Classical Music News of the Week, December 21, 2014

String Theory: American Modern Ensemble Celebrates the 21st-Century String Quartet at SubCulture on 1/15

JACK Quartet, Del Sol String Quartet, PUBLIQuartet and conductor Delta David Gier join the American Modern Ensemble for an unforgettable evening of world premieres from Jacob Bancks, Sidney Boquiren and Robert Paterson and modern masterpieces by Chinary Ung, Jessie Montgomery, John Zorn and John Luther Adams. This all-star string summit will culminate with all groups performing together with Maestro Gier at the helm.

Now in its 10th season, American Modern Ensemble hosts a top-notch line-up of performers for "String Theory" at SubCulture (45 Bleeker Street, NYC) on Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 7:30pm (doors open at 6:30pm). The concert marks AME's first event at SubCulture, its hip new home on Bleecker Street. To mark the occasion, three trailblazing string quartets—NYC indie outfits JACK Quartet and PUBLIQuartet and the worldly San Francisco-based Del Sol String Quartet—plus the intrepid American conductor Delta David Gier join forces with AME's stellar players for three world premieres and a fresh live take on the listening party format, with each guest ensemble selecting and performing one of its signature contemporary pieces.

Tickets are $20 advance/$30 at the door and are available here:

For the premieres, which will all be performed by AME players: Jacob Bancks's rollicking new work for string quartet String Theory, is equal parts Danse sacrée et profane and Tom & Jerry. Heavenly meditations bubble to the surface in Sidney Boquiren's in a mirror dimly for string quintet and harp. The persistent bleeps and bells that overlay the existential silence of the ICU are the building blocks of Robert Paterson's I See You for string orchestra and "tape", with Delta David Gier leading a stellar orchestra comprised of members from AME, Del Sol, PUBLIQuartet and JACK.

For the signature pieces: Del Sol revisits Chinary Ung's tribute to the victims of the Cambodian genocide Spiral X "In Memoriam," which Del Sol violinist Charlton Lee calls "a powerful cry for the common people suffering continuing atrocities throughout the world." With its Carnegie Hall debut on the horizon, PUBLIQuartet will perform Breakaway, a vibrant work by one of its founding violinists, Jessie Montgomery. JACK Quartet, gearing up for a marathon performance of John Zorn string quartets in the spring, will perform the avant-garde composer's wild 13-movement string quartet The Dead Man, inspired by surrealist Georges Bataille and his dark variety of eroticism.

The program closes with all players on stage for Dream in White on White, a hushed, pure-toned evocation of the vast, wind-swept expanses of Western Alaska by Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams, deemed "one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century" by Alex Ross in The New Yorker.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Fort Worth Opera Announces New Line-Up of Unpublished Operas to be Presented During the Company's Third Annual Frontiers Workshop
Compelling themes including drug trafficking, murder, love and friendship, and shame and self- isolation lie at the heart of these fascinating contemporary works.

Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) announced today the names of the eight composer and librettist teams whose unpublished works have been selected for the company's third annual, critically-acclaimed new works series, Frontiers. Held during the final week of the 2015 FWOpera Festival, these selected pieces will be presented in two separate showcases of four works each on Thursday, May 7 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm, and Friday, May 8 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm, in the intimate Kahn auditorium of the Kimbell Art Museum. Featuring 20-minute excerpts of each selected piece, these brand-new operas will be sung by artists from the 2015 FWOpera Festival with piano accompaniment. Tickets for the showcases are $10 each, and can be ordered by calling FWOpera's Customer Service team at 877.396.7372.

Now entering its third season, Frontiers continues on its mission of seeking out works for future production in FWOpera's alternative venue series Opera Unbound. The program includes a distinguished panel of collaborative partners who will play a critical role in the long-term development of the Frontiers works beyond the Festival showcase, (panel members listed below), and all selected composer and librettist teams will take part in one-on-one, closed feedback sessions with the panelists during the workshop to help them strengthen and develop their pieces.

In announcing this year's Frontiers participants, Fort Worth Opera General Director Darren K. Woods, chair of the Frontiers panel, stated, "In only two years, Frontiers has exceeded our greatest expectations of seeking out the finest up-and-coming composers and helping to foster their works. Selections from the first two Frontiers seasons have gone on to additional workshops where they continue to be fine tuned while others have received their professional debuts at prestigious companies in the U.S. This is an exciting time for opera, and we're looking forward to bringing eight new, gripping works to our audiences, while also helping their creators find subsequent homes for these extraordinary pieces."

--Holland Sanders, Fort Worth Opera

March 2015 Events: Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Sunday A'Fair
March 1, 8, 22 and 29, 2015

La Gran Fiesta: A Celebration of Latin and Hispanic Cultures
Featuring La Santa Cecilia
March 1, 2015

ASU Concerts at the Center
The Viola in Concert
March 2, 2015

Native Trails
March 5, 26 and 28, 2015

Late Nite Catechism
March 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2015

Companhia Portuguesa de Bailado Contemporaneo: Fado
March 6, 2015

Brian Stokes Mitchell: Simply Broadway
March 7, 2015

Late Nite Catechism III: Til Death Do Us Part
March 7, 14, 21 and 28, 2015

Talk Cinema
March 10 and 24, 2015

Virginia G. Piper Concert Series
Murray Perahia, piano
March 12, 2015

45th Scottsdale Arts Festival
March 13–15, 2015

Marc Cohn
March 13, 2015

Kevin Pollak's Chat Show Live
March 14, 2015

Ladysmith Black Mambazo
March 15, 2015

ASU Concerts at the Center
Caio Pagano at 75!
March 16, 2015

The Chieftains
With Paddy Moloney and Special Guests
March 17, 2015

San Francisco Opera: Grand Opera Cinema Series
Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi
March 18, 2015

Momix: Alchemia
March 20–21, 2015

Keyboard Conversations With Jeffrey Siegel
Chopin and Grieg: A Musical Friendship
March 24, 2015

The Blues Hall of Fame Tour
Featuring Charlie Musselwhite, James Cotton and John Hammond
March 27, 2015

The Hit Men
Featuring Former Stars of  Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
March 28, 2015

OrigiNation: A Festival of Native Cultures
March 29, 2015

Menopause The Musical
March 31 – April 5, 2015

Sister's Easter Catechism: Will My Bunny Go to Heaven?
March 31 – April 5, 2015

Box office and tickets: 480-499-TKTS (8587)
For more information, visit

--Bill Thompson, SCCARTS

Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Celebrates Third Stream Music
Orbert Davis's Chicago Jazz Philharmonic celebrates NEA jazz master Gunther Schuller and Third Stream music Feb. 6.

Featuring a wrld premiere commission by Daniel Schnyder. The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP), under the direction of Artistic Director Orbert Davis, presents "The Godfather of Third Stream: Gunther Schuller" on February 6, 2015 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

This project is an homage to composer, educator and NEA Jazz Master Gunther Schuller, who coined the term "Third Stream" in 1957 to describe music that combines jazz and classical techniques.

"As part of our year-long 10th year anniversary celebration, this project supports the season's overall artistic goal of highlighting the depth and breadth of the orchestra's repertoire and also promoting Third Stream, a signature component of the CJP aesthetic," commented CJP Executive Director Birdie Soti.

Repertoire for "The Godfather of Third Stream: Gunther Schuller" traces the music of Third Stream from 1957 to present day, including works by the late William Russo, artistic director of Columbia College Chicago's Chicago Jazz Ensemble and a close mentor of Orbert Davis. The program highlight is the CJP's first-ever commission: a new work by Daniel Schnyder, a Grammy-nominated composer/performer with a dynamic reputation in both jazz and classical genres.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Giving Back: Free Tickets for Veterans, Students and Teachers
Veterans, students and teachers are enjoying free tickets to a variety of events at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts thanks to the generosity of Tiffany & Bosco, P.A. and Great American Title Agency, Inc.

The Center, which is operated for the City of Scottsdale by the nonprofit Scottsdale Cultural Council, has been offering complimentary tickets to veterans for several years and has since expanded the popular initiative to include students and, most recently, teachers. Tiffany & Bosco, P.A. and Great American Title Agency, Inc. became the program's first official sponsor for the Center's 2014–15 season.

"The arts inspire, entertain and educate every one of us," remarked attorney Mark S. Bosco of Tiffany & Bosco, P.A. "We're pleased to support the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and to help provide shared arts experiences for our veterans, students and teachers."

Bruce Beverly, CEO of Great American Title Agency, Inc. and a member of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts advisory board, added, "The Center's commitment to excellence and service to the community are values that we share at Great American Title. I have an interest in the arts and joined the advisory board of the Center to support its mission and programs."

During its 2013-14 season, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts donated nearly 3,000 free tickets valued at $96,000 to veterans and students. Many of the tickets for veterans are provided through the Phoenix-based Veteran Tickets Foundation ( In recent years, the Center has contributed a total of more than $250,000 in tickets to the nonprofit charity, which distributes them to veterans and their families.

"Providing access to the arts is at the heart of our organization's mission," noted Scottsdale Cultural Council President and CEO Neale Perl. "We're grateful to Tiffany & Bosco, P.A. and Great American Title Agency, Inc. for their sponsorship of this wonderful program."

Both active-duty and retired veterans are eligible to receive free tickets to selected events, which are regularly offered through as well as the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts box office. When requesting their tickets directly from the Center, veterans just need to show their military ID or proof of service. Students and teachers from any grade level – kindergarten to college – may request one free ticket each to selected events through the box office using their current school ID.

A list of eligible events is updated throughout the season and features dance, music and theater, including the Close Encounters With Music and ASU Concerts at the Center series. Tickets are limited, and additional information is available at 480-499-TKTS (8587) or visit

--Bill Thompson, SCCARTS

One World Symphony Annual Holiday Benefit Concert for Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen
One World Symphony
Sung Jin Hong, Artistic Director and Conductor
Sergey Prokofyev, Our Bachelor
Our Bachelorettes
Bob Page Jazz Trio

Monday, December 22 at 8:00 p.m. – NEW DATE!
Holy Apostles Church
296 Ninth Avenue at West 28th Street

$30 Students/Seniors (available at door)
$40 General
Open seating. Handicap accessible.
*Admission includes a post-concert wine and jazz reception.

Celebrate the season of giving and sharing with One World's very first reality TV-inspired Operasode: Bachelor! Ladies will vie for the heart of our eligible bachelor, Sergey Prokofyev (seriously!), through comedy, song and dance. Who will Sergey choose: tap dancer, a darling orphan with sparkling high notes, the killer seductress or one of Time Out NY's Top 10 Funniest Women? Girl drama, cat fights, love at first sight, or a marriage proposal in One World's presentation of the rose?

Net proceeds from the concert benefit New York City's largest soup kitchen, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, while One World Symphony and the Bob Page Jazz Trio give you a break from a holiday madness. Ticket includes invitation to a post-concert wine and jazz reception.

For more information, visit

--One World Symphony

Mahler Chamber Orchestra Newsletter
Next tour
In Residence at the Cartagena International Music Festival
We head into 2015 as Orchestra in Residence at the most important music festival in Colombia, the Cartagena International Music Festival. During the two-week stay, the MCO plays a total of eight concerts, with Teodor Currentzis, Alexander Melnikov and Pekka Kuusisto among others.

Tour diary
Rounding off the year with Leif Ove Andsnes
Violist Florent Bremond reports on the highly successful last tour of the year, which brought the MCO with Leif Ove Andsnes to Lucerne, Vienna and Brussels. His conclusion: "This was intense – I can hardly imagine how the next three tours will keep pushing our artistic quest even higher. But I am sure Leif Ove already has his ideas about it..."

So long, 2014
Looking backwards and forwards
Thank you to the fantastic audiences who have left us with priceless memories after concerts in 26 cities across 9 countries this year. We look forward to seeing you again and to making new encounters in 2015! Follow this link to enjoy some impressions of our 2014 year:

--Sonja Koller, MCO

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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 Jon 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 simpleminded, 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 Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. 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 cell phone. 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.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

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