Classical Music News of the Week, May 17, 2015

Washington Performing Arts Announces 2015/16 Season

Washington Performing Arts unveiled its 2015/16 season, an expansive line-up of classical and world music, jazz, dance, and community engagement that underscores both the organization's history as an important incubator of talent and its refreshed vitality as it heads into its 50th year.

At the heart of the season's offerings is the collaborative spirit among artist, presenter, and community that is Washington Performing Arts' calling card. The 60 performances in nine venues feature favorite performers, rising stars, rich residencies, new partnerships, intriguing programmatic threads, and new works and commissions. Moving out of the concert hall and into the community, the unique Embassy Adoption Program will undergo a major expansion and join forces with the Kronos Quartet in a new five-year collaboration. The Capital Arts Initiative continues to bring vital arts programs to the D.C. Public Schools, and the year-old Mars Urban Arts Initiative fuels joint planning between Washington Performing Arts and grassroots neighborhood artists, local businesses, cultural institutions, and local residents.

Season in a nutshell:
Legacy: Countdown to 50
Innovative programs • Legacy performers • Piano masters • Emerging virtuosi

Great Orchestras
Six world-renowned orchestras • Outstanding soloists

The Art of the Spiritual
Seven top-notch ensembles/performers • Stirring repertoire

Dynamic Duos
Unexpected collaborations • Classic combos

Scaling Mount Everest
Risk-taking performers • Custom-curated programming • Imaginative formats

Jazz Innovators
Jazz legends • Emerging stars • Celebrated venues

Global Stages
International superstars • Cross-cultural collaboration

D.C. debuts • Immersive festivals

Partners, New Work & Community
75 Embassy Adoptions + Kronos Quartet Residency • Mars Urban Arts Initiative
D.C. Public School partnerships • Politics & Art

Subscriptions are on sale at or by phone at (202) 785-9727.
A listing of 2015/16 season artists and events is online at

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

2014 PARMA Recordings Anthology of Music
We're pleased to share with you the 2014 PARMA Anthology of Music, a resource for students, instructors, performers, and ensembles to discover new, programmable, and performable works by young and emerging composers from all over the world. Established in 2012, the PARMA Anthology of Music recognizes and brings attention to these composers, these creators of phenomenal and innovative works, new amalgamations of styles and genres, new conceptions of form and structure, and new methods of expression and execution.

Selected through the PARMA Student Composer Competition, the ten works featured in this Anthology are written for brass quintet.

Additionally, we would like to extend a warm congratulations to the Grand Prize Winner of the contest which yielded this collection, Michael Mikulka. Michael's piece To Throw is an inspired and finely honed work which builds to a point of precise repetition, and represents not only the quality of works submitted to the Competition but also the fearlessness with which so many modern composers approach their work and art.

As the Grand Prize Winner, To Throw was premiered at the 2014 PARMA Music Festival by the Redline Brass Quintet on stage at The Music Hall in Portsmouth NH.

We invite you to share, program, and perform the works included in this year's Anthology, and to support the appreciation of new music. Download the full Anthology at

And check out the previous years' anthologies as well:

--Rory Cooper, PARMA Recordings

New Century Chamber Orchestra Presents West Coast Premiere by Derek Bermel
Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and New Century Chamber Orchestra conclude the 2014-2015 season May 28-31 with the West Coast premiere of Murmurations by Featured Composer Derek Bermel. Commissioned by a New Century-led consortium of ensembles, including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra of Houston and A Far Cry of Boston, Murmurations explores the collective behavior observed in flocking formations of starlings and the similarities of visual and aural unity between performers. Discussing the themes of his work, Derek Bermel states, "When I listen to and watch a string orchestra play, I'm reminded of a flock of birds. Visually and aurally, the performers seek unity on many levels -- attention to tuning, tone, clarity of rhythm, consistency and pressure of bowing. They glide and dive in formation, soaring together or splitting into layers of counterpoint before regrouping into a single unit." Also featured on the program is Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite arranged for string orchestra and Schubert's String Quartet in D Minor, D. 810, Death and the Maiden, arranged for string orchestra by Mahler.

The program will be given on four evenings in different locations around the Bay Area: Thursday, May 28 at 8 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley, Friday, May 29 at 8 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, Saturday, May 30 at 8 p.m., SF Conservatory of Music, San Francisco and Sunday, May 31 at 5 p.m., Osher Marin JCC, San Rafael. New Century offers an Open Rehearsal Tuesday, May 27 at 10 a.m., Kanbar Performing Arts Center, San Francisco for a price of only $8. The Open Rehearsal will offer a sneak preview of the concert repertoire, while allowing audiences to experience the musical democracy of a rehearsal without a conductor.

Single tickets range in price from $29 to $61 and can be purchased through City Box Office: and (415) 392-4400. Discounted $15 single tickets are available for patrons under 35.

Open Rehearsal tickets are $8 general admission and can be purchased through City Box Office: and (415) 392-4400.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy, New Century Chamber Orchestra

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Names New Acting Executive Director
Beginning June 30, 2015, Courtney Beck, Philharmonia's current Associate Executive Director, will succeed Michael Costa as the Acting Executive Director at the Orchestra.

Courtney has worked at Philharmonia for more than eight years, first as Director of Development and, for the last two years, as Associate Executive Director. During her time at Philharmonia, she has completed two successful fundraising campaigns, launched SESSIONS, the Orchestra's new alternative format concert series, strengthened and grown the Board of Directors, and helped to set the organization's strategic direction.

Michael announced that he would be stepping down to the Board of Directors in March saying, "After six years at the Orchestra and with the coming end of a five-year fundraising campaign and strategic plan, this was the right time and a natural end. It has been an extraordinary six years and I leave Philharmonia with the knowledge that we have accomplished a great deal. I have enjoyed being a part of such an extraordinary musical family - Nic, Bruce, and our musicians, our audience, supporters, board and staff. Knowing that Courtney would succeed me made this decision even easier. She is the right leader to move Philharmonia ahead in the coming year."

For more information, visit

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

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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