Classical Music News of the Week, November 16, 2014

The 2014-2015 Season By the Numbers

Classical music is not easily quantified.

And not without good reason. A beautiful violin sonata or exhilarating symphony finale are much better described in subjective qualitative terms than some scientific measurement.

But numbers can occasionally provide context for ongoing conversations in classical music or highlight trends – such as how often music by female composers is performed – that might not have otherwise been noticed.

To explore those trends, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra gathered data on the 2014-15 seasons that have been programmed by 21 major American orchestras. The orchestras were selected based on size and operating budget.

We created a database with most concerts and pieces — excluding pops or family concerts — that Group 1 orchestras will play during the coming season. For those pieces performed, the data tracks the number of performances a given piece will receive, the composer, a piece's composition date, soloists, the composer's nationality, gender and whether the composer is living.

During the next few weeks, we will publish a series of stories and analysis revealing the trends we've spotted, including the most performed pieces of music and what the gender gap in female composers means.

For now, here are some of the initial findings from the data we analyzed:

Collectively, the 21 orchestras will perform more than 1,000 different pieces in part or full by 286 different composers a total of almost 4,600 times.

9.5% of all pieces performed are written since the year 2000.

The average date of composition of a piece performed during the year is 1886.

A little more than 11% of the works performed are from composers who are still living.

Female composers account for only 1.8% of the works performed. When only looking at works from living composers, they account for 14.8%

German composers account for more than 23% of the total pieces performed, followed by Russians (19%) and Austrians (14% — in large part due to Mozart).

American composers made up less than 11% of the pieces performed. When looking at only works by living composers, however, they account for more than 54%

Click here to explore the data:

--Ricky O'Bannon, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra writer-in-residence

National Philharmonic Singers Present Free Holiday Concert
The National Philharmonic Singers, under the direction of conductors Stan Engebretson and Victoria Gau, will present a free holiday concert on Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 8 pm at Christ Episcopal Church, 107 South Washington Street, Rockville, Maryland.

The National Philharmonic Singers will be joined by the Takoma Ensemble (, conducted by Maestra Gau for this concert. They will perform a new work, Alleluia, by popular American composer Eric Whitacre; Christmas classics by John Rutter and Shaw-Parker; Christmas Day by Gustav Holst; and Christmas Concerto for the Takoma Ensemble by Arcangelo Corelli. The concert concludes with favorite carols by the choir, including "Stille Nacht" and our ever-popular Carol Sing with the "Twelve Days of Christmas."

The National Philharmonic Singers, led by Stan Engebretson and Victoria Gau, is a chamber choir and one of several performing ensembles of the National Philharmonic, which is in residence at the Music Center at Strathmore. As such, it promotes works suited for smaller ensembles, whether with accompaniment or a cappella.  Its repertoire ranges from 15th to 21st centuries, and it often premieres new compositions by local composers.  In summer of 2013, the group was invited to participate in the international choral competition in Llangollen, Wales. This is the 10th year of performances at Christ Church with free-will offering benefiting the Community Ministries of Rockville.

The December 6 holiday concert at the Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville is free but donations in support of the Community Ministries of Rockville will be gratefully accepted. Christ Episcopal Church is located at 107 South Washington Street in Rockville, MD. Directions to the church may be found at or by calling the church at 301-762-2191, ext. 3. For more information, please visit or call 301-493-9283, ext. 116.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Guitarist Bradley Colten to Perform Recently Unearthed Ernst Bacon Solo Guitar Works as Part of NYC Classical Guitar Society Salon Series
Andrés Segovia Award-winner to perform selections from his latest album "Ernst Bacon: The Complete Works for Solo Guitar" at The Diller-Quaile School of Music (24 East 95th Street, New York City) on December 3 at 7:30 pm.

Widely known as a superb ensemble player, a soloist of refinement and exceptional sensitivity with a deep commitment to new music, guitarist Bradley Colten has been hailed by Guitar Review as playing with "imaginative lyricism … amazing energy." Colten has been acclaimed as "Superb!" by renowned guitarist David Starobin, and as having "a rich blend of musical refinement, soulful communication and that rarity, emotional intelligence" by celebrated guitarist/composer David Leisner.

Bradley Colten will perform highlights from his latest album, Ernst Bacon: The Complete Works for Solo Guitar (released on September 30 under the Azica label) as part of the New York City Classical Guitar Society's Salon Series on December 3 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $18 ($15 for students, seniors and NYC Classical Guitar Society members), and may be purchased by calling (800) 838-3006 or visiting

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

VocalEssence Presents Award-Winning New York City Chorus in Twin Cities November 20 to 23
Vocalessence presents Young People's Chorus of New York City in concert at Roseville Lutheran Church, Saturday, November 22 at 8 p.m.

The world-renowned Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) conducted by Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez will be presented on Saturday, November 22, at Roseville Lutheran Church by VocalEssence, as part of the 46th anniversary season of Minnesota's acclaimed professional chorus.

This concert is a highlight of YPC's four-day visit to Minnesota, which also comprises choral workshops for high school students in St. Paul and Minneapolis, a recording for national broadcast at Minnesota Public Radio, and several additional performances, including one at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, where Mr. Núñez will give a workshop at the ACDA Minnesota national conference.

Tickets for the "VocalEssence Presents Young People's Chorus of New York City" concert on November 22 are available from $20. Young people from 6 to 18 and college students with a valid college I.D. are eligible for half-price tickets. For more information and tickets please call 612-371-5656 or visit

--Angela Duryea, Young People's Chorus of NYC

Music Director Jonathan Griffith Wins the American Prize in Conducting
Jonathan Griffith, founder and music director of Distinguished Concerts Orchestra is the 2014 winner of The American Prize in Conducting, in the professional orchestra division. Maestro Griffith was selected from applications reviewed this fall from across the United States. The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit competitions designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States. Founded in 2009 The American Prize is awarded annually in several areas of the performing arts.

An acclaimed conductor, educator and lecturer, Jonathan Griffith has led performances across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Griffith is co-founder and artistic director of DCINY which has brought together, under Griffith's artistic leadership, thousands of musicians and choral singers in concert at prestigious venues across the United States, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Disney Hall. In naming Griffith as its winner, the American Prize judges specifically noted his "energetic" and "committed" performances.

For more information about The American Prize, visit

--Shira Gilbert PR

Versatile Soprano Alyson Cambridge Makes History as First Opera Singer to Perform at Soul Train Awards; Brings Opera to Primetime TV and New Audience
The telecast airs Sunday, November 30th at 8pm on all BET & Centric TV Networks.

From the famed Kennedy Center Opera House to center stage at the Orleans Theatre in Las Vegas for the 2014 Soul Train Awards, soprano Alyson Cambridge is as versatile as they come, and she's reaching a whole new audience in her upcoming, groundbreaking performance airing November 30 at 8pm. As one of today's hottest operatic talents, and after a highly-lauded stint as host and featured performer on BET & Centric's documentary and concert, Of Thee We Sing: The Marian Anderson Story, the networks engaged Cambridge to lend her considerable talents to the prestigious Soul Train Awards, a first for an opera singer. The telecast is estimated to reach a worldwide audience of over 4.5 million viewers in the initial broadcast alone.

For more information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

New Sacred Choral Works to Receive Interfaith Premieres Nov. 21 and 23 in New York
Commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria, Psalm settings by Paul Moravec and Victoria Bond to be heard for first time during worship services at Temple Emanu-El and Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

New choral works by two prominent contemporary American composers, commissioned by nonprofit Soli Deo Gloria, Inc. (SDG), will receive their world premieres November in New York through a collaboration between the city's Temple Emanu-El and the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

The classical sacred music foundation SDG has conceived and organized a pair of interfaith performances in which Paul Moravec's I Will Fear No Evil (Psalm 23) for a cappella chorus and Victoria Bond's How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place (Psalm 84) for chorus and organ will be sung by the combined choirs of the iconic Reform Jewish and Episcopal houses of worship during regular worship services at each.

The performances will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, November, 21, at Temple Emanu-El, 1 E. 65th Street, during the Sabbath service, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 23, at St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, during the Evensong service.

The combined choirs will be conducted on November 21 by K. Scott Warren, Temple Emanu-El's organist and choir director, and on November 23 by Kent Tritle, St. John the Divine's director of cathedral music.

Both services are open to the public, and all are welcome.

For more information, visit

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

American Boychoir Brings Holiday Cheer to New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art
On December 16th at 7:00pm the Met Museum presents the vocal ensemble's delightful and moving program, "The World Celebrates," with classic English carols intermixed with traditional seasonal offerings from around the globe including Cameroon, Venezuela, Nigeria, Spain, and Greece
The American Boychoir, the world renowned vocal ensemble of the Princeton, NJ-based American Boychoir School, has been heralded as one of the nation's premiere musical ensembles. Its mission is to sustain and move forward with a "distinctively American voice" the one-thousand-year-old boychoir school tradition. The American Boychoir is committed to being the finest choir of its kind in the nation and is recognized as among the finest ensembles in the world.

Join the American Boychoir at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Ave) on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm for a special New York City engagement. To purchase tickets to this not-to-be-missed American Boychoir performance, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Mozart Kicks Off New Season of Keyboard Conversations
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale, Arizona, will open the 2014–15 season of "Keyboard Conversations" with Jeffrey Siegel on Tuesday, December 2, with "The Miracle of Mozart."

Tickets start at $29 and are available through or 480-499-TKTS (8587).

An all-time audience favorite, "The Miracle of Mozart" showcases some of the composer's most beloved works, including Variations on "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," the Minuet in G Major (written when Mozart was only 5!), the instantly familiar Turkish Rondo, as well as the haunting, brooding Sonata in A Minor, one of Mozart's most magnificent works.

The concert also features "Keyboard in the Sky" video-display technology, which enables the audience to watch the pianist's hands move across the keyboard in real time from any seat in the theater.

Returning for its 36th season in Scottsdale, "Keyboard Conversations" were inspired by Leonard Bernstein's celebrated programs that made the joy of music accessible to audiences of all ages. To that format, acclaimed pianist Jeffrey Siegel has added his own unique blend of extraordinary musicianship, warm personality, knowledge and engaging humor.

Siegel's concerts with commentary combine captivating remarks with world-class performances of masterpieces of the piano repertoire – and conclude with a fast-paced Q-and-A session. New listeners discover an informal, entertaining and instantly accessible introduction to the magnificent piano repertoire. Seasoned music lovers enjoy an enriched, more focused listening experience.

In addition to Scottsdale, Siegel's Keyboard Conversations series flourishes in numerous American cities, among them New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as well as in London.

Siegel will return to Scottsdale on the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 13, to perform Rachmaninoff and Friends, followed by Torment and Triumph: Franz Liszt: Satan or Saint? on Feb. 10 and Chopin and Grieg: A Musical Friendship on March 24.

--Bill Thompson, SCCARTS

Rameau's Nephew on December 13th
Capping off the Rameau year, Salon/Sanctuary presents Diderot's satirical masterwork Rameau's Nephew in a new adaptation by SSC Resident Stage Director Erica Gould.

Hilarity ensues at a Paris cafe when Diderot pits a hapless buffoon against a stoic philosopher in his stinging satire about the music business and high society of Enlightenment France.

Step into elegant café society at the dusk of the ancient regime, as icons tumble, gossips rumble, and musicians hurl their slings. Arrows fly between the fans of French harmony and Italian melody in this site-specific music-theater piece based on the philosopher's play of opposites.

The game of buffoons and Querelle des Bouffons unfolds to the seductive airs of Lully, Pergolesi, Vivaldi, played by solo harpsichord.

Saturday, December 13th, 8pm

The Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium
417 East 61st Street
New York, NY 10065

Tickets: or call 1 888 718-4253
$25 seniors/students/FIAF, $40 general, $100 front row series supporter (tax-deductible)

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Chanticleer's Beloved NYC Christmas Concerts Return to St. Ignatius Loyola on December 5 & 7
New York City's holiday scene reaches a magnificent crescendo when two of its mainstays —Chanticleer and the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola—team up to double your Christmas joy. Widely considered the gold standard of male choruses, the Grammy-winning ensemble brings "A Chanticleer Christmas" to the church (980 Park Avenue between 83rd and 84th Streets) for two dates: Friday, December 5 at 7:00 pm and Sunday, December 7 at 4:00 pm

It is a rare occurrence when the Upper East Side Church of St. Ignatius Loyola's stunning sanctuary isn't teeming with musical abundance thanks to its venerable music series Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, overseen by visionary Artistic Director K. Scott Warren. And this Christmas season, the Church ramps it up even further by welcoming back Grammy award-winning Chanticleer – dubbed by The New Yorker as "the world's reigning male chorus" – for its second year in a row.

Ticket information:
Advent Lessons and Carols – November 30, 2014: Free will offering (no ticket necessary)
A Chanticleer Christmas  – December 5 & 7, 2014:  Tickets $35 - $85
Heavenly Light Annual Christmas Concert – December 14 & 17, 2014:  Tickets $35 - $85

Order online:
Phone:  212.288.2520

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

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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