Classical Music News of the Week, March 15, 2015

Virginia Arts Festival Presents Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle April 18-19

The Virginia Arts Festival presents a spectacular staging of the Bartók Opera Bluebeard's Castle on April 18 and 19 at Norfolk's Chrysler Hall. The production features conductor JoAnn Falletta and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, soprano Rebecca Nash, baritone Charles Robert Austin, and a set comprised of stunning glass sculptures by world renowned artist Dale Chihuly.

Chihuly's glass sculptures are miracles of light and form: glass blown and blasted, teased and twisted into fantastical shapes, brilliantly colored, reflecting and absorbing light, casting their own shadow-play and inviting endless contemplation.

Having first appeared as a 17th-century French folk tale, Bluebeard's Castle portrays the legend of the cruel and murderous Bluebeard. It is the haunting story of an aristocrat feared by all and fatal to his many wives, each of whom arrived at his castle after matrimony—and were never seen again. Bartók's richly dark, ominous and brooding music is punctuated by phrases of almost unbearable tension, casting a spell that magnificently embraces the lurid story.

Blackbeard's Castle will be performed at Norfolk's Chrysler Hall on Saturday, April 18th at 8pm, and Sunday, April 19th at 3pm. Tickets range from $20-$125 and may be purchased beginning February 17, online at, by phone at 757-282-2822, or in person at the Festival Box Office (440 Bank St., Norfolk).

To complement this magnificent production of Bluebeard's Castle, the Chrysler Museum of Art (One Memorial Place, Norfolk) will host a related event, Chihuly in the Garden, from April 11 – June 7. For more information call (757) 664-6200.

For further information, visit

--Susannah Luthi, Bucklesweet Media

Cleveland International Piano Competition Presents First International Young Artists Competition, May 12-21
Presented by the prestigious Cleveland International Piano Competition, CIPC Young Artists Competition and Institute seeks to develop the performance capabilities of young piano students, renew their commitment to piano studies, and provide a valuable learning experience. Launched in 2003 as a one-day competition and institute for Ohio piano students ages 12 to 18, CIPC Young Artists has been reorganized this year as a 10-day international competition. In addition to cash prizes the First Prize winner in the Senior Division will receive a debut recital at The Frick Collection in New York on August 13.

This year, CIPC Young Artists has received an overwhelming response from an exceptional field of candidates for the first international expansion of the competition. Six continents are represented, with applicants from countries as wide ranging as South Africa, China, Mexico, and Australia. The 2015 competition will be held from May 12-21, with events at Baldwin Wallace University and the Cleveland Museum of Art's Gartner Auditorium. CIPC Young Artists will partner with the Canton Symphony Orchestra for the final round, which will be held Thursday, May 21, 2015 in Gartner Auditorium. Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann will conduct. The semi-final and final rounds will also stream live on CIPC's homepage:

A jury of distinguished artists and teachers from many different international backgrounds, including South Korea, Serbia/Croatia and China, has been selected to judge the 25 contestants. CIPC Young Artists is also pleased to welcome to the jury 2011 Cleveland International Piano Competition Mixon First Prize winner Alexander Schimpf.

For detailed information about the competition, visit

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

100 Concerts in 16 Days: MIC's Community Music Festival
The Music Institute of Chicago, transforming lives through music education for 85 years, is giving back to its communities with a Community Music Festival of unprecedented scope: 100 concerts across the Chicago area at community centers, libraries, seniors centers, and other grassroots venues from April 17 to May 3, 2015.

The Festival showcases some of the more than 1,600 students from 86 communities in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, all volunteering their time. Locations of some public performances include the McGaw YMCA in Evanston April 25 at noon; Kohl Children's Museum in Glenview April 28 at 4 p.m., the Crystal Ballroom and Lounge in Evanston May 1 at 10:30 a.m. (featuring the Music Institute's adult Community Symphony and the New Horizons Band); the Fine Arts Building in Chicago May 2 at 4 p.m.; and Skokie Public Library May 16 at 4 p.m.

"The Music Institute exists to lead everyone in our community toward a lifelong engagement with music," said Music Institute President and CEO Mark George. "To truly fulfill this vision, we must share what we do with our neighbors, especially those who normally do not have access to live music. We consider this Festival a true community service, a way of giving back to our communities by sharing our students' talents and spreading the joy music so often brings. We also want to remind people that the Music Institute is an important resource for Chicagoland families, engaging thousands of students of all ages and levels of experience in music-making, as well as presenting music concerts and cultural events to nearly 15,000 audience members each year."

Media sponsorship for the Community Music Festival is provided by Make It Better. For information, visit or follow the Music Institute on Twitter @MICcommunity.

Book-ending the community events are two world-class chamber music concerts, sponsored by Gael and Robert Strong and the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, at the Music Institute's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston:

Cavani Quartet – Sunday, April 19, 3 p.m.
Called "warmly lyrical" by the New York Times, the highly regarded Cavani Quartet, ensemble in residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music, celebrates its 30th anniversary at Nichols Concert Hall. The program includes the Mendelssohn Octet, also featuring students from the Music Institute's Academy for gifted pre-college musicians.

Ying Quartet – Saturday, May 2, 7:30 p.m.
The Grammy Award-winning Ying Quartet has established itself as an ensemble of the highest musical order. Quartet-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music, this distinguished Music Institute alumni group performs classic repertoire along with works the quartet has commissioned. Special media sponsor for this performance is Mandarin Quarterly.

Tickets for each concert—Cavani Quartet on April 19 at 3 p.m. and Ying Quartet on May 2 at 7:30 p.m.—are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students, available at or 800-838-3006.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Internationally Acclaimed Russian Pianist - Nikolai Lugansky 92Y Debut
March 24, 2015 at 92Y. Nikolai Lugansky, one of the leading Russian pianists today, makes his 92Y debut with overlooked rarities by Tchaikovsky, and more popular works of Schubert.

Schubert: Two Scherzos, D. 593
Schubert: Sonata in C minor, D. 958
Tchaikovsky: Selections from The Seasons, Op. 37b
Tchaikovsky: Sonata in G major, Op. 37

For more information, visit

--Ely Moskowitz, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

West Edge Opera Announces Second of Opera Medium Rare's 2015 Productions
West Edge Opera's second in the 2015 series of Opera Medium Rare, lesser-known operas by well-known composers performed in concert format, is Donizetti's Poliuto on Saturday, March 28, 1 pm at the Rossmoor Event Center and Wednesday, April 1, 8pm at Berkeley's Freight and Salvage. Each performance is accompanied by piano and a small chamber ensemble. English supertitles also include stage directions to set the scenes.

Conducted by Jonathan Khuner from the piano, the performance features Elizabeth Zharoff as Paolina, Michael Desnoyers as Poliuto, Anders Froehlich as Severo, John Bischoff as Callistene, Michael Jankosky as Nearco and Sigmund Seigel as Felice.

With a unique blend of vocal expressiveness, outstanding musicianship, and commanding stage presence, soprano Elizabeth Zharoff is emerging as one of opera's most compelling new young artists. She comes to West Edge Opera fresh from performances as Violetta in La Traviata at the English National Opera. She has sung with Opéra National de Bordeaux (Giunia in Mozart's Lucio Silla), Semperoper Dresden and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (Pamina in Die Zauberflöte), Opera Philadelphia (Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte). This June she will create the role of Esther in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's Morning Star at Cincinnati Opera, and in October sings Leila in The Pearl Fishers with Seattle Opera. In the summer of 2011, Ms. Zharoff won great acclaim as a finalist for the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and was recognized as "the most distinctive voice of the evening" for her performance at the Merola Opera Program's summer concert.

In Poliuto, Donizetti turned one of the most famous classical 17th century French dramas (Polyeucte, by Pierre Corneille) into a modern 19th century lyric opera. At the height of his powers, he added Italian melodrama to a firmly constructed plot of religious and moral conflict. The story's historical roots are of the 3rd century Polyeuctus of Armenia, who, having forsaken his wealthy establishment paganism, marched defiantly to martyrdom under the Roman yoke, becoming a revered saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The result is a delightful combination of charming tunes and serious stagecraft.

The Rossmoor Event Center is at 1010 Stanley Dollar Drive, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek, CA and Freight and Salvage is at 2020 Addison Street in downtown Berkeley's arts district. Tickets are $20 for general seating at both venues, with a $40.00 VIP ticket at Rossmoor that includes a wine reception with the artists following the concert. Advance sales at Freight and Salvage are $16.

Tickets for all performances are available online at Rossmoor Tickets can also be purchased by phone on the West Edge Ticketline, 510-841-1903, and Freight and Salvage tickets by phone are purchased by calling: 510-644-2020 extension120. For more information, go to West Edge Opera's website at

--Marian Kohlstedt, West Edge Opera

Bach's Birthday Celebrations with American Bach Soloists
Bach's Birthday Celebration will feature Anthony Newman, harpsichord & organ, with
Joshua Romatowski, flute.

The program will include Bach's Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue, Toccata, Adagio, & Fugue in C Major, Flute Sonata in E-flat Major, and other works by Bach, Couperin, and Newman.

Friday March 20 2015 8:00 p.m. - St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Special Event Ticket Prices $15 ~ $50

For more information, visit

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

A Big Thank You from FAYM
Individuals like you who make donations help FAYM (the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians) inspire over 130 young students every week at the East Las Vegas Community Center to DREAM BIG as they develop their minds and positive outlook through their tuition-free violin lessons and participation in FAYM's Youth Orchestra.

More BIG NEWS! FAYM expanded the "Violin for Kids Program" to West Las Vegas  and is enrolling 40 third graders from KR Booker Elementary, 100 Academy and West Prep to start classes at the Pearson Community Center this month.

To see your gifts at work and play, click here

This June FAYM will offer a 2-week day camp for 65 high school string players. Students from four Title I high schools will audition to participate in this tuition-free opportunity.

Your continued support will expand these valuable programs to serve more young people in our community.

For more information, visit

--Hal Weller, FAYM

Music Institute Chorale Presents "A Day at the Zoo" March 29
The Music Institute of Chicago Chorale, conducted by Daniel Wallenberg, offers families a musical menagerie of animal songs with its concert program "A Day at the Zoo" Sunday, March 29 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois.

The program offers animal-themed songs from different musical periods, featuring the world premiere of "Two by Two" by Bob Applebaum. Other songs on the program include "The Cuckoo" by Benjamin Britten, the South African folk song "Unonkal"  (The Crab), "Warnung!" (Warning! The Scorpion) by Joseph Haydn, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by Solomon Linda, "The Woodpecker" by Stephen Chatman, "Counterpoint of the Animals" by Adriano Banchieri, and more.

The Music Institute of Chicago Chorale presents "A Day at the Zoo" Sunday, March 29 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $7 for students, available at For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Augustin Hadelich Makes San Francisco Recital Debut
Augustin Hadelich will make his San Francisco recital debut on March 22 at the Marines' Memorial Theater as part of the Chamber Music San Francisco series. Together with pianist Joyce Yang, Hadelich will perform a diverse program of works by Janácek, Previn, Schumann, Stravinsky and Ysaÿe.

An enthusiastic recitalist and chamber musician, Augustin has won widespread acclaim for his solo performances, collaborative prowess, and inventive programming. On the occasion of his debut at New York City's Frick Collection in December 2009, The New Yorker's Alex Ross called it a "riveting recital," continuing, "The crucial thing was the command of color: luminous sweetness in Beethoven and Prokofiev, a wide, ruddy tone in Sarasate's "Carmen Fantasy," and savage sounds for Schnittke, including something like electric-guitar fuzz ... Here is a young artist with no evident limitations." He has performed recitals in venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall in New York, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Kioi Hall in Tokyo, the Louvre in Paris, the Wigmore Hall in London, and on chamber music series in Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle and Vancouver. When he appeared in recital at the Kennedy Center in December 2011, The Washington Post enthused, "the essence of Hadelich's playing is beauty: reveling in the myriad ways of making a phrase come alive on the violin, delivering the musical message with no technical impediments whatsoever, and thereby revealing something from a plane beyond ours."

For more information, visit

--Melanne Mueller, MusicCo International

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space Presents "Passion: Sacrifice and Surrender," April 25
Renowned conductor K. Scott Warren leads the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola in this breathtaking program for Lent featuring Gregorian chant and a cappella motets by Tallis, Lassus, Gesualdo, Purcell and others. The concert—part of the venerable Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series—will take place amidst the Venetian mosaics depicting the way of the cross at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola (980 Park Avenue at 84th St., NYC) on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 7 p.m. Tickets: $25-$80.

Conductor K. Scott Warren and the impeccable Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola invite you to join them on a powerful journey through Jesus's final moments at "Passion: Sacrifice and Surrender," a program of music for unaccompanied choir featuring Gregorian chant and 16th- and 17th-century motets.

From the Last Supper to Jesus' final utterances on the cross, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space offers a potent personal meditation on sacrifice, surrender and transcendence for Lent, just days before Palm Sunday.

Anchored by Thomas Tallis's motet setting of The Lamentations of Jeremiah and Orlande de Lassus's haunting Stabat Mater, this purposefully unadorned program creates a hushed space for reflection, illuminating the most profound aspects of Holy Week and how they relate to the trials of our own spiritual journeys. Lose yourself in the plaintive polyphony of Purcell, Lotti, Byrd, Gesualdo and more, suspended in the vibrant acoustics of St. Ignatius Loyola. Atmospheric lighting underscores the striking beauty of the Upper East Side church's sanctuary and its stunning Venetian marble mosaics depicting the Stations of the Cross.

For more information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Cecilia Bartoli Cancels California Tour
Cal Performances has been informed by Universal Music Arts & Entertainment (U-Live) "that regrettably …, due to unforeseen circumstances, Cecilia Bartoli must cancel her scheduled appearances in California this month and next." Ms. Bartoli was scheduled to perform on Saturday and Thursday, March 21 and 26, at The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center; on Monday, March 23, at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County; and on Tuesday and Thursday, March 31 and April 2, in Zellerbach Hall, presented by Cal Performances.

Patrons may apply the value of the tickets toward another Cal Performances event in the 2014—2015 season, donate their tickets, or request a refund. If you would like to apply the value of your tickets toward another Cal Performances event in the current season, please call the Ticket Office at 510-642-9988 by March 27, 2015 to make the necessary arrangements. If we do not hear from you by that date, we will presume that you would like a refund and will issue you one shortly thereafter. Refunds will be issued to the credit card with which tickets were charged or by check for other payment methods. If you had a paid parking reservation, it will also be refunded.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and we thank you for supporting Cal Performances.

--Rusty Barnes, Cal Performances

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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 ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine 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