Classical Music News of the Week, April 26, 2015

Emerson Quartet Perform Two Concerts to Close Chamber Music Society's 2014-15 Season

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will present the Emerson String Quartet in two concerts at Alice Tully Hall this May, performing works of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and the New York premiere of a work by Lowell Liebermann. On May 17 & 19, the Quartet is joined by CMS Artists - violist Paul Neubauer & cellist Colin Carr - to close the Chamber Music Society's impressive season.

The New York premiere of Lowell Liebermann's String Quartet No. 5 was commissioned by a consortium of presenters through Music Accord, including the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Violinist Eugene Drucker describes Liebermann's quartet as having "a perceptible narrative arc, a sense of having come full circle by the time the opening material is evoked, transformed into something even more ethereal, at the end. Audiences seem to find the work accessible, meaningful and moving. That is no small achievement in today's varied musical landscape."

Single tickets starting at $30.
Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
1941 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

For more information, visit http://www.chambermusicsociety.org/seasontickets/event/1551

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

West Edge Opera Announces 2015 Festival
West Edge Opera's 2015 Festival of three operas will take place July 25 through August 9 at three different venues in Oakland, California, specially chosen to reflect the mood and heighten the experience of each piece.

Under the combined artistic leadership of General/Artistic Director Mark Streshinsky and Music Director Jonathan Khuner, the Festival will open on July 25 at 8 pm with the American premiere of a new reduced orchestration of 20 instruments of Alban Berg's Lulu at Oakland's abandoned 16th Street Train Station. Repeat performances are August 2 at 2 pm and August 8 at 8 pm.

The West Coast premiere of Laura Kaminsky's As One opens on July 26 at 2 pm. at The Oakland Metro, a brash Punk Rock and alternative arts venue near Jack London Square. In collaboration with the rising young Bay Area ensemble Friction Quartet (which will also serve as quartet-in-resident for the Festival), and with a libretto by Mark Campbell (librettist of the Pulitzer prize-winning opera Silent Night) and Kimberly Reed, two singers – baritone Dan Kempson and mezzo-soprano Brenda Patterson (both of whom have sung at the Metropolitan Opera) – will portray a single character, the opera's transgender protagonist Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between herself and the outside world. Repeat performances are July 31 at 8 pm and August 8 at 2 pm.

The Festival's third opera, Monteverdi's Ulysses (Il ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria), opens on August 1 at 8 pm at American Steel Studios on Mandela Parkway. The story, taken from the second half of Homer's Odyssey, tells how constancy and virtue are ultimately rewarded, treachery and deception overcome. Repeat performances are August 7 at 8 pm and August 9 at 2 pm.

A Festival "Kick Off" party, "Love on the Edge," will be held on Thursday, July 2 at 7:30 pm at Berkeley's Ed Roberts Campus to celebrate the company's 36th season and second Festival and to introduce music by the composers who will be heard during the Festival. The program will include parts of Berg's Lyric Suite and a new arrangement of a Monteverdi madrigal for string quartet performed by quartet-in-residence Friction Quartet. Tickets for "Love on the Edge" will be priced at $20 for subscribers and $25 for non-subscribers.

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

--Marian Kohlstedt, West Edge Opera

Three San Francisco Bay Area Arts Groups Receive Grants from The Wallace Foundation
Cal Performances, Oakland East Bay Symphony and San Francisco Performances have been selected for the New York-based Wallace Foundation's Building Audiences for Sustainability effort – a  new, six-year, $52-million initiative aimed at developing practical insights into how exemplary performing arts organizations can successfully expand their audiences, the foundation announced today.

These Bay Area organizations are three of 26 arts organizations from around the country (list enclosed) that were selected to be a part of the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative and noted by the foundation for their artistic excellence. Each organization will design and implement programs to attract new audiences while retaining current ones, measuring whether and how this contributes to their overall financial sustainability. The 26 arts organizations represent a spectrum of artistic disciplines, from dance and opera companies to orchestras, theaters, and multidisciplinary arts institutions. The selected partners will receive financial and technical support from the foundation to develop, implement, analyze, and learn from their audience-building work. The evidence gathered from the work will be documented and analyzed by a Wallace-commissioned independent team of researchers, providing valuable insights, ideas, and information for the entire field.

"The arts are essential on both a personal level, providing us with experiences that open us to new perspectives, and on a community level, helping us to find common ground," said Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation. "However, attracting and engaging new audiences is challenging for arts organizations because, even as the number of arts groups has grown, national rates of participation in the arts have declined, arts education has waned, and competition for ways to spend leisure time has increased. We are confident that the 26 organizations selected from a pool of more than 300 identified by leaders in the arts nationwide will provide new insights that will benefit the field at large, helping to bring the arts to a broader and more diverse group of people."

"The Wallace Foundation is to be commended for its extraordinary commitment to the performing arts and for its focus on audience development.  Its support of strategic activity combined with research, evaluation, and diffusion, will go a long way to developing new practice and engaging robust audiences." -- Jesse Rosen, President and CEO, League of American Orchestras

For more information, visit www.wallacefoundation.org

--Christina Kellogg

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Announces 2015-16 Classical Season
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts will celebrate its 40th-anniversary and 2015–16 season with a concert by the world-renowned Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with principal guest conductor and violin soloist Pinchas Zukerman. Other classical highlights of the season include the Virginia G. Piper Concert Series featuring pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Emanuel Ax, Orion Weiss and Angela Hewitt, and the return of "Keyboard Conversations With Jeffrey Siegel" and "Close Encounters With Music."

"This year marks a proud milestone for Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts as we celebrate its 40th anniversary and distinguished tradition of bringing the world's greatest musicians to Scottsdale," remarked Neale Perl, president and CEO of the Scottsdale Cultural Council. "The 2015–16 season brings together virtuoso artists new to our stage as well as returning favorites. We're also honored to present the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with the acclaimed violinist Pinchas Zukerman playing and conducting. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear this world-class orchestra in our 853-seat Virginia G. Piper Theater."

Members and subscribers may purchase discounted tickets through 480-499-TKTS (8587). Tickets are on sale to the general public starting Saturday, April 18, at 10 a.m. Additional information is available through the Center's mobile-optimized Web site www.ScottsdalePerformingArts.org.

--Bill Thompson, SCCARTS

Ahmad Jamal, Jessye Norman, Kyung-Wha Chung, and Russell Sherman to Receive Honorary Degrees at NEC
New England Conservatory, Boston, MA, will bestow honorary Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degrees on four distinguished musicians at its 144th annual Commencement Exercises, Sunday, May 17 at 3 p.m. in NEC's Jordan Hall. The recipients are jazz pianist and leader Ahmad Jamal, soprano Jessye Norman, pianist Russell Sherman and violinist Kyung-Wha Chung.  Russell Sherman will also give the 2015 Commencement address. He is a member of NEC's Distinguished Artist-in-Residence program and recently celebrated his 85th birthday with an all-Beethoven recital.

The graduation ceremony is free and open to the public. Approximately 245 students are graduating in the class of 2015. They will be awarded a variety of degrees and diplomas including the: Bachelor of Music, Graduate Diploma, Master of Music, Doctor of Musical Arts, and Artist Diploma. Other speakers will include President Tony Woodcock, Provost Thomas Novak, and a student speaker to be announced.

For more information, visit http://necmusic.edu/

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Media Relations

Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival: June 13-28
The Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival is delighted to welcome new Artistic Director Paul Watkins for its 22nd season, taking place from June 13-28 at nine venues across the metro Detroit area. Each June, the Festival brings a contingent of the world's finest chamber musicians for two weeks of performances. The theme of this summer's two-week event is "New Beginnings: Making Music in America," which reflects the personal, musical and literal journey of Mr. Watkins in his first year as Artistic Director. He leads the festival on a voyage encompassing an eclectic blend of America's classical and contemporary repertoire, including a World Premiere of Hand Eye – composed by Sleeping Giant and performed by eighth blackbird, with flutist Tim Munro performing his final concert as a member of the ensemble. An additional World Premiere will be a Festival-commissioned work by their Stone Composer Fellow Mark Grey.

Mr. Watkins comments, "I am thrilled and honored to be the new Artistic Director of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival. This wonderful event already shines brightly in the starry summer skies of American music festivals, thanks to the inspirational leadership of my predecessor, James Tocco. In 2014, I was privileged to join James in a performance of the Brahms E minor Cello Sonata at the opening concert of the Festival. The combination of his extraordinary playing and the warmth of the audience made for an evening I will never forget. My hope is to recreate many such memorable musical experiences in 2015 with a phenomenal array of artists, many of whom will be making their first appearances at the GLCMF."

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

--Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival

Berkeley Symphony Announces 2015-2016 Season
Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony today announced programming for the 2015-2016 season including the West Coast premiere of Laterna magica by Kaija Saariaho; the West Coast premiere of the Frankenstein Symphony by Mark Grey, co-commissioned with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; and the U.S. premiere of Fachwerk by Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina featuring the Bay Area debut of bayan pioneer Geir Draugsvoll. The Orchestra also welcomes soprano Simone Osborne and violinist Simone Porter, who both make their Bay Area debuts in addition to a first-time Berkeley Symphony appearance by pianist Conrad Tao.

Established as a presenter of major contemporary orchestral works, Berkeley Symphony continues its steadfast commitment to presenting original and unique programs with a 2015-2016 season that combines important contemporary works alongside masterworks from the standard repertoire. A recipient of the ASCAP award for adventurous programming in ten out of the past 12 seasons, Berkeley Symphony will explore classics including Berlioz's Les nuits d'été, featuring Simone Osborne; Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major, featuring Simone Porter; Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, featuring Conrad Tao; Beethoven's Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus; Ravel's La Valse; Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition; Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra and Gabrieli's Canzon septimi et octavi toni and Sonata pian e forte for brass.

Ticket information:
2015-2016 season subscriptions to the Zellerbach Hall Concert Series (four concerts) range in price from $39 to $266. Subscribers enjoy a 10% discount on additional single ticket purchases throughout the season. Single ticket prices range from $15 to $74. Orders for 2015-2016 season subscriptions can be placed online at www.berkeleysymphony.org starting May 1, 2015; by phone at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1; by fax to (510) 841-5422; or mailed to 1942 University Avenue, Suite 207, Berkeley, CA 94704. Single tickets go on sale July 1, 2015. Groups of 6 or more receive a 20% discount off the single ticket price. Berkeley Symphony offers a $7 Student Rush ticket one hour prior to each performance for those with a valid student ID.

Tickets to the Berkeley Symphony & Friends chamber music concerts are $25 and can be purchased in advance at www.berkeleysymphony.org or by phoning the Box Office at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1.

Tickets to the Under Construction New Music readings are $10 and can be purchased in advance at www.berkeleysymphony.org or by phoning the Box Office at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1.

All Family Concerts are offered free of charge. (Suggested donation: $10)
For more information or to request a brochure, call Berkeley Symphony at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1, email tickets@berkeleysymphony.org or visit www.berkeleysymphony.org.

For a complete listing of dates and programs, visit www.berkeleysymphony.org

--Brenden Guy, Berkeley Symphony

National Philharmonic to Perform Faure's Requiem at Strathmore
The National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale, led by National Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, will perform Fauré's Requiem on Saturday, May 30, 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.

Gabriel Fauré's poignant work, the Requiem, features colorful melodic lines and rich French harmonies. Finished in 1900, the choral/orchestral setting of sections of the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead is the most popular of Fauré's large compositions. It is written for orchestra, organ, chorus and two soloists, soprano and baritone. The most famous of its seven movements is the aria "Pie Jesu" for soprano.

Brahms' masterpiece, the five-movement Serenade No. 2, written for a chamber orchestra, is always an audience favorite. It represents one of the composer's earliest efforts to write an orchestral work. Written in 1959, the work is dedicated to the famous pianist Clara Schumann, with whom he shared a deep friendship.

For more information, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Tickets Now Available for the 2015/16 Green Music Center Season
2015/16 Subscription packages and single tickets to Summer + Schroeder Concerts now available.

Mastercard Performance Series in Weill Hall to launch with gala opening by pianist Lang Lang.

Two Additional special concerts to feature violinist Joshua Bell and jazz pianist Chick Corea with banjo master Béla Fleck.

Summer 2015 Mastercard Performance series to include an array of contemporary artists at Weill Hall and lawn.

Kevin Spacey in Concert, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Kristin Chenoweth, Martina McBride, Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri

Schroeder Hall to host three series this summer.

Sundays at Schroeder, Saturday Cabaret and GMC ChamberFest 2015.

For complete information, visit http://gmc.sonoma.edu/

--Green Music Center

New York Philharmonic to Partner with Rice's Shepherd School of Music in 2015-16
Selected string players from Shepherd School of Music to participate in New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program in New York May 21-29, 2016.

Philharmonic musicians to present master classes at Shepherd School of Music in Houston in fall 2015.

The New York Philharmonic and Rice University's Shepherd School of Music have entered into a partnership for the 2015-16 season, marking the third collaboration in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy -- customized collaborations with partners worldwide that offer intensive training of pre-professional musicians by New York Philharmonic members. Under the partnership, Philharmonic musicians will travel to Houston to present master classes in fall 2015, and a group of student string players from the Shepherd School of Music, selected by audition, will travel to New York to participate in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program in May 2016.

As part of the Global Academy Fellowship Program, the Shepherd School of Music students will participate in a week of immersive activities in New York as Zarin Mehta Fellows, including training and playing alongside Philharmonic musicians, conducted by David Robertson; mock auditions; individual lessons and chamber music sessions coached by Philharmonic musicians; and participation in the Philharmonic's educational programs. The program will culminate with a chamber music concert featuring the fellows (date and program to be announced at a later time). The Global Academy Fellowship Program was inaugurated in January 2015 when 10 instrumentalists came to New York from the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, the first U.S. partner in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy.

--David Ruth, Rice University

American Bach Soloists
Bach, Vivaldi, & Leo - May 1-4:
Music Director Jeffrey Thomas and the period-instrument specialists of ABS will perform a trio of works by Johann Sebastian Bach, beginning with his Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor with Elizabeth Blumenstock and rising Baroque violinist Cynthia Black, a solo cantata featuring countertenor Ian Howell, and the Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D Major. Howell will also perform Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus, a sacred work that Vivaldi originally composed for an extraordinary vocal soloist in his Venetian ensemble at the Ospedale della Pietà. The program also includes the ABS premiere of Leo's Concerto for Violoncello in A Major featuring Gretchen Claassen, the 2015 recipient of The Jeffrey Thomas Award.

Jeffrey Thomas Guest Conducts at Middlebury Bach Festival:
ABS Music Director Jeffrey Thomas is enjoying the beautiful setting of Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, as he rehearses and directs the centerpiece concert at the 2015 Middlebury Bach Festival. Between rehearsals, his residency includes teaching classes on composing for the voice, form and structure in Bach's works, and ornamentation. He will also present an "Interest Session" on "Rhetoric in the Early Cantatas of J.S. Bach." Maestro Thomas joins students, affiliate artists, faculty, and professional musicians from Vermont and greater New England for this popular festival celebrating the music and influence of Johann Sebastian Bach.

For more information, visit americanbach.org

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Pianist Christopher Taylor Performs Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 at Strathmore
Pianist Christopher Taylor will join the National Philharmonic, led by Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, in a performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 on Saturday, May 2 at 8 pm and on Sunday, May 3 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. The all-Mozart concert will also feature the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro and the Symphony No. 41, known as the "Jupiter." A free lecture on the history and nuances of the program will be offered in the Concert Hall seventy five minutes before each performance. Ticket prices start at $28 and are free for children age 7 to 17 (please call or visit the Strathmore Box Office to reserve). Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301.581.5100.

To purchase tickets to the Mozart's Jupiter Symphony concerts, please visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore box office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets are $28-$84; kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette).  ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone. Parking is complimentary.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

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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