Classical Music News of the Week, October 13, 2013

Opera Parallèle 2013-2014 Season Highlighted by North American Premiere of Adam Gorb’s Anya17 and a Unique Double Bill Interweaving Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel and Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tiresias

In keeping with the company’s tradition of adventurous and visionary operatic presentations, Opera Parallèle’s 2013-2014 season features the North American premiere of Adam Gorb’s Anya17, a bold work addressing the brutal realities of modern slavery and human trafficking in addition to a unique double bill which interweaves Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel with Francis Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias.

In its new season, Opera Parallèle continues to push the definition of contemporary opera by making it relevant to 21st century issues. “As a contemporary opera company, we feel it is imperative to explore the role of opera as a vehicle for social change,” said Artistic Director, Nicole Paiement. “Our two major productions this year each shine light on significant social and environmental issues.”

Poulenc’s surreal overpopulated world in Les mamelles, combined with Weill’s utopic wishes of a better life, takes a innovative twist in the production and addresses the timely concerns of overpopulation, global warming and depleted natural resources. Composer Adam Gorb and his brilliant librettist Ben Kaye deal with conflict in a much more direct way. Their award-winning partnership is rooted in operas about extreme conditions and Anya17, which deals with human trafficking, is the latest in a series of highly socially- conscious operas.

Concept Designer and Stage Director Brian Staufenbiel brings the Poulenc/Weill production to life with SteamPunk and Medieval Theatre inspired sets and video designs in performances April 25, 26 and 27 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Anya17’s brutal tale will be told through a dramatic use of media projections inside a large half-dome representing Anya’s mind and will be presented June 20, 21 and 22 at Marines’ Memorial Theater in conjunction with the 2014 Opera America conference.

An integral part of the Bay Area arts community, Opera Parallèle presents its first official fundraising event, a presentation of Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus, featuring soprano Kristin Clayton with the composer at the piano and concluding with a special performance by mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade, also accompanied by Mr. Heggie. The event takes place October 24 at the General’s Residence at Fort Mason in San Francisco and includes a reception and silent auction.

Committed to nurturing a new generation of opera lovers, Opera Parallèle continues its Hands-On-Opera community outreach program – this year partnering with Daniel Webster Elementary School to prepare and present a family-friendly presentation of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Spiders’ Revenge at 1 p.m. November 2 at the California Academy of Sciences.

Opera Parallèle will also continue its Opera-On-Display activities, where the public is invited to peek behind the scenes at events that serve as introductions to works currently in progress. This season’s activities will include a sneak preview in advance of the Poulenc/Weill double bill and an open staging rehearsal for Anya17. Each of these behind the scenes events offers insights into the productions and commentary from the artistic teams. As in past seasons, Opera Parallèle will open its final dress rehearsals to an invited group of students from regional high schools and universities free of charge.

Opera Parallèle is a professional opera company, in residence at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the only organization in the Bay Area that presents contemporary opera exclusively.

During the 2012-2013 season, Opera Parallèle greatly expanded its footprint in the community, presenting many newly imagined educational and community outreach activities, as well as tripling its public performances. Undertaking a significant expansion, Opera Parallèle presented critically acclaimed performances of three operas rather than one, including Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti in a double bill with Samuel Barber’s A Hand of Bridge and a public workshop reading of the company’s first commission, Dante De Silva’s Gesualdo, Prince of Madness, as part of its Opera Lab.

Over the last few years, Opera Parallèle has brought many superb productions of contemporary work to the community, including the award-winning world premiere of Jacques Desjardins’ re-orchestration of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, the Bay Area premiere of Philip Glass’ Orphée, the first West Coast performances of John Rea’s chamber version of Alban Berg’s 20th century masterpiece Wozzeck and the world premiere of Lou Harrison’s opera Young Caesar in conjunction with what would have been the late composer’s 90th birthday.

Opera Parallèle collaborated with SFMOMA to present an evening length production of the rarely performed Four Saints in Three Acts by composer Virgil Thomson and librettist Gertrude Stein, in combination with the world premiere of Luciano Chessa’s A Heavenly Act. In prior years, under the name Ensemble Parallèle, with its mission more broadly focused on contemporary instrumental music, the company presented 125 performances including 28 world premieres, released 12 recordings and commissioned 19 new works.

For more information on the company, visit www.operaparalelle.org.

--Karen Ames Communications

San Diego Symphony Makes Carnegie Hall Debut and Embarks on Historic China Tour
Pianist Lang Lang joins California’s oldest orchestra for Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2, the
New York premiere of David Bruce’s Night Parade, and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. Violinists Joshua Bell & Augustin Hadelich join as special guests in China.

In its 103rd season, California’s oldest orchestra, San Diego Symphony, makes its highly anticipated Carnegie Hall debut Tuesday, October 29 at 8:00 pm in Isaac Stern Auditorium. The concert, led by San Diego Symphony Music Director Jahja Ling, features a guest performance by world renowned pianist Lang Lang in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The evening also includes the New York premiere and San Diego Symphony commission of composer David Bruce’s Night Parade and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5.

David Bruce’s Night Parade explores the idea of juxtaposing thrilling darkness with the excitement of potential unknown danger.  When asked his thoughts on writing an orchestral showpiece for the San Diego Symphony, David Bruce explained, “Many of the things we find most fun and exciting are also a bit dangerous...it’s the danger itself that gives us the ‘thrill’. Similarly, many of the orchestral pieces I find most exciting also contain hints of darkness and danger mixed in.”  As the Symphony’s 2013-14 Associate Composer, David Bruce’s Night Parade receives its world premiere in San Diego October 4, 2013 and New York premiere at Carnegie Hall.

On the historic event of the Symphony’s Carnegie Hall debut, Maestro Ling comments, "With this debut performance at Carnegie Hall, the San Diego Symphony will have reached a milestone in its history.  As one of the most prestigious concert venues in the world, San Diego Symphony's performance at Carnegie Hall represents years of hard work and artistic growth.  We are ready and look forward to performing for the New York audience." Music Director Jahja Ling has garnered an exceptional reputation worldwide for his musical integrity and expressivity.  He is the first and only conductor of Chinese descent to hold a music director position with a major United States orchestra and has conducted all major symphony orchestras in North America including Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.  The 2013-14 season marks Mr. Ling’s tenth season as music director of the San Diego Symphony and under his well-regarded leadership, the Symphony has released its first recordings in a decade with works by Bright Sheng for Telarc records, and a CD of Lucas Richman’s Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant and Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals distributed by Naxos. Under his guidance, the Symphony has commissioned and premiered seven new works, increased the size of the orchestra by more than fifty percent and has been designated a Tier One major orchestra by the League of American Orchestras based on a new level of unprecedented artistic excellence, its continuing increase in audience attendance as well as its solid financial stability.

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum, Demler & Associates

Music Institute of Chicago Presents Alumnus Cellest Peter Seidenberg
The Nov. 16 program will include a work by alumnus composer David Macdonald.
The Music Institute of Chicago welcomes alumnus and cellist Peter Seidenberg, with pianist Hui-Mei Lin, for a performance November 16 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL.

The program features Little Suite, a world premiere written for this performance by composer and fellow Music Institute alumnus David Macdonald. Seidenberg and Lin also perform Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, Dvorak’s Silent Woods, Dvorak’s Rondo, Britten’s Solo Suite No. 1, and Louise Beach’s Song for a Maiden Voyage.

Peter Seidenberg, who began his studies at age six with Nell Novak of the Music Center of the North Shore (now the Music Institute of Chicago), has performed throughout Europe, the U.S., and Asia. He made his solo debut in 1983 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has since appeared as soloist with Century Orchestra of Osaka (four years as principal cellist), New American Chamber Orchestra, De Paul Chamber Orchestra, New York Chamber Soloists, and the Eastman-Rochester Philharmonic. He was a founding member of the Elements String Quartet and has played with members of the Cleveland, Tokyo, Juilliard, and Emerson Quartets. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory, both with the highest honors. He is currently cellist for the Oracle Trio, the Queen’s Chamber Band, and the New York Chamber Soloists.

Hui-Mei Lin, a native of Taiwan, received her bachelor’s degree from the Hartt School of Music, earned the William Petchek full scholarship to the master’s program at the Juilliard School, then received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. She made her New York solo debut at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall as the winner of the Artists International Competition, and she has toured to Italy, Canada, and various cities in Taiwan. She is on faculty at the Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.

David Macdonald holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The Manhattan School of Music, an M.F.A. from SUNY Purchase, and a B.A. from St. John’s College. He is a co-director of the Locrian Chamber Players contemporary music ensemble. Commissioners of his music include The Elements Quartet, The Queen’s Chamber Band, the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet, and Zero Gravity. His works have been performed by The Chappaqua Orchestra, by Collegium Westchester, on The Hartford Commissions Concert (in Merkin Hall), by Genealogies (in Rock Hall, Philadelphia), by The OWU NOW festival (Ohio), and on recitals in Chicago, Santa Fe, Israel, and Taiwan. He regularly contributes music to productions of The Actors’ Company Theater in New York. He teaches at The Manhattan School of Music in the Theory and Composition Departments and is the director of music at Pleasantville Presbyterian Church in Pleasantville, New York.

Other highlights of the Music Institute’s 2013–14 season include 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.

The Music Institute of Chicago presents Peter Seidenberg Saturday, November 16, at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, IL. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students, available at https://www.musicinst.org/news-events/event/2013/7/peter-seidenberg or by calling 847.905.1500 ext. 108. All programming is subject to change.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

West Edge Opera Inaugurates a Series of Holiday-themed Concerts at the Piedmont Center for the Arts, Piedmont, CA
The October 26 concert, titled "Something Wicked...," celebrates Halloween with scary operatic arias.

West Edge Opera is pleased to announce a series of concerts presenting opera excerpts focused on holiday themes at the Piedmont Center for the Arts, 801 Magnolia Avenue, Piedmont, CA. The inaugural concert, on Saturday, October 26 at 7:30 pm, focusing on Halloween, is titled "Something Wicked..." and offers a program of scary arias from opera and musical theater. Featured singers are soprano Eileen Meredith, tenor Benjamin Bongers and a bass-baritone to be announced. They will be accompanied by Kristin Pankonin at the piano. Subsequent events will focus on the December holidays on December 15 and Valentine's Day on February 14. Details of these concerts will be announced at a later date.

Eileen Meredith has been performing and teaching in the Bay Area and beyond for nearly two decades. She has performed with San Francisco Opera, Open Opera, Berkeley Opera, Goat Hall Productions, Pocket Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, and Sonoma City Opera. Her concert work includes solos at Davies Symphony Hall with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, with whom she was a featured soloist on the CD Voices 1900/2000. In 2002, she performed with the Meistersinger Chorale in London, and she has sung with Frederica von Stade on several occasions. She is a co-founder of Virago Theatre Company in Alameda, CA.

Benjamin Bongers has sung over forty roles with 25 companies in the United States including the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Utah Opera, Opera Delaware, Anchorage Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Opera/Columbus. He has also frequently performed in Germany in both opera and concerts, including Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and the Verdi Requiem in which he made his Davies Hall debut in 2010.

Pianist Kristin Pankonin performs regularly throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, the US and Europe. She has collaborated with such artists as vocalists Frederica von Stade, Zheng Cao and Lisa Delan, cellist Matt Haimowitz and composer/pianist Jake Heggie, and has accompanied master classes of Thomas Hampson, Anna Moffo, Regine Crespin, Sanford Sylvan, and Warren Jones.

Bay Area audiences have heard her in numerous music series including Trinity Chamber Concerts, Gold Coast Chamber Players, Old First Concerts, Composers Inc., the Latin American Chamber Music Society, Live Oak Concerts, Pacific Arts and Heritage Council and the San Francisco Opera Center. She has also performed on the Festival del Sole concert series in Napa, California and Cortona, Italy.

Tickets are now on sale, at $25 for a single performance or $70 for the series of three. Each ticket includes chocolate and a glass of wine. Tickets are available online at westedgeopera.org or by telephone at (510) 841-1903. For more information, go to West Edge Opera’s website at www.westedgeopera.org.

--Marian Kohlstedt, West Edge Opera

Beijing Symphony Orchestra Makes U.S. Debut at Carnegie Hall and at the Music Center at Strathmore, Led by Renowned Musical Director and Principal Conductor Tan Lihua
Beijing Symphony Orchestra - October 17th
Led by Musical Director and Principal Conductor Tan Lihua
Stern Auditorium/ Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, New York City, NY
Thursday, October 17th, 2013 at 8:00 pm
Tickets ($12.50-$89) can be purchased by calling 212-247-7800 or by visiting carnegiehall.org

And the orchestra makes its Washington, DC area debut at the Music Center at Strathmore on Sunday, October 20th at 7:00 pm.
Tickets ($23-$79) can be purchased by calling (301) 581-5100 or by visiting www.strathmore.org.

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 Carnegie Hall and then make its Washington area debut at Strathmore. 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.

Tickets may be purchased by calling the Strathmore box office at (301) 581-5100 or by clicking here: www.strathmore.org/eventstickets/calendar/view.asp?id=9779

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Seattle Symphony Names Thomas Dausgaard Principal Guest Conductor
Dausgaard to conduct major Sibelius festival in Seattle in 2015 in honor of 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

The Seattle Symphony announced today that Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard has been appointed the Symphony’s Principal Guest Conductor beginning in the 2014–2015 season. Thomas Dausgaard is currently the Chief Conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Honorary Conductor of the Danish National Symphony, and has appeared with many of the world’s greatest orchestras. A much-admired interpreter of Scandinavian, Classical and other repertoire, a prolific recording artist who has garnered many prestigious awards, and who is deeply committed to working with young people, Dausgaard brings a unique and valuable combination of skills and experience to Seattle.

Music Director Ludovic Morlot said, “I’m thrilled to welcome Thomas Dausgaard to the Seattle Symphony family. He is a truly great musician and I know that he will be an asset in further developing our orchestra as a world-class ensemble. I am greatly looking forward to this new artistic partnership.”

“Making music with the Seattle Symphony is an inspirational experience,” commented Thomas Dausgaard. “I feel honoured and thrilled about joining this eminent team, where music's passion and joy is the language spoken. Thank you Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot and the wonderful audience here for making me feel so welcome.”

As the Seattle Symphony’s first-ever Principal Guest Conductor, Dausgaard will conduct three weeks each season for the term of his three-year contract. In 2014–2015, during his first season with the orchestra, Dausgaard will mastermind the Seattle Symphony’s Sibelius Festival and conduct all seven Sibelius symphonies. The three-week festival, which will also include chamber performances, discussions, lectures and other events, will take place in 2015 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Finnish composer’s birth. Jean Sibelius lived from 1865–1957 and is widely considered the most important Scandinavian composer of the last century. Complete festival details will be included in the 2014–2015 season announcement, taking place next February.

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Cantus Launches 2013-2014 Season with Song of a Czech Release
The male vocal ensemble’s 2013-2014 concert season will include appearances at The Kennedy Center, Cincinnati Opera, Penn State, and Wake Forest University.

A new recording “Song of a Czech: Dvorák and Janácek for Men’s Voices” will be released October 29. Cantus Media Initiative launches this month, bringing free concert downloads to fans through SoundCloud, Social Media, Download Cards

The Minnesota-based men’s vocal ensemble Cantus announces their 2013-2014 concert season, which including several stops around the U.S., with concerts at The Kennedy Center, the Cincinnati Opera, Pennsylvania State University, and Wake Forest University. Cantus is also preparing for the release of a new album: Song of a Czech: Dvorák and Janácek for Men’s Voices on October 29.

A Place for Us on tour:
Throughout the 2013-14 season, Cantus will perform A Place for Us, a program exploring the concept of home.  Home has various meanings for each of us—from where we were born to where we finally feel at rest. With world premieres by Sarah Kirklan, d Snider, and Paul John Rudoi alongside works by Leonard Bernstein and Jean Sibelius, Cantus began their season mid-September with performances in Columbus and Akron, OH as well as Ann Arbor Michigan and will go on to perform in 30 different cities throughout the country in addition to their Twin Cities concert series, with over 20 performances planned for their home season. Passionate advocates for building a new generation of musicians and audiences, Cantus includes education workshops and masterclasses in nearly every stop along their tour.

All Is Calm on tour:
In November and December, Cantus will present All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 on tour in Cincinnati and at the Kennedy Center. With words and songs drawn from the era, All Is Calm recalls the remarkable, spontaneous World War I truce between Allied and German forces in No Man's Land over Christmas 1914. This compelling ode to peace was created by Peter Rothstein, artistic director of Theater Latté Da in Minneapolis and features Cantus, with musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach.  All Is Calm is a co-production of Cantus and Theater Latté Da.

A complete list of Cantus tour dates is at: http://www.cantussings.org/concerts/national/.

--Rebecca Davis PR

Young People's Chorus of New York City Grows to Over 1,300 Chorister
In the first months of this new 2013-14 season, YPC continues to welcome more and more young people to sing the core after-school program, its community chorus in Washington Heights (YPCWH), and its in-school Satellite program in New York City schools.

Satellite Schools 10th Anniversary Concert
Following auditions in September, YPC added 82 new children to its core after-school program, for a total membership this season of more than 370 young people from ages 7 to 18.

During this school year, YPC conductors will be working with an additional 900 children in 12 New York City public schools in Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn as part of its Satellite Schools program.

YPCWH Choristers:
The Young People's Chorus of New York City at Washington Heights community chorus (YPCWH) auditions for children from 7 to 12 are continuing through Thursday, October 17 from 3:30 to 4 p.m. at P.S. 366-Washington Heights Academy, at 202 Sherman Avenue. For more information, or to schedule an audition to be a part of YPCWH, call 212-289-7779, Ext. 10.

YPC Sings at Carnegie Hall Benefit for Japanese Sunami Victims:
Don't miss the first opportunity of the season to see YPC's Chorale at Carnegie Hall, Thursday, October 24, 7:30 p.m. They will be performing in the New York Chorus Festival benefit concert presented by the Japanese American Exchange Association for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The program will feature American and Japanese choirs, including YPC's brothers in song, the University Glee Club of New York City, founded in 1894 to encourage male singing of the highest excellence, and The Nippon Club Women's Chorus, Ensemble Rose, The Beautiful Snow Singers, TOKIO Chi and Ensemble Mamohru.

Free tickets are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office. For more information, call CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800.

YPC’s Winter Concert:
And, it's never too early to purchase your tickets to one of the most popular concerts of every season - YPC's Winter Concert - Saturday, December 7 at 3:30 and 7:00 p.m.

Tickets for the 3:30 p.m. matinee range from $15 to $50.
Tickets for the 7:00 p.m. evening performance are $20 to $60.
Tickets are going on sale at the 92nd Street Y on Monday, October 14. 
Buy early for best seats at the 92nd Street Y box office or call 212-415-5500.

92nd Street Y Box Office
1395 Lexington Avenue (at 92nd Street)
New York, NY 10128

--K. Gibson, Young People’s Chorus of New York

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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