Classical Music News of the Week, November 17, 2013

American Bach Soloists Announce Messiah Tickets Now on Sale

Wednesday, December 11 & Thursday December 12, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. in San Francisco's magnificent Grace Cathedral.

“What stood out above all, in this annual rite that drew a huge crowd, was the sense of being addressed directly, personally, confidingly. Conductor Jeffrey Thomas brought it all together, melding his ABS forces with precision and intuitive responsiveness to Handel’s capacious 1742 masterwork.” --Steven Winn, SFCV

Shawnette Sulker soprano - Eric Jurenas countertenor
Aaron Sheehan tenor - Mischa Bouvier baritone
Performed on period instruments with the American Bach Choir, Jeffrey Thomas conductor

For more information, click here: http://americanbach.org/seasons/13-14/Messiah.htm

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

National Philharmonic Chorale to Perform Handel’s Messiah at the Music Center at Strathmore
In celebration of the holidays, National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson will conduct the National Philharmonic in Handel’s Messiah on Saturday, December 14 at 8 pm and Sunday,  December 15 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. The concert will feature the National Philharmonic’s nearly 200 voice all-volunteer Chorale, as well as soloists Rosa Lamoreaux (soprano); Magdalena Wór  (mezzo-soprano);  Robert Petillo (tenor); and Kevin Deas (bass).

Handel’s Messiah, among the most popular works in Western choral literature, was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The composer’s most famous work is divided into three parts that address specific events in the life of Christ. Part one is primarily concerned with the Advent and Christmas stories; part two chronicles Christ's passion, resurrection, ascension and commitment to spreading the Christian message; and part three is based primarily upon the events chronicled in the Revelation of St. John. The National Philharmonic and Chorale, in addition to a stellar cast of soloists, will perform the complete work, which includes such favorites as “The Trumpet Shall Sound,” “And the Glory of the Lord,” and, of course, the famous “Hallelujah Chorus.”

A free pre-concert lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on December 14 and at 1:45 on December 15 in the concert hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to National Philharmonic’s Messiah concerts on December 14 and 15, please visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call the box office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets start from $28. Kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette). ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Violinist Nicolo Eugelmi Moves on from the Fine Arts Quartet
After four years with the Fine Arts Quartet, violinist Nicolò Eugelmi looks forward to his Vancouver residency and new recording and chamber music projects.

Described as “a player of rare perception” (The Strad) and “the ideal soloist” (La Presse, Montreal), violist Nicolò Eugelmi has performed to critical and public acclaim in the world's finest venues, including Carnegie Hall, the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the Berlin Philharmonie, among many others. For the last four years, Eugelmi has performed with the distinguished Fine Arts Quartet, touring extensively throughout Europe and North America, with as many as 100 concerts a year. Now, says Eugelmi, it is time to explore different challenges:

“As part of the Fine Arts Quartet, from 2009-2013, I had the opportunity to perform a rich and diverse repertoire, collaborate with great artists, and see the world. Over time, however, the nonstop schedule became too much. It seemed that as soon as we returned from one tour, we were flying off for the next one and, recently, it became evident that it was time to move on. I have always embraced new challenges, and as I transition into a new solo career— which for a violist is mainly chamber music and occasional solo appearances—I look forward to renewed collaborations with friends and colleagues around the world.” Notably, Eugelmi succeeded his own mentor in the quartet's lineage, Gerald Stanick, with whom he earned his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at the University of British Columbia.

Last week, Nick returned to Vancouver as Artist-in-Residence at UBC from November 8-16, where he performed Bach’s Concerto BWV 1053R with the UBC Chamber Strings, a reconstruction by musicologist Wilfried Fischer of the lost Bach Viola Concerto based on BWV 49, 169, and 1053, in addition to viola and chamber music masterclasses. Other upcoming projects include concerts with members of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and violinist David Kim, and a new recording with clarinetist Patrick Messina and pianist Nina Tichman in Paris.

Nicolò Eugelmi has performed as soloist with the Vancouver, Edmonton, and Montreal Symphony Orchestras, and l'Orchestre Métropolitain, under conductors Mario Bernardi, Jon Washburn, Jacques Lacombe, Jean-Claude Casadesus, and Charles Dutoit. He has given numerous Canadian, North American, and world premieres, including John Harbison's Viola Concerto (1988), Gavin Bryars' The North Shore, Imant Raminsh's What Voices in an Unknown Tongue, and his own commission from the late Jacques Hétu, Concerto pour Alto et Orchestre, Op.75. Musical collaborators have included Joseph Kalichstein, Menahem Pressler, Martin Beaver, Andrew Dawes, Paul Neubauer, the Vlach Quartet Prague, and Talich Quartets, among many others. Mr. Eugelmi held the positions of Associate Principal Violist with the Vancouver and Montreal Symphonies and Principal Violist with the Canadian Opera Company.

Born in Canada to an Italian father and German mother, Eugelmi’s extensive discography includes Brahms Sonatas and Songs, named a “Strad Selection” by the prestigious magazine, and Brahms Lieder with contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, a Juno Award nominee and Prix Opus winner as well as a Gramophone Editor's Choice.

For a complete bio and additional information please see: www.nicoloeugelmi.com

--Shira Gilbert PR

Minnesota Opera World Premiere Production of Silent Night Broadcast Nationwide on PBS December 13
Conducted by Michael Christie, Silent Night was written by Kevin Puts, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music, with libretto by Mark Campbell and based upon the Oscar-nominated film Joyeux Nöel. “With this remarkable debut, Puts assumes a central place in the American opera firmament,” said Opera News. “Michael Christie is a director open to adventure and challenge,” said The New York Times.

Kevin Puts: www.kevinputs.com

On December 13, 2013, Minnesota Opera’s world premiere production of composer Kevin Puts’ Silent Night, led by conductor Michael Christie, will be broadcast nationwide on PBS. Puts won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for music with Silent Night, his first opera. Minnesota Opera commissioned Puts to write the work with librettist Mark Campbell and the opera received its world premiere, conducted by Minnesota Opera Music Director Michael Christie, in St. Paul in November 2011. Pulitzer officials described Silent Night as "a stirring opera that recounts the true story of a spontaneous cease-fire among Scottish, French and Germans during World War I, displaying versatility of style and cutting straight to the heart."

The opera is based on the screenplay Joyeux Nöel by Christian Carion for an Oscar nominated motion picture produced by Nord-Ouest Production. Silent Night includes scenes sung in German, French, English, Italian and Latin. NPR wrote, “Much of the opera is set in the trenches of a Belgian battlefield during the days before Christmas 1914. On Christmas Eve, music comes from the French and Scottish bunkers as soldiers celebrate the holiday. An opera-singing German soldier responds with a Christmas song, and before long white flags wave and a temporary truce is brokered. In the end, generals admonish their soldiers for giving in and the battlefield is emptied as snow begins to fall. As soon as Puts watched the film, he could envision the scenes unfolding onstage. His love of cinema affected the rhythm of his opera.”

When Christie led Silent Night in 2013 with Opera Company of Philadelphia, The New York Times praised maestro Michael Christie’s “supple pacing and vitality.” Maestro Christie was featured in Opera News in August 2012 as one of 25 people they believed would “break out and become major forces in the field in the coming decade.” During his tenure with the Phoenix Symphony, Christie premiered works by 16 living composers, and has championed commissions by leading and emerging composers alike, including Osvaldo Golijov, Matthew Hindson, Marjan Mozetich, Stephen Paulus, Michael Daugherty, Mason Bates, Mark Grey, and more.

For the exact time of the broadcast in your area, visit www.pbs.org.

--Christina Jensen PR

Chanticleer’s Cherished NYC Christmas Concerts Come to St. Ignatius Loyola December 8 & 9
This December, two fixtures of the New York City holiday scene—Chanticleer and the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola—team up to double your Christmas joy. The Grammy-winning ensemble, widely considered the gold standard of male choruses, brings its magical Christmas concert to the Church (980 Park Avenue between 83rd and 84th Streets, NYC) for two dates: Sunday, December 8 at 4pm and Monday, December 9 at 7pm. Tickets are $75 preferred / $60 general and can be purchased 24/7 at www.smssconcerts.org or 212.288.2520.

The Upper East Side Church of St. Ignatius Loyola’s stunning sanctuary is usually overflowing with musical abundance thanks to its venerable music series Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, overseen by visionary Artistic Director K. Scott Warren. But this Christmas season, the Church celebrates a special gift: the arrival of Chanticleer, called “the world’s reigning male chorus” by The New Yorker, to its new permanent home for the holidays in New York City.

Ticket information:
December 1 at 4pm, Advent Lessons & Carols: Free will offering (no ticket necessary)
December 8 at 4pm & December 9 at 7pm, Chanticleer Tickets: $75 preferred / $60 general
December 15 at 3pm & 18 at 7pm, A Child is Born Christmas Concert Tickets: $75 preferred / $60 general / $50 reduced.

Order online: www.smssconcerts.org
Phone: 212.288.2520  24/7 ordering and customer service

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Clare College Choir, Cambridge, North American Tour
The poised and immaculate voices of the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge embark on their first North American Tour December 9-14 2013 with dates in Princeton (NJ), Concord (NH), St. Johnsbury (VT), Cincinnati and Cleveland Heights (OH).

"Thrilling ... Superb ensemble singing of the Choir of Clare College under Graham Ross."
--Gramophone

The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and director Graham Ross return to the U.S. with a new Advent program based around the great plainchant 'O' Antiphons. William Byrd's "Vigilate," Mendelssohn's "Say, where is He born" "There shall a star from Jacob" and Howells's "The fear of the Lord" are performed alongside traditional and less-familiar works that echo the sentiments of the Antiphons. These include the superb Roderick Williams setting of "O Adonai et Dux domus" and two world premieres: "I sing of a maiden" and "O Come, O come, Emmanuel" by Director Graham Ross.

Founded in 1971, the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge has gained an international reputation as one of the leading university choral groups in the world. Beyond its primary function of leading services three times a week in the College Chapel in Cambridge, the Choir maintains an active schedule recording, broadcasting and performing worldwide.

In addition to live performances the Choir has produced an impressive discography. The Choir's CD of John Rutter's 'Requiem', produced by the composer as is this disc, was awarded Editor's Choice by Gramophone, amongst other accolades. The Choir's partnership with harmonia mundi includes recordings of Handel's 'Messiah', Blow's 'Venus and Adonis' with René Jacobs, and, most recently, world premiere recordings of choral works by Imogen Holst, hailed for "impeccable ensemble" and "thrilling performances."

"If you ever needed confirmation of the fantastically high standard of choral singing that exists in the UK, look, or rather hear, no further than the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge." --Classical Source

North American Tour: December 9-14, 2013
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge will bring "Veni Emmanuel" on tour in December.
Dec. 9   Princeton, NJ - Trinity Church
Dec. 10   Boston, MA - TBD
Dec. 11   Concord, NH - St. Paul's School
Dec. 12   St. Johnsbury, VT - Vermont Catamount Arts Center
Dec. 13   Cincinnati, OH - St. Peter in Chains Cathedral
Dec. 14   Cleveland Heights, OH - Fairmount Presbyterian Church

For more information, click www.clarecollegechoir.com

--Sarah Folger, Harmonia Mundi

Harriet Tubman Opera Preview at Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture  Artist Q&A to follow, moderated by WQXRs Terrance McKnight

AOP (American Opera Projects) and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will co-present an evening of scenes from Nkeiru Okoye's folk opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom that tells of how a young girl born in slavery, becomes Harriet Tubman, the legendary Underground Railroad conductor. The musical excerpts will be followed by an artist Q&A moderated by WQXR's Terrance McKnight. The concert will be presented on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:30 PM at the Langston Hughes Auditorium: 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037-1801. General admission will be $10 ($8 for Schomburg Society Members) and available by calling (212) 491-2206 or visiting www.showclix.com/event/HarrietTubman.

Harriet Tubman will include performances by soprano Sumayya Ali (Lincoln Center, Berkshire Opera, Sarasota Opera), soprano Sequina DuBose (Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Memphis, PAB Theater), contralto Nicole Mitchell (Lincoln Center Festival, Sarasota Opera), tenor Clinton Ingram (Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Teatro Real), and baritone Damian Norfleet (New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera). The evening will feature a string ensemble with music direction by Mila Henry, stage direction by Beth Greenberg (New York City Opera) and WQXR's Terrance McKnight moderating a Q&A with the artists.

For more about American Opera Projects, visit www.operaprojects.org.

--Matt Gray, American Opera Projects

Harpsichordist Davitt Moroney Performs Bach’s Partitas Nos. 1, 5, and 6 on Sunday, December 1, at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall, Berkeley, CA
Renowned keyboard player and UC Berkeley professor of music Davitt Moroney will perform J. S. Bach’s Partitas Nos. 1, 5, and 6 on Sunday, December 1, at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall. Recognized as “one of the most accomplished players in the world, marrying deep scholarship with a lively musical imagination” (Washington Post), Moroney continues his traversal of Bach’s major keyboard works that he began with his first concert presented by Cal Performances in 2008.

Davitt Moroney has recorded nearly 60 CDs of music of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, winning several Gramophone Awards, France's Grand Prix du Disque de l'Académie Charles Cros, and other international prizes for his performances. He has been praised by critics throughout Europe and North America for his thoughtful musicality and expressive approach to the keyboard.

Born in England in 1950, Davitt Moroney studied at the University of London, King’s College, and earned concert performance and teaching diplomas from London’s Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music. After completing his doctorate in musicology at UC Berkeley in 1980, Moroney moved to Paris. For over 20 years he worked primarily as a freelance recitalist in various countries. He returned to Berkeley in 2001 and is now a Professor of Music, University Organist, and Director of the University Baroque Ensemble.

Among his most substantial recording sets are William Byrd’s complete keyboard works (127 pieces, on seven CDs, using six instruments) and the complete harpsichord and organ music of Louis Couperin (more than 200 pieces, on seven CDs, using four historic instruments). His most recent recordings include: the complete harpsichord works of Louis Marchand and Louis-Nicolas Clérambault (2007); a two-CD album of works from the “Borel Manuscript” (2008) of French harpsichord music preserved only in Berkeley’s Hargrove Music Library. He has most recently  recorded the fifth in a ten-CD series devoted to the complete harpsichord works of François Couperin (234 pieces). Moroney has given organ and harpsichord master classes at the Paris Conservatoire, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, The Juilliard School and Oberlin Conservatory, as well as in South Korea, Finland, Belgium, and Switzerland, and regularly serves as a judge of international organ and harpsichord competitions. Recent concerts include recitals in Germany, Holland, Italy, England, and Scotland, and in Berkeley with Cal Performances in the 2012-2013 season.

Ticket information:
Tickets for Davitt Moroney, on Sunday, December 1 at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall are priced at $42.00 and are subject to change. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at www.calperformances.org; and at the door.  Half-price tickets are available for 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 more information about discounts, go to http://calperformances.org/buy/discounts.php or call (510) 642-9988.

--Rusty Barnes, Cal Performances

Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony Present Peter Wyrick as Soloist in Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 December 5 
Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony continue their 2013-2014 season on Thursday, December 5 at 8 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA, with a program featuring the music of Australian composer Brett Dean alongside classical masterworks from Brahms and Haydn. San Francisco Symphony Associate Principal cellist Peter Wyrick, praised for his “sumptuous elegance” by Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle, joins Berkeley Symphony as soloist for Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major with Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 completing the program.

In addition to his respected section and solo work with the San Francisco Symphony, Peter Wyrick has served as principal cellist of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and Associate Principal Cellist of the New York City Opera Orchestra. As a member of the Ridge String Quartet, he performed throughout the world and recorded the Dvorák piano quintets with pianist Rudolf Firkusny, an RCA recording that won France’s Diapason d’Or and a Grammy nomination. Mr. Wyrick has participated in Finland’s Helsinki Festival, the Spoleto Festival - both in this country and in Italy – and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. As soloist, he has also performed with the Aspen Chamber Orchestra, Queens Philharmonic, American Chamber Orchestra, Oklahoma Chamber Orchestra, Kozponti Sinfonicus in Budapest, Hungary and Silicon Valley Orchestra. A versatile performer of all musical genres, Peter Wyrick will demonstrate his artistry with Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major, a work considered to be a cornerstone of the cello repertory. Composed early in Haydn’s career sometime between 1761 and 1765, the score remained lost until its rediscovery in 1962. Following the unexpected find in a collection held at the Czech National Library in Prague, the work was given its second premiere in the same city with cellist Miloš Sádlo and Charles Mackerras conducting the Czech Radio Symphony.

Australian composer Brett Dean composed Carlo in 1997, dedicating it to the Australian Chamber Orchestra and concertmaster Richard Tognetti, who commissioned the work. Combining music for strings with excerpts sampled from the Madrigals of the pioneering late Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo, the work traces a “journey between two different time zones.” Gesualdo’s life was marred by the murder of his wife and her lover and it is the intrinsic relationship between his dark background and music that is explored throughout this work.

Despite writing all four symphonies much later in this career, Brahms composed his second symphony less than a year after the first symphony and it is considered one of the most beautiful and mellifluous. In notes commenting on the picturesque seaside village of Pörtschach where he composed the work, Brahms himself noted “…the melodies flow so freely that one must be careful not to trample on them.” Although Brahms was pigeon-holed as a conservative by his critics, his music was remarkably innovative, breathing life and new directions into old-fashioned forms.

Single tickets for the concert are $15-$74. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (510) 841-2800 x1 or visit www.berkeleysymphony.org.

--Karen Ames and Brenden Guy, 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.

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