Classical Music News of the Week, August 30, 2015

Jarvis Conservatory Presents Cypress String Quartet in 2015-2016 Beethoven Quartet Series

In the 2015-2016 season, the Jarvis Conservatory (1711 Main Street, Napa, CA) will present the renowned San Francisco-based Cypress String Quartet (Cecily Ward, violin; Tom Stone, violin; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello) in the Beethoven String Quartet Concert Series. This series will be the first installment of a two-year series featuring the complete string quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven on three Saturday evenings at 7:00 PM (October 24, January 27 and May 14).

The Saturday, October 24 concert will feature Beethoven's String Quartet in F, Op. 18 No. 1; String Quartet in F, Op. 135; and String Quartet in F, Op 59 No. 1 and the January 23, 2016 concert will feature String Quartet in G, Op.18 No. 2; String Quartet in A, Op. 18 No. 5; and String Quartet in C# minor, Op. 131. The final concert in the series on May 14, 2016 will include Beethoven's String Quartet in E minor, Op. 59 No. 2 and String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132.

"We are extremely pleased," says Leticia Jarvis, "to offer our local audience the opportunity to hear the Cypress String Quartet in Beethoven's string quartets. The Jarvis Conservatory is an ideal venue for chamber music and this series will be a perfect complement to our other programming. These are concerts that should not be missed."

General admission tickets are $40 and series tickets are $96, available at

--Katy Salomon, Jensen Artists

92Y Launches New On-Demand Series: Guitar Talks with Benjamin Verdery
Since 2008 Benjamin Verdery has talked guitar with some of the instrument's finest players, as part of 92Y's celebrated Art of the Guitar concert series, which he directs. Now some of the best interviews, including Christopher Parkening, Pepe Romero, Eliot Fisk, Paco Peña and David Russell, are available as a new OnDemand video series—Guitar Talks with Benjamin Verdery—presented by 92Y and D'Addario.

"When 92Y asked me to be Artistic Director of their Art of the Guitar series, I suggested asking each artist if they would agree to a live pre-concert interview. To my delight, many agreed and now a few years later we have a series of interviews we can share with you," comments Verdery. "My initial impetus was selfish—I wanted to know things about these great artists that I hadn't heard them talking about, and I liked the idea of a colleague-to-colleague conversation. And not surprisingly, they're wonderful storytellers. I was captivated hearing Sergio Assad talking about his young upstart brother Odair, Pepe Romero's relationship to the legendary composer Rodrigo, David Russell's advice on learning new music and the group panels on Julian Bream, Leo Brouwer and composing for the guitar."

The new season of Art of the Guitar, described by The New Yorker as the city's most "consistently satisfying series," begins on December 12 with Pepe Romero.

For more information, visit

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

Sheridan Music Studio Announces Highlights of the Upcoming 2015-2016 Concert Season for Steinway Artist, Susan Merdinger
As Founder of a new all-female virtuoso four piano ensemble based in Chicago-  Pianissimo!, Merdinger and her esteemed colleagues, Svetlana Belsky, Irina Feoktistova, and Elena Doubovitskaya will perform their Chicago Debut at the Anne and Howard Gottlieb Hall of the Merit School of Music on Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 8pm. Pianissimo! was first formed in December 2014, and has commissioned two composers- Margarita Zelenaia and Ilya Levinson to compose and transcribe especially for them four new virtuoso works scored for four pianos. Levinson has composed and dedicated to Merdinger and Pianissimo! his original work, Fireball, and he has arranged a brand new "Broadway Medley for Classical Pianists."  Zelenaia has transcribed Vivaldi's "Summer" from The Four Seasons and has composed a brilliant and original Fantasy on Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade. The ensemble will also perform repertoire for two pianos- eight hands and two pianos-four hands by composers such as Smetana, Debussy, Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Rachmaninoff, and Chabrier. For more information on this concert please visit the ensemble's Web site at

Ms. Merdinger expects to release two new CD's in the Fall of 2015- one of solo piano works by Haydn Mozart and Beethoven (The Classical Style II) and a violin and piano CD entitled "Four Centuries" with German-born internationally acclaimed violinist, David Yonan.

On October 18th, celebrated Principal Violist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Charles Pikler, joins forces with Prize-winning pianist and Steinway Artist, Susan Merdinger, in a program of works by Max Janowski, Ernest Bloch, Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, and Franz Liszt at the Northbrook Public Library's (Northbrook, Illinois) newly renovated concert hall as part of the Fine Arts Fall Concert Series. Merdinger has appeared once before with Pikler at this venue in 2011, but has been a regular on this concert series since 2006.

On Sunday January 3rd, 2016 at 2pm and Sunday January 4th at 8pm, Merdinger performs a program of chamber music with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera Orchestra first at the Northbrook Public Library and then in a live broadcast on Live from WFMT with WFMT Host Kerry Frumkin. Works will include piano quintets by John Field and Antonin Dvorak, as well as Mikhail Glinka's Grand Sextet.

Ms. Merdinger returns as a Visiting Artist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Series, performing in a program at The Art Institute of Chicago entitled "Colorful Visions" on Sunday April 3, 2016 at 2pm. This program features trios by Philippe Gaubert, Eric Ewazen, and Max Bruch with the Tononi Ensemble lead by Charlie Pikler, violin and viola, with Richard Graef, flute, Tage Larsen, trumpet, and Gregory Smith, clarinet. Please visit to purchase tickets, as the series usually sells out quickly.

On Sunday June 5th, Merdinger is invited back to perform as soloist with the New North Shore Chamber Orchestra under direction of Anatol Lysenka in Evanston, Illinois, performing Mozart's Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503.

Rounding out the season is the start of a three-concert series on Live from WFMT of the complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin by Beethoven with acclaimed violinist and Professor of Violin at Carnegie Mellon University, Cyrus Forough. The first concert will be on June 20th, and subsequent concerts will be in September 2016 and January 2017.

Merdinger is a Steinway Artist and is represented by Price Rubin and Partners. Please visit: for more information.

--Sheridan Music Studio Presents

It's Not Too Late to Bring Music to (Y)our Ears!
You still have a chance to contribute to Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's Campaign for the 21st Century.

Your gift today will support:
Future collaborations with exceptional guest artists,
Tours to some of the most important concert halls nationally and internationally, and
Philharmonia's youth and adult education programs.

We're almost to our goal of $8 million -- just $300,000 away -- and your support today will bring us that much closer. Help us close this score with a rousing crescendo and bring the magic of Philharmonia's music to new heights.

Donate at

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Choir of Trinity Cambridge at Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Sept 11
Sacred Music in a Sacred Space's 2015-16 season opens with special guests the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge

The celebrated ensemble, voted the world's fifth best choir by Gramophone, performs at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on September 11 at 7pm.

The New York Times has declared that attending a Choir of Trinity College Cambridge concert is "sonically speaking, a heavenly experience" – audiences will surely understand why when this remarkable ensemble performs in the glorious Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.

The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on the Upper East Side ordinarily is home to the acclaimed Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola on its Sacred Music in a Sacred Space (SMSS) concert series. SMSS's resident ensembles will indeed offer a series of concerts highlighting American composers this season, but a special appearance by friends from across the pond the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge will get things started on September 11.

The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge
The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, 980 Park Avenue, NYC
Friday, September 11, 2015, at 7pm

Tickets: $35 - $85, available at or by calling 212.288.2520.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

San Francisco Community Music Center (CMC) Introduces Quarterly CMC Sundays; Free Classes and Jam Sessions Begin Sept. 13
Community Music Center (CMC), the Mission District-based nonprofit that provides high quality lessons, programs and concerts at no or low cost, kick starts its quarterly "CMC Sundays" series on Sunday, Sept. 13. CMC Sundays is a free event that offers people of all ages the opportunity to explore a variety of musical instruments and classes, or jam out with fellow musicians playing jazz, Latin or chamber music. The September event will also demonstrate new group classes hosted at the Mission District branch: Percussion Ensemble for Kids  or Group Guitar for Kids and a Tango Ensemble for adults. Two additional CMC Sundays are scheduled to take place on Jan. 10 and March 13, 2016.

Community Music Center invites the public to its Mission District Branch on Sunday, Sept. 13 to experience CMC Sundays for free. Children and families can explore instruments and take music classes, while adults participate in a jazz, Latin or chamber music jam session. A Tango Ensemble class and a Vocal and Piano Workshop in gospel, R&B, pop and jazz are also available.

Community Music Center, 544 Capp St., San Francisco, CA 94110
Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. Cost: Free

For more information, visit or

--Jimin Lee, Landis PR

FWOpera Heads to Arlington for Its First Shot of Opera This Season
Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) is taking its awarding-winning show on the road and bringing Opera Shots to Arlington, Texas's Levitt Pavilion on September 20, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. in its first pop-up concert of the 2016 season. Nestled in the heart of Arlington's Founder's Square, Opera Shots guests can relax while listening as FWOpera's Studio Artists and chorus members perform a variety of musical selections ranging from jazz to well-known arias. With lawn-style seating, guests are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs so the whole family can relax while enjoying this free classical music performance.

Attendees can make it an evening to remember by bringing picnics baskets, snacks, and coolers with beverages, including beer and wine, but please no glass containers. Concessions will also be available at the Pavilion, including burgers, nachos, quesadillas, and more from J. Gilligans, along with additional snacks, hot dogs, nachos, lemonade, kettle corn, ice cream, and snow cones from Mad Mike's.

One of FWOpera's most popular ongoing events each year, Opera Shots has gained a following among "in-the-know" entertainment seekers throughout the metroplex as a must-see evening of unconventional entertainment that now attracts crowds of hundreds of fans eager to experience classical music in this unique way. Brushing off the stereotypes of the genre, this captivating free event proves that opera is accessible and fun by engaging audiences in the comfortable social environments of some of DFW's hottest live music venues. There's a little something for everyone at Opera Shots—see you there.

Opera Shots: Levitt Pavilion
Sunday, September 20, 2015
8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
100 W. Abram St. (at the corner of Abram and Center streets) Arlington, TX 76010

--Christina Allen, FWOpera

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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