Classical Music News of the Week, March 29, 2015

National Philharmonic to Perform Bach's St. John Passion at Strathmore

The National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale, led by National Philharmonic Associate Conductor Victoria Gau, will perform Bach's masterpiece St. John Passion on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 8 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. A free pre-concert lecture will be offered in the Concert Hall at 6:45 p.m. Tickets start at $28 and are free for children age 7-17 through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette). ALL KIDS tickets must be reserved by calling (301-581-5100) or visiting the Strathmore Box Office. Parking is complimentary. Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301-581-5100.

Bach's St. John Passion remains one of the most deeply affecting and riveting masterworks in this genre. It is a rich, highly dramatic portrayal of the Biblical passion story using soloists, chorus and a colorful baroque orchestra, featuring rarely heard archaic instruments including the lute and viola da gamba. The radiant purity of sound in this emotionally expressive work shines in poignant arias, powerful choruses and gentle, reflective chorales.

The work has been a constant in the United States since June 5, 1888, when Dr. J. Fred Wolle led the Choral Union of the Moravian town of Bethlehem, PA (now the famed Bethlehem Bach Choir) in the first of many such performances. St. John, the earlier of Bach's two surviving Passions (musical settings of biblical accounts of the sufferings and death of Jesus), is still heard less often  than its ostensibly more refined counterpart, the St. Matthew Passion, but its clarity and fervency give it undeniable emotional appeal.

"Bach's St. John Passion is full of remarkable and powerful contrasts," says Ms. Gau, who is conducting the April performance. "His Lutheran conviction that we all are simul justus et peccator (simultaneously justified and sinful) plays out throughout this taut, dramatic work as Bach asks the same singers to perform the roles of the Roman soldiers, the angry crowd, and the penitent congregation. By driving home these deeply contrasting states of being, he makes the drama that much more raw and personal, creating an incredibly moving work of operatic proportions."

For more information, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

2015 PARMA Music Festival, August 14-16, Portsmouth, NH
The third annual PARMA Music Festival is coming this summer! Just named one of the top 30 music festivals in the country by Rukkus, the Festival is heralded as a "one-of-a-kind…for all genres and skill levels," and as "an environment for musicians to grow, learn, and be part of something big."

The multiple venue/multi-genre, three-day Festival will feature acts varying from classical and jazz to electronic and rock to indie and folk. With a wide and diverse range of events from live music, to visual arts, to a children's event, this year's Festival will bring together a wonderfully diverse crowd to perform, collaborate, and listen.

Headlining the Main Event is Boston and Washington, DC-based band Kingsley Flood. The six-piece group released their first full-length Dust Windows in 2010, generating both critical acclaim and a passionate fan base.

The Festival will also feature The Shakespeare Concerts, a Boston-based organization that presents recitals by world-class musicians of music inspired by the immortal bard. These works include settings of the original English text to settings in translation by composers from the 17th through 21st centuries. The mainstay of the concerts series is the music of Joseph Summer, Executive Director and Founder of The Shakespeare Concerts. Since its inception, The Shakespeare Concerts have premiered over two dozen of Summer's eighty-plus Oxford Songs.

Festival concerts and events will be presented in diverse settings--from daytime events at local churches and Prescott Park, to evening events at 3S Artspace, and The Dance Hall and Buoy Gallery in Kittery, ME. The Festival closes with a concert at The Music Hall's Historic Theater.

For more information about the PARMA Music Festival, including pictures and press from prior years, please visit: www.parmamusicfestival.org

--Janet, Giovanniello PARMA Festival

World-Class Quartets Open and Close Community Music Festival
The Music Institute of Chicago, transforming lives through music education for 85 years, presents two esteemed string quartets at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois: Cavani String Quartet performs Sunday, April 19 at 3 p.m., and Ying Quartet, comprising Music Institute alumni, performs Saturday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. The concerts are sponsored by Gael and Robert Strong and the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.

Called "warmly lyrical" by the New York Times, the highly regarded Cavani String Quartet, ensemble in residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music, celebrates its 30th anniversary at Nichols Concert Hall. The program includes Antonin Dvorak's String Quartet in F Major, Op. 96; Charles Washington's Midnight Child; Dmitri Shostakovich's String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 117; and Felix Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (Presto), also featuring students from the Music Institute's Academy for gifted pre-college musicians.

The Cavani String Quartet will give a master class Saturday, April 18, at 4:30 p.m. at the Music Institute's Winnetka Campus, Thoresen Performance Center, 300 Green Bay Road. Admission is $5 per person general admission at the door to watch the class.

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 Joseph Haydn's String Quartet in D Major No. 4, Op. 20; Igor Stravinsky's Three Pieces for String Quartet; and Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131. Special media sponsor for this performance is Mandarin Quarterly.

Presenting 100 concerts in 16 days, the Music Institute's Community Music Festival showcases some of the more than 1,600 students from 86 communities in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, all volunteering their time.

Tickets for each concert—Cavani String 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 brownpapertickets.com/event/851979 or 800-838-3006

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Storm Large Joins the New York Pops for "Let's Be Frank" Sinatra Tribute, April 10
The "brilliant and beautiful" vocalist joins Music Director Steven Reineke and The New York Pops for a tribute to America's original idol, April 10 at 8pm at Carnegie Hall, NYC.

When consummate entertainer Storm Large made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2013 as part of the Spring for Music Festival, The New York Times lauded her as "sensational." Now, Storm makes her triumphant return to the venue as one of four special guest soloists for The New York Pops' "Let's Be Frank" celebration of the Frank Sinatra centennial. The performance takes place at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage on Friday, April 10 at 8pm. Ticket prices range from $34-$120.

Storm will be joined by three more of today's finest entertainers – Tony DeSare, Frankie Moreno, and Ryan Silverman in a musical extravaganza that will transport audiences back to a golden age of music. There could be no better way to celebrate Frank Sinatra's influence on American culture than with four of today's brightest stars on stage with one of the country's premiere pops orchestras.

For ticket prices and further information, click http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2015/4/10/0800/PM/The-New-York-Pops/

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Nicholas McGegan Leads Rossini Opera with Adler Fellows
April 15-19, 2015, music director Nicholas McGegan leads a program with Gioachino Rossini's first great opera, The Marriage Contract (La cambiale di matrimonio), and arias by W.A. Mozart featuring seven soloists from San Francisco Opera Center's Adler Fellowship Program. The final concert in Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's 2014-15 season, this concert marks a special partnership between the nation's leading period-instrument orchestra and San Francisco Opera Center. Four performances take place around the Bay Area at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto (April 15), San Francisco's SFJAZZ Center (April 17), and Berkeley's First Congregational Church (April 18 with a matinee following on the afternoon of April 19). Tickets start at $25.

Wednesday, April 15 @ 7:30 PM
First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, CA

Friday, April 17 @ 8 PM
SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco, CA

Saturday, April 18 @ 8 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

Sunday, April 19 @ 4 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

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

For more information, visit http://www.philharmonia.org/

--Ben Casement-Stoll, PBO

Daniel Cohen Named Kapellmeister at Deutsche Oper, Berlin
Fast-rising young conductor Daniel Cohen named Kapellmeister at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin.

Daniel Cohen is one of that select band of young conductors generally denoted as 'most likely to succeed'. The Israeli maestro's talents were spotted early on by Daniel Barenboim, who appointed him assistant conductor at the West Eastern Divan Orchestra, and more recently by Gustavo Dudamel, who named him a Dudamel Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Now Cohen has landed his first major European position, as the new Kapellmeister at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin.

In addition to his Berlin post, Daniel Cohen remains Music Director of both the Jersey Chamber Orchestra and the Israel-based Gropius Ensemble.

--Inverne Price Music

Seattle Symphony Performs Unique World Premiere by Trimpin - May 1
Music Director Ludovic Morlot will conduct the world premiere of Above, Below, and In Between, a Seattle Symphony commission and site-specific composition by kinetic sculptor, sound artist and Music Alive Composer-in-Residence Trimpin, on May 1. Above, Below, and In Between is a composition for small orchestra, soprano voice, prepared piano, kinetic instruments and gesture-controlled conducting. It will be performed in the Grand Lobby and Promenade of Benaroya Hall. Also on the concert program will be works by the late American composer George Perle, with whom Ludovic Morlot had a deep connection and friendship since their first meeting at Tanglewood in 2001. This concert program commemorates the occasion of Perle's 100th anniversary year. Pianist Michael Brown, who was just awarded a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, will perform on the program.

For more information, visit http://www.seattlesymphony.org/

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

92Y 2015-16 Season Announcement
92nd Street Y and Tisch Center for the Arts Director Hanna Arie-Gaifman today announced the 2015/16 concert season, which features some of the world's preeminent musicians in 92Y's historic and intimate Kaufmann Concert Hall. 92Y is proud to present performances in which artists are able to connect with audiences through multidisciplinary presentations and programs that showcase their own musical tastes.

"Seeing Music," a new music and visual arts festival, January 26-February 6, explores the ways in which music and the visual arts complement and inform each other. Also new this season is a residency with violinist Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner "Bridge to Beethoven," that highlights the composer's enduring influence by pairing his violin sonatas with new works by contemporary composers. "András Schiff Selects: Young Pianists" continues for a second season, presenting the U.S. debut of three young artists chosen by Sir András Schiff. The 2015/16 season is also highlighted by 92Y commissions in both music and visual art; premieres of works by Stephen Hough, Andrew Norman, Jonathan Berger, Vijay Iyer, Anthony Cheung; and twelve solo recital debuts on the 92Y stage.

For more information, visit http://www.92y.org/

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Three World-Renowned Musicians Share the Stage
The Mutter Bronfman Harrell Trio: Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin; Yefim Bronfman, piano; Lynn Harrell, cello. Saturday, April 18, 2015, 8 p.m. Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

The concert showcases the talents of three world-renowned, Grammy Award-winning musicians – violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, pianist Yefim Bronfman and cellist Lynn Harrell – who share the stage in a special performance of two treasured works of chamber music: Beethoven's "Archduke" Piano Trio and Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio.

"It is an honor to welcome three of the greatest classical musicians of our time to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts," remarked Neale Perl, president and CEO of the Scottsdale Cultural Council. "This is a rare opportunity to hear these internationally acclaimed artists, who normally perform in large venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, onstage in our intimate, 853-seat Virginia G. Piper Theater. With masterpieces by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, it promises to be the musical experience of a lifetime!"

Tickets start at $69 and are available through www.ScottsdalePerformingArts.org or 480-499-TKTS (8587).

--Bill Thompson, SCCARTS

Horowitz Steinway Showcased in April 22 Concert
The Music Institute of Chicago, transforming lives through music education for 85 years, hosts a free, one-night-only concert showcasing the exclusive tour piano the legendary Vladimir Horowitz used during the last four years of his life. The concert, presented by Steinway & Sons in conjunction with the Music Institute, takes place Wednesday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinios.

Early in 1934, as a wedding present, Steinway presented Vladimir and Wanda Horowitz with a Steinway Model D, Serial #279,503. In the early 1940s, this piano was replaced with #314,503—CD 503, for short. This is the piano Horowitz kept in his New York townhouse and used in many recitals and recordings in the 1970s and '80s. Because Horowitz loved the sound and touch of this piano so much, it became his exclusive tour piano for the last four years of his life, including his triumphant return to Russia in 1986 after a more than 60-year absence.

Respected and acclaimed Music Institute piano faculty and Andrew Guo, a student in the Music Institute's prestigious Academy for gifted pre-college musicians, will recreate the 1986 Moscow recital.

For more information, visit http://www.musicinst.org/

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Announcing FAYM's First High School String Orchestra Camp
FAYM (Foundation to Assist Young Musicians) is proud to announce its first high school string orchestra day camp, June 8-20 at Valley High School, Las Vegas, Nevada. The Camp will admit music students who attend Valley, Basic, Las Vegas, and Rancho High Schools and their feeder middle schools.

Please note that the deadline to apply is April 23. For application and audition material, visit http://thefaym.org/hsdaycamp/

Auditions will be held by appointment on Saturday, May 9th and Saturday, May 16th at East Las Vegas Community Center (Stewart & Eastern Avenues).

--Hal Weller, FAYM

American Bach Soloists Celebrate Bach, Vivaldi, & Leo
American Bach Soloists celebrate three Baroque masters May 1-4 with "Bach, Vivaldi, & Leo"

Jeffrey Thomas leads a trio of works by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus, and a Cello Concerto by Leonardo Leo. Countertenor Ian Howell Ssings Bach and Vivaldi. 2015 Jeffrey Thomas Award recipient Gretchen Claassen performs Leo's Concerto for Violoncello in A Major.

Friday, May 1, 2015 8:00 pm – St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA
Saturday, May 2, 2015 8:00 pm – First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday, May 3, 2015 4:00 pm – St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
Monday, May 4, 2015 7:00 pm – Davis Community Church, Davis, CA
Tickets: $27-$66 / americanbach.org / (415) 621-7900

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Exodus: Dreams of the Promised Land in Antebellum America
Salon/Sanctuary Concerts presents a moving and joyous celebration of the struggle for freedom and triumph over adversity through theatre and music.

The enduring power of liberation imagery in the early American consciousness comes to life through works by William Billings (1746 – 1800), Stephen Jenks (1772 – 1856), early spirituals and Shaker hymns performed with historical texts selected from abolitionist writings and slave and suffragette narratives, including selections from Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave.

Saturday, April 18th, 4:00 pm
The Flag Gallery of the Fraunces Tavern Museum
54 Pearl Street
NYC, NY 10004

$25 seniors / students, $35 general
$50 prime, $100 series supporter front row
For Tickets
Call 1 888 718 4253 or visit www.salonsanctuary.org

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

The Bach Sinfonia Presents "Bach's Early Voice: The Weimar Cantatas"
On Saturday, April 18, 2015, the Bach Sinfonia will continue its 20th anniversary season with an exploration of Bach's earliest cantatas for voices, performing Christlag in Todesbanden, BWV 4, Klagen, sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61, and Aus der Teifen rufe ich, BWV 131. These cantatas represent Bach's time at M'hlhausen and Weimar, as court organist, chamber musician at the ducal court and as Konzertmeister in the castle church. The performance will illustrate the most current understanding of Bach's likely mode of performance with four singers as a solo group and four additional voices to reinforce the large choral movements, cantus firmus melodies, and four-part chorales. In addition, the period instruments played by Sinfonia's early-music professionals will create a performance as Bach intended the works to be heard. Sinfonia will be joined by vocalists Jennifer Ellis Kampani, soprano; Charles Humphries, countertenor; Kyle Stegall, tenor; and David Newman, bass.

Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 8 p.m.
Free pre-concert discussion at 7:20 p.m.

Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910

Tickets:
$35 adult
$30 seniors (60 and up)
$15 (ages 15 - University)
Free (ages 14 and under)
Order Online at  or call (301) 362-6525

--Christie McKinney, Bach Sinfonia

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa