Classical Music News of the Week, May 11, 2014

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Announces Major Campaign and Naming of Conductor's Podium with $1 Million Gift

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has received a $1 million gift from The Waverley Fund to name its Conductor's Podium. The gift is timely as the organization also announced the beginning of the public phase of its Campaign for the 21st Century, an $8 million comprehensive fundraising effort and the largest effort in the organization's history to develop vital artistic projects and strengthen organizational capacity.

This extraordinary milestone gift is the largest in the Orchestra's 33-year history, and will support recordings, video, alternative concert formats, touring, and the organization's signature Bay Area concert series. This visionary gift by The Waverley Fund reflects a deep commitment to the Orchestra's continued artistic excellence and honors the tremendous contributions of Nicholas McGegan, the Orchestra's Music Director of 29 years.

"It is an honor to serve as Philiharmonia's Music Director for the past 29 years," said Nicholas McGegan. "I greatly value The Waverley Fund's devotion to the Orchestra and Chorale. Their belief that Philharmonia's music should be shared far and wide is at the heart of their gift, and I'm deeply gratified by their generosity."

Ross Armstrong, President of the Board of Directors, remarked, "The Waverley Fund has always valued the uncompromising artistic integrity of the Orchestra and Chorale. This visionary gift is intended to deepen artistic innovation and preservation at this important time in the Orchestra's history. Their passionate commitment to period-instrument performance is an inspiration and a testament to their commitment to Philharmonia's continued excellence here in the Bay Area, as well as nationally and internationally. One of the finest conductors in the world, Nicholas McGegan has put a spotlight on Philharmonia. By naming the Conductor's Podium, The Waverley Fund has recognized the impact of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and its artistic director."

In 2010, Philharmonia's Board of Directors launched the Campaign for the 21st Century to help ensure the Orchestra's ability to pursue important artistic projects, maintain its superior artistry, and build organizational capacity in a changing cultural landscape. During this time, the Campaign for the 21st Century has secured just over $6.5 million in gifts and pledges.

--Ben Casement-Stoll, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Free Lunchtime Jazz Concert May 19
Eric Sutz, jazz piano
Wednesday, May 21, 12:15–1 p.m.
Music Institute of Chicago Black Box Theater, 1702 Sherman Ave., Evanston, IL
Admission free
Information: or 847.905.1500

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.

For the May program, "The Great Chicago Boogie Woogie Pianists," Music Institute faculty member Eric Sutz talks bout the history and performs in the different styles of artists Jimmy Yancy, Pinetop Smith, Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, and a number of others. Sutz also performs several pieces of more contemporary boogie pianists, such as Dr. John and Allen Toussaint.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Contact! at the Biennial, at SubCulture: "An Evening of Young American Composers"
A co-presentation with the New York Philharmonic and 92nd Street Y.

This season's collaboration between 92nd Street Y and the New York Philharmonic in CONTACT!, the Philharmonic's new-music series, is one of the highlights of the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL, a kaleidoscopic exploration of today's music, May 28–June 7.

The series returns to the vibrant new underground performing arts space SubCulture on Bleecker Street for a program that is "made in the USA"— works for solo instruments by six emerging American composers, including five World Premiere–New York Philharmonic Commissions and a New York Premiere, performed by New  York Philharmonic musicians. Marc Kaplan, co-founder/director of SubCulture, will host the concert, briefly interviewing each composer and soloist duo before their work is performed. All audience members attending this concert are invited to meet composers and performers at the bar in SubCulture as part of the post-concert NY PHIL BIENNIAL Play Date, one of several meet-ups taking place during the biennial. Biennial Pass holders will receive a total of two free drink vouchers redeemable at Play Dates.

Tuesday, June 3, 7:30 PM
SubCulture - 45 Bleecker Street (downstairs)

"An Evening of Young American Composers," Marc Kaplan, host, with musicians from the New York Philharmonic:
Paola Prestini: Eight Takes (for solo cello), with Sumire Kudo, cello.
Eric Nathan: As Above, So Below (for solo trombone), with Joseph Alessi, trombone.
Oscar Bettison: Threaded Madrigals (for solo viola), with Rebecca Young, viola.
Ryan Brown: Four Pieces for Solo Piano, with Eric Huebner, piano.
Michael Hersch: Of Sorrow Born: Seven Elegies (for solo violin), with Yulia Ziskel, violin.
Chris Kapica: Fandanglish (for solo clarinet), with Pascual Martínez Forteza, clarinet.

Tickets $25, 40
Tickets are available at or 212-415-5500.

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Young People's Chorus of NYC Free Satellite Schools Concert
Thursday, May 15 at 11 a.m. - 92nd Street Y, New York City.

Every one of YPC's 12 Satellite Schools is excitedly preparing to sing with and for each other in a free concert presented by the Young People's Chorus of New York City at the 92nd Street Y. Under Satellite Schools Director Elizabeth Núñez and YPC conductors Emma Brondolo, Cara Bernard, Maria Pena, Nathan Reiff, and Sheldon Ogbourne, the children-900 strong-will sing a program of music ranging from classical and jazz to folk and pop. The children are eagerly looking forward to singing on a professional stage on this joyous occasion.

Please come. The concert for all ages is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit

--Katharine Gibson, YPC

Young People's Chorus of NYC Free Transmusica Concert
Saturday, May 17 at 7 p.m. -  Church of the Holy Trinity (316 East 88th Street), New York City.

You won't want to miss the next concert in YPC's Transmusica series, designed to build bridges to other world cultures, when YPC and Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez welcome three award-winning choruses from the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Connecticut. They will take the audience on a musical journey that circles the globe from Russia and the Torres Strait Islands, across the Pacific through the U.S. and onto Greece, Israel, and Serbia, with stops in between for two world premieres: Quatro Colores by Jim Papoulis in Spanish, English, and Yiddish and Bobobo by Douglas J. Cuomo, based on a traditional folk song from Ghana.

The concert is free and open to the public with a suggested donation of $10 at the door.

For more information, visit

--Katharine Gibson, YPC

England's Philip Moore to Conduct St. Charles Singers May 17 & 18
Eminent English choirmaster and composer Philip Moore will make his Chicago-area conducting debut when he leads the St. Charles Singers in an all-British season-finale program at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 17, 2014, at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division St., River Forest, Il, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 18, at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles, Il.

This will be the St. Charles Singers' first concert in the River Forest-Oak Park area since the mixed-voice professional chamber choir was founded three decades ago. Titled "Bouquet of Voices," the capstone program of the St. Charles Singers' 30th concert season will offer the U.S. premiere of Moore's "At the round earth's imagined corners," a choral setting of a religious sonnet by English Renaissance poet John Donne. Brass, organ, and percussion will accompany the choir in this
Judgment Day meditation. Brass will include four trumpets, French horn, three trombones, and tuba. The percussion section will comprise timpani, snare and bass drums, cymbals, glockenspiel, and xylophone.

Spanning from the English Renaissance to the present day, the program of sacred and secular music, including arrangements of British folk songs, will offer works about peace, with Memorial Day in mind, and works celebrating the joys of spring. In addition to guest conductor Moore's own composition, the program will include Edward Bairstow's "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent," Benjamin Britten's "The Evening Primrose," William Byrd's "Solve, iubente Deo," John Clements's "Flower of Beauty," Herbert Howells's "Magnificat," Gustav Holst's "I Love My Love," Peter Knight's arrangement of John David's "You Are the New Day," and Felix Mendelssohn's "Verleigh uns Freiden." (Although German-born, Mendelssohn spent a total of about 20 months in Britain, where his popularity and influence were considerable.) Also: Robert Pearsall's "Lay a Garland," John Rutter's "Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron," Charles Stanford's "Beati Quorum Via," Thomas Tallis's "Miserere Nostri," and Ralph Vaughan Williams's "Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge," "The Dark Eyed Sailor," and "The Turtle Dove."

Tickets and Information:
Single tickets for the May "Bouquet of Voices" concerts are $40 general adult admission, $30 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students.

Tickets and general information about the St. Charles Singers are available at or by calling (630) 513-5272. Tickets are also available at Townhouse Books, 105 N. Second Ave., St. Charles, Il (checks or cash only at this ticket venue). Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the day of the concert, depending on availability. Group discounts are available.

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

Christopher Bono's Unity Inspires New Stop-Animation Art Video by Tobias Stretch
Video artist Tobias Stretch (Radiohead, Deftones) has created a new 5-minute animated puppetry, stop-action film inspired by composer Christopher Bono's choral work, Unity. The extraordinary video, constructed from over ten thousand pictures and created largely outdoors over the long 2013-2014 winter, is streaming exclusively on Alto Riot until May 15, after which it will be available widely on YouTube. A recording of Unity paired with Bono's The Unexcelled Mantra, performed by the New York Virtuoso Singers led by Harold Rosenbaum, was released as a digital download and on 7" vinyl in October 2013 on Our Silent Canvas distributed digitally by Naxos. Watch Unity on Alto Riot:

Christopher Bono describes Unity and The Unexcelled Mantra as contemplating the search for a modern form of spirituality. He says, "Both works explore a path to transcendence or 'true being' through union with the cosmos – The Unexcelled Mantra from a Mahayana Buddhist point of view and Unity from the Western philosophical tradition of Plato."

Unity is based on some of the musical and philosophical concepts of Plato's Republic. The chosen text was taken from a section of the Republic in which Plato discusses the power of mathematics, but Bono immediately saw it could also be viewed as a metaphor for the phenomenon of meditation: "What is absolute unity? / This is the way, / In which the study of One / has the power / of drawing and converting the Mind / to the contemplation / of True Being."

Bono says, "This multi-dimensional observation was a key inspiration for me when writing the work, both considering the mathematical qualities of music and the esoteric concepts of achieving union with the All." In addition, Bono experimented with the power Plato claimed existed in the Dorian and Phrygian modes. According to Plato, the Dorian would "fittingly imitate the utterances and accents of a brave man who is engaged in warfare," while the Phrygian was suitable "for a man engaged in works of peace."

Of his video for Unity, Tobias Stretch says, "Unity is about the pursuit of oneness and absolute being. The biggest challenge was how to illustrate those intense abstract ideas through animation. A dream-like world unfolds where surreal beings drift towards a point of convergence, a street character is aided by otherworldly characters (perhaps real or not) towards a point of absolute oneness. Unity is about the transcendence of being to another level."

Visual artist DZO Olivier created the original illustrations for the cover art for Unity and The Unexcelled Mantra audio recordings, intimately influenced by Bono's music and the concepts it explores.

Watch the exclusive premiere on Alto Riot:

Photos of the making of the Unity video:

Audio digital download & 7" vinyl available now:

--Christina Jensen PR

Bang on a Can All-Stars Are Special Guests on PBS KIDS' Arthur, Wednesday, May 14
The Bang on a Can All-Stars are special guests on PBS KIDS's popular cartoon featuring everyone's favorite aardvark, Arthur, in an episode called "Binky's Music Madness" airing nationwide on May 14, 2014 as part of Arthur Arts Week, which celebrates the arts with three all-new episodes beginning on May 12. For the occasion, Bang on a Can is offering Arthur fans (and the public in general) a free download of the music featured on the episode, from the All-Stars 2012 album "Big Beautiful Dark and Scary" ( Two years in the making, the animated All-Stars lineup includes founding Bang on a Can All-Star clarinetist Evan Ziporyn, percussionist David Cossin, guitarist Mark Stewart, bassist Robert Black, cellist Ashley Bathgate, and pianist Vicky Chow. Bang on a Can co-founder composer Julia Wolfe is also portrayed and recorded her own speaking role for the episode.

In "Binky's Music Madness," the Bang on a Can All-Stars take Elwood City by storm. Everyone is intrigued by their funky brand of experimental music. It sounds like nothing they have ever heard before! Binky is skeptical though. A musical purist, he sets out to prove that their musical compositions are more noise than music. Recording everything from dogs barking to tummy gurgles, Binky composes his very own soundscape and attempts to pass it off as the work of a hot new musical group. But the joke's on him when all the kids – and even Binky – realize it's not only music, it's pretty good!

Watch a clip from the episode:

For up-to-date information regarding Bang on a Can programs, events, and CD releases, please visit

--Christina Jensen PR

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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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa