Classical Music News of the Week, March 16, 2014

Opera Parallele Presents North American Premiere of Anya 17, June 20, 21, and 22 at Marines' Memorial Theater, San Francisco, CA

Opera Parallèle presents the North American premiere of Anya17, composer Adam Gorb and librettist Ben Kaye's unflinching look at the harsh realities of modern slavery and human trafficking. Led by Conductor and Artistic Director Nicole Paiement, performances take place at 8 p.m. June 20 and 21 and 4 p.m. June 22, at San Francisco's Marines' Memorial Theater.

Critics have praised the opera for music that is both "brutal, poetic, and raw" and a "marvel of boisterous inventiveness," describing Gorb's musical language as combining "the spikiness of Eastern European idioms with the sly smoothness of jazz, annexing the West End musical for Natalia's gaudy numbers, but approaching the intensity of Berg in the remarkable interlude for unison instruments that marks Anya's lowest point." Timed to coincide with Opera America's annual conference, this year in San Francisco, Anya17 is a vivid reminder of the powerful role art can play in exploring the deepest human emotions, and shining light on some of the most difficult of issues. Summing up his experience after Anya17's European premiere in Germany, one critic stated "…one sits with open eyes, ears, and beating heart, and is astounded."

Anya17 dramatizes the lives of three young women trafficked and sold into sexual slavery. Experts claim human trafficking is a $32 billion industry, second in size only to the drug trade. The US State Department estimates that between 20,000 and 40,000 people are trafficked into the country each year for involuntary servitude or modern-day slavery, with San Francisco and the Bay Area ranking among the top 20 destinations according to the FBI.

Opera Parallèle Presents Anya17
Marines' Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter Street
8 p.m. June 20, 21, 2014 and 4 p.m. June 22, 2014
Tickets: $35 to $100 with a 10 percent discount for students

For more information, visit

--Karen Ames PR

Merola Opera Program 2014 Spring Benefit Gala Honors Lotfi Mansouri
"A Night in New Orleans" April 12 at the Fairmont, San Francisco.

Merola Opera Program honors the late Lotfi Mansouri at the annual 2014 Spring Benefit Gala Saturday, April 12, at The Fairmont San Francisco. Former San Francisco Opera General Director Lotfi Mansouri was a long-time Merola supporter and "A Night in New Orleans" pays homage to his artistic legacy both in San Francisco and throughout the world. The Gala features a silent auction with an emphasis on fine wines and Merola's signature once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres begin the evening at 6 p.m. followed by a formal three-course dinner and a concert featuring the 2014 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows. After-dinner drinks and dancing conclude the festivities until 12 a.m. Proceeds from the evening will support the Merola Opera Program, acclaimed as one of the top young artist training programs in the world.

In addition to a beautiful offering of fine wines, travel opportunities and other exciting events, highlights of the Merola Silent Auction include its "Signature Events." These unique events offer patrons a chance to participate and interact with the world's leading opera artists in private concerts and conversations in the intimate setting of a private home. "Merola's Signature Events are really very special and always hot, sell-out items at our Gala," said auction chair Carlyn Clause. Leading the effort this year is board member Patrick Wilken who has curated an exciting array of recitals with renowned artists such as Merola alumni Leah Crocetto, Nadine Sierra, Daniela Mack, René Barbera and Alek Shrader, as well as exclusive conversations with Carol Vaness, Quinn Kelsey, Eric Owens and John DeMain. In addition, the auction will once again feature an extensive selection of more than 65 bottles of fine wines with experts on hand to answer questions and assist guests in choosing the perfect bottles for their bids. Wine enthusiasts will also be tempted by a raffle for a bottle of 1999 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Saint-Vivant (Marey Monge) valued at $1,500.

When: 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday, April 12
Where: The Fairmont San Francisco, 950 Mason Street, San Francisco, California 94108

Tickets for "A Night in New Orleans" are $325, $650, $1,200 and $2,500. All tickets are available through the Merola Opera Program and can be purchased by emailing, by calling (415) 551-6299 or online at

Merola is accepting donations for the Merola Lotfi Mansouri Stage Director Fund. This fund will assist in providing training for aspiring opera stage directors. To make a donation, please contact Miriam Rosenfeld at or call (415) 565-3235.

For more information about the Merola Opera Program, please visit or call (415) 551-6299.

--Karen Ames PR

Nicholas McGegan Leads Juditha triumphans, Vivaldi's Only Surviving Oratorio, with Outstanding Female Cast and the Philharmonia Chorale
April 2-6, 2014, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Stanford.

Music Director Nicholas McGegan leads Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in Vivaldi's only surviving oratorio, the magnificent and rarely heard Juditha triumphans devicta Holofernis barbarie. Joining the Orchestra are soloists Dominique Labelle, Vivica Genaux, Cécile van de Sant, and Diana Moore, alongside the full Philharmonia Chorale under the leadership of Chorale Director Bruce Lamott. Concerts take place at Stanford University's Bing Concert Hall (Wednesday, April 2); San Francisco's SFJAZZ Center (Friday, April 4); and in Berkeley at First Congregational Church (Saturday, 5 April, and Sunday, 6 April). Tickets are priced from $25 to $97.

Composed in 1716 to commemorate a Venetian military victory over the forces of the Ottoman Empire, Juditha triumphans relates the story of a young widow, Judith (Cécile van de Sant), who takes extraordinary measures to protect her city against foreign invasion. The Assyrian general Holofernes (Diana Moore) has laid siege to the Hebrew city of Bethulia, accompanied by his squire Vagaus (Vivica Genaux). Assisted by her handmaid, Abra (Dominique Labelle), Judith enters the enemy camp to beg for mercy. The barbarian general falls in love with Judith in what turns out to be a fatal mistake.

Juditha triumphans is a high point among Vivaldi's works. It is the only survivor among the four oratorios he is known to have composed. In addition to the 24 vocalists of the Philharmonia Chorale, the Orchestra will be augmented for this concert by rarely-heard Baroque instruments including the mandolin, viola da gamba, viola d'amore, recorders, and chalumeaux.

Philharmonia continues its partnership with KDFC, broadcasting an unreleased live concert recording the second Sunday of every month from 8-9 PM. 

The March broadcast features co-concertmaster Elizabeth Blumenstock leading the orchestra in a program of violin works by Vivaldi and Corelli - Sunday, March 9 from 8-9 PM.

Wednesday, April 2 at 7:30 PM
Bing Concert Hall, Stanford

Friday, April 4 at 8:00 PM
SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco

Saturday, April 5 at 8:00 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Sunday, April 6 at 7:30 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Tickets are priced $25 to $97, available through City Box Office: or call (415) 392-4400. 

Tickets for the performance on April 2 at Bing Concert Hall may be purchased at

--Ben Casement-Stoll, Philharmonia Baroque

Dover String Quartet Follows 2013 Banff Competition Sweep with Appearances in North American Festivals and Residencies This Spring and Summer
Following their spectacular success at the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, winning all top prizes, the Dover Quartet embarks on an impressive 2014 touring schedule, with spring engagements including a recital with Leon Fleisher at Town Hall in New York City, four performances in the Savannah Music Festival, a residency at Rice University in Houston and their Los Angeles and San Francisco recital debuts. This summer, The Dover Quartet will appear at the top music festivals across the continent. In addition to a residency at the Caramoor Music Festival, they will perform a week of concerts at Bravo! Vail and perform in Chamber Music Northwest, Ottawa Chamberfest, the Bard Festival, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. 

The Philadelphia-based ensemble is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after string quartets, and is recognized by The Strad as "already pulling away from their peers with their exceptional interpretative maturity, tonal refinement and taut ensemble."

Formed at the Curtis Institute in 2008 when its members were only 19, the Dover Quartet (named for Dover Beach by Samuel Barber – a fellow Curtis alumnus) has received significant public attention for its intricate artistry and astounding maturity. Their wins at Banff brought them into the international spotlight and were highlighted by CBC Music as the "Top 10 Classical Music Triumphs of 2013." Following a weeklong residency on public radio's Performance Today, host Fred Child remarked, "I fully expect them to emerge as one of the brightest lights of their musical generation and to bring the highest artistic standards to their work for many years to come." The Quartet has performed in numerous festivals around the world, including Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, La Jolla SummerFest, and Heidelberger Frühling, and has held residencies at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. They continue to perform at their Philadelphia alma mater, where they have been named the school's first Quartet-in-Residence.

For more information, visit

--Liza Prijatel, Rebecca Davis PR

92Y April Concerts
Cypress String Quartet
Tuesday, April 1, 7:30 PM
92Y Concerts at Subculture, NYC

Brentano String Quartet & violist Hsin-Yun Huang
Saturday, April 12, 8:00 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC

Soprano Deborah Voigt
Wednesday, April 23, 8:15 PM
In Conversation with Francesca Zambello
92Y - Buttenwieser Hall, NYC

Guitarists Eliot Fisk & Paco Peña
Thursday, April 24, 7:30 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC

Cellist Steven Isserlis & pianist Jeremy Denk
Saturday, April 26, 8:00 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC

Tickets are available at or 212-415-5500

--Katharine Boone, 92nd Y

In "Cymbeline," Metropolis Ensemble Brings Four New Concertos
Featuring pioneering virtuosi Avi Avital, Bridget Kibbey, Mattias Jacobsson and Quartet Senza Misura to Le Poisson Rouge.

The mandolin, harp, and guitar are not just instruments of old and Metropolis Ensemble is out to prove it with "Cymbeline," a concert program showcasing four premieres with a list of soloists and composers aiming to break the mold. Harpist Bridget Kibbey streams the colors of Vivian Fung's Harp Concerto, mandolinist Avi Avital shines on David Bruce's Cymbeline, guitarist Mattias Jacobsson takes on Jakub Ciupinski's Concerto for Guitar, and the Quartet Senza Misura revives the concerto grosso format in Chris Cerrone's High Windows.

The concert will take place at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St), New York City, on Sunday, April 6, 2014, at 6:30pm, and Monday, April 7 at 7:30pm. Seated tickets are $20 in advance / $25 at the door. Standing tickets are $15 in advance / $20 at the door. Arrive early for a pre-concert performance and talk with Deutsche Grammophon artist Avi Avital and David Bruce. Doors open one hour before the pre-concert program.

For more information, click

--Julia Casey, BuckleSweet Media

American Bach Soloists Celebrate the Lasting Musical Influence of J.S. Bach April 25-28 with "Bach's Legacy"
Acclaimed American Bach Choir will feature a program of motets and choral works by Bach, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Sandström, and Nystedt.

The 25th consecutive subscription series of the American Bach Soloists (ABS) draws to a close April 25-28 with "Bach's Legacy," a program celebrating the music of J.S. Bach and its lasting influence upon later composers. ABS Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas has chosen to feature the acclaimed American Bach Choir in a selection of motets and choral works by J. S. Bach, along with choral masterpieces by later composers such as Mendelssohn and Brahms, two composers who were profoundly influenced by the Cantor of Leipzig and sought to emulate his style. Thomas will also lead the combined forces of the choir and the period instrument orchestra of ABS in Bach's exquisite cantata Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir ("Out of the depths I call to thee") which, composed at the age of 22, is one of the composer's earliest works.

Since their creation, Bach's motet settings for double chorus, such as Komm, Jesu, komm and Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, have been a source of inspiration for listeners, performers, and several composers. Thomas will direct the American Bach Choir in Johannes Brahms's Fest- und Gedenksprüche and Felix Mendelssohn's Sechs Spüche, beautiful choral works by two of the most famous disciples of the master.

Along with performances of two of Bach's greatest motets, compositions by twentieth century composers that show the influence of those seminal works will also be performed. Komm, Jesu, komm by Swedish composer Sven-David Sandström (b. 1942) utilizes the text and spirit of Bach to create a meditative, modern work for the twenty-first century. Immortal Bach by Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt (b. 1915) is another contemporary work honoring the resonance of Bach's creations through the ages. Utilizing the text of his "Komm süßer Tod, komm selge Ruh" (Come, sweet death, come, blessed rest) and employing multiple choirs that begin and end the text at different points and at different tempi, Nystedt reconceives the balance and simplicity of Bach's original in a complex, yet extremely moving, new setting.

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Sharon Isbin NYC Guitar Passions
Hot off an 18-city tour that ignited raves last month across the country, multiple Grammy winner Sharon Isbin brings her Guitar Passions with jazz legends Stanley Jordan and Romero Lubambo to New York City on MARCH 23! And on APRIL 10, Lincoln Center presents the New York premiere screening of a 1 hour documentary for PBS titled, Sharon Isbin: Troubadour.

Sunday, March 23, Lehman Center, 3 pm
Sharon Isbin: Guitar Passions with Jordan & Lubambo

Thursday, April 10, Lincoln Center, 6 pm
New York premiere Sharon Isbin: Troubadour
Bruno Walter Auditorium Film Series (111 Amsterdam Ave):

--Jay Hoffman, Jay K. Hoffman & Associates

Young People's Chorus of New York City Hosts Two Choirs from Hiroshima in a YPC Transmusica Concert, March 26, at the Church of St. Joseph, NYC
In a new Transmusica concert, designed to build bridges to other world cultures, the Young People's Chorus of New York City and Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez welcome two choirs from Hiroshima, Japan - the Peace and Hope Choir and the Chamber Choir of the Elisabeth University of Music - to promote good will, peace, and friendship.  The concert on Wednesday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the Church of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village (365 Sixth Avenue) will also include The Ten, an all-men's ensemble from the University Glee Club of New York City, for an inspiring and entertaining program of music from several cultures.

This concert reunites YPC and members of the Hiroshima Choral Association, who have sung together on YPC's four tours of Japan, most recently, this past summer, when Hiroshima Choral Association hosted a reception for their American friends. While in Hiroshima, the choristers sang with each other, spent time practicing each other's languages, and enjoyed becoming reacquainted. The March 26 concert is first time they will sing together in the U.S.

The program on March 26 will include such traditional Japanese favorites as Hiroshima Kazoe Uta (a Hiroshima children's counting song), the Sukiyaki Song, Sakura (cherry blossoms), and Oiwake Bushiko conducted by Kenji Otani and accompanied by Kanzan Yamamoto.

Mr. Núñez will conduct YPC in Rainbow Tomorrow arranged by Jim Papoulis, Metsa Telegramm (The Woodpecker's Warning) by Estonian composer Uno Naissoo, Dona Nobis Pacem by Dominick DiOrio, and an upbeat hit from the "fabulous fifties," Rock Around the Clock. The Ten's a cappella program includes the Celtic folk song Down By the Salley Gardens based on the poem by W. B. Yeats and the James Taylor ballad Copperline. In a moving finale, all chorus members will come together for John Lennon's Imagine.

Transmusica - Peace and Hope Concert
Wednesday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.
Church of St. Joseph
365 Sixth Avenue (corner of Washington Place)

A suggested donation is $10 at the door.
For more information, contact

--Angela Duryea, Young People's Chorus of NYC

Upcoming Classical Shows at SubCulture, NYC
The Knights: Blueshift
Thursday, March 13 at 8:00pm

Break of Reality
Friday, March 14 at 7:30pm

Break of Reality
Saturday, March 15 at 7:30pm

Yevgeny Kutik
Thursday, March 20 at 7:30pm

Soyeon Kate Lee, Hyeyung Yoon, Gregory Beaver
Wednesday, March 26 at 7:30pm

92Y and SubCulture Present Cypress String Quartet
Tuesday, April 1 at 7:30pm

Mirror Visions Ensemble, Poetry In Music: The Poetry Of Linda Pastan And Jeffrey Greene
Sunday, April 6 at 7:30pm

Xiayin Wang
Tuesday, April 15 at 7:30pm

The Complete Aspen Music Festival and School (Abridged)
Wesdnesday, April 16 at 7:30pm

Ensemble ACJW
Tuesday, April 29 at 7:30pm

Alasdair Frasier & Natalie Haas
Wednesday, April 30 at 7:30pm

PROJECT Trio CD Release
Friday, May 2 at 8pm

92Y and SubCulture Present: Ariel Quartet
Monday, May 12 at 7:30pm

SubCulture, 92Y and The New York Philharmonic Present CONTACT! An Evening of American Composers
Tuesday, June 3 at 7:30pm

Ensemble ACJW
Wednesday, June 11 at 7:30pm

--Amy Long, Two Sheps That Pass...

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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

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 Jon 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.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simpleminded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

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. --John J. Puccio

Contact Information

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa