Classical Music News of the Week, June 23, 2013

27th Annual Mendocino Music Festival--July 13 to 27th--One of the Most Beautiful Music Festival Experiences in the Whole World

Established in 1986, the Mendocino Music Festival is an exciting blend of fine music by outstanding performers in one of the most enchanting sites in Northern California. Days and evenings are filled with Festival Orchestra concerts, Big Band, chamber music, jazz, world music, blues, bluegrass and popular contemporary music. Over 30 performances are complemented by music workshops, open orchestral rehearsals and culinary events showcasing the local beers, wines and foods of Mendocino County.

The festival runs from July 13 to July 27th.  Highlights include:

Opening Night Concert James D’Leon, piano
Saturday July 13 at 8:00 PM, Tent Concert Hall
The Festival opens with fiery and lyric themes from Verdi, the jubilant music of Prokofiev, and the Romantic favorite, Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto. James D’Leon, who thrilled everyone in last season’s piano series, returns to perform the Rachmaninoff.

Sunday, July 14, 2013 8:00pm, Tent Concert Hall
A Grammy nominee and member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Kaukonen has been the leading practitioner and teacher of fingerstyle guitar, one of the most highly respected interpreters of American roots music, blues, and Americana, and at the forefront of popular rock-and-roll. He is well known as a founding member of two legendary bands, The Jefferson Airplane and the still-touring Hot Tuna.

Alison Brown Quartet
Sunday, July 14, 2013 2:00pm, Tent Concert Hall
The Alison Brown Quartet is bluegrass plus. Their sound has been likened to a combination of bluegrass, country, and jazz. Brown is a banjo virtuoso who has earned a Grammy as well as bluegrass music’s highest accolade for an instrumentalist: the International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year in 1991.

POCO Benefit for MMF
Wednesday, July 17 8:00 PM, Tent Concert Hall
POCO is “All Fired Up” with their new album of that name, and plans to rock their trademark blazing instrumentals and soaring harmonies at a fabulous benefit concert made possible by the generosity of an anonymous POCO fan.

Umi no Hi: A Celebration of Japan’s Ocean Day
Sunday, July 21 - Day-long series beginning at 2:00pm
Twentieth-century Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu dreamed of swimming in an “ocean that has no east, no west.” His dream of an international culture has inspired director-musician Susan Waterfall to bring together traditional and modern Japanese music in celebration of Takemitsu’s legacy and Japan’s July national holiday, Ocean Day.

The Festival‘s performance events include:
Classical Program – opening Festival Orchestra performance, conducted by Allan Pollack, of works by Verdi and Prokofiev, and the Romantic favorite Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with pianist James D’Leon; Orchestra East and West, with guitarist Shin-Ichi Fukuda; Rossini’s opera Il Signor Bruschino; and, with the Festival Chorus, works by Bruch, Bernstein, Beethoven and Mozart. The Classical Program includes chamber music and piano lecture-concerts.

JAZZFest features the perennial Big Band Night and a double bill of Hot Club of San Francisco and Julian Pollack Trio. The Festival’s educational events include a Peer-to-Peer Jazz Workshop, free to high school students, and performance by the Thelonious Monk Institute Performing Arts High School All-Star Jazz Sextet, consisting of prize winning high school musicians from around the country.

Boogie Blues & Bluegrass includes the House Jacks, the original a cappella rock band, plus a workshop with them for singers.

The World Series features pianist Susan Waterfall’s multi-media concert, Ocean That Has No East No West: The Life and Legacy of Toru Takemitsu, with Takemitsu’s student Shin-Ichi Fukuda; Cherish the Ladies, celebrating 25 years of Celtic music; and Pedrito Martinez with his rhumba Afro-Cuban sounds.

For complete listing and schedule please visit or call 707 937-4041.

--Direct Contact PR

Cal Performances Presents Grammy-Winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions with Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Bluegrass Superstars Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and Aoife O’Donovan,
Saturday, August 24, at 8 p.m. at the Berkeley’s Greek Theatre
Legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma is known for his superb musicianship and his driving curiosity which sends him searching for new musical traditions in which to participate.  In 2011, Ma joined forces with four bluegrass virtuosos: Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Edgar Meyer (bassist), Chris Thile (mandolin), and guest vocalist Aoife O’Donovan to create a new brand of string ensemble. While each artist is a prominent figure in his own musical sphere, they came together as a unified band on a remarkable cross-genre project and in the process created a Grammy Award-winning album, The Goat Rodeo Sessions, a testimony to the success of the collaboration. The ensemble reunites on Saturday, August 24 at 8:00 p.m. at Cal Performances’ Greek Theater to perform works from the album. The music feels both new and familiar—it is composed and improvised, uptown and down home, funky and pastoral and above all, uniquely American.

The four string musicians had played together in various combinations but never all together. One of the frequently asked questions is how the ensemble came up with the humorous title. Many of their songs had working titles using the word “rodeo.” One of the definitions of a goat rodeo is a chaotic situation, often one that involves several people, each with a different agenda/vision/perception of what’s going on. The group thought that described their collaborative style.  “Everybody could be a leader or everybody could be a follower at various times,” Ma says. “How can we ever get any work done when we're laughing all of the time…for me, that’s the goat rodeo part…” (All Things Considered, NPR).

Tickets for The Goat Rodeo Sessions with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and Aoife O'Donovan on Saturday, August 24, at 8:00 p.m. at the Greek Theatre range from $35.00 - $125.00 and are available for sale to the public on Monday, June 18 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.

--Joe Yang, Cal Performances

Handel’s Esther at Amerian Bach Soloists Festival, Friday, July 19, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
San Francisco Conservatory of Music ~ 50 Oak Street at Van Ness

Rarely performed, Handel's Esther represents the birth of the English oratorio. Originally composed as a masque for the Duke of Chandos in 1718, Handel returned to his score in the 1730s, when the enthusiasm of his London audiences for Italian opera began to wane. This moving work is a marvelous combination of thrilling choruses and arias, accompanied by a beautiful mélange of instruments including a triple harp. Culminating in a glorious musical paean of rejoicing - the most grandly scaled final chorus in all of Handel's oratorios and operas - Esther became one of Handel's most popular works and was performed throughout the rest of his career. ABS Academy vocalists will be featured in roles including Mordecai, Haman, King Ahasuerus, and his Queen Esther. The ABS Festival Orchestra and the American Bach Choir will be conducted by Jeffrey Thomas.

ABS Festival events are selling quickly. Biber's Missa Salisburgensis on July 13, 2013 is completely sold out. Some tickets remain for other performances including Bach's Mass in B Minor; chamber works by Bach, Schütz, Schmelzer, Telemann, and others; Tanya Tomkins, violoncello (Distinguished Artist Series), Bach, Vivaldi, and others.

All performances are in beautiful Concert Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street near Van Ness, San Francisco, CA. For more information:

--American Bach Soloists

Young Voices of Melbourne Joins YPC in Transmusica
From almost halfway around the world, the Young Voices of Melbourne (Australia) led by Director Mark O'Leary will join the Young People’s Chorus of New York City in an exciting intermingling of Australian and American cultures in YPC's June 30 Transmusica concert at the 92nd Street Y.  The program, featuring such favorites from down under as Botany Bay and Waltzing Matilda, will also be an exciting preview of the YPC tour program the choristers are taking to Asia next month.

You won't want to miss this entertaining afternoon of great singers, great music, and the opportunity to wish YPC a good trip!).

Sunday, June 30 at 4 p.m.
92nd Street Y, Kaufmann Concert Hall, New York City
Tickets are $5 for all under 18 and $15 for adults

Purchase tickets now at the 92nd Street Y or by calling 212-415-5500.

--Young People’s Chorus of NYC

Top 5 Finalists Announced for the Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition
The five final contestants will compete on June 22 for the Pierre S. du Pont First Prize of $40,000
June 20, 2013 . . . The results are in! Almost, that is. Out of the ten incredible organists chosen to compete in the inaugural Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition, five talented contestants have moved past the preliminary round to compete for the $40,000 Pierre S. du Pont First Prize. The finalists are Thomas Gaynor (New Zealand); Jinhee Kim (South Korea); Baptiste-Florian Marle Ouvrard (France); Adam Pajan (USA) and Benjamin Sheen (UK). The five will play for the top prize on Saturday, June 22 on the famed Longwood Organ.

The Longwood Organ is the largest residential organ in the world, with a whopping 10,010 pipes and a beautiful console. This kingly instrument is not easy to wrestle with musically, but these valiant performers have proved their chops. All of the contestants performed varying repertoire, which ranged from Bach to Elgar to Rossini to Debussy to Dukas, to name just a few composers.

Tickets are sold out to watch the intense final round on Saturday, June 22. More information at

--Amanda Sweet, BuckelSweet Media

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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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa