Classical Music News of the Week, November 9, 2014

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and New Century Chamber Orchestra in Five Holiday Concerts

Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra welcome the holiday season with a program of beloved classical favorites and traditional Christmas carols December 12 and December 18-21, featuring Salerno-Sonnenberg as soloist in Vivaldi's Winter from The Four Seasons and the ensemble's first collaboration with the San Francisco Girls Chorus. December 12 marks New Century's debut at Weill Hall in Green Music Center at Sonoma State University.

The December concert program, which New Century will also perform in San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto, and San Rafael, features the orchestra with the San Francisco Girls Chorus in Mozart's Engel Gottes Künden, John Rutter's Nativity Carol, Handel's Hallelujah and For unto us a child is born from Messiah, and a medley of Christmas carols, arranged by former Featured Composer Clarice Assad. The chorus, under the artistic direction of Lisa Bielawa, will perform Vaughan Williams' "Winter" from Folksongs of the Four Seasons and Cesar Antonovich Cui's Radiant Stars. The program will also feature the orchestra in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon, and Corelli's Concerto Grosso in G minor, Christmas Concerto.

Concerts take place Friday, December 12 at 7:30 pm at Weill Hall at Green Music Center in Rohnert Park; Thursday, December 18 at 8 pm at First Congregational Church in Berkeley; Friday, December 19 at 8 pm at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto; Saturday, December 20 at 8 pm at Nourse Auditorium in San Francisco, and Sunday, December 21 at 5 pm at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael.

New Century's collaboration with San Francisco Girls Chorus is the latest in its expanding circle of diverse and distinguished musical guests. This season, Featured Composer Derek Bermel performed four concerts with the orchestra in September and is writing a newly commissioned work to be performed in May 2015. Former longtime New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow leads the orchestra in four concerts in March 2015. During the 2013-14 season, the orchestra performed two highly-successful first time collaborations: Atlantic Crossing with Chanticleer, and Donizetti's one-act opera Rita with San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Efrain Solis, Maria Valdes, and Thomas Glenn.

Tickets for the December 18-21 concerts are $29 to $61 and can be purchased on the New Century website at www.ncco.org, through City Box Office at www.cityboxoffice.com, or by calling (415) 392-4400. Discounted $15 single tickets are available for patrons under 35. Open Rehearsal tickets are $8 general admission and can be purchased through City Box Office.

Tickets for the December 12 Green Music Center concert are $35 to $85 and are available at http://gmc.sonoma.edu/.

--Jean Shirk Media

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Agrees to a New Labor Deal
The musicians and chorus of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra held a silent protest in front of Symphony Hall on Sept. 25, which would have been opening night of the ensemble's 70th anniversary season.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra announced on Saturday that it would end its two-month lockout after reaching a deal that would give its musicians small raises but require them to pay more for their health insurance, while also allowing the orchestra to leave positions vacant longer.

The deal paves the way for the orchestra to begin its 70th season. The opening concert will be on Nov. 13, with the music director, Robert Spano, leading the orchestra and chorus in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The orchestra had been scheduled to play Vaughan Williams's "A Sea Symphony" that night, a piece that has special resonance for the ensemble, whose recording of it won a Grammy Award in 2003 — but there was apparently not enough time left to rehearse because of the lockout.

The agreement brings Atlanta's second lockout of its musicians in two years to a close, and ends a bitter battle that had led to canceled concerts, the resignation of the orchestra's president and questions about why a city with Atlanta's economic clout had difficulty sustaining an orchestra.

--Michael Coopernov, New York Times

Kids Compose Their Own Music Dec. 6
The Music Institute of Chicago welcomes families for "Compose Yourself!", a morning of music for families, Saturday, December 6 at 10 a.m., preceded by an open house at 9 a.m., at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Il.

The program:
This morning of music for families, which is sponsored by First Bank & Trust, begins at 9 a.m. with an open house in the Nichols Concert Hall lobby. Kids can enjoy playing a variety of instruments at the Music Institute Instrument Petting Zoo, parents can talk with faculty and staff, and everyone can enjoy student performances. At 10 a.m., Chicago composer James Stephenson introduces kids to the instruments of the symphony orchestra and then leads the audience through the creation of a new work.

James Stephenson:
Chicago area composer James Stephenson's works have been performed by leading American orchestras and around the world. His growing catalog now boasts concertos and sonatas for nearly every wind instrument, in addition to the violin and piano. His landmark educational work "Compose Yourself!" has been performed more than 250 times since its creation in 2002, including performances by five orchestras this season as well. Before moving to Lake Forest as a full-time composer/conductor, Stephenson spent 17 seasons with the Naples (Florida) Philharmonic as a trumpeter, a position he won immediately upon graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music.

The Music Institute of Chicago's family open house (9 a.m.) and "Compose Yourself!" (10 a.m.) take place Saturday, December 6 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Il. Tickets are $5 general admission per person, available at brownpapertickets.com/event/852829 or 800-838-3006. For more information, call 847.905.1500 ext. 108 or visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

The Velvet Oratorio
The Velvet Oratorio, an original opera/theater piece commemorating the 25th anniversary of The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, will be presented in the grand ballroom at the current home of the Czech Center and the Czech Consulate: The Bohemian National Hall, NYC. The Velvet Oratorio mixes history, opera, and farce in its evocative retelling of the Velvet Revolution, as seen through the eyes of Václav Havel's signature character, Ferdinand Vanek.

The piece is organized as a series of alternating scenes and choruses, the chorus representing the crowds in Prague during the events spanning November 17,1989 to January 1, 1990. The text for the oratorio is based partly upon recently released U.S. State Department documents and corresponding Czechoslovakian / Soviet documents and interviews with journalists, diplomats, and ordinary people who were in the streets of Prague during the revolution.

The Velvet Oratorio was originally staged as a concert for New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' festival, Performing Revolution in Central and Eastern Europe. This will be a full staging of the piece. Reviewing the concert, Musical America said "The scenes are played for irony, contradiction and some bawdy humor, which lends sympathy and humanism to the political subject and the paranoid atmosphere that defined the era ... Henry Akona's cleverly dissonant, rhythmic music [is] deftly and tastefully orchestrated ... a tasteful and thought-provoking reminder of the rapid change brought to Central Europe in those heady and confusing days."

Nov. 8 at 8pm, Nov. 9 at 5pm, Dec. 12 at 8pm, Dec. 13 at 8pm, Jan. 13 at 8pm, and Jan. 14 at 8pm.

Written by Edward Einhorn
Composed and Directed by Henry Akona

Bohemian National Hall
321 East 73rd Street, NYC

Tickets $30.  Call 212-352-3101 or visit www.untitledtheater.com

--Edward Einhorn, Untitled Theater Company #61

China's Acclaimed Beijindance/LDTX to Perform in Scottsdale
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts will present the internationally acclaimed Chinese dance company BeijingDance/LDTX on Friday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m.

Born out of a controversial and exciting time of rapid cultural change in China, BeijingDance/LDTX has captured worldwide attention since its founding in 2005 as the country's first non-governmental and independent professional dance company. Its acronym, LDTX, is short for "Lei Dong Tian Xia," which translates as "Thunder Rumbles Under Heaven," a fitting name for this trail-blazing troupe.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Willy Tsao, China's foremost figure in modern dance, and Deputy Artistic Director Li Hanzhong, BeijingDance/LDTX features a dozen technically exquisite dancers as well as a diverse repertoire of cutting-edge choreography from China.

BeijingDance/LDTX aims to create a free platform for contemporary dance artists in China and to promote dance as a multi-faceted art form with an emphasis on each artist's distinctive personality, modernity and originality. The company has toured extensively across five continents with overwhelming response from audiences, making it an important cultural ambassador from China to the world.

BeijingDance/LDTX's Scottsdale program will include four works: Standing Before Darkness by Tibetan choreographer Sang Ji-Jia; October, a quirky, elegant and innovative duet featuring music of Tchaikovsky by choreographers Liu Bin and Song Ting-Ting; Waiting Alone by choreographer Xu Yi-Ming; Treading on Grass set to the music of Stravinsky's Firebird by choreographers Li Hanzhong and Ma Bo.

Tickets start at $39 and are available through www.ScottsdalePerformingArts.org or 480-499-TKTS (8587).

--Bill Thompson, SCCARTS

Nicholas McGegan Leads Joyous Vivaldi and Zelenka Christmas Program with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale
Music Director Nicholas McGegan leads the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale in a program of glorious Christmas music, including a recently-discovered Vivaldi Dixit Dominus and Jan Dismas Zelenka's rarely-heard Missa Nativitatis Domini ("Christmas Mass"). Four performances take place around the Bay Area at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto (Wed, December 3), Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco (Fri, December 5), and First Congregational Church in Berkeley (Sat and Sun, December 6-7). Tickets are available through City Box Office and start at $25.

Vivaldi's Dixit Dominus combines pealing trumpets, exultant strings, and soaring choral harmonies. Guest artists include soprano Dominique Labelle, last heard with Philharmonia on tour in Handel's Teseo; tenor Thomas Cooley, who toured with the Orchestra in Acis and Galatea; countertenor Christopher Ainslie; and bass-baritone Dashon Burton. "This piece was not discovered until 2005, lurking in a library in Dresden under another composer's name," adds McGegan. "This glorious, festive music is now given its rightful place in Vivaldi's oeuvre."

The entire second half of the program is Jan Dismas Zelenka's splendid Missa Nativitatis Domini, featuring ornate arias and duets for all four guest artists, as well as enthralling choral passages and richly expressive harmonies from the Orchestra. "[Zelenka] was a bit of an eccentric, but wonderfully imaginative," says McGegan. He is regarded as the premier Bohemian composer of the Baroque period and is known for his stirring liturgical works, many of which he composed while a church composer for the royal court in Dresden.

Enlarging on this Central European theme, this concert includes two closely connected works. The first, Cur fles, Jesu, is a tender hymn to the baby Jesus by Prince Paul Esterhazy, father of Joseph Haydn's longtime patron, Prince Nikolaus. The second is Haydn's Ave Regina Coelorum, which he composed as a young man "when the girl he loved was made to become a nun," as McGegan explains. He adds, "This is a very beautiful piece, one of the earliest that Haydn wrote." Both will be sung by Dominique Labelle.

The concert opens with Pavel Josef Vejvanovsky's Sonata natalis, a majestic call-and-response between trumpets and strings based on Christmas carols from the composer's Bohemian homeland. Vejvanovsky is remembered as one of the virtuoso trumpeters of his day, and this work makes a fitting start for this ornate holiday celebration.

Following the December 5 performance in San Francisco, the audience is invited to a free celebration featuring holiday refreshments and Christmas carols sung by members of the Philharmonia Chorale.

Wednesday, Dec 3 @ 7:30 PM
First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto

Friday, Dec 5 @ 8:00 PM
Calvary Presbyterian Church, San Francisco

Saturday, Dec 6 @ 8:00 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Sunday, Dec 7 @ 7:30 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Tickets are priced $25 to $100 and may be purchased through City Box Office: www.cityboxoffice.com or call (415) 392-4400

--Ben Casement-Stoll, PBO

Race. Against Time.
Join American Opera Projects for two concert readings of Independence Eve, a new chamber opera in three scenes by composer Sidney Marquez Boquiren and librettist Daniel Neer that explores race relations in America.

A park bench in a city on July 3, 1963. 2013. 2063. In three compelling stories, baritone Jorell Williams and tenor Brandon Snook portray men who struggle with identity and acceptance amidst race issues spanning one hundred years. Music direction by Mila Henry. Stage Direction by Damian Norfleet. Co-production of AOP and Adelphi University. Includes the first scene of the opera, "Stop and Frisk," recently featured in The New Yorker Magazine.

Thursday, November 13, 7:30 PM
Adelphi University Performing Arts Center Concert Hall
1 South Ave, Garden City, NY, 11530
Tickets:
$20 general admission, $15  seniors, $10 professors and staff, $5 students, and free for Performing Arts Center Students

Saturday, November 15, 8:00 PM
South Oxford Space - Great Room
138 S Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11217
Tickets:
$20 general admission, $15 students and seniors

For more information on tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/independence-eve-tickets-13394351867?utm_source=Independence+Eve+general+invite&utm_campaign=As+One+press+reviews&utm_medium=email

--Matthew Gray, American Opera Projects

Maestro Angel Romero 2014-15 Concerts in Flint, Scottsdale, St. Louis, and Los Angeles
The legendary guitarist returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic in May for Joaquin Rodrigo's famed Aranjuez Concerto, the work with which he made his LA Philharmonic debut at the age of sixteen.

Hailed for his superior artistry as the maestro of Spanish guitar, Angel Romero is beloved by audiences across the world as a soloist, recitalist and conductor. Following acclaimed performances as conductor leading the Orquesta de Baja California in September, Maestro Romero offers several guitar concerto and recital performances this season, where audiences will once again have the chance to be entranced by this renowned "musician of rare quality" (Los Angeles Times), showcasing his  "lovely accuracy, sweet tone and elegance" (The New York Times).

On Saturday, November 15, Angel Romero will perform Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez with the Flint Symphony Orchestra. The following month, on Friday, December 12, Maestro Romero shares the stage with The Aeolus Quartet, one of the finest young ensembles performing today and Graduate String Quartet in Residence at the Juilliard School, in a program of classical and holiday music at the Scottsdale Performing Arts Center. Then on Saturday, January 24, he is hosted by the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society for a recital featuring Spanish solo repertoire by Gaspar Sanz, Isaac Albeniz, and Rodrigo.

From May 21-24, Angel Romero returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel for four performances of the Concierto de Aranjuez. It was with this work, written in 1939, that Romero made his debut with the LA Philharmonic at the age of sixteen. This occasion also marked the first time a guitarist was featured as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Inspired by the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez, the beloved work transports the listener to another place and time, evoking "the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains" in the gardens of Aranjuez.

--Shira Gilbert PR

The Romeros Play at Weill Hall, Sonoma State University
Known to millions as "The Royal Family of the Guitar," the Romeros were founded half a century ago by the late Celedonio Romero, renowned as a soloist in Spain. The ensemble, now including members of the family's third generation of virtuosos, has performed with countless symphony orchestras and has commissioned scores of works for guitar quartet. With their program ¡Viva Andalucía! the Romeros bring world premieres of works written for them, as well as Spanish favorites by Rodrigo, Albéniz, and Sor.

Saturday, Nov 15 at 7:30 pm

For details, visit http://gmc.sonoma.edu/event/2123647-the-romeros

--Green Music Center

Hopkinson Smith Performs Bach
Tuesay, Nov 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm

In his only New York appearance of the season, Hopkinson Smith performs JS Bach's Suites 1-3, BWV 1007-1009 at the Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium, NYC. A wine and cheese reception will follow the performance.

After concentrating in Musicology at Harvard, Hopkinson Smith came to Europe in 1973 to study with Emilio Pujol, a great pedagogue in the highest Catalan artistic tradition, and also Eugen Dombois, whose sense of organic unity between performer, instrument and historical period has had a lasting effect on him.

In the mid 1970s, Hopkinson Smith was involved in the founding of the ensemble Hesperion XX and his ten year collaboration with Jordi Savall led to important experiences in chamber music which were a creative complement to his work as a soloist. Since the mid 80s, Hopkinson Smith has focused principally on solo music for early plucked instruments. These include the vihuela, Renaissance lute, theorbo, Renaissance and baroque guitars and the baroque lute.

With his recitals and series of over 20 solo recordings, he continues to rediscover and bring to life works that are among the most expressive and intimate in the entire domain of early music.

Internationally recognized as a leading personality in the field of early music and one of the world's great lutenists, Hopkinson Smith gives concerts and master classes throughout Eastern and Western Europe and in North and South America. He currently lives in Basel, Switzerland, where he teaches at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.

For more information, visit http://www.showclix.com/event/HopkinsonSmithBach

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

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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