Classical Music News of the Week, May 18, 2014

American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy: "Bach's Inspiration"
July 11 through 20, 2014 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco, CA

Tracing the influences of Italian, French, and North German composers on Johann Sebastian Bach's music, the 2014 American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy will feature works by Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Buxtehude, and Bach's forebears.

Musical delights and discoveries will fill the days and nights of the 2014 Festival. From large-scaled masterworks for full orchestra, choir, and vocal soloists to intimate instrumental works, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

Masterworks Series
Annual performances of Bach's Mass in B Minor, large-scale instrumental and vocal works, and concert performances of Baroque oratorio and opera. Jeffrey Thomas directs performances by the American Bach Soloists, the Academy Orchestra and soloists, and the American Bach Choir.

Distinguished Artist Series
These concerts feature performances by acclaimed early music specialists. Within the framework of an intimate recital, instrumentalists and singers will present solo works with accompaniment, in programs built around programmatic themes of cultures, places, or events in history.

Academy Events
The American Bach Soloists Academy—the educational component of the ABS Summer Bach Festival—offers advanced conservatory-level students and emerging professionals unique opportunities to study and perform Baroque music in a multi-disciplinary learning environment.

Academy-In-Action
Academy participants are featured exclusively in three evenings of Academy-in-Action Concerts offering chamber vocal and instrumental works by Baroque masters.

Public Colloquia
Annual engaging forums for performers and audience members alike explore a variety of topics centered on historical, artistic, and practical considerations of performing Baroque music today. (Free)

Lecture Series
Join the members of the American Bach Soloists Academy for a series of enlightening and informative public lectures presented by the Academy faculty on a wide range of subjects centered on Festival themes. (Free)

Master Class Series
The ABS Academy opens its doors to the public to witness the artistic transformations that make Master Classes so tremendously exciting, as performers and their master teachers share their knowledge and insights. (Free)

To view all Academy events and purchase tickets, click here: http://americanbach.org/sfbachfestival/schedule.html

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

ABS Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas Will Be Resident Scholar At Grace Cathedral During May and June 2014 
American Bach Soloists Artistic & Music Director Jeffrey Thomas will be Resident Scholar at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral beginning May 13 and extending through the end of June. During this residency, Thomas will continue work on his forthcoming book on Handel's Messiah.

Grace Cathedral and Handel's Messiah are a familiar combination for Thomas, who has led the American Bach Soloists (ABS) in performances of the 1741 masterwork every December for the last 15 years. These annual performances have become a cherished Northern California tradition and play to sold-out audiences year after year. The 2014 performances will be recorded by Emmy Award winning Zamacona Productions, who will utilize seven High-Definition cameras to capture the event for release on local and national television stations, as well as DVD and BluRay.

About Jeffrey Thomas
Jeffrey Thomas is Artistic and Music Director of the American Bach Soloists, with whom he has directed and conducted recordings of more than 25 cantatas, the Mass in B Minor, St. Matthew Passion, Brandenburg Concertos, and works by Schütz, Pergolesi, Vivaldi, Haydn, and Beethoven. He has appeared with the Baltimore, Berkeley, Boston, Detroit, Houston, National, Rochester, Minnesota, and San Francisco symphony orchestras; with the Vienna Symphony and the New Japan Philharmonic; with virtually every American baroque orchestra; and in Austria, England, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Mexico. He has performed at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Spoleto USA Festival, Ravinia Festival, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Berkeley Festival and Exhibition, Boston Early Music Festival, Bethlehem Bach Festival, Göttingen Festival, Tage Alte Musik Festival in Regensburg, E. Nakamichi Baroque Festival in Los Angeles, the Smithsonian Institution, and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's "Next Wave Festival," and he has collaborated on several occasions as conductor with the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Before devoting all of his time to conducting, he was one of the first recipients of the San Francisco Opera Company's prestigious Adler Fellowships. Cited by The Wall Street Journal as "a superstar among oratorio tenors," Mr. Thomas' extensive discography of vocal music includes dozens of recordings of major works for Decca, EMI, Erato, Koch International Classics, Denon, Harmonia Mundi, Smithsonian, Newport Classics, and Arabesque. Mr. Thomas is an avid exponent of contemporary music, and has conducted the premieres of new operas, including David Conte's Gift of the Magi and Firebird Motel, and premiered song cycles of several composers, including two cycles written especially for him. He has performed lieder recitals at the Smithsonian, song recitals at various universities, and appeared with his own vocal chamber music ensemble, L'Aria Viva.

Mr. Thomas currently hosts two shows on one of the nation's premiere classical music radio stations, KDFC. Through world-wide streaming audio, he brings his experience and love for Baroque and choral music to a global audience.

For more information on American Bach Soloists, click http://americanbach.org

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

News from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra
"The Beethoven Journey" with Piano Concerto No. 5 and Choral Fantasy: For the third spring in a row, the MCO joins its Artistic Partner Leif Ove Andsnes for performances in Reggio Emilia, Turin, Lugano, Prague and Bergen. This time, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 and the rarely heard Choral Fantasy are the focus of the programme. Both works are being recorded by Sony Classical at the Prague Spring Festival and together complete a three-part CD cycle. The orchestra opens the concerts with Igor Stravinsky's Concerto in E-flat "Dumbarton Oaks".

MCO Landings:
"Feel the Music" in Leif Ove Andsnes' home city, Bergen:
The MCO's education project series for hearing-impaired children "Feel the Music" accompanies every tour of the "Beethoven Journey". This May, the project takes place in Norway for the first time, in Leif Ove Andsnes' home city of Bergen. Together with the orchestra, hearing-impaired children aged 8-13 years old explore how music can be experienced with all of the senses.

Farewell to Claudio Abbado:
Memorial concert in Dresden
On 9th June at Dresden's Frauenkirche, the MCO performs a memorial concert for its late founding mentor Claudio Abbado, who passed away in January. The concert, featuring works by Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler and Robert Schumann, will be conducted by Daniele Gatti, with Waltraud Meier and René Pape as soloists.

Tour diary:
MCO Landings in Colombia
As part of its education programme MCO Landings, nine musicians from the MCO worked with the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia in April, coaching rehearsal sessions, leading sectionals and teaching chamber music to the 16-24 year old musicians. In his tour diary, MCO violinist Christian Heubes reports on his experiences with the young people during his week there, which included salsa, table tennis and the unique countryside of Colombia, in addition to the musical work.

For more information, click www.mahler-chamber.eu

--MCO Newsletter

Distinguished Concerts International New York Presents Bluegrass & Gray: Sounds of Americana
Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) brings the stirring sounds of bluegrass and Americana back to Carnegie Hall with an encore performance of Carol Barnett's "The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass" featuring superstar duo Dailey & Vincent, and the New York premiere of John Purifoy's "The Chronicles of Blue & Gray," a work which weaves American folk songs, spirituals and battle cries with tunes and lyrics from the post-Civil War era. Excellent choruses from six states form the Distinguished Concerts Singers International for the thrilling afternoon concert on Sunday, June 8 at 2:00pm at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, New York City.

While bluegrass music and a church mass might seem like an unlikely pairing, it was the country music infused with a church flavor that inspired composer Carol Barnett to write "The World Beloved": "My highest hope," says Barnett, "is that listeners coming from one tradition—classical or bluegrass—and perhaps dubious about the other might discover something new and wonderful in the combination." Award-winning composer Barnett teamed with poet, playwright and novelist Marisha Chamberlain for the work which blends modern choral sophistication, poetry and traditional bluegrass instrumentation into an exhilarating musical experience. DCINY Debut Conductor Jefferson Johnson leads the Distinguished Concerts Singers International and special guests, bluegrass superstars Dailey & Vincent. Dubbed the "rock stars of bluegrass" by CMT, the group is a perennial favorite on the touring and festival circuit, playing over 115 shows each year. Their many honors include two Grammy nominations and three consecutive International Bluegrass Music Association Awards for Entertainer of the Year. Dailey & Vincent will also perform a set of their own material from across their vast repertoire.

A perfect pairing for this concert on the Americana theme is the New York premiere of Chronicles of Blue & Gray by John Purifoy, Composer-in-Residence. Purifoy gathered a variety of material representing struggles and triumphs from the century and a half that has passed since the American Civil War, including texts from Lincoln's two Inaugurals, the Gettysburg Address, and the Emancipation Proclamation. New York judge and poet, Francis Miles Finch, who, two years after the war, penned the healing words, "The Blue and the Gray." Acclaimed conductor, composer, writer and educator Michael Adelson, formerly on the conducting staff of the New York Philharmonic, conducts the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Singers International. DCINY Artistic Director & Principal Conductor Jonathan Griffith serves as Chorus Master.

Founded by Iris Derke (General Director) and Jonathan Griffith (Artistic Director and Principal Conductor) Distinguished Concerts International is driven by passion, innovative vision, a total belief in its artists, and unwavering commitment to bringing forth unforgettable audience experiences.

Tickets: $20 – $100
www.carnegiehall.org or 212-247-7800 or in person at the Carnegie Hall Box Office

For even more information, visit www.DCINY.org

--Shira Gilbert PR

HEAR into the Future!
Since 2002, Composers & the Voice has been the crucible for many of AOP's recent shows as well as numerous opera premieres around the country. Today and Monday you can hear into the future of contemporary opera.

Sunday, May 18 | 7:30 PM
Monday, May 19 | 7:30 PM

Composers & the Voice: First Glimpse 2014
South Oxford Space | 138 S. Oxford St. | Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY

A concert of world premiere songs by Guy Barash, Avner Finberg, Jeremy Gill, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Gity Razaz, Joseph Rubinstein and librettist Jason Kim. Hosted by Daron Hagen (5/18) and Conrad Cummings (5/19).

Performances by Deborah Lifton, Kristin Sampson, Rachel Calloway, Dominic Armstrong, Jorell Williams, and Matthew Burns.

Music Directors: Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted and Charity Wicks.

Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 for students/seniors; http://www.eventbrite.com/e/composers-the-voice-first-glimpse-2014-tickets-11380217537?utm_campaign=AOP+firstglimpse2014&utm_medium=email&utm_source=First+Glimpse

--Matthew Gray, AOP

Coming Soon to Weill Hall, Sonoma State's Green Music Center
Sun, May 18: Richard Goode in an all Beethoven program
Thu, May 22: Kahane and Ferrandis: One Night Only
Thu, Jun 5: Dutoit Conducts Beethoven and Shostakovich
Thu, Jun 12: National Brass Ensemble In Concert
Thu, Jul 31: Santa Rosa Symphony - A Free Concert for the Community
Sat, Sep 13: An Acoustic Evening with Ben Harper

For complete information, click http://gmc.sonoma.edu/

--Weill Hall at Sonoma State

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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