Classical Music News of the Week, September 22, 2013

Orion Ensemble’s “Danube Destinations” Features First of Three Beethoven Trios on Season Programs

Hindemith, Mozart also on program in Evanston (Oct. 27), Geneva (Nov. 3), Chicago (Nov. 6).

For “Danube Destinations,” its second concert program of the season, The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, begins the series of Beethoven Opus 9 string trios that will carry through the rest of the season. These performances include the Ensemble’s debut at Sherwood, The Community Music School at Columbia College Chicago November 6, as well as performances at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston October 27 and the First Baptist Church of Geneva November 3.

Joining Orion is guest violist Stephen Boe, a member of The Chicago Ensemble who teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago.

The program
With “Danube Destinations,” Orion turns to the works of three German-speaking composers: Ludwig van Beethoven, Paul Hindemith and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. All were prolific in many musical genres and innovative in their writing styles, influencing the composers who followed them.

Beethoven wrote his three Opus 9 string trios in 1797 and 1798, after he had made a name for himself as a pianist in Vienna and was beginning to travel and be known in the wider continent. Each of the Opus 9 trios is in four movements, a form he would use for most of his quartets and symphonies. The writing is weighty and virtuosic, often contrapuntal, and fully Beethovenian in its energy, passion and strength. This program includes the Trio in G Major for Violin, Viola and Cello, Op. 9, No. 1.

Hindemith’s Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano (1938) exudes a surprisingly broad and roomy air, given its conception just before WWII. It is a prime example of Hindemith’s motivically conceived contrapuntal writing and is resplendent with many textural contrasts.

The concert also features a seldom-heard bonus piece by Hindemith, the Duett for Viola and Cello (1934), which gives Orion the opportunity to highlight the musical talents of guest violist Stephen Boe and Orion cellist Judy Stone.

Mozart composed the Quartet in G Minor at the request of Austrian publisher and composer Franz Anton Hoffmeister. It was unusual in that the string parts were more substantial than earlier works written for piano with (usually one or two) strings. According to music scholar David Grayson, no previous composer had so “transcended the usual limitations imposed by private, domestic music-making and aspired to the level of public concert music.” The quartet is replete with virtuosic piano writing, similar to Mozart’s piano concerti, and features considerable interplay between the piano and strings, as well as among the string parts.

Performance and ticket information:
The Orion Ensemble’s “Danube Destinations” concert program takes place Sunday, October 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston; Sunday, November 3 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva; and Wednesday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Sherwood, The Community Music School at Columbia College Chicago, 1312 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; admission is free for children 12 and younger. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit orionensemble.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

92nd Street Y October Performances
Tuesday, October 8, 7:30 PM at SubCulture
Jason Vieaux, guitar
Julien Labro, bandoneón, accordion, accordina

Saturday, October 19, 8 PM
Opening Night with Valentina Lisitsa, piano

Saturday, October 26, 8 PM
An American Tribute to Andrés Segovia
Benjamin Verdery, artistic director & guitar
Eliot Fisk, guitar
Oscar Ghiglia, guitar
Adam Holzman, guitar
Martha Masters, guitar
Richard Savino, Baroque guitar
Christopher Parkening, speaker

Tuesday, October 29, 8:15 PM
A Night with András Schiff, Bach and Beethoven

Wednesday, October 30, 8:15 PM
Glimmerglass ShowTalk: Composers & Process

Tickets are available at www.92Y.org/concerts or 212-415-5500.

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

American Bach Soloists in December
ABS’s presentations this December will again be among the must-see events for Northern California music lovers. Premium seating for our annual performances of Handel’s Messiah at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral (December 11 & 12) is nearly sold out for both nights and tickets for the remaining seats have been moving rapidly. A third performance of Messiah at the Mondavi Center in Davis, CA, follows on Sunday, December 15.

On Saturday December 14, ABS returns to St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere for “An ABS Christmas,” a special one-night only concert featuring Baroque trumpet virtuoso John Thiessen and soprano Shawnette Sulker.
Handel’s Messiah:
Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 7:30 pm
Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street, San Francisco
Thursday, December 12, 2013, 7:30 pm
Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street, San Francisco
Sunday, December 15, 2013, 4:00 pm
Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, Mrak Hall Drive, Davis, CA

Shawnette Sulker, soprano - Eric Jurenas, countertenor
Aaron Sheehan, tenor - Mischa Bouvier, baritone
American Bach Choir - Jeffrey Thomas, conductor

An ABS Christmas at St. Stephen’s
Saturday, December 14, 2013, 8:00 pm
St. Stephen’s Church, 3 Bayview Avenue, Belvedere, CA

Bach: Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51
Bach: Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen, BWV 248
Plus Holiday Carols and works by Britten, Conte, Howells, Rutter, Vaughan Williams, & Whitacre

Shawnette Sulker, soprano - John Thiessen, trumpet
American Bach Choir - Jeffrey Thomas, conductor

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Berkeley Symphony Announces New Chamber Music Series. Season Opens with World Premiere by Edmund Campion. Alessio Bas Featured as Soloist in Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 October 3
The 2013-2014 season highlights include a world premiere by Samuel Carl Adams, Bay Area premieres from Esa-Pekka Salonen and Kaija Saariaho, and performances by mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor and wiolinist Anthony Marwood

Berkeley Symphony, recognized for its adventurous programming and fresh interpretations of classic European traditions, expands its 2013-2014 season with an announcement of the new Berkeley Symphony & Friends Chamber Music Series. Co-produced by the Piedmont Center for the Arts, the series includes five unique chamber music concerts scheduled throughout the season and designed to showcase the exceptional artistry of the musicians across a wider community. A strong presence in the Bay Area, Berkeley Symphony recently performed with Placido Domingo for the Cal Performance/Another Planet co-production at the Greek Theater on September 7. The Orchestra will team up with the Martha Graham Dance Company on January 31, 2014 and February 1, 2014 also presented by Cal Performances. Berkeley Symphony’s prominence as a major contributor in the classical world was recently acknowledged by the League of American Orchestras with a 2012-2013 ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and by the National Endowment for the Arts with an Arts Works grant to support its Music in the Schools program.

Music Director Joana Carneiro leads the Berkeley Symphony in the opening concert of the 2013-2014 season Thursday, October 3 at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall with a program featuring the world premiere of Ossicles (Tiny Bones) by Bay Area-based composer and UC Berkeley composition faculty member Edmund Campion. A co-commission with Cal Performances, Ossicles is Campion’s fourth piece for orchestra and refers

to the three smallest bones in the human body, the auditory ossicles, located in the middle ear. The piece focuses on the physical aspect of sound, the wonder of sound and the miracle of cognition. San Francisco Chronicle critic Joshua Kosman commented that “Campion keeps clarity and even beauty at the fore” and is described as “essentially an impressionist, writing music based on gesture and its expansion” by San Francisco Classical Voice’s Benjamin Frandzel. The program also features fast-rising Italian pianist Alessio Bax, considered by The New Yorker as “perhaps the most elegant of today’s young pianists,” as soloist in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. An active international soloist and winner of numerous prestigious awards, Bax was recently honored with the 2013 Martin E. Segal Award and the 2013 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award. Wagner’s symphonic poem Siegfried Idyll completes the program.

Immediately following the concert, Berkeley Symphony will host an Opening Night Dinner honoring Cal Performances Director Matias Tarnopolsky in the Zellerbach Mezzanine. Dinner guests will be joined by Joana Carneiro, Edmund Campion and Alessio Bax.

The inaugural Berkeley Symphony & Friends Chamber Music Series begins at 5 p.m Sunday, September 15 at the Piedmont Center for the Arts and features guest violinist Stuart Canin, former concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Opera, alongside musicians from the Berkeley Symphony. Works include Mozart’s Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major, Martinu’s Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola, Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins and César Franck’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major. The Series continues throughout the 2013-2014 season with performances on November 3, January 19, 2014, March 16, 2014 and April 13, 2014. Full artist and repertoire details for the remaining four programs will be announced at a later date. For further information call (510) 841-2800, ext. 1 or visit www.berkeleysymphony.org.

The 2013-2014 subscription season continues December 5 at 8 p.m. with a program featuring Australian composer Brett Dean’s most celebrated work, Carlo, alongside two masterworks from the classical repertoire. San Francisco Symphony Associate Principal Cellist Peter Wyrick joins Berkeley Symphony to perform Haydn’s Cello Concerto No.1 with Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 completing the program. On February 6, 2014 at 8 p.m., Berkeley Symphony will present a world premiere work for violin and ensemble by Berkeley-native Samuel Carl Adams, son of composer John Adams and a graduate of Berkeley’s Crowden School. British violinist Anthony Marwood, praised by BBC Music Magazine as a “consummate artist…blessed with boundless energy, intellectual curiosity and creative wizardry,” features as soloist. Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite opens the program, which concludes with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 Scottish. The 2013-2014 season closes on May 1 with a program featuring Bay Area premieres from two highly regarded Finnish composers: Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Nyx and Kaija Saariaho’s Adriana Songs. Kelley O’Connor, described as “a very young contralto with an astonishing voice” by San Francisco Classical Voice critic Janos Gereben, is featured as soloist for the latter. The program concludes with Beethoven’s beloved Symphony No. 5.

--Karen Ames PR

Cal Performances Presents Jessica Rivera and Kelley O’Connor in World Premieres of Song Cycles by Jonathan Leshnoff and David Bruce
Sunday, October 13 AT 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall, Berkeley, CA. Pianist and music director Robert Spano accompanies the celebrated singers.

Soprano Jessica Rivera and mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor will premiere song cycles by composers Jonathan Leshnoff and David Bruce in a program of solos and duets on Sunday, October 13 at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall, Berkeley. Pianist and conductor Robert Spano will accompany the two singers. The program also includes the Bay Area premiere of Cantos de la Cocina by Berkeley native Gabriela Lena Frank, a Grammy Award-winning composer and pianist who writes metaphorically of love and life through the act of cooking; the work was composed for Rivera and is performed by her and O’Connor. “Rivera’s singing is so distinctive in tone—and so unabashedly beautiful” (San Francisco Chronicle), while O’Connor, who makes her Cal Performances debut, is acclaimed for “the beauty of her singing, the way every word [is] given meaning” (Los Angeles Times).

Both O’Connor and Rivera’s new song cycles receive their world premieres at Cal Performances, where they and Spano kick off a nationwide tour that includes stops in Georgia and Ohio, and culminates with a performance in Carnegie Hall. Leshnoff’s new work for Rivera, Monica Songs, blends texts from the Book of Ruth, Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, and personal letters to explore themes of life and death, love and loyalty, and joy and sorrow. Rivera, a champion of new composers, also premiered a Carnegie Hall–bound work by Mark Grey when she last sang at Cal Performances in 2011. Leshnoff’s recent compositions span flute, guitar, and cello concerti, string quartets, and orchestral works, and have been lauded for “sheer sonic beauty” (Washington Post). Bruce’s work, That Time with You, for mezzo-soprano and piano, was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Kelley O’Connor. Bruce, who has written for Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and served as 2012–2013 composer in residence at London’s Royal Opera House, has been praised for creating vocal lines that are “invitingly melodic and deceptively simple. Though they often have a folksy ring at first, they invariably grow more complex and varied” (New York Times). Solo works by Federico Mompou and Claude Debussy, and duets by Camille Saint-Saëns, Charles Gounod, and Felix Mendelssohn complete the concert.

Jessica Rivera’s performing career includes traditional and contemporary opera, concert halls, and intimate recitals. She has collaborated with composers, including John Adams, Osvaldo Golijov, and Nico Muhly, and sang the role of Nuria in the 2007 Grammy-winning recording of Golijov’s opera Ainadamar with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Spano. California native mezzo-soprano O’Connor also appeared on the Ainadamar recording as Lorca, and more recently sang in a world premiere staging by Peter Sellars of John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. In addition to opera and recitals, O’Connor has sung in concert with many top orchestras, including the National Symphony Orchestra and symphony orchestras in Toronto, Atlanta, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Detroit, and has performed and recorded throughout Europe and Asia.

Accompanist Robert Spano is music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Aspen Music Festival and School. He has conducted orchestras and opera companies worldwide, presented three world premieres in his twelve years in Atlanta, and contributed to six Grammy-winning recordings. As a pianist, he has performed works ranging from Bach to Gershwin to Rachmaninoff and accompanied artists, including bass-baritone Eric Owens, violinists David Coucheron and Yoon Jung Yang, and his frequent collaborator Jessica Rivera.

Ticket information:
Tickets for Jessica Rivera and Kelley O’Connor, with pianist Robert Spano, in recital on Sunday, October 13 at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall are $32.00 but are subject to change. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at www.calperformances.org; and at the door. For more information about discounts, go to http://calperformances.org/buy/discounts.php.

--Christina Kellogg, Cal Performances

The Phoenix Concerts Celebrates AOP’s 25th Anniversary with Composers & the Voice Song Concert
American Opera Projects and The Phoenix Concerts will co-produce "AOP25: Celebrating Composers & the Voice," a concert featuring the work of composers and librettists from AOP's C&V (Composers & the Voice) program, an annual fellowship that trains composers to write for the operatic voice. The concert will take place Friday, October 11 at 8PM at the Church of Saint Matthew and Saint Timothy: 26 West 84th Street, New York City. Tickets are $10 at the door or free with a student ID. A complete list of artists will be available through The Phoenix Concerts website www.thephoenixconcerts.org. Phoenix Concerts Artistic Director and C&V alumna (2005-06) Gilda Lyons will be one of the highlighted composers, along with Conrad Cummings, Daniel Felsenfeld, Vivian Fung, Hannah Lash, and many others. The concert coincides with the seventh iteration of C&V and the twenty-fifth anniversary of AOP. Featured performers include soprano Adrienne Danrich (San Francisco Opera, Cincinnati Opera), mezzo-soprano Nicole Mitchell (New York Philharmonic, Sarasota Opera) with Mila Henry on piano.

The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give emerging composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. Previous fellows in the Composers & the Voice program have gone on to receive numerous awards, commissions, and premieres, including Jack Perla (Love/Hate, San Francisco Opera, 2012), Gregory Spears (Paul's Case, UrbanArias, 2013, and Pittsburgh Opera, 2014), Stefan Weisman (Darkling, AOP commission, NYC, 2006), Hannah Lash (Aspen Music Festival), Daniel Felsenfeld (Nora, In the Great Outdoors, AOP commission, NYC, 2011), Daniel Sonenberg (The Summer King, Fort Worth Opera Frontiers, 2013), and Vivian Fung (2013 Juno Award "Classical Composition of the Year"). complete list of alumni can be found at AOP's Web site,

--American Opera Projects News

The N.P. Mander Organ Recitals
Kicking off the “Sacred Music in a Sacred Space’s” N.P. Mander Organ Recital is resident organist K. Scott Warren, September 29 at New York City’s Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Hear the spectacular N.P. Mander Organ played by organist K. Scott Warren on September 29 at 3pm. This program will feature selections from Bach and Widor performed in the spectacular and ethereal Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City. Call 212-288-2520 or click here for tickets: http://smssconcerts.org/concerts/cat.listevents/2013/09/09/.

Organist, pianist, conductor and composer K. Scott Warren opens the N.P. Mander Organ Recitals with selections from Bach and Widor. His program draws from the third part of the Clavierübung, which Warren describes as “Bach's rich compendium of chorale preludes based on the ordinary of the German Mass and catechetical hymns.” The first part of the program features the famous Prelude and Fugue in E-flat, with the Kyrie cycle and the baptism hymn Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam.

The second half is reserved for Widor's iconic Third Symphony, an enduring favorite with the brooding, canonical opening movement. The animated March in F-sharp major follows and leads to the quietly majestic Final in E minor. What a thrill to hear these iconic works in the sacred space that is the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola--a space, which Gramophone described as “…breathtaking atmosphere…ethereal…”

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Music Institute of Chicago Presents Free Luncntime Concerts
New Downtown Evanston Campus Welcomes Musicians and Music Lovers Monthly

To introduce its stellar faculty to downtown Evanston workers and residents and welcome them to its new campus, the Music Institute of Chicago is offering free lunchtime concerts and conversation one Wednesday per month from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at its new home, 1702 Sherman Ave., Evanston, IL. Lunch is available for purchase from the Pret A Manger Kiosk, and free coffee will be served.

Kicking off the series Wednesday, September 25 is jazz and classical pianist Ron Surace, who will perform some of his favorite jazz standards and original compositions. He has performed extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe. He is narrator/pianist with the Concertani di Chicago Orchestra, Atlanta Pops Orchestra, and the Huntsville Symphony and has performed with the Glenn Miller Orchestra (Ray McKinley), Bob Crosby, Ralph Marteri, Si Zentner, and the Bob Hope and Steve Allen road show orchestras. He is director/pianist of the “In Full Swing” jazz orchestra.

“We have received such a warm welcome from the community since relocating our headquarters to downtown Evanston this summer,” said Music Institute President and CEO Mark George. “Our Institute for Therapy through the Arts (ITA) and Musical Theater program are already serving segments of the Evanston community. We are now pleased to present a free lunchtime concert series for the entire community, particularly our new neighbors in downtown Evanston. These informal performances will feature our spectacular artist faculty.”

George continued, “Evanston is an arts-friendly city. I am truly appreciative of the assistance we received from the City of Evanston’s Economic Development Division. The Music Institute of Chicago plans to be in Evanston for a very long time.”

The complete schedule of free lunchtime concerts includes:
September 25: Ron Surace, Piano
Jazz Piano—Favorite Standards and Original Compositions

October 23: Rae-Myra Hilliard, Soprano and Louise Chan, Piano
Excerpts from “Seasons Change: Music written by Black American Composers”

November 13: Michael Buckwalter, French horn, Chelsea French, trombone, Amy Larsen, trumpet, and Dr. Mark George, piano
Brass Chamber Music

December 11: Aimee Biasiello, viola, Kathy Lee, piano, and Ellen McSweeney, violin

Chamber Music:
January 22: Dr. Mark George, piano, and Almita Vamos, violin
Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op 80
February 12: Mary Drews, piano, and Shigetoshi Yamada, violin
Fritz Kreisler compositions and arrangements

March 19: Fred Simon, jazz piano with Music Institute guests
Program TBD

April 23: Winds Chamber Music

May 21: Eric Sutz, jazz piano

June 11: Alexander Djordjevic, piano
Schubert’s Impromptus

For more information, click musicinst.org/

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Malcolm McDowell Joins the Angel Heart Cast, Oct. 6 at Cal Performances
Actor Malcolm McDowell has just been announced as the narrator for Angel Heart. The family, musical storybook premieres at Cal Performances before heading to Carnegie Hall. The production will take place Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. at Hertz Hall, Berkeley, CA.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the production: “A Fairy Tale for the Digital Age.”

Angel Heart blends original music by award-winning composer Luna Pearl Woolf with familiar tunes and original text by bestselling children’s fantasy writer Cornelia Funke. The production brings together celebrated artists from multiple disciplines, including cellist Matt Haimovitz (Woolf’s husband) and his all-cello ensemble Uccello, soprano Lisa Delan, and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, along with the Oakland-based Children’'s Choir of St. Martin de Porres School, a vocal ensemble founded by von Stade.


--Christina Kellogg, Call Performances

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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.

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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