Classical Music News of the Week, September 8, 2013

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg Extends Contract with New Century Chamber Orchestra and Announces a New Recording Release for May 2014. The 2013-2014 Season Kicks Off with Performances Showcasing Works by Featured Composer Michael Daughery

The 2013-2014 season highlights include Donizetti’s rarely performed one-act opera Rita featuring San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellows, a first-time collaboration with Chanticleer, a world-premiere violin concerto by Michael Daugherty, and a debut performance at Stanford’s Bing Hall.

New Century Chamber Orchestra is pleased to announce that Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, lauded for her adventurous spirit and exceptional leadership of the ensemble, has extended her contract through the 2015-2016 season. Her commitment to the Orchestra and dedication to expanding contemporary string orchestra repertoire is exemplified by the Featured Composer Residency Program, established in her first season as Music Director and highlighted by New Century’s upcoming third recording release on the NSS Music Label. Scheduled for release in May 2014, A to Z: 21st Century Concertos will feature four violin concertos commissioned through New Century Chamber Orchestra’s Featured Composer Program, performed and recorded live by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the ensemble in San Francisco Bay Area performances.

The 2013-2014 season opens with performances September 26-29 showcasing a variety of works by Featured Composer Michael Daugherty. Hailed by The Times (London) as having a “maverick imagination, fearless structural sense and meticulous ear,” Daugherty is one of the most commissioned, performed and recorded composers on the American scene today. The program will feature a variety of his solo and chamber works such as Viva for solo violin, performed by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Elvis Everywhere for string quartet and tape. Also featured is Daugherty’s Viola Zombie for two violas, Regrets Only for violin, cello and piano as well as Strut for chamber orchestra, alongside Serenade for String Orchestra in E Major, Op.6 by Josef Suk.

New Century’s seventh recording, and third on the NSS Music Label, A to Z: 21st Century Concertos will feature commissioned works by featured composers including William Bolcom’s Romanza for Solo Violin and String Orchestra (recorded May 2010) and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Commedia dell’Arte (recorded May 2012). The final two works, Clarice Assad’s Dreamscapes and Michael Daugherty’s Fallingwater for Solo Violin and Strings will be recorded during New Century’s November 2013 performances, the latter receiving its world premiere. This will be the first commercial album comprised entirely of works commissioned through the Featured Composer Program demonstrating the Orchestra’s continued commitment to contemporary American music and giving each work life beyond its premiere.

The world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s Fallingwater for Solo Violin and Strings is featured in November 2013 performances that explore the theme of legacy with music by Russian composers Tchaikovsky and student Anton Arensky, in addition to a work titled Elegy by Samuel Jones, honoring the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. The 2013-2014 season continues in the New Year with two special collaborations. In February, New Century welcomes the San Francisco Opera Center’s Adler Fellows in an evening of opera, including a performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s rarely presented one act opera Rita, a comic tale of domestic strife. The season concludes in March with another first-time collaboration featuring Chanticleer. Labeled by The New York Times as “the world’s reigning male chorus,” the two-time Grammy award winning ensemble will join New Century in a journey across the Atlantic from Germany to New York, spanning the era between two World Wars with European classics and works from the great American Songbook. The 2013-2014 season will feature New Century in performance at a variety of different Bay Area venues including first time appearances at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall and the San Francisco Jewish Community Center; return appearances at the Yerba Buena Center for Performing Arts, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts; and a return engagement at Cal Performances’ Fall Free For All at Zellerbach Hall. The 2013-2014 season will also include an Open Rehearsal Series, featuring four Rehearsals at the Kanbar Performing Arts Center, which will allow audiences to experience the Orchestra’s dynamic and collaborative rehearsal style.

“New Century continues to expand its reach and it is the energy here in San Francisco that we thrive on,” says Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. “I am constantly reminded of how lucky we are to be a part of the Bay Area’s rich and vibrant music scene and to be surrounded by such astounding talent as Chanticleer and the Adler Fellows. We’re delighted to share the stage with them in these special first-time collaborations. Our Featured Composer program welcomes the most prominent composers of today and I am particularly excited to work with Michael Daugherty, who is one of the great American composers. The violin concerto that he is writing for us will undoubtedly be a highlight and I can’t wait to premiere this work as soloist.”

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

Single tickets range in price from $29 to $59 and can be purchased through City Box Office: www.cityboxoffice.com and (415) 392-4400, with the exception of concerts at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts: www.mvcpa.com  and (650) 903-6000. Discounted $15 single tickets are available for patrons under 35.

The Bing Concert Hall performance is presented by Stanford Live and at this time, there are no tickets available. To receive information about newly available tickets, please add yourself to the Notification List at live.standford.edu/go/notifylist. For more information about the performance visit live.stanford.edu or call (650) 725-ARTS.

Open Rehearsal tickets are $8 general admission and can be purchased through City Box Office: www.cityboxoffice.com and (415) 392-4400.

For further information on New Century, please visit www.ncco.org.

--Karen Ames PR

AOP Commissions As One and The Leopard
New operas will begin development in First Chance program

As One creators
Filmmaker Kimberly Reed, composer Laura Kaminsky, and librettist Mark Campbell working on the libretto for As One.

"For things to remain the same everything must change" is the theme woven into two AOP operas-in-development, As One and The Leopard, commissioned during AOP's 25th year creating a new repertory. The operas will be developed in First Chance, which is funded, in part, by a generous multi- year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

As One is an original music theater work to be created by composer Laura Kaminsky, (her first opera) librettist Mark Campbell, and filmmaker Kimberly Reed. The chronicles of a transgender person as she emerges into harmony with herself and the world around her are portrayed with compassion, candor and humor. The Leopard, an opera based on the twentieth-century novel by Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, and famously filmed by Luchino Visconti, is brought to life by composer Michael Dellaira and poet/librettist J.D. McClatchy. While its narrative unfolds in Sicily during the Risorgimento, the story is driven by the familiar forces Love and Death, summed up in the novel's confounding theme: "for things to remain the same everything must change."  

Read more about American Opera Projects:  http://operaprojects.org/

 --Matt Gray, AOP News

Tenet Signs with AVIE Records
The pre-eminent New York-based vocal ensemble TENET has signed with AVIE Records, the London-based independent classical label with a unique business model based on artist ownership.

UNO + ONE Italia Nostra (AV 2303), TENET's debut release on the label, was released initially as an exclusive digital download and stream on September 3, with release on CD internationally in November.

UNO + ONE is an imaginative recording that reflects the group's hallmark qualities of innovative programming, virtuosic singing, and a particular command of repertoire from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. At the heart of UNO + ONE are the canzonette, arie and scherzi by Monteverdi, a composer with whom TENET is indelibly associated due to their groundbreaking annual performances of the towering Vespers of 1610 which they inaugurated in the work's 400th anniversary year of 2010.

Sopranos Jolle Greenleaf and Molly Quinn headline UNO + ONE, and are joined by their instrumental colleagues - the crème de la crème of the New York early music scene - Robert Mealy and Daniel Lee, violins; Hank Heijink, theorbo; Daniel Swenberg, tiorbino and baroque guitar; and Avi Stein, harpsichord. Their inspired and idiomatic performances place Monteverdi's works alongside those by contemporary Italian masters Bellerofonte, Castaldi, Johannes Kapsberger, Martino Pesenti and Luigi Rossi.

To celebrate the release of UNO + ONE, TENET will perform selections from the album at New York's Tenri Cultural Institute on October 12. Further performances by TENET this season take place at the Carnegie's Zankel Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University's Christ Church, and venues in La Jolla and Los Angeles, spanning works by Gesualdo, Praetorius, Purcell and Benjamin Britten, among others.

--Melanne Mueller, AVIE Records

Tod Brody Appointed Executive Director of Opera Parallèle
Opera Parallèle has named Tod Brody as the company’s first executive director, effective September 1 – announced on behalf of the Board of Directors by Chairman Robert Ripps. With a solid six years of critical and box-office success in pursuit of its mission of producing and presenting contemporary chamber opera, Opera Parallèle has taken a crucial step toward organizational maturity by hiring its first executive director. Mr. Brody will work alongside Founder and Artistic Director Nicole Paiement to create a professional administrative structure to support Opera Parallèle’s operations. He will have primary responsibility for financial matters, marketing, fundraising as well as assisting Opera Parallèle’s Board of Directors with strategic planning and organizational development.

Tod Brody is well known in the field of contemporary music both as a professional musician and as an arts leader. For ten years, he served as the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Composers Forum (ACF-SFBAC), a national service organization dedicated to enhancing career opportunities for composers and other creative musical artists. During his tenure with the organization, Brody presided over a tripling of the budget and increased its focus on providing needed financial support to Northern California composers. A gifted flutist, Mr. Brody is well known to local audiences as an advocate for 20th and 21st century operatic works as a performer with the Sacramento Opera, the San Francisco Opera, Earplay and the Paul Dresher Ensemble. He is also active as a chamber musician and orchestral player. Acclaimed for his skillful interpretations of the work of living composers, Mr. Brody has performed dozens of world premieres and participated in numerous recordings. He has been on the music faculty at UC Davis since 1991.

“I have been following Nicole Paiement’s career for many years and have been continually impressed with her commitment to new work, the skill she brings as a conductor and her astute selection of collaborators,” said Brody. “Opera Parallèle has consistently produced remarkable work and, in recent years, has also achieved impressive organizational strength. I’m very enthused about contributing to this brilliant team, which has almost unlimited potential for further growth.”

“Tod brings to Opera Parallèle not only his diverse management experience but also a deep knowledge of contemporary music,” said Mr. Ripps. “The board feels strongly that these skills and interests are a perfect fit with the dynamism and charisma of Artistic Director Nicole Paiement. Nicole’s tireless efforts alongside those of her creative partners, Resident Stage Director Brian Staufenbiel and General Manager Jacques Desjardins, have resulted in steady growth since 2008 when the company reoriented toward contemporary chamber opera. We welcome Tod to the Opera Parallèle team and look forward to continuing the Company’s remarkable artistic growth.”

--Karen Ames PR

International Organ Sensation Cameron Carpenter Takes the Stage at the John F. Kennedy Center on October 16, 2013
Described as having the dazzling technique and “wild passion” of Vladimir Horowitz, the footwork of Fred Astaire and the glam sensibility of David Bowie, renegade organist Cameron Carpenter comes to the John F. Kennedy Center on October 16. The iconoclastic performer’s concert at 2700 F St. NW Washington, D.C. will be at 8:00pm. Tickets prices are $15 and can be purchased by calling 1(800)-444-1324 or by clicking http://www.kennedy-center.org/events/?event=NOORA.

 A “smasher of cultural and classical music taboos,” according to New Yorker Magazine, there is no better organist than Cameron to unshackle his instrument from its ascetic image as a pious workhorse. Cameron’s flawless technique and intrinsic musicality have won over critics and audiences alike, while his inborn knack for showmanship has galvanized the famously staid organ world. Most recently he was recently awarded the prestigious Leonard Bernstein Prize at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in northern Germany. 

Cameron’s program, never announced in advance, will likely include some Bach, original compositions and clever takes on today’s popular music. As in most of Cameron’s performances, there’s no telling where his boundless creativity will lead.

The “extravagantly talented" (The New York Times) Cameron recently signed a long term multi-album recording contract with Sony Classical. His first album, scheduled to release in 2014, will combine a variety of Cameron’s famous transcriptions and settings of classical and modern music—including a cycle of “song treatments” ranging from the American Songbook to the present days—with a world premiere recording of his new work for organ, Music for an Imaginary Film (2013).

Cameron also announced the launch of his long-awaited International Touring Organ, which he will debut on March 9, 2014 in a daylong festival at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

ASO Season-Opener to Recapture ‘Spirit of Musical Insurrection’ at Carnegie Hall, Plus More 13/14 Season Details Released
The American Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming season, full of discoveries and revolution begins with New York Avant-Garde on October 3, 2013. In partnership with the New-York Historical Society’s new exhibition and catalog, the ASO recreates the fall-out in music of the famous New York Armory visual arts show of a century ago, in 1913.

That show rocked the New York music scene as it did the visual arts, but its full impact wasn’t heard in American music until the early 1920s, and it is that period, which spawned the first pioneers of the country’s own musical modernism, that the ASO will bring back to Carnegie Hall.

“The 1913 Armory show,” says the ASO’s music director Leon Botstein, “was a seminal moment in the history of American art and culture, which led to the sudden embrace of European modernism … people walked out and wrote diatribes and that happened around the music of the 1920’s.” Whether there will be similar riots at the ASO concert when audiences are again confronted with the shock factor of a composer George Antheil (the self-proclaimed “bad boy of music” whose music had literally caused a riot in Paris), early modernist Aaron Copland, German-trained Charles Griffes, Edgard Varèse and the highly individual Carl Ruggles remains to be seen. “It is unlikely that these composers will be quite as controversial today, but if we can recapture even a fraction of the impact, the excitement, the sheer aliveness that music had for audiences nearly a century ago we’ll be serving them well,” says Botstein.

Works include George Antheil’s A Jazz Symphony, Charles Griffes’s Poem, Carl Ruggles’s Men and Mountains, Aaron Copland’s Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, and Edgard Varèse’s Amériques (1922 version).

The American Symphony Orchestra enters its second half-century with a season filled with fascinating discoveries and concepts, and riding high off the back of their revelatory summer performances of Tanayev’s epic Oresteia at Bard Summerscape. Music director Leon Botstein and his players again lead audiences through unfairly neglected masterpieces in the Vanguard Series at Carnegie Hall, exploring fascinating cultural concepts, and they resume their popular Symphony Space series, Classics Declassified, in which perennial favorites are explored and explained in discussion and performance.

Other unmissable concerts of the Carnegie season explore such themes as the busting of the notorious ‘cowpat music’ label once attributed to English composers and, in spring 2014, the seismic effect World War One had on music’s development (as viewed from 100 years on). There’s a chance to hear Bruch’s great oratorio Moses, Strauss’s ‘sex scandal’ opera Feuersnot (not professionally performed in the US for 25 years), Bridge’s Phantasm, Bloch’s Israel Symphony, George Antheil’s A Jazz Symphony, and many other rarities – of course, ‘unmissable’ is a subjective word, but miss some of these and you might not get the chance again… And on November 17, 2013, the American Symphony Orchestra proudly presents a tribute to Elliott Carter, who died a year previously at age 103. And distinguished guest artists include clarinettist Anthony McGill and pianist Sergio Tiempo.

--Inverne Price Music

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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.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa