Classical Music News of the Week, August 4, 2013

Beijing Symphony Orchestra Makes Washington, D.C. Area Debut at Strathmore – October 20th

Led by its renowned Musical Director and Principal Conductor Tan Lihua, the Beijing Symphony plays at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852 on Sunday, October 20th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Wu Promotion presents the Beijing Symphony Orchestra in cooperation with Attila Glatz Concert Productions. The BSO is the critically-acclaimed Chinese ensemble, praised for both for its interpretation of standard repertoire and for premiering the works of Chinese composers. Established in 1977, the ensemble will make its first trip to America this October to debut at the Strathmore Center. The BSO, led by Maestro Tan Lihua, will perform both classical as well as Chinese symphonic music representing the country’s rich culture.

Highlights will include two large works by Chinese composer Guo Wenjing, known for his brilliant interleaving of Chinese and Western instruments in film, operatic, and symphonic works. The Lotus Overture, written in honor of the London 2012 Olympic Games, has received international media attention with its gesture of goodwill, serving to pass the Olympic torch from Beijing to London. The orchestra will also feature Guo Wenjing’s Chou Kong Shan (Desolate Mountain), a concerto for bamboo flutes and orchestra. From Guo Wenjing to Prokofiev, the group will round off the program demonstrating its versatility with two ballet suites from Romeo and Juliet. This diverse program bridges Eastern and Western orchestral music and is an apt accompaniment to the BSO’s American debut tour.

Tickets ($23.00–$79.00) may be purchased at the online at strathmore.org or by calling the Ticket Office at (301) 581-5100.

Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Music

Orion Ensemble Announces Venue Change
As previously announced, the Orion Ensemble's opening concert of the 13-14 season spotlights Brahms along with a jazz- and folk-influenced work by Jewish American composer Paul Schoenfield.  However, because PianoForte Studios is unable to host the September 11 downtown Chicago concert, the performance will instead take place in the Concert Hall at the Columbia College Chicago Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Avenue.

PARMA Music Festival Posts Official Schedule
Parma Recordings will hold its annual music festival August 15-17, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As always, the event features a host of talent each day. Tickets for all events except the final concert at The Music Hall are free. Tickets for the Saturday August 17 evening concert are $10 and can be purchased at The Music Hall Box Office at 28 Chestnut Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, by phone at 603-436-2400 or on line at www.themusichall.org.

For the complete lineup of each day’s events and performers, click here: http://www.parmarecordings.com/festival/schedule/

--Bob Lord, Parma Recordings

Paul's Case to Premiere in NYC, Pittsburgh
Two stagings of the American Opera Project-developed work announced for 2014

Paul's Case main image Like its errant hero, the opera Paul's Case will journey between Pittsburgh and New York City in 2014. In January, Beth Morrison Productions and HERE Arts Center will present the two-act work as part of the PROTOTYPE Festival in NYC. Pittsburgh Opera also recently announced the opera on their 2014 slate. Based on a short story by Willa Cather, the opera is composed by Gregory Spears with a libretto by Spears and Kathryn Walat.

Spears began developing the work at AOP during his fellowship in the 06-07 season of Composers & the Voice. The opera had its world premiere at UrbanArias in Washington, DC earlier this year.

The Blind Sets Its "Sights" on Norway as Recent Production at LCF Travels to Trondheim
Following its sold-out run last week at the 2013 Lincoln Center Festival and a spate of positive reviews, AOP's co-production of The Blind featuring music by Lera Auerbach will travel to one of Europe's most innovative new music festivals - the  Trondheim Chamber Music Festival in Norway - this September.

Director John La Bouchardière's controversial staging required audience members to be blindfolded during the performance that "strips the art form of its conventions - to evocative, thought-provoking effect." (NJ Star-Ledger)

--AOP News

Cal Performances Presents the West Coast Premiere of Angel Heart at Hertz Hall, Plus Puppeteer Extrordinaire Basil Twist’s Japanese-inspired Dogugaeshi at Zellerbach Playhouse
Two events have been added to Cal Performances’ 2013–2014 season lineup. For Families, a series designed to introduce children and their grown-ups to the world of performing arts, adds the West Coast premiere of Angel Heart on Sunday, October 6 at 5:00 p.m. at Hertz Hall, Berkeley, CA. The production features story and lyrics by bestselling children’s author Cornelia Funke and an original score by Luna Pearl Woolf along with performances by Bay Area favorite-and world celebrated-mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, eight cellos, two mandolins, and a children’s chorus of 20 singers. The second addition to the season is groundbreaking puppeteer Basil Twist’s Bessie Award–winning Dogugaeshi, an intricate, evocative reimagining of traditional Japanese puppet theater staging techniques, with live music performed by master shamisen player Yumiko Tanaka. The rarely staged production will be offered on Wednesday, November 6, at 8:00 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, November 7 and 8, at 6:00 and 8:30 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, November 9 and 10, at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, Berkeley, CA. Twist is “one of the era’s most audacious puppeteers” (Washington Post).

Angel Heart
Angel Heart was created by Luna Pearl Woolf and soprano Lisa Delan, who also performs in the concert. The tale is about a young girl who finds peace after heartbreak with the help of a petulant guardian angel. The production will be semi-staged by Opera Parallel’s Brian Staufenbiel and will also feature Daniel Taylor, counter-tenor, and Sanford Sylvan, baritone. In addition to original music, the concert will include works composed and arranged by The Beatles, Jake Heggie, Gordon Getty, and Lewis Spratlan. Angel Heart premieres at Carnegie Hall before coming to Berkeley. A CD and book set will be released September 24 and will be accompanied by an interactive storybook app for iPad and Android. The recording will include the same artists who will perform in Berkeley, with the exception of mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao, who died in February 2013. The performances of Angel Heart will be dedicated to her memory.

Dogugaeshi
Basil Twist’s masterwork Dogugaeshi comes to Zellerbach Playhouse for nine performances. The word "dogugaeshi" refers to a Japanese theater form that involves the drawing back of a series of decorative screens to reveal scenery behind. In Twist’s take on this ancient stage mechanism, video projection, painting, and puppetry are combined to produce an intimate and visually striking hour-long performance. The work features an original score by shamisen virtuoso Yumika Tanaka. Dogugaeshi was commissioned by the Japan Society in New York and won a Bessie Award in 2005. Due to its intricate set, it is rarely performed.

Born in San Francisco, Basil Twist has been practicing puppetry in New York for the past two decades, creating unusual and innovative puppet theater pieces such as Symphonie Fantastique, which is performed entirely underwater. Twist has received two Bessies and an Obie, as well as earning a Guggenheim Fellowship and United States Artists Fellowship for his work. “No theatre artist in New York is showing more poetic force or technical skill than the puppeteer Basil Twist” (New Yorker).

Single Ticket Sale Informaton:
Single tickets for Cal Performances 2013–2014 season go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, August 20 at noon. Prior to that, single tickets to Email Club members go on sale Sunday, August 13. Tickets are available through the Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at calperformances.org; and at the door. Half-price tickets are available for purchase by 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 a complete listing of discounts go to http://calperformances.org/buy/discounts.php.

--Christina Kellogg, Cal Performances

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s 41st Season Fourth Week of Concerts to Include Soprano Lucy Shelton, Baritone Matthew Worth, and the Orion String Quartet
Mahler: Songs of a Wayfarer, Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire
Sunday, August 4 at 6pm
Monday, August 5 at 6pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art

Santa Fe, New Mexico: The folk-inspired wind dectet, Dixtuor, by Romanian composer George Enescu begins the Festival’s fourth week of concerts.  Highly acclaimed for her expressive interpretation of new music, soprano Lucy Shelton sings Schoenberg’s shocking and fascinating Pierrot lunaire, a work the singer has performed for more than 30 years.  Baritone Matthew Worth returns to the Festival for Mahler’s poignant early song cycle Songs of a Wayfarer.

Enescu: Dixtuor
Joshua Smith and Marie Tachouet, flutes; Robert Ingliss, oboe; Kyle Mustain, English horn; Todd Levy and Carol McGonnell, clarinets; Theodore Soluri and Stefanie Przybylska, bassoons; Julie Landsman and Gabrielle Finck, horns; Lawrence Foster, conductor.

Mahler: Songs of a Wayfarer (arr. Schoenberg)
Matthew Worth, baritone; Joshua Smith, flute; Carol McGonnell, clarinet;
Johannes String Quartet: Soovin Kim and Jessica Lee, violin; Choong-Jin Chang, viola; Peter Stumpf, cello;
Kristen Bruya, bass; Shai Wosner, piano; Kathleen McIntosh, harmonium; David Tolen, percussion;
Lawrence Foster, conductor

Schoenberg: Pierrot lunaire, Op. 21
Lucy Shelton, soprano; Joshua Smith, flute/piccolo; Carol McGonnell, clarinet/bass clarinet;
Soovin Kim, violin/viola; Peter Stumpf, cello; Shai Wosner, piano; Lawrence Foster, conductor

Tickets: Sunday or Monday Series subscription: $390;
Single tickets: $53-73; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

Shanghai Quartet Plays Dvorak: Music at Noon Series
Tuesday, August 6 at 12pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art

Renowned for its passionate musicality and impressive technique, the Shanghai Quartet has become one of the world’s foremost chamber ensembles.  The Shanghai present Dvorak’s final quartet in a program with pianist Haochen Zhang playing Debussy’s Préludes, alongside Mexican composer Mario Lavista’s atmospheric Marsias with oboist Robert Ingliss and surprise guest “crystalists.” In addition, Festival debut artist Carol McGonnell performs Stockhausen’s solo work for a dancing clarinetist, Der kleine Harlekin.

Debussy: Préludes Book II, No. 6, 5, 7 & 12
Haochen Zhang, piano

Stockhausen: Der kleine Harlekin, No. 42½
Carol McGonnell, clarinet

Mario Lavista: Marsias for Oboe & Eight Crystal Glasses
Robert Ingliss, oboe

Dvorak: String Quartet No. 14 in A-flat major, Op. 105
Shanghai Quartet: Weigang Li, violin; Yi-Wen Jiang, violin; Honggang Li, viola; Nicholas Tzavaras, cello

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

Victor Santiago Asuncion: Solo Piano Recitial, Festival Premiere Recital, Music at Noon Series Wednesday, August 7 at 12 pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art

Recognized as an artist of innate musical sensitivity, fiery temperament, and superb technique, pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion’s all-Beethoven Festival premiere recital features the grand and technically challenging “Waldstein” and “Appassionata” sonatas, two of the most famous sonatas of the composer’s middle period.

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53, "Waldstein"
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, "Appassionata"

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

Brahhms and Beethoven Strings
Wednesday, August 7 at 7:30pm
Simms Auditorium, Albuquerque Academy
Thursday, August 8 at 6pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art

2009 Van Cliburn Gold Medal Winner, Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang returns to the Festival with Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrouchka, a work that at the age of 19 earned him the distinction of being the first Asian to win the Competition as well as one of the youngest gold medalists in its history.

Also on the program, the Shanghai Quartet performs Beethoven’s “Serioso” String Quartet and, with the addition of violist Cynthia Phelps, Brahms’s String Quintet No. 1--described by Brahms to Clara Schumann as one of his finest works.

Beethoven: String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95, "Serioso" 
Shanghai Quartet: Weigang Li, violin; Yi-Wen Jiang, violin; Honggang Li, viola;
Nicholas Tzavaras, cello

Stravinsky: Three Movements from Petrouchka
Haochen Zhang, piano

Brahms: String Quintet No. 1 in F major, Op. 88
Shanghai Quartet; Cynthia Phelps, viola

Tickets: Albuquerque Series subscription (Simms Auditorium): $140;
Single tickets: $30-40; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

Thursday Series subscription (St. Francis Auditorium): $305;
Single tickets: $31-69; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

Dvorkak Piano Quartet: Music at Noon Series
Thursday, August 8 at 12pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art  

“Music at Noon” continues with violinist and concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra William Preucil, New York Philharmonic’s principal violist Cynthia Phelps, and Eric Kim, former principal cellist of the Cincinnati, San Diego, and Denver symphonies, playing Erno Dohnanyi’s Serenade, Op, 10. The trio is joined by pianist Haochen Zhang for Dvorak’s modulating and mood-shifting Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat major.

Dohnanyi: Serenade, Op. 10
William Preucil, violin; Cynthia Phelps, viola; Eric Kim, cello

Dvorak: Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 87
William Preucil, violin; Cynthia Phelps, viola; Eric Kim, cello; Haochen Zhang, piano

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

Bach Plus Series: J.S. Bach: The Art of Fugue
Saturday, August 10 at 5pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art    

One of the most sought-after ensembles in the United States, the Orion String Quartet, returns to the Festival as part of the “Bach Plus” series performing Samuel Baron’s acclaimed arrangements of Bach’s monumental The Art of Fugue with winds consisting of flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, oboist Robert Ingliss, English horn player Kyle Mustain, Festival debut artist clarinetist Patrick Messina, bassoonist Theodore Soluri and horn player Julie Landsman.

J.S. Bach Selections from The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 (arranged by Samuel Baron)
Tara Helen O’Connor, flute; Robert Ingliss, oboe; Kyle Mustain, English horn; Patrick Messina, clarinet; Theodore Soluri, bassoon; Julie Landsman, horn; Orion String Quartet: Daniel Phillips, violin; Todd Phillips, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Timothy Eddy, cello.

Tickets: 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 www.SantaFeChamberMusic.com. 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

Merola Opera Program Summer Festival Presents The Merola Grand Finale
Presented at the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, CA on August 17.

The Merola Opera Program’s Summer Festival concludes with the popular Merola Grand Finale at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 17 at the War Memorial Opera House. Conductor John DeMain will lead San Francisco Opera Orchestra members and 2013 Merola Apprentice Stage Director George Cederquist will stage this varied musical program featuring works by Barber, Bernstein, Britten, Gounod, Handel, Korngold, Massenet, Monteverdi, Offenbach, Purcell, Rossini and Wagner.

“The Merola Grand Finale is, for all of us Merolini, one of the highlights of the summer. It’s our chance to show how much we’ve grown and how much potential we have,” said 2013 Merola Apprentice Stage Director George Cederquist. “My goal is to create a staged concert that is celebratory, beautiful and fluid. This is not the time for highly conceptual work. My aim is to help my singer-colleagues sound great, act great and look great, and I intend to do just that.”

Conductor John DeMain is Music Director of the Madison Symphony and Artistic Director of Madison Opera. A much sought after guest conductor of orchestras and opera companies around the world, Mr. DeMain is a regular guest of The Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, The Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera and New York City Opera. For 18 years, he served as musical partner to David Gockley as Music Director Houston Grand Opera. During that partnership with David Gockley, Maestro DeMain led a history-making production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, which he subsequently recorded for RCA and won the Grammy Award, Tony Award as well as France’s Grand Prix du Disque He also served as Artistic Director of Opera Pacific for 10 years and as Artistic Director of Opera Omaha.

Already a respected young director, George Cederquist was one of only 10 Americans to receive the 2011-2012 German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the first Stage Director ever to win this prestigious award. Next season, he will be Resident Artist Stage Director at Pittsburgh Opera under the mentorship of General Director Christopher Hahn. He will serve as Assistant Director for each of the company’s four main stage productions and will direct a new production of Gregory Spears’ opera Paul’s Case.

The first Merola Grand Finale was held in 1957 as both a concert and an audition for San Francisco Opera’s general director. In 1976 the concert was opened to the public as the Merola artists’ final performance of the summer. Showcasing the progress made by the Merola artists during the course of the program and highlighting their unique talents, this year’s Merola Grand Finale will feature all 23 Merola 2013 singers. The five 2013 Merola apprentice coaches are involved in musical preparations for the concert.

Mezzo-soprano Kate Allen is the 2013 Zheng Cao Scholar. Merola Opera Program created the Zheng Cao Opera Fund in 2012 with a generous initial gift from Annette Campbell-White, in honor of the talented mezzo-soprano (Merola 1994) who lost her valiant battle with cancer earlier this year. Each summer the fund sponsors one incoming Merola artist—either an Asian/Pacific artist or a mezzo-soprano. As San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley so eloquently put it, “Zheng had more than a lovely, fruity, lyric mezzo-soprano voice. She infused every life situation around her with a sense of great joy, fun and heartfelt sincerity. She was in a class by herself with regard to how people responded to her.” Through the generosity of her many friends and admirers, the Zheng Cao Opera Fund has grown to nearly $180,000 since its inception. With only a small draw on the fund each year, the Zheng Cao Fund covers a significant portion of the artist’s training and housing costs in addition to any special visa or travel costs associated with bringing an Asian/Pacific artist to San Francisco. The fund’s first recipient was Chinese tenor Yi Li (Merola 2012).

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. Throughout the summer, the Merola artists participate in master classes and private coachings with opera luminaries. Participants—who include singers, apprentice coaches and an apprentice stage director—also receive training in operatic repertory, foreign languages, diction, acting and stage movement.

--Karen Ames Communications

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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.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa