Classical Music News of the Week, August 10, 2014

2014 PARMA Music Festival

Wednesday, August 13 – Saturday, August 16, 2014. Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Contemporary music. Local and international acts. 14 concerts. 12 venues. 4 days. Breaking barriers. Bridging genres. Again.

"What was most striking about the PARMA Festival was its diversity; diversity within musical styles and event types, its combination of local, national, and international artists, and also its audience."
--New Music Box

"The sound of the PARMA Music Festival is hard to pin down. There were orchestral and chamber concerts, but there was also jazz, electronic music, and indie-rock. Each genre blended into the next; there were no lines, just music." --The Wire NH

The second annual PARMA Music Festival is almost here! The multiple venue/multi-genre, four-day Festival will feature local and international acts, varying from classical and jazz to electronic and rock to indie and folk. With a wide and diverse range of events from live music, to panel discussions, to visual arts, to a children's event, and many world premieres, this year's Festival will bring together a wonderfully diverse crowd to perform, collaborate, and listen.

What's new this year? Bob Lord, CEO of PARMA Recordings, weighs in, "Everything about the PARMA Music Festival is expanding beyond what we did in our inaugural year. There are more concerts, more venues, more music – an outdoor waterfront concert for children at Prescott Park Arts Festival, a concert at the Portsmouth Music and Arts Center, a special event at The Dance Hall in Kittery ME, and much more.  With the great reception we received for last year's Music Licensing Panel at the Music Hall Loft, we've expanded that to include panels on music in advertising and music in video games."

Artists in the Festival include Russian conductor/oboist Vladimir Lande, the Baltimore-based LUNAR Ensemble, the Society of Composers Inc., PARMA's Student Composer Competition winner Michael Mikulka, Boston New Music Initiative, Boston-based singer/songwriter/multimedia artist Qwill, Swedish singer/songwriter/composer Sophie Dunér, classical guitar duo Alex Lubet and Maja Radovanlija, Seacoast NH locals Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra and Chris Klaxton & the State Line Big Band, and many more. Returning from last year's Festival are clarinetist Matthias Müller, Romanian cellist Ovidiu Marinescu, and the Society of Composers, Inc.

These concerts and events will be presented in 12 diverse settings—from daytime events at North Church, St. John's Church, South Church, and The Music Hall Loft, to evening events at Red Door, Thirsty Moose Taphouse, Portsmouth Music and Arts Center, and in Kittery ME at The Dance Hall and Buoy Gallery. The Prescott Park Arts Festival (PPAF) will host a children's event, Peter & the Wolf, celebrating the 40th anniversary of their inaugural season, which included a production of the very same musical story! Finally, the Festival closes with a concert at The Music Hall's Historic Theater.
Headed by PARMA Licensing, and moderated by film composer Mason Daring, discussion panels will cover music placement in advertising and video games. The panels include guest speakers from advertising agencies and video game companies. PARMA Licensing recently recorded and produced custom music for a Nintendo DS Kirby video game advertisement, which has a national ad placement on network television, as well as an 1800 Tequila advertisement, and has placed music in a variety of other television and media, including C-SPAN's programming, the PBS series Closer to Truth, and much more.

The citywide musical showcase is the brainchild of PARMA Recordings, a New England-based music company specializing in orchestral, chamber, choral, and commercial recordings as well as distribution, product design, strategic marketing, licensing, and publishing. The Festival is part of PARMA Recordings' continuing mission to bring new music to new audiences the world over.
The inaugural PARMA Music Festival was held August 15-17, 2013 in historic downtown Portsmouth NH and featured performances by Grammy Award-winning clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra, singer/songwriter Will Dailey, cellist Ovidiu Marinescu, and many more. For more information about the PARMA Music Festival, including pictures and press from the 2013 Festival, please visit

--Ariel Oxaal, Parma Music Festival

Orion "Stepping Out" with Jazz and Classical Season Opener
Chicago's Jim Gailloreto, John Coltrane, Morton Gould, Dvorak, Schubert on program in Geneva (Sept. 28), Chicago (Oct. 1), and Evanston (Oct. 5), Ilinois.

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, opens its 22nd season with "Stepping Out," a program showcasing Chicago composer  Jim Gailloreto and a combination of Romantic-era chamber music favorites and classical-jazz fusion pieces. Performances take place at First Baptist Church of Geneva September 28; Sherwood, The Community Music School of Columbia College Chicago October 1; and the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston October 5.

Three guest musicians join Orion for this program: bassist Robert Kassinger, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and an avid chamber and jazz musician; pianist Sebastian Huydts, director of keyboard studies at the Music Center of Columbia College Chicago, concert pianist and chamber musician; and violinist/violist  Stephen Boe, a sought-after chamber musician who teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago.

Orion's 2014-15 season, "A Taste of Chicago, A World of Romance," features a Chicago composer on each program: "Rhapsody" in November and December, with guest Stephen Boe and works by Chicagoan Sebastian Huydts, Profokiev, Rachmaninov, Müller and Enescu; "Jubilation" in March 2015, with music by Chicagoan Stacy Garrop, Hartmann and Beethoven; and "Celebration" in May, with guest Stephen Boe and works by Chicagoan Marc Mellits, Kókai and Brahms. Also during the season, Orion appears on the broadcast series "Live from WFMT" March 23 and June 1, 2015.

The Orion Ensemble's concert program "Stepping Out" takes place Sunday, September 28 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Wednesday, October 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall at Sherwood, The Community Music School of Columbia College Chicago, 1312 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, Il. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; admission is free for children 12 and younger. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Matthew Halls Masterful in Utah Symphony Debut
Matthew HallsMatthew Halls, the recently appointed successor to Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival, made a spectacular Utah Symphony debut at Wednesday's Deer Valley Music Festival's chamber orchestra concert. And hopefully he'll be returning to lead the full ensemble in Abravanel Hall in the not too distant future.

As he so masterfully showed Wednesday, the English-born maestro is a great interpreter who elicits fabulous playing from his band, whether it's classical or romantic composers. He is detail oriented in a good way — he delves into the music to probe its minutest nuances, and he knows how to convey to the ensemble what he wants. He is a true musician who showed remarkable rapport with the members of the Utah Symphony playing for him Wednesday.

Next appearance:
Cleveland Orchestra
Blossom Music Festival
August 9, 2014 | 8pm

Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 4 in G major ("Mozartiana")
Mozart: Overture to Idomeneo, Eine kleine Nachtmusik. Symphony No. 36 ("Linz")

For more about Matthew Hall, visit

--Reichel Recommends, from Schwalbe & Partners

Music Institute of Chicago Opens 2014-15 Season with 85th Anniversary Faculty Concert September 20
 The Music Institute of Chicago celebrates the institution's 85th year of transforming lives through music by opening its 2014-15 with a concert showcasing its stellar faculty Saturday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois.

Members of the Music Institute's impressive faculty, now numbering more than 150, perform 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; Brahms's Sechs Lieder, Op. 85; and Stravinsky's Octet.

Faculty members on the program include Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem, four-hand piano; Elizabeth Barber, flute; James Baur, guitar; Aimee Biasiello, viola; James Russell Brown, organ; Mary Drews, piano; Julie Fischer, violin; Chelsea French, trombone; Chris Hasselbring, trumpet; Rae-Myra Hilliard, soprano; Akiko Konishi, piano; James Setapen, conductor; Addison C. Teng, violin; and Sophie Webber, cello.

The Music Institute of Chicago's 85th Anniversary Opening Concert takes place Saturday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available at or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. All programming is subject to change. For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Like a Jazz Band, but 18th Century: McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque at Mostly Mozart
The choreographer Mark Morris calls the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra "the car that parks itself." This week it pulls into Lincoln Center to perform two early Handel operas at the Mostly Mozart Festival: the English masque "Acis and Galatea," fully choreographed with singers sharing the stage with dancers from the Mark Morris Dance Group, and a concert version of "Teseo," a flamboyant castrato vehicle in which the composer merged elements of Italian and French Baroque style. At the steering wheel: Nicholas McGegan, the British conductor and Baroque music expert who has led this period-instrument ensemble for 29 years and, in the process, turned it into the pre-eminent early-music group on the West Coast.
Actually, eminence isn't quite what Mr. McGegan is after. "I like to think of Philharmonia Baroque as being the best 18th-century jazz band in the States," he said in a telephone interview from his home in Berkeley, California. The orchestra makes its home in the Bay Area, performing regular concert series in San Francisco, Berkeley and Palo Alto.

Mr. McGegan said that the area's universities and San Francisco's excellent symphony orchestra, opera and ballet companies create a fertile environment for early music, very similar to that of Boston. In his work with the musicians, some of whom have played with the orchestra since its founding in 1981, he prizes flexibility, creativity and the kind of stylistic assurance that comes from a deep familiarity with historical performance practice.

"We have longtime, loyal players, and, as a result, we have been able to get up a very stable personnel," he said. "Which makes it very like an orchestra in the 18th century, whether working for the Esterhazy family or in a London theater."

While the repertory Mr. McGegan explores with the orchestra extends well into the 19th century, Baroque opera is a specialty of his. Thus he has been a prized collaborator for Mr. Morris on productions like that of Rameau's "Platée" and Handel's "L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato." "It's always great fun because Mark is the most musical of choreographers," Mr. McGegan said.

Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra perform "Teseo" in concert at Alice Tully Hall, NYC on Aug. 17. For more information, visit

--Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times via Schwalbe & Partners

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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 ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine 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