Classical Music News of the Week, June 8, 2013

New Century Chamber Orchestra Announces 2013-2014 Season

Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra announce the 2013-2014 season, including four subscription weeks that include Donizetti’s rarely-performed one-act opera Rita featuring San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows; a special collaboration with San Francisco’s renowned Chanticleer; and a world premiere violin concerto by Featured Composer Michael Daugherty. The season includes contemporary works such as Dreamscapes by Clarice Assad and Elegy by Samuel Jones, European masterworks such as Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile and Suk’s Serenade for String Orchestra, in addition to jazz classics from Gershwin and Ellington. This will be Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s sixth season as Music Director of the New Century Chamber Orchestra.

The 2013-2014 season will feature New Century in performance at a variety of different Bay Area venues including first time appearances at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall and the San Francisco Jewish Community Center; return appearances at the Yerba Buena Center for Performing Arts, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts; and a return engagement at Cal Performances’ Fall Free For All at Zellerbach Hall.

American composer Michael Daugherty joins New Century for the 2013-2014 Season as Featured Composer, a program begun by Salerno-Sonnenberg in her first season as Music Director. The season opens with a varied exploration of Daugherty’s solo and chamber works, ranging from Viva for solo violin, performed by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, to Sing Sing J.Edgar Hoover and Elvis Everywhere for string quartet and tape. Hailed by The Times (London) as having a “maverick imagination, fearless structural sense and meticulous ear,” The concert will also feature Daugherty’s Viola Zombie for two violas, Regrets Only for violin, cello and piano, and Strut for chamber orchestra, alongside Serenade for String Orchestra in E Major, Op.6 by Czech master Josef Suk. New Century will present selections from this program on September 29, 2013 at Cal Performances’ Fall Free For All, an entire day of free music, dance and theater in venues and outdoors across the UC Berkeley Campus.

The season continues with a program featuring two violin concertos written expressly for Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg; a world premiere by Featured Composer Michael Daugherty and a reprise of 2008-2009 Featured Composer Clarice Assad’s Dreamscapes, a work commissioned and premiered in May 2009. The program also explores the theme of legacy with music by Russian composers Tchaikovsky and student Anton Arensky, in addition to a work honoring the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile is accompanied by Arensky’s Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky, based on one of Tchaikovsky’s Songs for Children, Op. 54. Elegy by Samuel Jones was written in 1963 during the days immediately following the President JFK’s assassination.

The second half of the 2013-2014 season marks two special first-time collaborations. In February, New Century welcomes the San Francisco Opera Center’s Adler Fellows in an evening of opera, including a performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s rarely presented one act opera Rita, a comic tale of domestic strife. Artists and roles for Rita will be announced at a later date. New Century will be highlighted in a number of instrumental works from famous operas arranged for the ensemble by Clarice Assad, including Strauss’ Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome, Massenet’s Meditation from Thais with Salerno-Sonnenberg as soloist and Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana. Also featured on the program is Verdi’s Prestissimo from String Quartet in E minor, the only surviving chamber work in the composer’s catalogue.

The season concludes in March with another first-time collaboration featuring Chanticleer. Labeled by The New York Times as “the world’s reigning male chorus,” the two-time Grammy award winning ensemble will join New Century in a journey across the Atlantic from Germany to New York, spanning the era between two World Wars with European classics and works from the great American Songbook. Chanticleer has sold well over a million copies since they began releasing recordings in 1981 and are renowned for their artistic diversity ranging from Renaissance music to jazz, gospel and pop, in addition to the commissioning and performing of new works. Representing a contrast of music from the pre-World War II era, New Century will perform American works by Kurt Weill, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin with Chanticleer performing a wide variety of works, including a series of arrangements by the internationally renowned, all-male German chorus Comedian Harmonists.

Subscriptions to the New Century Chamber Orchestra are on sale now. 3-Concert Subscriptions range from $72- $162; 4-Concert Subscriptions range from $96- $216. Call (415) 357-1111 ext. 4 or visit to purchase a subscription.

Single tickets range in price from $29 to $59 and will go on sale August 1, 2013 through City Box Office: and (415) 392-4400, with the exception of concerts at Mountain View Center for the Arts:  and (650) 903-6000, and the Bing Concert Hall (650) 725-ARTS. Discounted $15 single tickets are available for patrons under 35. For further information on New Century, please visit

--Karen Ames Communications

The "Organ Heard 'Round The World": Cameron Carpenter to Launch Worldwide Touring Organ
A day-long Lincoln Center festival, a Sony Classical album, an international television special, and European tour will launch the artist’s personal instrument in 2014. The new organ will be Carpenter’s preferred instrument for all touring and recording. Designed by Carpenter and built in the USA by Marshall & Ogletree, the new organ will allow Carpenter to perform anything from his repertoire at any venue worldwide.

Cameron Carpenter, the “extravagantly talented" (The New York Times) “smasher of cultural and classical music taboos" (The New Yorker Magazine) announces the spring 2014 launch of his long-awaited International Touring Organ; his March 9, 2014 launch festival at Lincoln Center (shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and the signing of his new recording contract with Sony Classical, with release of the first album in early 2014.

Currently under construction in the U.S.A., the organ consists mainly of a modular five-keyboard console; a massively parallel processing system utilizing samples from several organs key to Cameron’s artistic development; and a proprietary “geographic” concert audio system scalable to the largest concert halls, medium alternative venues such as nightclubs, open-air use, and television. Built by digital organ pioneers Marshall & Ogletree LLC of Needham, MA, the touring organ will allow Cameron’s repertoire – already legendary for its diversity, from the complete works of Bach, Franck and Liszt to hundreds of transcriptions of orchestral, piano and vocal music, film music and jazz – to expand in ever more compelling directions.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Conductor Michael Christie Leads World Premiere Performances of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, San Francisco Opera
June 19 – July 7, 2013
War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Tickets: $22 - $340 at or 415.864.3330

Conductor Michael Christie makes his San Francisco Opera debut leading the world premiere performances of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, commissioned and produced by San Francisco Opera from June 19 through July 7, 2013 at the War Memorial Opera House (301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco). Kevin Newbury directs the production, and the cast includes Sasha Cooke (Mary Magdalene), William Burden (Peter), Maria Kanyova (Miriam), and Nathan Gunn (Yeshua).

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene imagines an alternative narrative to the life and teaches of Jesus, placing the woman often condemned as a harlot or dismissed as a minor player in traditional Biblical texts, at the center of the story. Adamo, who is both the composer and librettist of the work, immersed himself in the Gnostic Gospels, ancient texts discovered in 1945, as well as The Gospel of Mary, an earlier gnostic discovery from 1898, and the scholarship surrounding these writings. The result gives a striking new viewpoint on Jesus’ message to humanity.

Of conducting the world premiere performances of this new opera, Michael Christie says, “It is exciting to be bringing to life and establishing a tradition for this work, from its very beginnings. This is the first time that Mark and I are collaborating, but we have had a fruitful friendship for several years that began when I was Music Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, when I had the great opportunity to lead that orchestra’s celebration of Mark’s husband John Corigliano’s 70th birthday. It’s an honor to be part of realizing Mark’s vision for this opera.”

Michael Christie is a thoughtfully innovative conductor, equally at home in the symphonic and opera worlds, who is focused on making the audience experience at his performances entertaining, enlightening, and enriching. The New York Times reports, “Michael Christie is a director open to adventure and challenge,” and the Cincinnati Enquirer declares, “If Michael Christie represents the future of music in this country, the future looks promising indeed.”

For more information, visit

--Christina Jenesn PR

92Y Presents Two New Downtown Concert Series at SubCulture
"92Y Concerts at SubCulture" features eclectic classical and contemporary music
CONTACT! with New York Philharmonic
Concerts will take place at SubCulture, 45 Bleecker Street, downstairs
More information and tickets are available at or 212-415-5500

92nd Street Y partners with SubCulture, a new, vibrant creative performing arts space located underground at 45 Bleecker Street, within steps of the 6, B, D, F, and M trains.  92Y Concerts at SubCulture, set for the 2013-14 season, is an innovative and eclectic six-concert series blending classical and contemporary music in a variety of chamber music and recital formats.

CONTACT!, the New York Philharmonic’s new-music series, also at SubCulture, is a co-presentation of 92Y and the New York Philharmonic and features musicians from the New York Philharmonic, pianist Yefim Bronfman and composers Esa-Pekka Salonen and Marc Neikrug in three concerts of new music, including the “Young American Composers” concert, which is part of the New York Philharmonic’s NY PHIL BIENNIAL. 

The warm subterranean décor and relaxed spirit provide the perfect venue for adventurous programming in a social setting. In this intimate space, performers and composers can make a personal connection with the audience through insightful commentary, and listeners are able to enjoy both the performance and refreshments at the same time.

Hanna Arie-Gaifman, Director of 92Y’s Tisch Center for the Arts, says, “We are so pleased to co-present these series in SubCulture’s exciting new space on Bleecker Street where we can serve the downtown community hand-in-hand with a partner who shares our tremendous dedication to artists and artistry.”

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

On-Site Opera Extends Run of Gershwin’s Blue Monday
Extended by popular demand! After selling out two performances, On Site Opera & Harlem Opera Theater add a third night to their run of Gershwin’s Blue Monday at Harlem’s historic Cotton Club, Thursday, June 20 at 7pm.

June 18, 19, AND 20: On Site Opera and Harlem Opera Theater present Blue Monday – Gershwin's rare one-act gem.

7 p.m.: Cocktails & Dancing | 8 p.m.: Blue Monday
The Cotton Club, 656 W 125th St., New York, NY
Tickets: $20 (cocktails not included) at 
for more information: or (347) 394-3050

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder Makes Chicago Symphony Orchestra Subscription Debut, Led by Riccardo Muti in the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4
June 13 and 15 at 8 p.m.; June 14 at 1:30 p.m.; June 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $35-$250, 800.223.7114, or

Plus: New recording: Beethoven: The Piano Concertos
The Vienna Philharmonic with Rudolf Buchbinder, soloist & conductor
Release date: October 2013, Sony Classical

Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder will replace Leif Ove Andsnes as soloist with Music Director Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on Thursday and Saturday, June 13 and 15 at 8 p.m.; Friday, June 14 at 1:30 p.m.; and Tuesday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Symphony Center. These concerts mark Buchbinder’s subscription debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and see him return to the U.S. after his highly acclaimed concerts with New York Philharmonic in February 2013 and Philadelphia Orchestra in March 2013. Buchbinder will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major on all four concerts with the CSO. The program also includes Wagner’s Siegfried’s Rhine Journey and Funeral March from Götterdämmerung and Wagner’s Symphony No. 1 in C Minor.

--Christina Jensen PR

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

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

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

Mission Statement

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

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

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa