Classical Music News of the Week, December 28, 2014

Announcing Lisa Bielawa's Vireo - An Opera in Installments Created for Broadcast

On February 23 and 24, 2015, the pilot episode of composer Lisa Bielawa's serial opera Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser will be videotaped at The Yost Theater in Santa Ana. Vireo is a new opera composed by Bielawa on a libretto by Erik Ehn and directed by Charlie Otte, which is unprecedented in that it is being created expressly for episodic release via broadcast and online media. Through a partnership with KCETLink, the national independent, non-profit digital and broadcast network, the unique multimedia initiative will include online articles and videos showcasing the production's creative process, as well as a television special presented by Artbound, KCETLink's Emmy award-winning arts and culture series. Vireo is an artist residency project of Grand Central Art Center (GCAC) in Santa Ana, an outgrowth of Cal State Fullerton, Director/Chief Curator John Spiak.

Vireo's 25-minute pilot episode, to be taped in February for broadcast in spring 2015, will feature the Kronos Quartet, mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin, the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the Orange County School of the Arts Middle School choir, mezzo-soprano Maria Lazarova, baritone Gregory Purnhagen, drummer Matthias Bossi, and in the title role of Vireo, 16-year-old soprano Rowen Sabala. It will be staged and filmed throughout the entirety of The Yost Theater, making use of the 650-seat capacity vaudeville theater's house, balconies, stage, lobby, and backstage areas. The taping will be open to the public. Information on how to make reservations will be announced in early January 2015. The taping of the pilot episode of Vireo is made possible in part with support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser is an opera that considers the nature and uses of female hysteria through time, as witch-hunters, early psychiatrists, and modern artists variously define the condition. Based on composer Bielawa's own research at Yale as a Literature major, then freely adapted and re-imagined by librettist Ehn, Vireo is a composite history of the way in which teenage-girl visionaries' writings and rantings have been manipulated, incorporated, and interpreted by the communities of men surrounding them throughout history, from the European Dark Ages, to Salem Massachusettes, 19th-century France, the Surrealists in Paris, and contemporary performance art. Featuring arias for dying cows, infatuated students, disembodied ageless women, and a mysterious twin of Vireo herself, the opera provides a thoughtful, and sometimes humorous look at the universal issues of gender identity, perception, and reality.

Innovating opera not only through content but through form, Vireo allows greater access of opera to a broader audience, through mainstream media and contemporary delivery systems. The piece considers authoritarian responses to independent, inspired imaginations, especially as they abide in young women. It scrutinizes the representation of women both in the historical form of opera and in modern media.

Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser
A serial opera for episodic broadcast online and on TV
Lisa Bielawa, composer and producer
Charlie Otte, director
Erik Ehn, Llibrettist
Pilot episode to be taped February 23 & 24, 2015
The Yost Theater, Santa Ana, CA
Broadcast in partnership with KCETLink's Artbound
An Artist Residency Project of Grand Central Art Center, California State University, Fullerton

--Christina Jensen PR

Del Sol String Quartet returns to NYC's Cornelia Street Cafe
The celebrated and ever-adventurous Del Sol String Quartet returns to NYC's Cornelia Street Café to perform a work from their latest album, along with other favorites from their formidable repertoire on Monday, January 12 at 9pm and 10pm.

Del Sol String Quartet returns to Cornelia Street Café (29 Cornelia Street) on Monday, January 12th for two 45-minute sets at 9:00pm and 10:00 pm. The group will perform works from Pierre Jalbert's Quartet no. 4; Elena Kats-Chernin's Fast Blue Village; and Lou Harrison's QuartetSet. In addition, the quartet kicks off each set with Peter Sculthorpe's Quartet no. 14, one of the pieces from their groundbreaking new album Peter Sculthorpe: The Complete String Wuartets with Didjeridu. Just recently, The New York Times raved that the quartet's performance of Peter Sculthorpe, "creates a hypnotic sound world well worth exploring." For more information click here:

Reservations can be made by calling 212.989.9319.

New York audiences can also see Del Sol String Quartet in STRING THEORY at SubCulture (45 Bleeker Street) on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 7:30pm. Del Sol String Quartet joins the American Modern Ensemble, JACK Quartet, PUBLIQuartet and conductor Delta David Gier 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. Tickets may be purchased here:

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

ABS Presents Handel's Acis & Galatea with Bach's Fourth Brandenburg Concerto
The American Bach Soloists (ABS) subscription season opens with an attractive pairing of masterworks by two musical giants. Jeffrey Thomas directs the renowned ABS orchestra in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, a tour de force for violino principale and two recorders. The balance of the program is devoted to Handel's pastoral masque, Acis and Galatea, composed in 1718 for the lavish private estate known as "Cannons," and revised two decades later for performances in London, Oxford, and Dublin. Full of buoyant, witty, charming melodies, it is one of the composer's most popular operatic works.

Adapted from Ovid's Metamorphosis, the mythological tale of Acis and Galatea depicts how the shepherd, Acis, pursues a nymph Galatea against the advice of his cohort, Damon. The young lovers' delight angers the envious man-eating giant, Polyphemus, whose murderous actions are annulled by a magical transformation. From the joyful duet of "Happy we!" to Polyphemus's "I rage–I melt–I burn," the arias, ensembles, and choruses of Acis and Galatea convey a rich emotional journey within a relatively short drama.

American Bach Soloists: Handel's Acis and Galatea
Friday, January 23, 2015 8:00 pm – St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA
Saturday, January 24, 2015 8:00 pm – First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday, January 25, 2015 4:00 pm – St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
Monday, January 26, 2015 7:00 pm – Davis Community Church, Davis, CA
Tickets: $27-$66 / / (415) 621-7900

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Oxingale Records & PentaTone Join Forces
Oxingale Records, the trailblazing artists' label founded in 2000 by cellist Matt Haimovitz and composer Luna Pearl Woolf, is excited to announce that it is joining forces with PentaTone, the classical music label renowned for its discerning artistic quality and superior audiophile technology. Beginning in 2015, new albums and reissues from Haimovitz and his musical collaborators will be available internationally – in SACD 5.1 surround sound and as high definition downloads – from the Amsterdam-based label under the PentaTone Oxingale series.

"Fifteen years ago, Luna and I founded Oxingale to pave a way for us to share music that we are passionate about, with an audience that we believed was seeking meaning and musical adventure," says Matt Haimovitz, continuing, "For us, classical music is a living, breathing art form. We started Oxingale to bring to life what has been in our minds and hearts, whether by composers working 300 years ago, newly inked works, or improvisations. The invitation to collaborate with PentaTone is an affirmation. With our shared sense of artistic and sonic values, we look forward to bringing our vision and energy to a label which has shown an optimistic and uncompromising attitude in its contributions to culture and the future of classical music."

"There was never any doubt for PentaTone to join forces with Oxingale Records," says PentaTone's managing director, Dirk Jan Vink. "We believe the works of Oxingale artists bring a fantastic addition to our catalogue. With PentaTone's warm, dynamic and detailed sound capturing the superb works and performances of Oxingale's artists, we look forward to bringing you a range of prestigious work in prime quality."

The new collaboration launches on February 1, 2015 with the release of "Beethoven, Period.," the complete collection of sonatas and variations for pianoforte and violoncello recorded on period instruments by Grammy-nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O'Riley. Following later in the year are two more releases: Shuffle. Play. Listen, the  groundbreaking recording, also with O'Riley, which saw Herrmann, Janacek and Stravinsky come together with Radiohead, the Cocteau Twins and John McLaughlin; and an all-Schubert album featuring the Arpeggione Sonata and the Cello Quintet. Also forthcoming is a 3-CD box set of Haimovitz's solo cello recordings from the last 15 years, including 20 world premiere recordings and two newly released tracks: "Orbit" by Philip Glass and a new arrangement of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" for solo cello by Woolf.

Founded in the year 2000, the Grammy Award-winning Oxingale Records is as committed to revelatory interpretations of the canonic repertoire as it is to riveting performances of works by recent and living composers. Under the new collaboration, Oxingale will continue to oversee its own A&R direction, while benefiting from the global distribution and marketing offered by PentaTone.

Launched in 2010, Oxingale Music is the publishing arm of the label. Oxingale Music publishes the work of Luna Pearl Woolf plus a range of works by composers such as Pulitzer Prize-winner Lewis Spratlan and Rome Prize-winner David Sanford. The Oxingale Music catalog includes a substantial library of music written for and premiered by Matt Haimovitz, most of which are recorded on Oxingale and will be released over time as part of the PentaTone Oxingale Series.

This year, Oxingale Music launched a semi-annual composition competition aimed at expanding and enriching the repertoire for cello in unusual combinations and ensembles. Over 40 composers from 18 countries entered the 2014 competition, the winners of which will have their works premiered in February 2015.

--Shira Gilbert PR

Upcoming Events at the Green Music Center, Sonoma State University
David McCarroll and Roy Bogas
Sundays at Schroeder
Sun, Jan 18 at 3pm | Schroeder Hall
Violinist David McCarroll made his concerto debut with the London Mozart Players in 2002, and has since performed with orchestras around the world. The Santa Rosa native appears alongside Roy Bogas, the acclaimed Principal Solo Pianist for the San Francisco Ballet.

Tango Buenos Aires
MasterCard Performance Series
Thurs, Jan 22 at 7:30pm | Weill Hall
This matchless ensemble of dancers and musicians performs the Song of Eva Perón, a journey in dance and music through the life of the most important woman in Argentinian history.

Emerson String Quartet
MasterCard Performance Series
Fri, Feb 6 at 7:30pm | Weill Hall
Formed in 1976, the Emerson String Quartet claims more than 30 recordings and nine Grammy Awards, including two for Best Classical Album. For their Weill Hall debut, the quartet performs a program of Mozart, Ravel and Beethoven.

The Nile Project
MasterCard Performance Series
Fri, Feb 13 at 7:30pm | Weill Hall
The unique sounds of the Nile Project are created by a stunning variety of instruments from Nile-basin countries, including: the mansenko from Ethopia; the ney and oud from Egypt; the adungu from Uganda; and six vocalists singing in 11 languages.

For more information, call 1.866.955.6040 or visit

--Green Music Center

The Peacemakers and Two Premieres by Karl Jenkins ~ Jan 19 at Carnegie Hall
Distinguished Concerts International of New York proudly presents "The Music of Karl Jenkins" featuring The Peacemakers and the U.S. premieres of The Healer and Llareggub.

Featuring outstanding choruses from Germany, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Switzerland,
Sweden, Russia, Ireland, Italy, Canada and the U.S. Monday, January 19 at 7:00 pm--Martin Luther King Day--Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, NYC.

Distinguished Concerts International New York is proud to present its annual concert featuring the supremely beautiful and inspirational music of Karl Jenkins. One of the most prolific and frequently-performed composers in the world today, Jenkins continues to spread a musical message of peace and unity, impeccably encapsulated in his multi-lingual large-scale work, The Peacemakers, which draws texts from such luminaries as Mother Theresa, The Dalai Lama, and Gandhi, and is dedicated to the memory of all those who lost their lives during armed conflict. An international chorus – with outstanding ensembles from Germany, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Ireland, Italy, Canada and the United States – unites to express this message of peace, with the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra under the baton of DCINY Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Jonathan Griffith, the recent winner of the prestigious American Prize in Conducting, in the professional orchestral division. The concert on Monday, January 19 at 7pm – Martin Luther King Day – at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium, also features the U.S. premieres of Karl Jenkins' The Healer, a choral cantata for St. Luke, and Llareggub, a new work for orchestra.

Karl Jenkins sums up the ethos of The Peacemakers with this 13th-century text by Rumi: "All religions, all singing one song: "Peace be with you." Drawing texts and inspiration from iconic figures that have shaped history, Jenkins includes evocative musical elements such as the bansuri (Indian flute) and tabla in the passages by Gandhi; the shakuhachi (a Japanese flute associated with Zen Buddhism) and temple bells in that of the Dalai Lama; African percussion in a section dedicated to Nelson Mandela; echoes of the blues of the deep American South, in his tribute to Martin Luther King; and uilleann pipes and bodhrán drums to accompany a Celtic prayer.

Featured soloists include soprano Lucy Knight, baritone Mark Watson, violinist Jorge Ávila, Kara Deraad Santos, flutes; Rob Derke, soprano saxophone, and Carlo De Rosa, electric bass, of NYJAZZ; Benny Koonyevsky, ethnic percussion; and Joseph Mulvanerty, uilleann pipes.

Llareggub, Jenkins's new orchestral work, is a quirky, surreal and whimsical snapshot of life in the fictional seaside village where Dylan Thomas set Under Milk Woods. The Welsh-sounding name betrays Dylan's sense of humor since, when written backwards, it means something else in English! The colorful piece is in three short movements: "Starless and Bible-Black," "Eli Jenkins' Prayer" and "At the Sailors' Arms."

The Healer is a Cantata for St. Luke, an evangelist and physician of the soul. The text deals with healing, in both a spiritual sense, as well as the healing of our planet. Along with parts of St. Luke's Gospel, the choral setting features extracts from the Book of Common Prayer, a poem by William Blake, and contributions especially written for this work by Terry Waite CBE, Vivien Harrison and Carol Barratt.  In order to evoke the atmosphere and sound of the ancient holy land, Jenkins employs Middle Eastern percussion instruments, the riq and the darbuca.

For more information about Distinguished Concerts International New York and upcoming DCINY musical events around the world, please visit:

Tickets: $20 - $100. Available at, by calling 212-247-7800, or at the Carnegie Hall Box Office (57th Street & 7th Avenue).

--Shira Gilbert PR

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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