. The season continues with W.A. Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday August 3 at the Everett Auditorium at Everett Middle School directed by Robin Guarino and conducted by Xian Zhang. Maestro John DeMain leads the annual Merola Grand Finale at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 17 on the main stage of War Memorial Opera House.

Throughout the summer, the Merola artists will participate in various master classes and private coaching with such luminaries as Neil Shicoff, Jane Eaglen, Martin Katz, Warren Jones and Patrick Carfizzi, among others. Scheduled this year to be held in the historic Nourse Theatre, these master classes and behind-the-scenes events are open only to Merola members. Festival ticket buyers who wish to attend these exclusive events can join Merola as a member for as little as $10.

Led artistically by San Francisco Opera Center Director and internationally acclaimed soprano Sheri Greenawald, the Merola Opera Program is an independent nonprofit organization which operates in collaboration with the San Francisco Opera. Founded in 1957 and named for San Francisco Opera’s founder, Gaetano Merola, the Program is recognized as one of the most prestigious operatic training programs in the world. The Merola Opera Program typically receives more than 800 applications for approximately 30 positions. In addition to the public performances and master classes mentioned above, participants – who include singers, apprentice coaches and an apprentice stage director – also receive training in operatic repertory, foreign languages, diction, acting and stage movement.

Festival ticket packages will be on sale in April to Merola members and May for the general public. Tickets for all performances may be purchased by calling San Francisco Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330.

Full program details including artists and casting will be announced at a later date. Visit www.merola.org for more information.

The Rape of Lucretia
Benjamin Britten
Sung in English with English supertitles
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11
2 p.m. Saturday, July 13
Everett Middle School Auditorium, 450 Church Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
Tickets: $60/$40/$25

Schwabacher Summer Concert
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18
Everett Middle School Auditorium, 450 Church Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
Tickets: $40/$25

Schwabacher Summer Concert
2 p.m. Saturday, July 20
Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission St. between 3rd and 4th Streets
FREE

Le nozze di Figaro
W.A. Mozart
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 1
2 p.m. Saturday, August 3
Everett Middle School Auditorium, 450 Church Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
Tickets: $60/$40/$25

Merola Opera Program Presents Merola Grand Finale and Reception
7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 17
War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102
Tickets: $45 Grand Tier & Orchestra Prime/$35 Orchestra/$25 Dress Circle
Reception begins at 10 p.m. in the Opera House Café
*Reception tickets are an additional $50 each

Festival ticket packages will be on sale in April to Merola members and May for the general public For information on how to become a Merola member, please call (415) 565-6427 or visit www.merola.org.

--Karen Ames Communications

Seattle Symphony Names Jeffrey Fair New Principal Horn
Music Director Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony have announced the appointment of Jeffrey Fair to the position of The Charles Simonyi Principal Horn. Fair joined the Seattle Symphony horn section as Assistant Principal in 2003, and has served as Principal Wagner Tuba for six cycles of Seattle Opera's Ring of the Nibelung. He is Professor of Horn at the University of Washington. 

"I am thrilled to appoint Jeff to this important position in the Seattle Symphony," said Morlot. "He has been a valued member of our brass family for many years; and, in this new position, Jeff will provide outstanding leadership to our orchestra's horn section. I eagerly anticipate many occasions of great music making with this incredible musician and wonderful colleague. "

Prior to moving to Seattle, Fair was Principal Horn of the San Antonio Symphony for three seasons. He has served as Principal Horn of the Eastern Music Festival and the Arizona Music Festival, and he performs regularly for the Seattle Chamber Music Festival. He completed a Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School as a student of Jerome Ashby. A native of Oklahoma, Fair received a Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Oklahoma.

--Ashley Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Distinguished Concerts International New York & New York Opera Studio Congratulate Baritone Stephen Lancaster and Mezzo-Soprano Teresa Buchholz Winners of The Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition
Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) and the New York Opera Studio (NYOS) are delighted to announce the winners of the 3rd edition of the Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition. Mezzo-soprano Teresa Buchholz and baritone Stephen Lancaster were declared the female and male “Master Singers” at the conclusion of the finalist concert which took place on Monday, April 1 at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Eight candidates performed one oratorio selection and one opera aria each on the evening’s concert.

“This year’s finalists were all superb singers,” commented jury member Jonathan Griffith, DCINY Co-Founder, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, “Our two winners set themselves apart for their excellent performances in both oratorio and opera genres.” Buchholz performed “Laudamus te” from Bach’s Mass in B minor for her oratorio selection and Meyerbeer’s “Nobles Seigneurs, Salut!” from Les Huguenots for her opera selection, while Lancaster performed “Estuans Interius” from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and “L’Orage s’est Calmé” from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. The two Master Singers were awarded $1,000 each in addition to a soloist role in a major choral masterwork with orchestra in a future DCINY season. Lancaster was also declared the evening’s “Audience Favorite” as determined by audience vote via text message at intermission.

Also on the Finals Jury were legendary artist Nico Castel, conductor Paul Nadler; conductor and pianist Lucy Arner; pianist Tom Muraco; and soprano and language coach Jennifer Ringo Conlon.

Teresa Buchholz’s recent engagements include Bloch’s Sacred Service with the Israel Philharmonic, Mozart’s Requiem at Alice Tully Hall, and Mercedes in Carmen with Opera Roanoke. Her performance of Chausson’s Chanson perpétuelle at the Bard Music Festival was deemed “gorgeously sung” by The New York Times.

Baritone Stephen Lancaster has performed the Brahms Requiem, Fauré Requiem, and Carmina Burana; and the roles of Count Almaviva, Schaunard, and Morales, and was the central region winner in the 2012 NATS Artist Awards. He will record a CD of French mélodies with Martin Katz (Centaur Records) this fall.

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. For more information on the Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition please see: http://www.dciny.org/competition.html.

--Shira Gilbert PR

Emerson String Quartet’s Final Concerts with Cellist David Finckel
The Emerson String Quartet's final concerts with cellist David Finckel will include performances in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Houston, and at New York's Carnegie Hall on May 4th with Renée Fleming. The Quartet's final public New York City concert with Mr. Finckel will be presented by WQXR at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space on May 6th at 5:30 pm EST.

To mark David Finckel's departure from and Paul Watkins's debut with the Emerson Quartet, all five gentlemen will perform together for the first time on May 11th at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. Paul Watkins will join Mr. Finckel and the quartet for the final selection on the concert, which will be Franz Schubert's String Quartet in C Major, D 956. The Huffington Post has featured a series of blog posts individually written by the Emerson. The Quartet's Web site, www.emersonquartet.com, has been redesigned as a reflection of the last 35 years and includes a slideshow of iconic images as well as a dedicated slideshow to introduce Paul Watkins. The final album with David Finckel, entitled Journeys, will be released in April on the Sony label and will include Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence and Verklärte Nacht.

About the Emerson String Quartet:
The Emerson String Quartet stands alone in the history of string quartets with an unparalleled list of achievements over three decades: over thirty acclaimed recordings since 1987, nine Grammy Awards (including two for Best Classical Album, an unprecedented honor for a chamber music group), three Gramophone Awards, the coveted Avery Fisher Prize and cycles of the complete Beethoven, Bartók, Mendelssohn, and Shostakovich string quartets in the world’s musical capitals. In March 2011, Sony Classical announced an exclusive agreement with the Emerson String Quartet.

Final Concerts Dates:
April 17 - Stony Brook, NY - Staller Center for the Arts
April 24 - Philadelphia, PA - Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
April 27 - Washington, D.C. - Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
April 28 - Schenectady, NY - Memorial Chapel at Union College
April 30 - Houston, TX - Stude Concert Hall
May 4 - New York, NY - Carnegie Hall
May 6 - New York, NY - The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR
May 7 - Buffalo, NY - Kleinhans Music Hall
May 11 - Washington, D.C. - Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

--Ashley Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

Contact Information

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

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

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa