Classical Music News of the Week, July 20, 2014

Music Institute of Chicago Announces 2014-15 Nichols Concert Hall Season

Celebrating 85 years, the Music Institute of Chicago announces the 2014–15 season of its popular Faculty and Guest Artist Series. All concerts take place at the historic Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in the heart of downtown Evanston, Illinois.

85th Anniversary Opening Concert, Saturday, September 20, 7:30 p.m.:
The Music Institute of Chicago's stellar faculty is more than 150 strong. The season opens with a celebration of the Music Institute's 85th anniversary and features an impressive roster of faculty artists performing compositions associated with the number 85, including C.S. Lang's Fanfare, Op. 85 for organ; selections from Schumann's 12 Character Pieces for Small and Big Children, Op. 85 for four-hand piano; Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words for piano, Op. 85; Ravel's String Quartet, L. 85; Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Capricho Diabolico, Op. 85; and Stravinsky's Octet.

Jazz Festival: Celebrating the Music of Charlie Parker
The Music Institute of Chicago's fifth annual Jazz Festival celebrates the incredible career and influence of jazz icon Charlie Parker.

Friday, November 7, 7:30 p.m.:
The festival opens with a rare performance of music from the legendary Bird with Strings recordings with jazz veteran Charles McPherson as saxophone soloist. Also on the program is a newly commissioned work by Jazz at Lincoln Center and Northwestern University mainstay Victor Goines, composed for jazz quartet and strings.

Saturday, November 8, 3 p.m.:
The festival continues with a lecture by acclaimed cultural critic and author Stanley Crouch, who discusses his recent book Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker. WBEZ's Richard Steele serves as moderator.

Saturday, November 8, 7:30 p.m.:
The closing concert is a bebop extravaganza, featuring Charles McPherson and the Music Institute jazz faculty quintet, with Victor Garcia, Ernie Adams, Jeremy Kahn and Stewart Miller performing Charlie Parker classics, such as "Confirmation," "Moose the Mooch" and "Ornithology."

A special jazz invitational invites high school student jazz ensembles to perform and receive coaching from Charles McPherson and Music Institute jazz faculty.

Community Music Festival, Sunday, April 19–Sunday, May 3, 2015:
Two weeks of concerts, master classes, collaborative score-readings and talks mix music lovers and musicians of all ages and levels with some of the greatest professionals. During the festival, Music Institute students perform 100 concerts in local communities at community centers, libraries, senior centers and other grassroots venues.

Cavani Quartet:
Sunday, April 19, 3 p.m.
The highly regarded Cavani Quartet, ensemble in residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music celebrates its 30th anniversary at Nichols Concert Hall. The program includes the Mendelssohn Octet, also featuring students from the Music Institute's Academy for gifted pre-college musicians.

Ying Quartet:
Saturday, May 2, 7:30 p.m.
The Grammy Award-winning Ying Quartet has established itself as an ensemble of the highest musical order. Quartet-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music, this distinguished Music Institute alumni group performs classic repertoire along with works the quartet has commissioned

All concerts take place at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Tickets, except where noted, are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available at 847.905.1500 ext. 108 or on-line at

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

West Edge Opera Summer Festival continues July 27th with Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg's Hydrogen Jukebox
The second production of West Edge Opera's new Summer Festival, Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg's Hydrogen Jukebox opens on Sunday, July 27 at 5 pm (Please note: non-standard start time) at Berkeley's Ed Roberts Campus. Repeat performances are Saturday, August 2 and Friday, August 8, both at 8 pm. Elkhanah Pulitzer directs and David Möschler conducts. The ensemble cast is comprised of soprano Sara Duchovnay, soprano Molly Mahoney, mezzo-soprano Nicole Takesono, tenor Jonathan Blalock, baritone Efraín Solís, and bass Kenneth Kellogg. The Narrator is actor Howard Swain. All performances take place in the atrium of the Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St, Berkeley, 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. All performances are preceded by a lecture beginning 45 minutes prior to curtain.

Allen Ginsberg's notes on Hydrogen Jukebox explain that "the title comes from a verse in the poem Howl: '...listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox...' It signifies a state of hypertrophic high-tech, a psychological state in which people are at the limit of their sensory input with civilization's military jukebox, a loud industrial roar, or a music that begins to shake the bones and penetrate the nervous system as a hydrogen bomb may do someday, reminder of apocalypse.

"Ultimately, the motif of Hydrogen Jukebox, the underpinning, the secret message, secret activity, is to relieve human suffering by communicating some kind of enlightened awareness of various themes, topics, obsessions, neuroses, difficulties, problems, perplexities that we encounter as we end the millennium."

Drawing upon Ginsberg's poetry, this piece is a portrait of America that covers the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, as seen by the collaborators Glass, Ginsberg and designer Jerome Sirlin. Its content ranges from highly personal poems of Ginsberg to his reflection on social issues: the anti-war movement, the sexual revolution, drugs, eastern philosophy, environmental awareness. The six vocal parts represent six archetypal American characters – a waitress, a policeman, a businessman, a cheerleader, a priest, and a mechanic.

"Hydrogen Jukebox is like a patchwork quilt," says stage director Elkhanah Pulitzer. "It uses Parataxis (the placing of clauses or phrases one after another without coordinating or subordinating connectives) to build connections in the eye of the beholder, to access the watcher's imagination. Even though it covers the 50s through the 80s, it is relevant today with our consumerism/materialism and struggles with war and the environment."

Both subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale at or by calling (510) 841-1903. Seating is general admission.

--Marian Kohlstedt, West Edge Opera

Merola Opera Program Summer Festival Presents Mozart's Don Giovanni July 31 and August 2
The Merola Opera Program presents W.A. Mozart's opera, Don Giovanni, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 31, and 2 p.m. Saturday, August 2, at Everett Auditorium, 450 Church Street in San Francisco, CA.

The cast features baritone Edward Nelson as Don Giovanni; bass-baritone Szymon Wach as Leporello; bass Scott Russell as Il Commendatore; Soprano Amanda Woodbury as Donna Anna; tenor Benjamin Werley as Don Ottavio; soprano Karen Chia-Ling Ho as Donna Elvira; bass-baritone Rhys Lloyd Talbot as Masetto; and soprano Yujin Kim as Zerlina. Stage director James Darrah and conductor Martin Katz lead the production.

Based on the legends of Don Juan, the story spans the last twenty-four hours of Don Giovanni's life. With more than 2,000 romantic conquests, Don Giovanni lives life in the fast lane until a mysterious meeting with a statue begins his downward spiral. When he refuses to change his philandering ways, the unrepentant libertine is sentenced to hell by the ghost of the man he killed.

James Darrah, co-founder and director of a new Los Angeles production company, Studio Chromatic, was most recently director and production designer of San Francisco Symphony's production of Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes. He has been described by the Chicago Tribune as "a gifted young American director delivering fresh and stimulating productions".

Conductor Martin Katz, dubbed "the gold standard of accompanists" by the New York Times is currently a Professor of Collaborative Piano at the University of Michigan. He has collaborated with the world's most celebrated singers in recital and recording, including Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade, Kathleen Battle, David Daniels, Karita Mattila and José Carreras. He previously conducted Michigan Opera's production of Die Zauberflöte and Merola Opera Program's productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola and L'elisir d'amore. He is the author of The Complete Collaborator, published by the Oxford University Press.

For information on how to become a Merola member, please call (415) 565-6427 or visit

Tickets for all performances may be purchased by calling San Francisco Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330 open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

--Karen Ames Communications

Listen! Radio Radiance Podcasts Now on Young People's Chorus of NYC Website and iTunes!
Young People's Chorus of New York City's premiere performances of the most recent Radio Radiance compositions are now available on the YPC website and on iTunes.  Visit the website now for not only the podcasts, complete with composer and chorister interviews, but also a step-by-step listening guide.

Hosted by WWFM's Marjorie Herman with interviews by WNYC's John Schaefer, hear how Tom Cabaniss creates "vocal fire" in "Celestial Fire" and how Susie Ibarra takes the listener back to stardust in "The City."  Can you recognize the word Kevin James inserts in the music to describe "Colors"?  And why did Toby Twining decide to write a musical composition about nuclear false alarm in WICBM?

For more information, visit

--Katharine Gibson, NPC

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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 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.
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 simple-minded, 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 Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. 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 LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. 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.

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