Classical Music News of the Week, October 12, 2014

Bach Sinfonia Opens Its Twentieth-Anniversary Season

The Bach Sinfonia will open its twentieth anniversary season with what arguably might be Johann Sebastian Bach's most beloved work, the Mass in B Minor, BWV 232. As Bach's last major artistic creation, penned during the period just proceeding his death, the Mass in B Minor represents a compendium of musical riches compiled both from past compositions and new movements, all exploring an array of techniques which Bach perfected throughout his lifetime. Sinfonia's scholarship-informed performance will be presented with only fifteen singers, as suggested in Bach's 1730 memorandum to the Leipzig Town Council and supported by the research of Joshua Rifkin. This interpretation with period instruments allows for clear contrasts, contrapuntal clarity and a truly inspired and new hearing. Sinfonia will be joined by early music vocalists Shannon Mercer, soprano; Deborah Rentz-Moore, mezzo-soprano; Sumner Thompson, tenor; and John Taylor Ward, bass.

In honor of this twentieth anniversary season, the Bach Sinfonia will celebrate with four more concerts which travel through the life and works of J.S. Bach. This All-Bach Season will continue with a holiday concert featuring some of Bach's most beloved Christmas-related works; a special presentation of REBEL Baroque and an exploration of Bach's chamber music written in Cöthen and Leipzig; a Cantata program outlining Bach's early voice while living in Weimar; and concludes with a concerto program of Bach's works written as for the Court of Anhalt-Cöthen.

Date and time:
Saturday, October 25, 2014 AT 8PM
Free Pre-Concert Discussion at 7:20PM
Program:
Mass in B Minor, BWV 232, Johann Sebastian Bach
Venue:
Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910

Tickets:
$40 adult
$36 seniors (60 and up)
$15 (ages 15 – University)
Free (ages 14 and under)
Order Online at www.bachsinfonia.org or call (301) 362-6525

--Christie McKinney, Bach Sinfonia

American Modern Ensemble celebrates its 10th anniversary in macabre style with "Ghosts and Ghouls"
The cutting-edge ensemble presents works by George Crumb, Robert Paterson and David Del Tredici in a free performance at Merkin Concert Hall (129 W. 67th Street, NYC), 10/30.

Ten years ago, the American Modern Ensemble set the New York new music scene ablaze with sizzling performances of music by living American composers. The New York Times, reporting on a standing-room-only performance by AME at the Tenri Cultural Institute, wrote, "Pessimists about the future of classical music may be looking in the wrong place." Now, AME celebrates its tenth anniversary with a whimsical "Ghosts & Ghouls" program co-presented by ChamberMusicNY on Thursday, October 30 at 8pm at Merkin Concert Hall (129 W. 67th Street). Works by George Crumb and David Del Tredici, along with three NYC premieres of works by Robert Paterson, come to vivid life in a free concert that proves once and for all that new music can be frightening and accessible.

Intrepid guest conductor David Alan Miller, fresh off his Grammy victory with the Albany Symphony, leads AME in a trio of works that inhabit the shadowy corners of the universe. George Crumb transforms the great cosmic unknown into a famously kaleidoscopic score in one of his seminal works, Music for a Summer Evening (Makrokosmos III) for two amplified pianos and two percussionists, featuring a huge battery of percussion instruments that fills the stage. Featuring AME's Blair McMillen and Stephen Gosling on pianos, Matthew Ward and Robert Paterson on percussion. Then, soprano soloist Melissa Wimbish undergoes a horrific transformation, set in motion by a famous Transylvanian count and a touch of theremin, in David Del Tredici's monodrama Dracula based on Alfred Corn's poem "My Neighbor, the Distinguished Count."

Also on the program are the NYC premieres of three pieces by AME co-founder and house composer, Robert Paterson: Hell's Kitchen (2014), Closet Full of Demons (2001), and Ghost Theater (2013). These three works comprise a gruesome series with references to apparitions and the underworld. Hell's Kitchen won the Utah Arts Festival commission in 2014 and takes its name literally, making use of kitchen tools such as two blenders, a coffee grinder and even a kitchen sink as percussion instruments to evoke the sound of a restaurant in hell. Ghost Theater, originally written for David Alan Miller's Albany Symphony new music group Dogs of Desire, features two amplified sopranos (Melissa Wimbish and Nancy Allen Lundy). Rounding out Paterson's terrifying triptych, bedroom monsters stage a noisy Boschian nightmare in Closet Full of Demons, complete with amplified Jack in the Box and alarm clocks.

While some modernist composers may have unwittingly scared off their audiences, the eerie mysticism and uncanny terror of these pieces is entirely intentional. Costumes are encouraged, of course! For more information, visit: http://americanmodernensemble.org/current-season/2014/10/30/10th-anniversary-season-opening-night-ghosts-ghouls

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

American Bach Soloists Present Messiah in Grace Cathedral
Handel: Messiah (Foundling Hospital Version, 1753)

Mary Wilson soprano
Eric Jurenas countertenor
Wesley Rogers tenor
Jesse Blumberg baritone
Jeffrey Thomas conductor

Tuesday December 16 2014 7:30 p.m. - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Thursday December 18 2014 7:30 p.m. - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Friday December 19 2014 7:30 p.m. - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

The American Bach Soloists season kicks off with five performances of Handel's enduring masterwork, Messiah, given in three venues. Jeffrey Thomas will conduct the ABS period-instrument orchestra, the acclaimed American Bach Choir, and an outstanding quartet of soloists in three performances in San Francisco's historic Grace Cathedral. Additionally, the ensemble will debut at the Donald & Maureen Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, and will be presented at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis. Tickets for the Green Center and Mondavi Center performances are not available through ABS.

Additional performances:
Sunday December 14 2014 4:00 p.m. - Mondavi Center, UC Davis - Call (530) 754-ARTS
Sunday December 21 2014 3:00 p.m. - Green Music Center, Rohnert Park - Call (866) 955-6040

For more information, visit http://americanbach.org/seasons/14-15/Messiah.html

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space Kicks Off Its 2014-15 Choral season with Iconic Works by Mozart and Haydn
The relationship between the two Viennese masters is explored through two works - Mozart's Great Mass and Haydn's Symphony No. 97 - on October 22 at 7pm at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, New York.

After a triumphant season debut in 2013 heralded as "broad, wide-ranging and powerful" by The New York Times, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space begins its 2014-15 Choral season on Wednesday, October 22 at 7pm with Mozart's Mass in C minor—a majestic setting featuring double chorus. The Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola and a phenomenal line-up of soloists (Martha Guth and Marguerite Krull, sopranos; Steven Caldicott Wilson, tenor; Christopher Dylan Herbert, baritone) under the direction of K. Scott Warren offer this iconic work on a program that opens with Haydn's Symphony No. 97. Tickets are $25-$80; purchase by clicking http://www.smssconcerts.org or call 212-288-2520.

An intensely personal, rule-breaking composition, Mozart's Great Mass in C minor is a riveting statement about the complex mixture of joy and pain in human relationships, one that transcended the proscribed Austrian Mass tradition at the time of its composition. The use of double chorus, according to SMSS Artistic Director K. Scott Warren, would have been remarkable and unexpected for listeners at the time. And soloist Marguerite Krull marvels at Mozart's ability to write a duet for two sopranos where each vocal line has a completely different color and personality.

Meanwhile, Haydn composed his Symphony No. 97 while living in London as the guest of German-born impresario Johann Peter Solomon. One of Haydn's most complex orchestral works, this "London" Symphony is a clear example of why Haydn became known as the "Father of the Symphony." Of his unusual decision to program this symphony with the Great Mass, Warren says that the symphony can function equally well as an overture to the Mass and as a standalone work.

For more information, visit http://www.smssconcerts.org

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Joshua Bell: A Young Arts Masterclass on HBO
The latest edition of the three-timie Emmy-nominated HBO family show debuts Oct. 14.

Every year, the National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) offers emerging talents across the country the chance to be mentored by some of the world's greatest artists. In "Joshua Bell: A Youngarts Masterclass," the latest edition of the three-time Emmy-nominated HBO Family show, the Grammy-winning violinist collaborates with nine talented young musicians, helping them discover their unique voices in a group setting and guiding them through performances in New York and London. The exclusive presentation debuts Tuesday, Oct. 14 (7:30-8:00 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO.

Other HBO playdates: Oct. 17 (11:30 a.m.), 24 (1:00 p.m.) and 25 (8:30 a.m.)
HBO Family playdates: Oct. 15 (7:00 p.m.), 16 (6:30 p.m.), 20 (10:45 p.m.) and 31 (3:45 a.m.)

For more than 33 years, YoungArts has recognized and nurtured aspiring young artists and contributed to the vitality of the arts in America. In "Joshua Bell: A Youngarts Masterclass," the acclaimed soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, and conductor leads talented YoungArts alumni Anna, Bradley, Brannon, Kelly, Kevin, Leah, Mariella, Sirena and Zachary through challenging compositions. Bell supports his students by playing alongside them, noting that if his students learn anything, it will be through "the process of making music in a natural way."

The young musicians feed off Bell's natural energy, later observing that it was "easy to figure out what he wanted just by watching him." To put the teens at ease, Bell bonds with them outside rehearsals, including a lunch at Shake Shack in New York City, where they discuss high school proms and the hardships of being on the road and frequently away from home.

After practicing stateside for several days and performing for an intimate audience at Bell's Manhattan home, the group travels to London to observe Bell in action during a rigorous day of recording with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The group makes time for fun at Abbey Road and the London Eye, as Bell emphasizes the importance of connecting "without the instruments in our hands." The musicians end their trip by performing with Bell at a sold-out concert at The 100 Club, the legendary London rock music venue that has hosted such acts as Metallica, Paul McCartney and the Sex Pistols.

Making his Carnegie Hall debut at age 17, Joshua Bell has released more than 40 CDs over a career spanning nearly three decades, performing across the globe with the world's greatest conductors and orchestras. In 2001, he earned a Grammy Award for his recording of Nicholas Maw's Violin Concerto. Now in his third season as music director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Bell is the first person to hold the position since Sir Neville Marrinner created the chamber orchestra in 1958; their first recording under Bell's leadership, of Beethoven's 4th and 7th Symphonies, debuted at #1 on the Billboard classical chart.  His latest recording, "Bach," was released Sept. 30. Bell is a member of the Kennedy Center Honors artist committee and a member of the New York Philharmonic's board of directors.

To view the trailer, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vvYzne2Z0o

--Asheba Edghill, HBO

Autumnal Brahms in Weill Hall: Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Based in the world's largest performing arts complex, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center draws more people to chamber music than any other organization of its kind. The famed ensemble, which performs repertoire from over three centuries, brings an all-Brahms program that features masterpieces from the fruitful final years of the composer's life, including the Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano in A minor and the Clarinet Quintet in B minor.

Event Details:
Saturday, October 18, 7:30 pm
Weill Hall, Sonoma State University's Green Center

--Green Music Center

Special Moments from Young People's Chorus of New York City
WIT Inaugural Luncheon Draws 140 YPC Choristers, Alumnae, and WIT Pros.

Manhattan's Grand Hyatt Hotel was the gathering place for the inaugural luncheon of YPC's new mentorship program for its female high school choristers WIT: Women Inspiring Tomorrow last month.  Fifty choristers were expected, but word of the event prompted 70 to attend, along with 33 YPC alumnae, and 37 WIT Pros, women eager to share their professional experiences with both the alumnae and the chorus members. Creator of WIT, Elizabeth Núñez, welcomed all and got the luncheon off to the right start by leading all of the attendees in song.

In preparation for the solid success of this luncheon, two YPC alumnae Elizabeth Cooper Mullin (2006) and Stephanie Preiss (2007) brought the choristers together to go over everything they needed to know to be comfortable and to get the most out of this experience.  Elizabeth and Stephanie talked with them about how to dress for the occasion, manners, such as how to introduce themselves to others and how to dine at a formal luncheon; how to be an active listener; and how to mingle.  They were even give a list of several questions to memorize so that they would always be prepared with something to say to start a conversation or keep it going.

Among the special guest speakers were alumna Eva McKend (2007), the mistress of ceremonies; Keynote Speaker Susan Davenport Austin, Vice Chairman of Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation and Chairman of BMI, Inc.; and the "Gravitas Guru," Raleigh Mayer. Alumna Brette Trost (2009) also spoke, as did fellow alumna Christine Lu (2012).

All in attendance believed that mentoring young women was an important step for YPC to take. As YPC alumna Dena Tasse-Winter (2004) remarked:  "As alumnae we can really connect with the choristers and learn from each other."

YPC chorister, Zoe Kaznelson, a high school sophomore, said, "I like to meet new people who can give me their points of view.  I'm taking it all in when it comes to careers right now."  And thinking ahead, she added, "I want to give that kind of support to others."

--Katharine Gibson, YPC

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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