Classical Music News of the Week, June 8, 2014

Subscribe Today to the 2014-15 MasterCard Performance Series: Weill Hall at Sonoma State, Green Music Center

In 2012, the doors opened to Sonoma, California's musical future with the inauguration of Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall and a new vista was created for the performing arts in the heart of Wine Country.

The first harvest of spectacular concerts brought optimism, excitement, expectation. Now, the 2014-15 season of Weill Hall at Sonoma State University's Green Music Center brings Expanding Horizons--the promise of a great vintage.

Subscribe to a case or two of the best music ranging from classical to jazz, popular vocals to the art of song, multimedia creations to the tapestry of dance.

For more information, click

--Weill Hall at Sonoma State

Foundation to Assist Young Musicians
The Foundation to Assist Young Musicians is dedicated to providing access to music instruction, scholarships & career assistance for deserving young people 26 & under.

The mission of FAYM is to encourage and support gifted young musicians in early training, advanced study, and professional career development, specifically those who are in need of financial and/or mentoring support up to the age of 26. In addition, an important part of the FAYM mission is to develop programs for the support of needy children in receiving music education.

FAYM has raised over $650,000 in contributions and scholarship awards for talented students as well as to support the Foundation's "Violins for Kids" project which provides three class lessons a week, instruments, materials, field trips, and a 2-week summer day camp for inner city youngsters (ages 5-13) at no charge. Enrollment has grown from 15 to 101 with plans for further expansion in 2014.

All administrative functions are performed by highly qualified volunteers. Only FAYM's teachers are paid. All legal, accounting, and other services are generously donated 'pro bono' by experts in their fields. Contributions, therefore, go entirely for program support and scholarship assistance for deserving and needy young musicians.

FAYM's programs have won recognition from the Clark County School District's Partnership Program, the Clark County Board of Supervisors, and such celebrities as virtuoso solo bassist Gary Karr, Teller (of Penn & Teller), superstar singer Josh Groban, and Jamie Bernstein, daughter of renowned conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein.

Twitter: @FAYMsters

The Foundation to Assist Young Musicians (FAYM) will hold its 2014 tuition-free Summer Camp in Las Vegas from June 9th through the 20th. Classes in Violin, Art, Theory, Mariachi, Drumming, & Ensemble are offered by a faculty of eleven top-notch professionals.

You can help provide this opportunity for 80 fabulous inner city kids and their families by making your contribution today: Sponsor a student for the entire 2-week camp for $300 or for one week for $150. Any amount, however, is needed and will make a difference!

FAYM depends on the generosity of individuals like you to provide underprivileged students with access to life-enhancing musical training.

Our kids are playing their parts....and hope that you will play yours too! Learn more here:

--Harold Weller, FAYM

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra Announce 2014-2015 Season
Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra continue their inspired partnership for a seventh season. In four subscription concerts, the Orchestra, praised by Georgia Rowe of San Francisco Classical Voice for its continued efforts to "expand the boundaries of classical music," performs a wide range of repertoire spanning four centuries including Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite, Mahler's transcription of the Schubert String Quartet D. 810 "Death and the Maiden," Brahms' Sextet for Strings in Bb Major, Mozart's Divertimento K. 136, and Arvo Pärt's Fratres. Committed to broadening the chamber orchestra repertoire, New Century's 2014/15 Featured Composer is Derek Bermel. A virtuoso clarinetist as well as composer, Mr. Bermel appears as a performer on the season opening program and returns later in the season to introduce a commissioned new work for string orchestra. Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg takes the stage as soloist for Vivaldi's The Four Seasons in a program that features a variety of holiday classics and a first-time collaboration with the San Francisco Girls Chorus. The concerts will be presented throughout the Bay Area and in a first-time appearance at Sonoma State University's Weill Hall. Another major season highlight is a rare Bay Area appearance by retiring New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, invited by Salerno-Sonnenberg to lead the March set of concerts.

"My collaboration with New Century Chamber Orchestra remains one of the most rewarding artistic partnerships I've ever experienced," said Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. "This is an orchestra of virtuoso musicians who play as one and I'm extremely excited to 'share' them with the incredible violinist Glenn Dicterow in March. Both musicians and audiences thrive on new and different experiences and our 2014/15 season demonstrates our commitment to expanding the horizons of the orchestra and its fans."

The season opens with a program that highlights three chamber works by 2014/15 Featured Composer Derek Bermel. Recognized nationally for his multi-faceted career as a composer, clarinetist and conductor, Bermel was recently named Artistic Director of the intrepid American Composer's Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Bermel joins members of New Century for A Short History of the Universe for String Quartet and Clarinet and Silvioudades, a duet for clarinet and violin that also features Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. His final work Oct Up features two string quartets and percussion. The concert also includes a reprise of one of New Century's most popular performances, Shchedrin's take on Bizet's Carmen Suite. A signature work in the orchestra's repertory, the piece drew rave reviews and standing ovations in September 2011 with Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle praising New Century for a "superb performance, marked by rhythmic vivacity and emotional brilliance." Arvo Pärt's other-worldly and immensely popular Fratres completes the program. Existing in a variety of different instrumental incarnations, the work will be performed in its most recognized version for solo violin and string orchestra.

Building on last season's collaborations with the San Francisco Opera's Adler Fellows and Chanticleer, New Century welcomes the San Francisco Girls Chorus for a program of holiday favorites. The Girls Chorus will perform Vaughan William's Winter from Folksongs of the Four Seasons and Cui's Radiant Stars, with New Century joining them for Mozart's Engel Gottes Künden and John Rutter's Nativity Carol, in addition to selections from Handel's Messiah and a Medley of Christmas Carols, arranged by former Featured Composer Clarice Assad. The program will also feature Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, Corelli's Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 "Christmas Concerto," Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, and Vivaldi's Winter from The Four Seasons featuring Salerno-Sonnenberg as soloist.

The season continues in March with a special guest appearance by violinist Glenn Dicterow who will lead New Century in a program of works for string orchestra. Established worldwide as one of the most prominent American violinists of his generation, Glenn Dicterow has been concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic since 1980 and has since performed with them as soloist on every season. Dicterow's long standing relationship with the New York Philharmonic began with his solo debut performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto at aged 11 which propelled his career as a soloist appearing with orchestras all over the country and abroad. Following 34 distinguished years with the orchestra, he is retiring at the end of the 2013/14 season and plans to make California his home where he is currently the holder of the Robert Mann Chair in Strings Chamber and Chamber Music at the University of California's Thornton School of Music. The program opens with Mozart's Divertimento K. 136 by Mozart, a work written when the composer was only 15 years old and was one of three such works composed in Salzburg during the winter of 1772. Also featured on the program is Sextet for Strings No. 1 in Bb major, Brahms' first chamber work for strings without piano, plus Grieg's Two Nordic Melodies and Holst's St. Paul's Suite.

A West Coast premiere by Derek Bermel closes the 2014/15 season. The new work has been co-commissioned in collaboration with a national consortium of orchestras including River Oaks Chamber Orchestra of Houston and A Far Cry of Boston. The consortium has been established as part of an effort to increase the national impact of the works commissioned by New Century, in addition to touring and recording commissioned works. Featuring alongside the premiere are two monumental works for string orchestra; Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite and the Schubert/Mahler String Quartet in D minor D. 810 "Death and the Maiden." A corner stone in the chamber music repertoire, Schubert's original version for string quartet has received numerous transcriptions including Mahler's 1896 setting for string orchestra.

Subscriptions to the New Century Chamber Orchestra are on sale now. Three-concert subscriptions range from $78 to $165; Four-concert subscriptions range from $104 - $220. Call (415) 357-1111 ext. 4 or visit to purchase a subscription.

Single tickets range in price from $29 to $61 and will go on sale August 1, 2014 through City Box Office: and (415) 392-4400. Discounted $15 single tickets are available for patrons under 35.

Ticket information for the December performance at the Green Music Center is available at and (866) 955-6040.

Open Rehearsal tickets are $8 general admission and can be purchased through City Box Office beginning August 1, 2014: and (415) 392-4400.

For further information on New Century, please visit

--Karen Ames Communications
Young People's Chorus of New York City Invited as Artists-in-Residence at European Festival of Youth Choruses in Basel, Switzerland: May 28 to June 1, 2014
At the invitation of the European Festival of Youth Choruses in Basel, Switzerland, Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) and Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez have been invited as the artists-in-residence of the festival, which takes place from May 28 to June 1.  YPC is the first American choir in two decades invited to take part in this festival, which includes 18 other choirs of young men and women from Switzerland, Estonia, Iceland, Israel, Spain, Armenia, Germany, Ireland, and Russia.

Over the years, the festival, established in 1992, has become one of Europe's most important gatherings of youth choirs of the highest artistic quality, drawing audiences of almost 23,000 people.

At the festival YPC will sing individually and in combination with other festival choirs in nine concerts held in a variety of venues throughout the city beginning with the opening ceremony on May 28 at the Stadt-Casino Basel, the most famous concert hall in the city.

When the festival's artistic director first heard YPC's young male singers at the Polyfollia international choral showcase in Normandy, France, she was so taken with their unique style and high level of musical expression, she was inspired to create a festival within a festival at the 2014 European Festival of Youth Choruses called "Singing Boys" to promote boy choirs and encourage them to explore new ways of presenting music.

The mini-festival will include a workshop on the subject of "Singing Boys" at the Musik-Akademie on May 30 led by Francisco Núñez and featuring YPC's young men. Afterwards, the young men will headline a concert in the Martinkirche, in which they will sing a program of music ranging from classical, folk, and gospel to the world premiere of Camina Toma written especially for this occasion by Mr. Núñez. Joining YPC's young men will be three other young male choirs: the Estonian National Opera Boys Choir, the Knabenkantorei Basel, and the Choristers of Jesus College from Cambridge, England.

For more information, click

--Angela Duryea, YPC

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 gut-wrenching, real-life story of women caught and destroyed in the sex trade. 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, San Francisco, CA.

"These same tragedies are happening here in the Bay Area. Bringing Anya to life is a way for Opera Parallèle to use art to focus attention on this urgent issue as well as introduce audiences to a wonderful artistic experience through the music and poetry of Adam Gorb and Ben Kaye," said Nicole Paiement. "Anya17 illuminates four classic operatic themes in much the same way as many well-known masterpieces: the betrayal of Alban Berg's Wozzeck, the evil Golijov incarnated in Ainadamar, the justice Jake Heggie illustrated in Dead Man Walking, and the heartbreak of Puccini's Madama Butterfly."

Using cinematic techniques and nightmare-like flashbacks to convey the feeling of captivity and enslavement that pervades the sex trade, Resident Concept Designer and Stage Director Brian Staufenbiel brings the music to life. Described by the The Sunday Times as a "marvel of boisterous inventiveness, albeit with a savage snap," Anya17 will be performed with the orchestra on stage, allowing specific instruments to propel the narrative at crucial moments in the opera. Brian Staufenbiel collaborates once again with a strong artistic team: set designer Dave Dunning; video designer David Murakami; lighting designer Matthew Antaky; costume designer Christine Crook; projection designer Frédéric Boulay; and wig and make-up artist Jeanna Parham.

For more information, visit

--Karen Ames Communications

The Story Behind the Benedictines of Mary "Lent at Ephesus": Exclusive Television Special Premiers This Week on PBS
The Benedictines of Mary are not only a monastic order of nuns — they are also chart-topping sisters crowned Billboard's Top Traditional Classical Album Artist for two years straight.  Taking viewers inside the monastery in rural Missouri, their new and exclusive PBS television special tells the fascinating story of how the Sisters made their latest Decca/De Montfort Music album Lent at Ephesus, and also features highlights from their previous recording, Angels & Saints at Ephesus. The program includes full-length performances that demonstrate the power and beauty of their music.  The show begins airing on PBS stations June 8th, 2014 (check local listings for broadcasts in your area).

The Benedictines of Mary have debuted at #1 on Billboard's Classical Chart with all three of their Decca/De Montfort Music releases. Lent At Ephesus's first week sales surpassed all of their prior first week sales, and also outsold artists on both the Traditional and Crossover Charts in its debut week, including the likes of more commercial, "crossover" fare such as Lindsey Stirling, The Piano Guys, and Il Divo, among others. Their incredible story has been documented by the likes of NPR's Morning Edition, The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and most recently CBS Sunday Morning.

Offering their lives in prayer and sacrifice for priests, The Benedictines of Mary use the work of their hands primarily for the making of priestly vestments. They also take care of gardens, an orchard and a small farm. They paint gorgeous icons and live an artistic lifestyle based upon their religious vows. Leaving behind their families, bank accounts, and all of their possessions, the women live together in community following closely The Benedictine Rule of life known as "ora et labora" (work and pray).

Young and extremely musical, they do not set foot beyond their Midwest 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 of Vespers and Divine Office, lifting their hearts to God through music. The order's Prioress, Mother Cecilia, vacated her seat in the horn section with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Ohio to enter religious life, despite her conservatory background, where music was emphasized over religion. A graduate of The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, in Houston, Texas, Mother Cecilia acts as arranger and drives the selection of repertoire for the recordings. Sr. Scholastica, the Order's sub prioress helps design their album artwork.

--Olga Makrias, Universal Music Classics

Centric to Air Star Studded Documentary on Barrier-Breaking Opera Singer and Civil Rights Icon, Marian Anderson, on Sunday, June 15th
Based on Washington Performing Arts' momentous concert event "Of Thee We Sing: The Marian Anderson 75th Anniversary Concert" at the DAR Constitution Hall on April 12 in partnership with Centric (a BET Network), the network will air the documentary "Of Thee We Sing: The Marian Anderson Story" celebrating legendary contralto Marian Anderson on Sunday, June 15th at 7PM EST.

"Of Thee We Sing: The Marian Anderson Story" is an inspiring historical journey that pays tribute to the first African American singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera, who, in 1939 set off a cultural firestorm by singing at the Lincoln Memorial for 75,000 people after having been denied the right to perform at two indoor venues because of her African-American heritage.

Host Alyson Cambridge tells the story of Anderson's indomitable spirit and traces her galvanizing role in American history as an artist of the highest caliber with a "once-in-a-century" voice; a woman unafraid to stand up and sing, even when told to sit down and be silent and a towering figure who rose from humble beginnings and helped set off a chain of events that would change our country forever.

"Of Thee We Sing: The Marian Anderson Story" airs on Sunday, June 15th from 7-8PM EST on Centric.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

No comments:

Post a Comment

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

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa