Classical Music News of the Week, July 26, 2015

ABS Festival - Versailles & The Parisian Baroque

August 7 - 16, 2015 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music ~ 50 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA.

The ABS Festival opens with a trio of stunning orchestral works by three French masters. Jean-Féry Rebel's imaginative and vivid work for orchestra, Les élémens, depicts the creation of the world from chaos using motifs associated with earth, air, fire, and water.

As first violinist at the Paris Opéra, Jacques Aubert had an ear for music that would be suitable for drama and dance. His D Major Concert de Symphonie, an early incarnation of what would become the French symphony, is a delightful, foot-tapping tour of dance forms.

The high-minded musical ideals and splendor of the era are fully evident in the Ouverture & Suite of dances from Jean-Philippe Rameau's opera Naïs. Here beauty and grandeur are enhanced by a third trait: velocity!

Join us for a 10-day immersive experience that celebrates Bach's French contemporaries and the splendid music of the extravagant court at Versailles.

For complete information, visit

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Historical Piano Concerts Presents Pianist Yuan Sheng
Historical Piano Concerts, built on the Frederick Collection of Historical Grand Pianos, presents pianist Yuan Sheng in two concerts of works by the young Chopin, ages seven through nineteen. These works, many of them unfamiliar to concert audiences, will be heard in chronological order, spread over the August 4th and 5th evening recitals at Ashburnham Community Church, 84 Main Street (Rte. 12), Ashburnham, MA 01430.

This will be the fourth summer Prof. Sheng has donated performances for the benefit of the Frederick Collection--two dozen grand pianos, all in playing condition, by important, mostly European makers from c.1790 to 1928. The collection is housed in Ashburnham's former public library, a handsome 1890 building. Proceeds from the concerts will help support running expenses and maintenance of the building, rent, utilities, insurance, and repairs.

Each concert will be professionally recorded, and a two-CD album of the two concerts will be given as a "thank-you" to each donor of $100.00 or more to the nonprofit organization, Historical Piano Concerts, Inc. Donations are fully tax-deductible, since the IRS classifies CDs in the same category as calendars, note cards and such, given away by other organizations.

Admission to the 7:30 PM concerts is $25.00 for either event, $35.00 if both are attended. Students and children may attend one concert for $10.00, or both, for $15.00. No advance reservations needed.

Beijing native Yuan Sheng received his music degrees as a scholarship student at the Manhattan School of Music, New York, and is a professor of piano at the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing.  For these concerts, he will be playing the Bosendorfer piano of c.1828-1832 from the Frederick Collection, one of the very earliest known pianos by that maker. Yuan Sheng has recorded a three-disc album of Chopin's works on the 1845 Pleyel piano from the Frederick Collection for the Piano Classics label.

The church is wheelchair accessible. Entrance to the sanctuary is at the rear of the building. For further information, please visit the Web site at or e-mail concert manager Patricia Frederick at

Historical Piano Concerts, Inc.
15 Water Street
Ashburnham, MA 01430

--Patricia Frederick, the Frederick Collection

Edward Parks, 31, USA, Wins Third Prize in Plácido Domingo's 2015 Operalia
Winner annouced:
First Prizes of $30,000 – Ioan Hotea, Romania/Lise Davidsen, Norway
Second Prizes of $20,000 – Darren Pene Pati, New Zealand/Hye Sang Park, South Korea
Third Prizes of $10,000 – Edward Parks, USA/Noluvuyiso Mpofu, South Africa
Birgit Nilsson Prize of $15,000 – Lise Davidsen, Norway
The Pepita Embil Domingo Prize of Zarzuela of $10,000 – Hye Sang Park, South Korea
The Don Plácido Domingo, Sr., Prize of Zarzuela of $10,000 – Ioan Hotea, Romania
Audience Prizes, Rolex Wristwatches – Darren Pene Pati, New Zealand/Lise Davidsen, Norway
The Culturarte Prize of $ 10,000 – Kiandra Howarth, Australia

Ioan Hotea and Lisa Davidsen have just been announced as First Prize winners of the 2015 edition of Operalia, Plácido Domingo's international singing competition, hosted in London by the Royal Opera House for the first time in its 22 year history. Hotea also received The Don Plácido Domingo, Sr., Prize of Zarzuela, and Davidsen also received both the Birgit Nilsson Prize and the Rolex Audience Prize. The public final, during which the 11 finalists competed, took place as a Gala Concert on Covent Garden's main stage accompanied by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House conducted by Plácido Domingo. Live streamed by Medici TV, the Gala Concert was followed by an awards ceremony during which Plácido Domingo presented prizes from the competition's seven award categories. French tenor Julien Behr, South African bass-baritone Bongani Justice Kubheka, American soprano Andrea Carroll and American baritone Tobias Greenhalgh were all also finalists in this year's edition of Operalia.

--Ginny Macbeth Media Relations

Nelarusky: Official Lollapalooza After Show Adds John Splithoff
Nelarusky (formerly known as McFest) is an annual benefit concert for Special Olympics Illinois that takes place at Metro in Chicago. Nelarusky became an Official Lollapalooza after show in 2010. The event is organized by Lauren McClusky and a team of young entrepreneurs. It has collectively raised over $200,000 for the organization over a course of nine years. Not only does Nelarusky showcase new and upcoming Chicago talent, but it has also expanded to bring artists from other cities and states. The event also includes raffle items, silent auctions, merchandise and giveaways.                

Mission Statement: To raise money and awareness for Special Olympics, as well as showcase upcoming talent, through an annual benefit concert at Metro in Chicago. It also provides young entrepreneurs an incredible learning opportunity to organize and plan an event, while performing community service.

Chicago musician John Splithoff joins Nelarusky at the Metro with Toro Y Moi and Young Buffalo. Sol Cat will no longer be performing at the Official Lollapalooza After Show.

You may still purchase tickets in advance online for $25. The event is set to take place at the Metro Chicago, 3730 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL on Wednesday, July 29th, 2015. Doors open at 7 P.M.

For more information, visit

--Lauren Widor, Cramer PR

Brooklyn's AOP Awards Fellowships to Ten Composer and Librettists for Free Training in Opera Composition
AOP (American Opera Projects) has selected six composers and four librettists to receive fellowships for its upcoming eighth season of Composers & the Voice. Chosen by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, the 2015-2017 season will train and present works from composers Matthew Barnson, Carlos R. Carrillo, Nell Shaw Cohen, Marc LeMay, Cecilia Livingston, and Sky Macklay and librettists Edward Einhorn, Duncan McFarlane, Emily Roller, and Mark Sonnenblick. The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give emerging composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage.

The two-year fellowships, made possible through a generous grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, include a year of working with the company's Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team at AOP's home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships.

Comprised of one each of the basic operatic/vocal categories, the singers for the upcoming C&V season will be coloratura soprano Tookah Sapper, lyric soprano Jennifer Goode Cooper, mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert, tenor Blake Friedman, baritone Michael Weyandt and bass Jonathan Woody. The Resident Ensemble will be joined by returning Music Directors Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, and Charity Wicks to collaborate on creating new material by the composer and librettist fellows.

For more information about American Opera Projects, visit

--Matthew Gray, AOP

YPC Wins Five Gold Medals in 10th Golden Gate International Choral Competition
The Young People's Chorus of New York City won five gold medals in the 10th Golden Gate International Children's and Youth Choral Festival, which took place in Oakland, California, from July 12 to 18. Two choral divisions from YPC—Cantare and Chorale—participated, conducted by Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez and Associate Conductor Elizabeth Núñez. The two divisions received top prizes in all categories:  Historical, Folk, Contemporary, and a new category in the competition, Gospel/Spiritual. A total of 30 choirs from around the world applied to participate, with 21 invited to attend. Countries represented included the U.S., Canada, Estonia, Austria, China, Poland, Indonesia, and Finland.

The Young People's Chorus of New York City was founded in 1988 by Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez, a MacArthur "genius" Fellow on a mission of diversity and artistic excellence. The program harnesses the power of music to fulfill the potential of children of any cultural or economic background, while heightening an awareness of the ability of young people to rise to unforeseen levels of artistry. Each year almost 1,400 children ages 7 to 18 benefit musically, academically, and socially through their participation in YPC's after-school and in-school programs.

For more information, visit

--Schuman Associates PR

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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 Jon 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 of The $ensible Sound magazine 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 simpleminded, 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 Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. 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 cell phone. 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.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

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