Classical Music News of the Week, December 22, 2013

The King’s Singers Fall in Love with the Great American Songbook at New York City’s SubCulture

It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely.… The King’s Singers perform the Great American Songbook at SubCulture (45 Bleecker Street, Downstairs, New York, NY 10012) on January 29th, 2014 at 7pm.

On the heels of their sold out Carnegie Hall performance earlier this year, The King’s Singers will launch the North American tour of Great American Songbook at the innovative SubCulture, situated in downtown NYC. Seating just 150 people, SubCulture is an ideal setting for the a cappella arrangements of New York-inspired melodies from a bygone era such as "My Funny Valentine," "I’ve Got The World On A String," and "Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye." Ticket prices range from $50-$60; call 212-533-5470 for the box office or click here for more information.

The January 29th performance at SubCulture marks the start of The King’s Singers North American tour of this phenomenal program, which was first heard at Royal Albert Hall in London. By the end of 2014, the Great American Songbook will have echoed in the halls of some of the greatest venues in the world. Regularly performing to large-scale crowds, The King’s Singers are looking forward to sharing this new program with an intimate audience at SubCulture.

The program offers up sunny, sophisticated versions of their favorite tunes by Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, arranged by the fast rising British jazz composer and bassist Alexander L’Estrange.. Derived from their brand new record of the same name (released on Signum Records earlier this fall), the tunes bring back the golden days of New York City at its finest.

This new program, derived from their brand new record of the same name (released on Signum Records earlier this fall), is sure to capture the hearts of New York audiences. These tunes bring back the golden days of New York City at its finest, and SubCulture creates an intimate space to hear stunning arrangements of “My Funny Valentine,” “Cry Me A River,” and more.

The Grammy Award-winning King’s Singers are one of the world’s most beloved choral ensembles, famous for their top-notch musicianship, impressive diversity of repertoire, innovative arrangements and utterly charming stage presence. They have appeared in top concert halls across the world, as well as major televised events such as the 2008 Winter Olympics and the BBC Proms. No strangers to the recording studio, they have released an impressive 150 albums.

For more information, click www.kingssingers.com

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

 21-City U.S. Tour with David Garrett Kicks Off January 10th in St. Louis
A recent graduate of London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Music, 22-year-old Martynas brings the accordion to fresh life with a self-titled debut album, out January 7, 2014 on Decca/Universal Music Classics. “Yes, I want to change the image of the accordion,” Martynas explains, “but I’m also trying to show all the different possibilities I have as a performer. All the arrangements are brand new and the pieces have never been played this way before. It’s exciting for me to be breaking some rules.” The accordion holds a signature sound associated with so many cultures - South American tangos, Eastern European gypsy music, German folk and French street music to name a few. On his debut album, Martynas bridges these worlds together for one cohesive exploration of everything the accordion has to offer.

Martynas will join violinist David Garrett for an extensive, 21-city U.S. tour, kicking off January 10th in St. Louis, with additional dates running through January and again in March.

Martynas was three when he first picked up the accordion and hasn’t stopped playing since. As a child, he was infatuated with the piano, but with his family unable to afford buying him one, he turned to the accordion instead and never looked back.  At age eight, he was enrolled in formal lessons, and years later went on to win awards in various competitions around Europe and later the U.S., including 2009’s top prize at the American Accordionist Association Competition in Memphis and 2010’s second prize at the Gala-Rini International Competition in California. In 2010 while studying at the Royal Academy of Music, Martynas won “Lithuania’s Got Talent” in his native country, becoming a household name there.  He officially signed his first record deal with Universal Music Group’s Decca label earlier this year, making headlines in the UK for being the first accordion player to ever top their classical album chart.

1/10 – St. Louis, MO – Fox Theater
1/12 – Kansas City, MO – The Midland
1/14 – Dallas, TX – AT&T PAC – Winspear Opera House
1/15 – Houston, TX – Wortham Center – Cullen Theater
1/18 – Portland, OR – Aladdin Theater
1/19 – Seattle, WA – Paramount Theater
1/21 – San Jose, CA – San Jose Civic Auditorium
1/22 – Sacramento, CA – Crest Theater
1/23 – Anaheim, CA – City National Grove
1/26 – San Diego, CA – Balboa Theatre
1/28 – Mexico City -  Auditorio Nacional
3/12 – Minneapolis, MN – State Theater
3/14 – Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theater
3/15 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theater (2 shows at 3:00pm & 8:00pm)
3/18 & 3/19 – New York, NY – Best Buy Theater
3/21 – Pittsburgh, PA – Benedum Center
3/22 – Wallingford, CT – Oakdale Teatre
3/23 – Worcester, MA – Hanover Theatre
3/27 – Atlanta, GA – Woodruff Arts Center –Symphony Hall
3/28 – St Petersburg, FL – Palladium Theater
3/30 – Coral Springs, FL – Coral Springs Center for the Arts

--Olga Makrias, Universal Music

Opera Parallele Awarded National Endowment for the Arts Grant to Support June 2014 North American Premiere of Adam Gorb’s Anya17
Opera Parallèle announced that the company has received a National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant of $15,000 in support of the company’s June 2014 North American premiere of Adam Gorb’s Anya17.

“This is a significant milestone for the company,” said the opera company’s Executive Director Tod Brody. “Marking the first time that the National Endowment for the Arts has supported our groundbreaking work, it shows that not only are Opera Parallèle’s past accomplishments noteworthy, but that we are recognized as a company on the rise.”

Acting Chairman Shigekawa said, “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these exciting and diverse arts projects that will take place throughout the United States. Whether it is through a focus on education, engagement, or innovation, these projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable experiences for the public to engage with the arts.”

Gorb’s Anya17 is a bold work addressing the brutal realities of modern slavery and human trafficking. The award-winning partnership of composer Adam Gorb and his brilliant librettist Ben Kaye is rooted in operas about extreme conditions and Anya17 is the latest in a series of highly socially-conscious operas. “Opera Parallèle continues to push the definition of contemporary opera by making it relevant to 21st century issues, and we feel it is imperative to explore opera as a vehicle for social change,” said Artistic Director, Nicole Paiement.

Opera Parallèle is one of 895 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive a National Endowment of the Arts Art Works grant. Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence: public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts and enhancing the livability of communities through the arts. The National Endowment of the Arts received 1,528 eligible Art Works applications, requesting more than $75 million in funding. Of those applications, 895 are recommended for grants for a total of $23.4 million.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the National Endowment of the Arts website at www.arts.gov.

--Karen Ames Communications

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra 2014 U.S. Tour
Music Director Zubiin Mehta and Principal Guest Conductor Gianandrea Noseda bring the IPO to 14 cities in 2014.

The New York Gala will honor the life and memory of Marvin Hamlisch. The Gala at Carnegie Hall and West Palm Beach feature violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth.

Bringing its historic message of peace through music, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, joined by Music Director for Life Zubin Mehta, and Principal Guest Conductor Gianandrea Noseda, returns to the United States in March 2014 traveling to fourteen cities, a significant increase in previous US itineraries. The IPO acts as Cultural Ambassador for the State of Israel during this tour to the United States. New locations include the cities of Chapel Hill, Virginia Beach and Louisville, KY. The IPO also returns to Chicago, Boston, Miami, Naples, Houston, Newark, Greenvale, NY, Ann Arbor and Washington, DC, along with gala benefits presented by the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (AFIPO) at New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra returns to Carnegie Hall on Thursday, March 20 and West Palm Beach Monday, March 24 with Maestro Zubin Mehta leading special guest artists violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth for benefit performances including Partos’s Concertino for String Orchestra, Brahms’s Double Concerto for Violin & Cello, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. Zubin Mehta leads concerts in Ann Arbor (March 15), Chicago (March 17), Boston (March 19), Greenvale, NY (March 22) and Miami (March 23), which feature Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C minor (1890 version). March 23 in Miami marks Mehta's conducting debut at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Gianandrea Noseda leads the IPO for seven performances in the cities of Naples (March 25), Houston (March 27), Newark (March 29), Washington, DC (March 30), Louisville, Kentucky (April 1), Virginia Beach (April 2), and Chapel Hill, North Carolina (April 3) for a program consisting of Faure’s Pelléas et Mélisande: Suite, Op. 80, Ravel’s Ma Mère l’Oye (Mother Goose) Suite, Daphnis et Chloé: Suite No. 2 and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

The 2014 tour comes during the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's 78th season which has been both rich in collaboration and new beginnings with performances in the newly renovated Charles Bronfman Auditorium. Due to the efforts of the AFIPO and the generous support of donors worldwide, this state-of-the-art hall was unveiled in Tel Aviv in May 2013. Esteemed conductors Christoph von Dohnanyi, Valerie Gergiev, Omer Meir Wellber, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Kent Nagano lead artists such as Anne-Sophie Mutter, András Schiff, Julian Rachlin, and Rudolph Buchbinder during the hall’s inaugural year.

For more informaton, click here:  http://afipo.org/events/united-states-tour-2014

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

American Composers Orchestra Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Orchestra Underground by releasing First Digital Video Album Orchestra Underground: A-V
Groundbreaking multimedia works by Margaret Brouwer & Kasumi, Sebastian Currier & Pawel Wojtasik, Michael Gandolfi & Ean White
Release Date: December 18, 2013
Read the Complete Liner Notes: http://bit.ly/ACO_A-V_LinerNotes
For more information: www.americancomposers.org

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces the release of its fourth digital album, an all music-video release entitled Orchestra Underground: A-V, streaming free of charge on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/channels/orchestraunderground. This new album (the A-V stands for “audio-visual”) is the first of its kind for ACO, and features the orchestra in multimedia works by some of today’s leading composers and film artists – Margaret Brouwer with Kasumi in Breakdown (2008); Sebastian Currier with Pawel Wojtasik in Next Atlantis (2009); and Michael Gandolfi with Ean White in As Above (2005).

Orchestra Underground: A-V is released in celebration of the tenth anniversary of Orchestra Underground, ACO’s exploration of the orchestra as an elastic ensemble that can respond to composers’ unhindered creativity. For a decade, Orchestra Underground has challenged notions about what an orchestra is, embracing new technology, eclectic instruments and influences, altered spatial orientation, new experiments in concert format, and the kind of interdisciplinary collaborations seen and heard on this album. Since the opening of Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall’s subterranean state-of-the-art auditorium after which the series is named, Orchestra Underground has played to sold-out audiences, bringing to life nearly 100 world premieres and newly commissioned works. The works here represent the many new video/orchestra pairings born of Orchestra Underground in its first decade.

As unified as the works are individually, the collection is stunning in the range of themes, sounds, and aesthetics it offers. Each work on this album is an integrated whole – the impact of the audio-visual experience being much more than the sum of its parts.

--Christina Jensen PR

Benedictines of Mary Named Billboard’s Top Traditional Classical Album Artist of 2013 for the Second Consecutive Year
Advent at Ephesus and Angels and Saints at Ephesus are #2 & #3 Top Traditional Classical Albums respectively of 2013. Their new album, Lent at Ephesus, comes out February 2014 on Decca/De Montfort Music.

The Benedictines of Mary reaffirm their stature in the classical recording arena, and are named Billboard’s Top Traditional Classical Album Artist of 2013, for the second year in a row following the same honor in 2012. Their chart-topping albums Advent at Ephesus and Angels and Saints At Ephesus also were the #2 and #3 Top Traditional Classical Albums for 2013, while Decca, De Montfort Music, and the Benedictines of Mary accounted for three of the Top 5 Traditional Classical Album Imprints of the year.

The Sisters will once again share their gimmick-free and genuine music-making with the world in 2014 when they release Lent At Ephesus on February 11, 2014. The forthcoming recording includes poignant chants, intricate harmonies and rousing hymns of glory and redemption. The album captures the vibrancy and purity of the music suited for the reflective season of Lent.

Founded in 1995, The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, are a young, monastic order of Sisters.  Hailing from Missouri, the sisters are young, contemplative and extremely musical.  They do not set foot beyond their Northwest rolling farmland, focusing solely on living an austere, yet joyful life set apart from the world.  Working on their farm and mostly living off the land, they sing together eight times a day as part of their daily monastic schedule, lifting their hearts to God through music.

--Olga Makrias, Universal Music

Free Chamber Music Concerts
The Music Institute of Chicago is offering free lunchtime concerts and conversation one Wednesday per month. Lunch is available for purchase from the Pret A Manger Kiosk, and free coffee will be served.

The January program features Music Institute President and CEO Dr. Mark George and acclaimed faculty member Almita Vamos performing Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 80.

Where: Music Institute of Chicago
Performance: Free Faculty Lunchtime Concerts
Dr. Mark George, piano, and Almita Vamos, violin
Day/Date/Time: Wednesday, January 22, 12:15–1 p.m.
Location: Music Institute of Chicago Black Box Theater, 1702 Sherman Ave., Evanston, IL
Admission: FREE
Information: musicinst.org or 847.905.1500

--Jill Chukerman, JAC 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