Classical Music News of the Week, August 11, 2013

Tickets to the National Philharmonic’s 2013-14 Season at Strathmore Are Now on Sale

The National Philharmonic’s 2013-14 season, led by Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, will feature 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, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD, 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. The attached photo of Maestro Gajewski was taken by Michael Ventura; the photo of Zuill Bailey was taken by the El Paso Times.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Just Announced: Student Competition Winners and National Documentary to be Filmed During the PARMA Music Festival 2013, August 15-17
More news from the upcoming 2013 PARMA Music Festival, the cross-genre/multiple venue festival Thursday-Saturday August 15-17, 2013 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire! As the festival gets ready to roll out the red carpet, Bob Lord, CEO of PARMA Recordings and Festival Producer announced the following additions. "Our 2013 PARMA Student Composer Competition Winner Tina Tallon's winning piece for string quartet will be performed at the main event on Saturday August 17, and the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra (PSO) Student Concerto Winner Anna DeLoi will be playing as a soloist with the PSO at that same concert. We are thrilled that our festival will be included such young talent." Lord also mentioned that faculty from Portsmouth Music and Arts Center (PMAC) will be playing a jazz combo set at the same concert, while New England musicians Wheel of Awesome, Jim Dozet, Qwill, Chris O'Neill, and a few others have been added to the Society of Composers, Inc. chamber concerts sprinkled throughout the three days. Finally, to add to the excitement, Christopher Foss, documentary filmmaker and the son of the late American composer, pianist, and conductor Lukas Foss, will be filming part of a documentary on his father's life during the premiere of "Elegy for Clarinet & Orchestra" (written in 1949) at the main event and throughout the Festival.

--Bob Lord, PARMA Recordings

New Path for Dominican Sisters of Mary Leads to Record Deal  Debut Album, Mater Eucharistiae, To Be Released August 13th On De Montfort Music/Decca
They follow in the 13th-century footsteps of St. Dominic, while very much engaging the modern world. They teach in schools all over the United States. They have been guests on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” more than once, and seen on The Today Show, Fox News and CNN discussing various aspects of the Catholic faith and their vocation to live a religious life. Most recently, they made it to the finals of the Game Show Network’s highly rated “The American Bible Challenge.” 

Now, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, will be known as recording artists, as they release their first recording August 13th on De Montfort Music/Decca, Mater Eucharistiae. Their debut album of sacred music was recorded live at their chapel in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and reflects their Dominican spirituality that they lovingly hope to share with the masses.

The Dominican Sisters are also label-mates with another community of musical Sisters, The Benedictines of Mary, who have had two successful releases with De Montfort Music/Decca in the past six months.  Their chart-topping albums are the holiday-themed,  Advent at Ephesus, and their latest, Angels and Saints at Ephesus, which is currently #1 on Billboard’s Classical Traditional Chart for an impressive 11th straight week. While the Benedictines of Mary are a community of young cloistered Sisters who never leave their priory and sing completely a capella, the Dominican Sisters are a large community of young Sisters who are invited to teach at Catholic institutions across America, and are visible to the world except when otherwise quietly observing a monastic life.

Produced by the 2013 Grammy Award-winning Classical Producer of the Year, Blanton Alspaugh, Mater Eucharistiae will feature 15 tracks in both English and Latin, spanning ancient chants, polyphony, and original compositions. Some pieces are accompanied by the organ, trumpet, and chimes, while others are sung a capella.

Sr. Joseph Andrew, OP, Vicaress General of The Dominican Sisters of Mary, commented on the recording: “Music has always been part of the daily life of our Religious Community.  It is an  important medium through which we seek to express our deep love of The Lord. Through our arrangement of this music, we hope to make available the sharing of our prayer-life so that others may, by it, be drawn into their own deeper love of God. This recording has also provided an opportunity for us to make accessible a few original pieces written and arranged by the Sisters in hopes of furthering our unique Dominican Spirit through the gift of song.”

--Olga Makrias, Universal Music

American Bach Soloists News
Save the Date! On September 21 at 5:00 p.m., the 2013-14 season of American Bach Soloists officially kicks off with Silver Soirée, our annual gala held at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere, CA. Celebrating 25 years of the greatest performances by the best musicians, this year’s event will be an elegant and festive occasion befitting this remarkable benchmark. Join Jeffrey Thomas and the entire ABS family as we honor the group’s illustrious past and look forward to even greater musical achievements.

The Soirée begins with a cocktail hour and silent auction. ABS musicians Elizabeth Blumenstock (violin), William Skeen (violoncello), Corey Jamason (harpsichord), Steven Lehning (violone), and recent Academy alumni Kyle Stegall (tenor), Nola Richardson (soprano) and Christopher Matthews (flute), will present a program including music from J.S. Bach’s Musical Offering. A delectable dinner and live auction fill out this fantastic event. Join us and support another 25 years of ABS! For more information or to purchase your gala tickets, please visit our Gala web site:

Sensational ABS Festival & Academy Wrap-up:
A tender “Agnus Dei” and the uplifting “Dona nobis pacem” final chorus from Bach’s great Mass in B Minor brought the fourth annual ABS Festival & Academy to a breathtaking close on July 21. For two full weeks ABS and members of the 2013 Academy reigned forth at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, making beautiful music together and energizing capacity audiences with amazing performances. Six sold-out main stage concerts and record attendance at the free public events once again proved that the ABS Festival & Academy has become one of the premiere cultural attractions of its kind in the country. Festival highlights included an opening night chamber concert featuring the renowned members of ABS, the highly anticipated spectacle of Heinrich Biber’s gargantuan Missa Salisburgensis for 53 parts, ‘cellist Tanya Tomkins in recital, a concert performance of Handel’s Esther, and two performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

Concurrent with the Festival, the ABS Academy welcomed 63 participants from the United States, Canada, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and China to study with ABS faculty and perform alongside their teachers in Festival performances. Their enthusiasm, hard-working spirits, and talents were astonishing to witness. This Academy class certainly lived up to their billing as the next generation of early music virtuosi.

Hear Jeffrey Thomas discuss Biber’s Missa Salisburgensis with San Francisco Classical Voice and enjoy a glimpse of rehearsals for the historic premiere on July 13, 2013.

For those who missed Jeffrey Thomas’s daily chronicle of Festival happenings and work within the Academy, his entire blog can be read here: Don’t forget to sign up for future musings there, as well.

Messiah Tickets Now On Sale:
Tickets for ABS’s annual performances of Handel’s Messiah at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco went on sale to the general public on July 1. Fewer than 20 premium seats remain for the December 11 & 12 performances of this beloved Bay Area tradition. Order your tickets now to get the best seats for Messiah. Following last year’s record-breaking attendance for the event, tickets won’t be available for long, so don’t miss out on this year’s performances where Jeffrey Thomas, ABS, and the American Bach Choir will be joined by four sensational soloists: Arianna Zukerman (soprano), Eric Jurenas (countertenor), Aaron Sheehan (tenor), and Mischa Bouvier (baritone).

--American Bach Soloists

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s 41st Season Fifth Week of Concerts
World Premiere of Thierry Lancino’s Falling Angels for String Quartet
Sunday, August 11 at 6pm
The Lensic Performing Arts Center
Pre-concert talk with Composer Thierry Lancino and Marc Neikrug at 5pm

The Orion String Quartet present the world premiere of French composer Thierry Lancino’s first string quartet, Falling Angels, a Festival commission.  Lancino’s groundbreaking work in both electronic and traditional composition places him at the forefront of his musical generation. Lancino returns to the Festival after a successful 2008 U.S. premiere of ONXA written for mezzo-soprano and strings.  The Festival’s 2013 Artist-in-Residence, pianist Garrick Ohlsson, joins violinist William Preucil and the Orion String Quartet for Chausson’s luscious and evocative Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet. Pianist Haochen Zhang, clarinetist Patrick Messina, and violist Cynthia Phelps round out the program with Schumann’s colorful and light-hearted Märchenerzählungen, one of the composer’s last works.

Sunday Series subscription: $390
Single tickets: $12-73; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

“Years of Wonder” Mini-Festival
Monday, August 12 at 6pm
The Lensic Performing Arts Center

The “Years of Wonder” Mini-Festival is a four-concert series focusing on particularly productive years in the lives of Gesualdo, Mozart, and Schumann. Throughout the series, Joshua Habermann leads The Santa Fe Desert Chorale and Baroque specialist Richard Savino in Gesualdo’s intensely expressive fifth book of madrigals, written in 1611. Violinist Ida Kavafian, pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, and cellist Peter Wiley join for three of Mozart’s piano trios written within the span of a year-and-a-half and the Orion String Quartet present Schumann’s three string quartets written in 1842.

Monday Series subscription: $390
“Years of Wonder” subscription (August 12, 14, 15 and 19): $252*
Single tickets: $12-73; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

*Monday Series subscribers can attend all “Years of Wonder” concerts for an additional $126, and Thursday Series subscribers can attend all “Years of Wonder” concerts for an additional $189

Orion String Quartet Music at Noon Series
Tuesday, August 13 at 12pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art

The Orion String Quartet brings its burnished sound to Schumann’s second string quartet on the noon concert.  Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violinist Ida Kavafian, and cellist Peter Wiley join for Mozart’s graceful, yet unpredictable Piano Trio No.3.   

“Years of Wonder” Mini-Festival
Wednesday, August 14 at 6pm
The Lensic Performing Arts Center
Music of Gesualdo, Mozart, and Schumann

“Years of Wonder” subscription (August 12, 14, 15 and 19): $252*
Single tickets: $12-69; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

*Monday Series subscribers can attend all “Years of Wonder” concerts for an additional $126, and Thursday Series subscribers can attend all “Years of Wonder” concerts for an additional $189

Garrick Ohlsson, Artist-in-Residence Solo Piano Recital
Thursday, August 15 at 12pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art    

Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. As the Festival’s 2013 Artist-in-Residence, Mr. Ohlsson brings the world premiere of composer Michael Hersch’s Tenebrae to Santa Fe in an intimate recital setting- a rarity for this concert pianist.  Widely considered among the most gifted composers of his generation, Mr. Hersch’s first piano concerto received its world premiere by Mr. Ohlsson in 2002 with the St. Louis Symphony conducted by Marin Alsop.  Mr. Ohlsson pairs this premiere with masterworks of the piano literature by Chopin, Griffes, and Prokofiev.

Music at Noon subscription: $198
Single tickets: $20-25; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

“Years of Wonder” Mini-Festival
Thursday, August 15 at 6pm
The Lensic Performing Arts Center
Music of Gesualdao, Mozart, and Schumann

Thursday Series subscription: $305
Years of Wonder subscription (August 12, 14, 15 and 19): $252*
Single tickets: $12-69; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

*Monday Series subscribers can attend all “Years of Wonder” concerts for an additional $126, and Thursday Series subscribers can attend all “Years of Wonder” concerts for an additional $189

Latin Jazz with Tiempo Libre
Friday, August 16 at 8pm
The Lensic Performing Arts Center

Come celebrate Cuban-style with three-time Grammy-nominated music group Tiempo Libre!  As one of the hottest young bands today, Tiempo Libre is equally at home in concert halls, jazz clubs and dance venues.  Classically trained at Cuba’s premiere conservatories, today the group is a hit in the U.S. and abroad and is celebrated for its sophisticated performances of timba, a dynamic mix of high voltage Latin jazz and the seductive rhythms of traditional Cuban song.

Single tickets: $12-42; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

Bach & Vivaldi Concertos, Bach Plus Series
Saturday, August 17 at 6pm
Bach Plus Series
The Lensic Performing Arts Center

The Orion String Quartet, bassist Kristen Bruya, and harpsichordist Kathleen McIntosh join esteemed Festival artists cellist Eric Kim, oboist Robert Ingliss, violinists William Preucil and Benny Kim, and flutist Tara Helen O’Connor for a concert encompassing the great concertos of the Baroque period. Written in 1942, Australian composer Arthur Benjamin’s Oboe Concerto on Themes of Cimarosa broadly follows the late Baroque style of Cimarosa’s keyboard sonatas. Also, music of J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, and Antonio Vivaldi.

Bach Plus subscription: $190
Single tickets: $32-40; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

For more information on Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival's concerts and to order tickets, please call 505-982-1890 or visit The box office is located in the lobby of the New Mexico Museum of Art at 107 West Palace Avenue and is open daily from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa