Classical Music News of the Week, August 25, 2013

Music Institute of Chicago Showcases Stellar Faculty September 21; Concert Opens 2013–14 Nichols Concert Hall Season

The Music Institute of Chicago opens its 2013–14 Faculty and Guest Artist Series at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, IL, with a concert September 21 showcasing more than 30 members of its highly esteemed faculty.

The program includes several Chopin Nocturnes, Rachmaninoff’s Suite No. 1 for Two Pianos “La nuit... L'amour...” (The night...the love...), and Schoenberg’s stunning work for strings Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night).

Other highlights of the 2013–14 season include a Benny Goodman Festival November 1 and 2; internationally renowned cellist Peter Seidenberg November 16; a triple bill of Quintet Attacca, Axiom Brass, and Music Institute President and CEO Mark George on piano March 1; pianist Inna Faliks May 3; and organist Nathan Laube May 17.

Music Institute of Chicago
The Music Institute of Chicago believes that music has the power to sustain and nourish the human spirit; therefore, our mission is to provide the foundation for lifelong engagement with music. Founded in 1931, the Music Institute has grown to become one of the three largest and most respected community music schools in the nation. Offering musical excellence built on the strength of its distinguished faculty, commitment to quality, and breadth of programs and services, the Music Institute is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Each year, the Music Institute’s teachers and arts therapists reach thousands of students and clients of all ages and levels of experience. The Music Institute opens a new location this fall at Fourth Presbyterian Church’s Gratz Center in downtown Chicago. Other Music Institute locations include Evanston, Winnetka, Lincolnshire, Lake Forest, and Downers Grove. In addition, the Music Institute is proud of its longstanding partnership with the Chicago Public Schools through its Arts Link program. The Music Institute offers lessons, classes, and programs in four distinct areas: the Community School, Academy, Institute for Therapy through the Arts, and Nichols Concert Hall.

The Music Institute Faculty Concert take place Saturday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students, available online at or at 847.905.1500 ext. 108. All programming is subject to change.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Bang on a Can Announces 2013-2014 Season
Season Highlights:
Bang on a Can All-Stars on Extensive European & Asian Tour
September: Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation & U.S. Dept. of State Partner for OneBeat Cultural Diplomacy Program
February 1: Bang on a Can All-Stars Family Concert at Carnegie Hall
April 26-27: Bang on a Can All-Stars and Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia in world premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields in Philadelphia, PA
May 30-31: Bang on a Can All-Stars & Trinity Choir in New York premiere of
Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields as part of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL
June: Bang on a Can Marathon at Brookfield Place (formerly World Financial Center)

And much more!

Plus: Bang on a Can All-Stars and Trio Mediaeval release Julia Wolfe’s Steel Hammer
Cantaloupe Music, March 2014

Bang on a Can’s 2013-2014 season takes the “relentlessly inventive” (New York Magazine) new music collective’s house bands – the Bang on a Can All-Stars and Asphalt Orchestra – on multiple tours throughout the world, for performances as far-flung geographically as Lawrence, Kansas; New York, NY; Krakow, Poland; Paris, France; Istanbul, Turkey; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Essen, Germany; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Moscow, Russia; Macau, China; Seoul, South Korea; Washington, DC; North Adams, MA; and many other places around the globe.

This season continues Bang on a Can’s mission to create an international community dedicated to innovative music, wherever it is found. Since shortly after its inception in 1987 Bang on a Can has been producing international events annually, bringing the spirit of its renowned Marathon programs abroad to festivals and venues worldwide. Over the last 20 years, the All-Stars have appeared annually throughout Europe’s most prestigious concert halls and festivals, as well as in Australia and Asia, and have toured three times to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. The New York Times reported, “[Bang on a Can’s] impact has been profound and pervasive. The current universe of do-it-yourself concert series, genre-flouting festivals, composer-owned record labels and amplified, electric-guitar-driven compositional idioms would probably not exist without their pioneering example.”

Highlights for 2013-2014 include groundbreaking initiatives focused on cultural diplomacy – in September, Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation partners with the U. S. Department of State for OneBeat, an international cultural exchange that celebrates the transformative power of the arts, and in February Bang on a Can partners with the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for a Bang on a Can Institute at the National Centre for the Contemporary Arts in Moscow, a five-day residency-intensive. In addition, the Bang on a Can All-Stars perform for the first time in South Korea at the Tongyeong International Music Festival and the LG Art Center in Seoul, give their South American debut at San Martin Theatre in Buenos Aires, and return for the third time to Krakow’s Sacrum Profanum Festival. In November, the All-Stars’ five-city European tour features guest performer and Sonic Youth stalwart Lee Ranaldo as part of a program including works by fellow guitarists Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Bryce Dessner (The National), David Longstreth (Dirty Projectors), and Fred Frith.

In New York, Bang on a Can’s season includes the All-Stars in a Carnegie Hall Family Concert complementing David Lang’s season-long curation as the 2013-2014 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall, Bang on a Can’s annual People’s Commissioning Fund (PCF) Concert at Merkin Hall, the Bang on a Can Marathon at Brookfield Place (formerly World Financial Center) Winter Garden, and the New York premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields featuring the All-Stars with Trinity Choir as part of the 2013 NY Phil Biennial at Lincoln Center, following the world premiere of the work with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. This season will also see the release of the world premiere recording of Julia Wolfe’s Steel Hammer on Cantaloupe Music. In addition, Bang on a Can’s iconoclastic marching band Asphalt Orchestra tours the U.S. with performances across the country.

Bang on a Can 2013-2014 season schedule (subject to change):

--Christina Jensen PR

American Bach Soloists Announce Jeffrey Thomas Award
In celebration of their first 25 years of presenting the finest in early music performances in Northern California, across the United States, and around the world, and to commemorate ABS artistic and music director Jeffrey Thomas’s 25 years of inspired leadership, the American Bach Soloists have created the Jeffrey Thomas Award to honor and encourage emerging early music professionals of remarkable merit.

The inaugural recipient of the Jeffrey Thomas Award is Guy Cutting, an English tenor who earned tremendous experience touring worldwide as a chorister with New College Oxford under Edward Higginbottom, before emerging recently as a distinguished solo artist. Earning plaudits for his appearances in J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, and Purcell’s Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, Mr. Cutting is certainly a new, exciting talent to watch. The young tenor will make his American Bach Soloists debut on January 24, 2014 as a soloist in Bach’s Magnificat and Cantatas 214 & 130.

The Jeffrey Thomas Award is ABS’s newest initiative within a robust and lengthy history of encouraging the next generation of early music professionals. In 1998, ABS established their International Young Artists Competition to foster emerging musicians who wished to pursue a career in early music. In 2006, the competition was named the American Bach Soloists & Henry I. Goldberg International Young Artists Competition, in memory of Dr. Henry I. Goldberg, Board President for the ensemble from 2002 until September 2005. Additionally, the First Prize was named in honor of the inestimable legacy of Laurette Goldberg, a leading force in the Bay Area's early music community for many years. To ensure the broadest scope in this endeavor, from year to year the competitions focused on different instruments, attracting musicians from around the globe. The first competition, in 1998, was for harpsichord. In subsequent years, violin, flute, oboe, and vocalists took the spotlight. In 2010, competition award funds were offered as a Goldberg Prize to three promising participants of the American Bach Soloists Academy, an advanced training program for emerging professionals and accomplished students of Historically Informed Performance Practice. In 2011, the Competition and special prizes were suspended in favor of scholarships for the ABS Academy. Consequently, the ABS Academy has developed into one of the leading programs of its kind, bring eminent faculty and participants together for two weeks of immersive, multi-disciplinary training each July concurrently with the ABS Festival—known as San Francisco’s Summer Bach Festival.

The newly inaugurated Jeffrey Thomas Award will be granted annually at the artistic director’s discretion to young professionals who show exceptional promise in the field of early music performance. In tandem with a cash prize, recipients are invited to perform with American Bach Soloists.

About American Bach Soloists:
The American Bach Soloists engage and inspire audiences through historically informed performances, recordings, and educational programs that emphasize the music of the Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic eras. Founded in 1989, the ensemble has achieved its vision of assembling the world’s finest vocalists and period-instrument performers to bring this brilliant music to life. For more than two decades, Jeffrey Thomas has brought thoughtful, meaningful, and informed perspectives to his performances as Artistic and Music Director of the American Bach Soloists. Fanfare Magazine proclaimed that “Thomas’s direction seems just right, capturing the humanity of the music…there is no higher praise for Bach performance.”

About Jeffrey Thomas:
Renowned for his experience, knowledge and sensitivity for the music of the Baroque, Jeffrey Thomas’s preparation of the major works of the repertory such as Bach’s Mass in B Minor, St. Matthew Passion, and Handel’s Messiah have led to inspired, definitive performances that have become synonymous with the ensemble he has led with such distinction, American Bach Soloists. San Francisco Classical Voice said, “Jeffrey Thomas is still pushing the musical Baroque envelope.”

Before devoting all of his time to conducting, he was one of the first recipients of the San Francisco Opera Company's prestigious Adler Fellowships. Cited by The Wall Street Journal as “a superstar among oratorio tenors,” Mr. Thomas's extensive discography of vocal music includes dozens of recordings of major works for Decca, EMI, Erato, Koch International Classics, Denon, Harmonia Mundi, Smithsonian, Newport Classics, and Arabesque. He is a Professor of Music at the University of California, Davis, where he holds the Barbara K. Jackson Chair in Choral Conducting. Mr. Thomas currently hosts two shows on one of the nation's premiere classical music radio stations, KDFC, the most recent major commercial classical station in America to make the transition to public radio. Through worldwide streaming audio, he brings his experience and love for baroque and choral music to a global audience.

High resolution images and more information, including full artist biographies, available at:

--American Bach Soloists

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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