Classical Music News of the Week, June 28, 2015

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space Announces 2015-2016 Season

Twenty-seven years; fourteen concerts; forty-odd professional voices; thirty-plus member orchestra; twenty-one composers; seven guest artists; one NYC Premiere; one colossal pipe organ; and one singularly spectacular setting.

For the twenty-seventh year, the majestic setting of New York's Upper East Side Church of St. Ignatius Loyola presents the Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola's Sacred Music in a Sacred Space (SMSS) concert series, deemed by The New York Times to be one of the city's "finest professional church choirs" and, "a finely polished, stylistically nimble ensemble."

The theme for the 2015-2016 season – Choral America – represents an offering of works as diverse as the nation itself.  Encompassing many musical forms and styles (from the European classical tradition to Appalachian folk songs, spirituals, jazz and blues), the Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola over three Choral Concerts pay homage to some of America's most revered composers – including Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber, to name a few – while showcasing vibrant living composers like Frank Ferko, Bill Culverhouse, Jennifer Higdon, Abbie Betinis, and Adolphus Hailstork, among others.

For complete information on concerts and times, visit http://smssconcerts.org/site/

The season runs from September 2015 to May 2016.
Choral Subscriptions: $55–$220
Single Tickets $25 - $80
Organ Concerts: $20
Caritas Concerts: $50
Chanticleer Tickets: $35–$85
Christmas Concert Tickets: $35–$85
Trinity Choir Tickets: $35-$85
Season tickets are now on sale. Public single ticket sales begin July 1, 2015.

Order online: www.smssconcerts.org
Phone: 212.288.2520: 24/7 ordering and customer service

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

In Memoriam: New England Conservatory Remembers Gunther Schuller
Gunther Schuller's family, friends, contemporaries, faculty, and students are in mourning over the news of his death on June 21, but the trailblazing energy surrounding this man is so great, even his in memoriam feels like a chance for new understandings and transformation. As New England Conservatory President, Gunther Schuller steered NEC through one of the most turbulent and formative decades of American and Conservatory history, beginning with NEC's centennial year. During his tenure as President from 1967-1977, as the Western world rocked to the rhythms of social upheaval and burgeoning youth culture, Schuller formalized NEC's commitment to jazz by establishing the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. Schuller hired Carl Atkins as founding chair of the department, and worked with Atkins to develop the first curriculum and secure such legendary faculty as Jaki Byard and George Russell. Shortly thereafter, he instituted the Third Stream department (which lives on today as Contemporary Improvisation) to explore the regions where the two musical "streams" of classical and jazz meet and mingle, and hired the iconic Ran Blake to be its chair.

Among recognition of Schuller's work in broad areas of music are the Pulitzer Prize in composition, Ditson Conductor's Award, MacArthur Fellowship, and NEA Jazz Masters Award. NEC bestowed an honorary Doctor of Music degree on Gunther Schuller at commencement ceremonies in 1978.

For more on the life and impact of Gunther Schuller, visit http://necmusic.edu/nec-remembers-gunther-schuller

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi

SSC Presents Duxbury Music Festival's Bernstein Sondheim Revue
South Shore Conservatory's Duxbury Music Festival (DMF) and Festival Director Stephen Deitz present Bernstein Sondheim Revue, featuring several members of the DMF faculty and Performers in Residence, on Friday, July 17, with seatings at both 6 pm and 8:30 pm, at the Conservatory's Ellison Center for the Arts, 64 St. George Street, Duxbury.

This inaugurate concert of DMF's tenth summer season features a revue of musicals, including Peter Pan, West Side Story, On the Town, Evening Primrose, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Company, and Gypsy, composed by the prodigiously talented, Massachusetts native Leonard Bernstein, and by inimitable American master Stephen Sondheim.

Summer 2015 is momentous because it both marks the Festival's first decade as one of New England's premier chamber music programs, and celebrates the return of the Festival's founding faculty, Oxana Yablonskaya and her son, Dmitry Yablonsky, after an eight-year absence. They share a back story with the two composers whose acclaimed musicals attest to their unique gifts as American melodists and lyricists, and whose brilliance will be celebrated on July 17.  When, after applying for a visa to emigrate to the United States, Ms. Yablonskaya and her son Dmitry found themselves for more than two years in limbo awaiting a decision regarding their request to leave Russia, Bernstein and Sondheim, among other musicians, actors, writers and politicians, successfully petitioned the Soviet government for their release. In addition to its nod to these two geniuses of the American musical, this summer's Festival will honor its Russian-American ties with concerts featuring works by Adams, Arensky, Rachmaninoff, Reich, Shchedrin, and Shostakovich, among others.

The Bernstein Sondheim Revue is generously sponsored by Frank Wisneski and Lynn Dale, with nibbles donated by Foodies Market and wine from Snug Harbor Wines.

There will be two seatings of the Bernstein Sondheim Revue at 6 pm and 8:30 pm.  Tickets are $50.  Individual tickets as well as a variety of series subscriptions are available.  For complete program, ticket and event information, visit www.duxburymusicfestival.org, call 781-934-2731, ext. 23, or follow Duxbury Music Festival on Facebook.

--Michelle McGrath PR

Gordon Getty's Opera Usher House To Receive Its U.S. Premiere at San Francisco Opera House December 8-13, 2015
Composer Gordon Getty's opera Usher House will receive its United States premiere as part of San Francisco Opera's double bill titled "The Fall of the House of Usher" with four performances from December 8 to 13, 2015. The Getty opera, a co-production with Welsh National Opera, will be paired with Robert Orledge's reconstruction of Debussy's uncompleted score, La Chute de la Maison Usher.

The macabre Edgar Allan Poe tale follows the reclusive Roderick Usher, who lives in his vast ancestral home with his ailing twin sister, Madeline. Soon after the arrival of Roderick's friend, Madeline dies and is buried in a vault beneath the house. The climax of the story occurs when Madeline's figure appears at the bedroom door during a storm – she had been buried alive and has clawed her way out of the vault to find her brother. As the friend flees the scene, he turns back to see the House of Usher splitting in two, collapsing around the siblings.

Poe's quintessential Gothic tale serves as the basis for Gordon Getty's opera. The great challenge it presents to an opera composer, however, is that it contains almost no dialogue. As a result, the composer explains, "I found myself taking lib­erties. To start, I have made Poe himself the narrator who lives to tell the tale. More radi­cally, I have conceived him and the doomed siblings as types of an antebellum warmth and gallantry which hardly exist anywhere in the prose of the real Poe, and must be counter to his purposes here. I have added other gothic staples – forbidden knowledge, a Faustian pact, ghostly ancestors – and have shifted all into a tale of good and evil and redemption. Good means Poe and the siblings, evil means Primus and the ances­tors, and Madeline becomes the agent of redemption."

San Francisco Opera
December 8, 10, 11 and 13, 2015
War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA

For more information, visit www.sfopera.com

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

Community Sing and Play-In for Orphaned Children in Afghanistan
For over a decade, the Afghan Child Education and Care Organization (AFCECO) has helped orphaned children in war-torn Afghanistan, where it is estimated there are over 2 million orphaned children. On July 17, 2015 in Boston and then on July 19, 2015 in Hartford, CT people of all musical and dancing ability and age are invited to become a member of a large community music ensemble; the event is a benefit for AFCECO. The event's co-creators are: Dr. Eden MacAdam-Somer of the New England Conservatory, Kevin and Holly Bishop of Cuatro Puntos, and the Hartt School, who all teach annually at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, Afghanistan.

How a Community Concert Works:
Concert attendees first come to an earlier rehearsal where they are taught traditional Afghani songs. There are various levels of musical parts for people to play, depending on their experience. The presenting group will have an orchestra and a choir. A wide range of students, amateur musicians, and professionals will be present. After rehearsal, the entire group will play a concert together.

Attendees will have the chance to work with two internationally renowned NEC faculty and students, Persian artist Nima Janmohammadi, and Turkish singer/composer Burcu Gulec. In addition, they will hear a rare performance by Noir pianist and NEC Contemporary Improvisation Department Chair Emeritus Ran Blake as well as a speech by Andeisha Farid founder and director of AFCECO.

Concert Information:
July 17 - Boston, MA
6pm rehearsal; 8pm concert
Church of the Covenant 67 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116

July 19 - Hartford, CT
4pm rehearsal; 6:30pm concert
Trinity Episcopal Church 120 Sigourney St., Hartford, CT 06105

For more information, visit http://www.cuatropuntos.org/community-playsing-ins.html

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Media Relations

NEC's Professional String Quartet Program Admits the Omer Quartet
New England Conservatory announces the Omer Quartet as the 2015 selection for its Professional String Quartet Training program. The Omer Quartet is comprised of Mason Yu, first violin (NEC MM); Erica Tursi, second violin (Juilliard MM); Jinsun Hong, viola (NEC MM and GD); Alex Cox, cello (Juilliard MM). The Conservatory offers the two-year residency to exceptional ensembles that show the talent and commitment necessary to pursue a concert career. The program consists of regular coaching sessions and meetings with Paul Katz, the program's director, additional study with NEC's renowned string faculty, weekly individual studio instruction, and an annual recital in Jordan Hall.

Erica Tursi, second violinist of the Omer Quartet, expressed the group's sentiments about the upcoming residency.

"We are thrilled to embark on this new chapter in New England Conservatory's Professional String Quartet Training Program," said Tursi.  "The character and warmth of the school coupled with the outstanding faculty make it a perfect fit for us. We look forward to two years of growth and exciting opportunities and we are certain that under Paul Katz's mentorship, we will reach new heights!" she stated.

NEC's Professional String Quartet Training program has helped shape the artistic development of distinguished quartets such as the Jupiter, Parker, Ariel and Harlem Quartets. During the two-year residency, a full tuition scholarship and a $10,000 stipend is provided for each student per year.

"We are very excited to welcome the Omer Quartet to NEC this fall," said Tom Novak, Interim President. "They join a very impressive list of quartets which have participated in this program and won several major international competitions, plus they serve on the faculty of major music schools and conservatories.  NEC's Professional String Quartet Training program provides the highest level of education in all aspects of artistry and career development, and we look forward to seeing the Omer Quartet thrive in this environment," he said.

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

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Media Relations Consultant

Long Beach Gospel Fest Announces Star-Studded Lineup
The Fifth Annual Long Beach Gospel Fest, founded by Pastor Wayne Chaney, Jr. and wife Myesha of the Antioch Church of Long Beach, today announced this year's star-studded lineup for the highly anticipated citywide worship event. Showcasing some of the best gospel artists in music today, this year's lineup will include multi-award winning performers: Tasha Cobbs, Deitrick Haddon, Kierra Sheard, Jonathan Nelson, Myron Butler, Jessica Reedy, Brian Courtney Wilson and more.  The free, open-to-the-public event takes place on Sunday, July 19, 2015 at Marina Green Park.

The Fifth Annual Gospel Fest will take place on Sunday, July 19, 2015 at Marina Green Park, 386 E. Shoreline Drive, Long Beach, CA 90802. The worship service will begin at 10:30 a.m., followed by the concert at 12:30 p.m.

For more information, visit www.longbeachgospelfest.com

--Tosha Whitten Griggs, The FrontPage Firm

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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