Classical Music News of the Week, April 27, 2014

Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony Present Bay Area Premieres by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Kaija Saariaho May 1; 2014 Benefit Gala Showcases Works by 2014-2015 Season Composers John Adams, Thomas Ades, Oscar Bettison, and Jake Heggie May 9

Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony conclude their 2013-2014 season with the Bay Area premieres of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Nyx and Kaija Saariaho's Adriana Songs on Thursday, May 1 at 8 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall and the 2014 Annual Benefit Gala Celebrating Composers & Musicians on Friday, May 9 at the Claremont Hotel Club & Spa.

Praised for her "dark, lustrous vocal tone and…arresting command of melodic phrase" by San Francisco Chronicle critic Joshua Kosman, mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm features as soloist for Saariaho's Adriana Songs in the final subscription concert of the season. Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 completes the program. On May 9, musicians from Berkeley Symphony will be joined by pianist Sarah Cahill and other guest artists for the 2014 Annual Benefit Gala, performing a variety of chamber works by 2014-2015 season composers John Adams, Thomas Adès, Oscar Bettison and Jake Heggie. Proceeds from the gala will support the commissioning of new works and the Symphony's award-winning Music in the Schools program. Brian James and Lisa Taylor serve as co-chairs for the event with Bay Area theater veteran Joy Carlin as Master of Ceremonies.

Renowned as both a conductor and composer, Esa-Pekka Salonen served as the Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 17 years with Ms. Carneiro working closely alongside him from 2005-2008 as an American Symphony Orchestra League Conducting Fellow. Salonen introduced Nyx as his first composition after stepping down as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Considered one of the most compelling performers of her generation, Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor appears with some of the top orchestras across the world, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, London Symphony, BBC Symphony and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Honored guests for the 2014 Benefit Gala include 2014-2015 commissioned composers Oscar Bettison and Jake Heggie, as well as Bay Area composer John Adams. The evening will be hosted by Music Director Joana Carneiro, Executive Director René Mandel and Director of Education Ming Luke. A variety of live performances will be enjoyed throughout the evening, featuring works by Oscar Bettison, Jake Heggie and John Adams in addition to Thomas Adès, who also receives a Bay Area premiere on the 2014-2015 season. Sarah Cahill will perform selections from Thomas Adès' piano version of his opera Powder Her Face (1995); a guest mezzo-soprano will join a string quartet of Berkeley Symphony musicians for a movement from Jake Heggie's Camille Claudel: Into the Fire (2012); and Berkeley Symphony concertmaster Franklyn D'Antonio and pianist Miles Graber will perform the last movement from John Adams's Road Movies (1995). Oscar Bettison's Krank (2004) for percussion will feature Ward Spangler, Berkeley Symphony principal percussionist, as soloist.

The Gala evening begins at 6 p.m. with a reception where guests will have the opportunity to place bids during a Silent Auction and participate in a Fine Wine Raffle. At 7:30 p.m. guests will be treated to an elegant dinner with wines by William Knuttel Winery. Floral design is by Jutta's Flowers.

Dinner will be followed by a Live Auction led by auctioneer Grant Snyder. Among the featured auction items are: an exclusive New York package that includes a live taping of the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon; a London package that includes a performance of the English National Opera led by Maestra Carneiro; a private dinner with opera star Frederica von Stade and composer Jake Heggie; and a trip to visit Music Director Joana Carneiro in her hometown of Lisbon, Portugal. For more information and to purchase Gala tickets, visit www.berkeleysymphony.org/concerts/gala.

Zellerbach Hall Concert Series
Program IV
Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
Joana Carneiro, conductor
Kelley O'Connor, mezzo-soprano

Esa-Pekka Salonen: Nyx (Bay Area Premiere)
Kaija Saariaho: Adriana Songs (Bay Area Premiere)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67

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

2014 Benefit Gala tickets start at $350 and include the reception, dinner seating with one of our honored guests, and parking. Proceeds will benefit Berkeley Symphony's commitment to new music and its award-winning Music in the Schools program.

To purchase tables or tickets, call (510) 841-2800 x1 or visit www.berkeleysymphony.org/concerts/gala

--Karen Ames Communications

Cleveland International Piano Competition Presents 2013 First-Prize Winner Stanislav Khristenko at Zankel Hall, NYC--May 19, 2014
First Prize Winner of the 2013 Cleveland International Piano Competition, 29-year-old Ukrainian-born pianist Stanislav Khristenko performs at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall on May 19, 2014 at 7:30 pm. Selected from a field of 28 pianists from 15 countries, Mr. Khristenko has received more than 50 worldwide engagements, four years of management services and a recording by Steinway & Sons, in addition to a cash prize of $50,000. He is the first winner under the direction of the CIPC's President and Chief Executive Officer, Pierre van der Westhuizen.

Mr. Khristenko's program includes works by Chopin, Prokofiev, Bartók, Liszt, Zemlinsky and Ernst Krenek. He opens with Bartók's Piano Sonata, Sz. 80, followed by Zemlinsky's Fantasies on Poems by Richard Dehmel, the composer's most imposing piano work. In this series of miniature tone-poems, Zemlinsky sonically encapsulates verse by Dehmel, the most prominent of Viennese Secessionist poets.  Krenek's dramatic twelve-tone piece, Piano Sonata No. 3, was composed during his move to the United States from Nazi-infiltrated Vienna during World War II. Liszt's Rhapsodie espagnole closes the first half of the program. Chopin's Fantasy in F Minor begins the second half, and the concert concludes with Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 7. Known as the "Stalingrad" sonata, this composition won Prokofiev his first Stalin Prize in 1943.

Cleveland International Piano Competition First Prize Winner
Monday, May 19, 2014 at 7:30 PM
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, NYC

Admission: $35/$45, $10 for students.
Tickets on sale at www.carnegiehall.org, CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 and at the Carnegie Hall Box Office.

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

The Bach Sinfonia Presents Mozart's Journey From Prague to Jupiter
On Saturday, May 10, 2014, Bach Sinfonia will present a concert of Mozart's most popular symphonies, rarely heard on period instruments in the Washington, D.C. area. The concert will feature Mozart's final symphonic work, Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 "Jupiter" which is considered one of the major pieces of symphonic repertoire. The symphony is not only a rich work, but imbues the late baroque counterpoint into classical era music. Sinfonia will also perform Symphony No. 38 in D Major, K. 504 "Prague," another well-known work composed late in Mozart's life.

Paul Hopkins will join Sinfonia on natural horn performing Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 1 in D Major, K. 412 (+514). Highly virtuosic in nature, this is one of the four horn concertos composed by Mozart and will be performed without hand stopping, creating a true period instrument performance of this work.

Eine kliene Natchmusik, led by Sinfonia's strings, will round out a program of Mozart's most cherished works, performed on this occasion on period instruments, showcasing the beloved melodies of Mozart, widely considered one of the greatest composers of all time.

Saturday, May 10, 2014 AT 8PM
Free Pre-Concert Discussion at 7:20PM
Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910

Tickets:
$30 adult
$27 seniors (60 and up)
$15 (ages 15 – University)
Free (ages 14 and under)

Order Online at www.bachsinfonia.org or call (301) 362-6525

--Jennifer Buzzell, Bach Sinfonia

West Edge Opera Announces 2014 Season: Three Operas in Festival Format at Berkeley's Ed Roberts Campus
Under the combined artistic leadership of Artistic Director Mark Streshinsky and Music Director Jonathan Khuner, West Edge Opera's 2014 Season will be presented as a Summer Festival of three productions, July 26 - August 10 at Berkeley's Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA.

The company's 35th season opens on Saturday, July 26 at 8 p.m. with an "immersive" version of Puccini's La bohème, with repeat performances on Friday, August 1 at 8 pm and Sunday, August 10 at 3 pm. Philip Glass's Hydrogen Jukebox opens on Sunday, July 27 at 5 pm and repeats on Saturday, August 2 and Friday, August 8, both at 8 pm. The final opera of the Festival is the Bay Area premiere of Jake Heggie's The End of the Affair, opening on Sunday, August 3 at 3 pm and repeating on Thursday, August 7 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, August 9 at 8 pm. All performances take place in the atrium of the Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St, Berkeley, at the Ashby BART Station.

"Mounting a new season as we continue to search for a permanent home has presented many challenges," says West Edge's General/Artistic Director Mark Streshinsky, "which in turn means many opportunities. Our new mobility plays into my long desire for three things: to come back to Berkeley, to do opera in an alternative venue and to do it in a festival format. The result: an exciting partnership with the Ed Roberts Campus (ERC), an internationally recognized facility dedicated to services for persons with disabilities. The building is a model of the new movement of universal architecture and is just an elevator ride from the Ashby BART Station beneath. We will present our entire festival of three operas in ERC's spacious and beautiful atrium."

Mark Streshinsky will direct La bohème and Jonathan Khuner will conduct. Singers are sopranos Alexandra Sessler (Mimi and Christine Capsuto (Musetta), tenor James Callon (Rodolfo), Jordan Eldredge (Schaunard) and bass Brandon Keith Biggs (Colline); the remainder of the casting is to be announced. The opera will be presented as "immersive" with the action happening all around and within the audience.

Philip Glass's Hydrogen Jukebox, set to the words of beat poet Allen Ginsberg, will be directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer and conducted by David Möschler. The cast is comprised of tenor Jonathan Blalock, baritone Efraín Solís, bass Kenneth Kellogg, soprano Sara Duchovnay, soprano Molly Mahoney and mezzo-soprano Nicole Takesono. The piece was intended to form a portrait of America covering the 1950s through the late 1980s. Glass and Ginsberg sought to incorporate the personal poems of Ginsberg, reflecting on social issues – the anti-war movement, the sexual revolution, drugs, eastern philosophy, environmental issues.

Jake Heggie's opera, The End of the Affair, is based on Graham Greene's novel of the same name. Streshinsky will direct and Khuner will conduct a cast headed by soprano Carrie Hennessey, baritone Philip Cutlip, mezzo-soprano Donna Olson and baritone Philip Skinner. The story is set in London in 1944 and 1946 and focuses on Maurice and Sarah, who are having an illicit affair, which she vows to end if his life is spared in a bombing. His survival leads to Sarah's religious conversion and Maurice's railing against God for it.

"A critic recently described West Edge Opera as 'Always trying to push the envelope,' says Artistic Director Mark Streshinsky. "That is an apt description of what drives our work. At West Edge Opera we believe there is no limit to where this art form can go. We want to break down the perceptions of opera as exclusive and distant and present the essence of the story. To reveal the emotions that can't be spoken."

All performances are preceded by a lecture beginning 45 minutes prior to curtain.

Festival Subscriptions are now on sale, priced from $120 for seniors and youth to $135 for adults. All seating is general admission. Single tickets will go on sale June 1st. For more information or to request a brochure, go to westedgeopera.org or call (510) 841-1903.

--Marian Kohlstedt, West Edge Opera

Music Institute Spotlights Distinguished Alumna Inna Faliks May 3
WFMT Chief Announcer Peter Van de Graaff reads poetry as part of "Music/Words Program."

For its fourth annual Distinguished Alumni Concert, the Music Institute of Chicago presents pianist Inna Faliks, Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL.

Faliks, whose mother joined the Music Institute's piano faculty in 1990, offers an imaginative concert program to explore the connection between words and music. To spotlight her recent all-Beethoven CD, Faliks performs the composer's Fantasia in G Minor, Op. 77; Polonaise in C Major, Op. 89; and Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111. Chicago's Peter Van de Graaff, chief announcer on WFMT, 98.7 FM, reads poetry by Goethe and Schiller between the piano works.

After studying at the Music Institute with Emilio del Rosario, Faliks worked with such towering figures as Leon Fleisher, Ann Schein, and Gilbert Kalish, eventually earning a doctor of musical arts degree from Stony Brook University in New York. She has performed in some of the world's most distinguished venues, including Carnegie Hall's Weill Concert Hall, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paris' Salle Cortot, Chicago's Symphony Center, and many more. Critics have described her as "a soloist in total command of her instrument" and "a concert pianist of the highest order." This year, she joined the prestigious faculty of UCLA as a tenured associate professor of piano.

Peter van de Graaff joined the Beethoven Satellite Network in February 1989 after a year as one of the staff announcers on WFMT. He serves as overnight host on WFMT, a program heard on many radio stations across the United States. As a professional singer, he has performed with opera companies and orchestras throughout the world, including the Czech State Orchestra, and with the New Orleans, Utah, Colorado Springs, and San Antonio Symphonies. He also serves as host of the live Lyric Opera of Chicago broadcasts.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Osmo Vänskä Is Back As Music Director of Minnesota Orchestra
The Minnesota Orchestra on Thursday took a giant step away from the turmoil of the past two years and opened a new window on its future. The orchestra's board brought back celebrated music director Osmo Vänskä on a two-year contract to rebuild an arts organization that has weathered the greatest crisis of its 110-year history.

"This brings stability, and we can move forward because we have the pieces in place," said board chairman Gordon Sprenger. "We're excited to have Osmo back and we believe the future of the orchestra is phenomenal."

Vänskä, who will return on May 1, was in Washington, D.C., preparing for a Thursday night concert with the National Symphony Orchestra. In a statement released by the Minnesota Orchestra, he said he was "very pleased to have this chance to rebuild the Vänskä/Minnesota Orchestra partnership." While he has no concerts scheduled at Orchestra Hall in the remainder of the current season, Vänskä leads the orchestra in concerts at Northrop Auditorium on May 2 and 4.

Tense labor negotiations, begun in April 2012, resulted in the longest lockout of musicians in U.S. symphonic history. Last October Vänskä, 61, resigned in frustration over the lack of a settlement.

A deal to cut salaries 15 percent was approved in January, but almost immediately musicians and their supporters insisted that the question of artistic leadership be addressed. They made clear they supported Vänskä's reinstatement. A major sticking point was tension between Vänskä and Michael Henson, the orchestra's CEO and president. On the weekend that musicians returned to Orchestra Hall, Vänskä said publicly that for the institution to begin healing, Henson would need to resign.

About five weeks later, Henson's departure was announced by a board that was sharply divided. Several directors, in fact, quit in protest, feeling that Henson had been unfairly maligned for carrying out an aggressive fiscal objective in the contract negotiations. Others contended that Vänskä's presence was essential to restoring the orchestra's luster.

Almost immediately following Henson's resignation (which takes effect in August), negotiations began with Vänskä. Sprenger would not reveal details of those talks, but sources said that at one point Vänskä was offered a position that was less than full music director.

The terms of the two-year deal provide that Vänskä will lead at least 10 weeks of concerts in each of the next two seasons. In addition, his annual salary, reported in the 2012 tax return at $1.176 million, will be cut by the same 15 percent the musicians took.

--Graydon Royce, Star Tribune

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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