Classical Music News of the Week, August 9, 2015

Orion Opens Season with World Premiere

Orion opens season with a world premiere by Jackson Berkey, joining works by Mozart and Fauré in Geneva, Illinois (Sept. 20), Evanston (Oct. 4), and Chicago (Oct. 7).

A world premiere by Jackson Berkey opens the 23rd season of The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. "French and German Tapestries" features guest violist Stephen Boe, a highly respected Chicago chamber musician, on a program that also includes works by Mozart and Fauré. Performances take place at First Baptist Church of Geneva, Illinois September 20; the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Illinois October 4; and the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago, Illinois October 7.

Orion's 2015-­16 season, "Fantasies and Enchantments," continues with "Harp Fantasy" in November and December, featuring the Orion debut of guest harp virtuoso Ben Melsky and works by Ibert, Saint-Saëns, Vaughan Williams, Ireland and Bridge; "American Landscape" in March, with music by Berkey, Sowash and Dvorák; and "Musical Enchantments" in May and June, with guest violinist Mathias Tacke and guest violist Stephen Boe performing works by Dvorák, Beach and Brahms. Also during the season, Orion hosts a fall benefit October 3 at 12 noon at Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne, Illinois and appears on the broadcast series "Live from WFMT" October 5, 2015 and March 28, 2016 at 8 p.m.

Performance and ticket information:
The Orion Ensemble's concert program "French and German Tapestries" takes place Sunday, September 20 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Sunday, October 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston; and Wednesday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pianforte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; admission is free for children 12 and younger. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Gabriel Calatrava - 92nd Street Y/ Saimir Pirgu - Israel Philharmonic
Architect Gabriel Calatrava speaks about his collaboration with the Brentano String Quartet in which he creates an art installation to serve as a visual element corresponding with Bach's "Art of the Fugue." It will premiere at the 92nd Street Y on January 30 as part of their "Seeing Music" festival.

For information, visit

In addition, Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu recently spoke with the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra regarding his performance with the orchestra and also talks about the close relationship he had with Pavarotti. That interview can be found here:

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates Inc.

Single Tickets for Fort Worth's 2016 Festival on Sale Today
Single tickets for the 2016 Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) Festival went on sale August 1, 2015. FWOpera fans can now buy single tickets to all three of this season's thrilling productions, including the highly-anticipated world premiere of JFK by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek. This intimate look at the final moments of JFK's life will be accompanied by Rossini's classic comedy The Barber of Seville and the regional premiere of two intriguing one-act operas Buried Alive | Embedded by creative teams Jeff Myers and Quincy Long and Patrick Soluri and Deborah Brevoort. FWOpera's new works showcase Frontiers will complement the season in its fourth year. Tickets for this once-in-a-lifetime experience – which include backstage tours of Bass Performance Hall, pre-show discussions, and the popular After Show Lounge – start at just $17, and can be purchased online at or by phone at 877.396.7372.

Prepare to laugh, cry, and be captivated during the 2016 FWOpera Festival. This season will be like no other as FWOpera completes phase I of its Opera of the America's with the world premiere of JFK on April 23, 2016. A second Opera of the America's work, Buried Alive | Embedded – two one-act operas based on tales by Edgar Allan Poe – will premiere the following night. Traditional opera-lovers need not fear, as the season will be rounded out by Rossini's energetic and recognizable comedy The Barber of Seville in its first FWOpera production since the 2002-2003 season.

2016 FWOpera Festival at a Glance:

04/23/16 at 7:30 PM
05/1/16 at 2:00 PM
05/7/16 at 7:30 PM
Bass Performance Hall

The Barber of Seville
04/30/16 at 7:30 PM
05/6/16 at 7:30 PM
05/8/16 at 2:00 PM

Buried Alive | Embedded
04/24/16 at 2:00 PM
04/26/16 at 7:30 PM
04/29/16 at 7:30 PM
04/30/16 at 2:00 PM
05/3/16 at 7:30 PM
05/7/16 at 2:00 PM

For more information, visit

--Christina Allen, Fort Worth Opera

Mahler Chamber Orchestra Has a New Look
New Logo:
Democracy, focus and transformation: find out the meanings behind the circles, lines and colours of our new logo.

New Artistic Partners:
A new artistic concept: Leif Ove Andsnes, Isabelle Faust, Daniele Gatti and Teodor Currentzis are the Mahler Chamber Orchestra's Artistic Partners.

A New Beethoven Journey at the BBC Proms:
Radio, TV and press reviews: the three acclaimed concerts with Leif Ove Andsnes resonate with audiences at the BBC Proms in London at the end of the Beethoven Journey.

Current Tours:
San Sebastián: 1st and 2nd August: residency at the Festival Quincena Musical in San Sebastián, conducted by Manfred Honeck.

Written on Skin: 11th, 13th and 15th August: U.S. stage premiere of George Benjamin's opera Written on Skin at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York.

Lucerne Festival: 14th - 24th August: six concerts at the Lucerne Festival around the theme of "Humour" - with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under Bernard Haitink and Andris Nelsons, a Late Night Concert with chamber music and an MCO symphony concert under Daniele Gatti

Musikfest Berlin: 9th September: launch of the Musikfest Berlin's concert series portraying Carl Nielsen. With Thomas Søndergård, Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov.

For more information, visit

--Sonja Koller, Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Jerusalem Quartet New Release & 20th Season Tour
The dynamic Jerusalem Quartet launch their fall tour with a new recording of the timeless and essential Beethoven Strings Quartets Op. 18, to be released August 14, 2015. They return to North America in October, 2015 and April, 2016 for concerts across the U.S. In January and February 2016, they will present a unique series in which they perform all six of Beethoven's Op. 18 quartets and all six Bartók quartets over the course of four concerts in Portland, Oregon and New York, NY. They will also perform Bartók's quartets in Hamburg, Madrid, London, and Tel Aviv, and will collaborate with pianist/conductor András Schiff for performances in London, Jerusalem, and at the Verbier and Salzburg Festivals. Harmonia Mundi will release their recording of the Bartok quartets in early winter 2016.

One of the world's most lauded ensembles, the Jerusalem Quartet is not only renowned for its virtuosic flair, but also for its ability to create a seemless blend as an ensemble. Of their 2014 Haydn recording the renowned critic and string quartet specialist Harald Eggbrecht wrote in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, "The balance of the four voices, the delicacy of sounds is always impressive, with constant attention to dynamics, harmony and rhythmic precision. It sounds effortless, sovereign and extremely supple."

Jerusalem Quartet 2015-16 North American Concerts:
Oct 7 - Denver, CO, Friends of Chamber Music Gates Hall (Local Debut)
Oct 8 - Logan, UT, Chamber Music Society of Logan
Oct 10 - Kalamazoo, MI, Fontana, Stetson Chapel
Oct 11 - Storrs, CT, Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts
Oct 15 - Davie, FL, T.B.A.
Oct 17 - Lewisburg, PA, Bucknell University, Weis Center for the Performing Arts
Oct 18 - Rochester, NY, Eastman School of Music, Kilbourn Hall
Jan 21-26 - Portland, OR, Friends of Chamber Music Society  - Lincoln Performance Hall
Jan 28-Feb 4 - New York, NY, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall
Apr 2, 3 - Tulsa, OK, Chamber Music Tulsa, Westby Pavillion
Apr 5 - Memphis, TN, Concerts International, Harris Concert Hall, University of Memphis
Apr 8 - Ann Arbor, MI, UMS BE Presents, Rackham Auditorium
Apr 10, 11 - Calgary, Alberta, Calgary Pro Music Master Series, The Banff Centre
Apr 13 - Tucson, AZ, Arizona Friends of Chamber Music
Apr 14 - Beverly Hills, CA, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Apr 16 - Boston, MA, Celebrity Series of Boston, NEC's Jordan Hall

For more information, visit

--Sarah Folger, Harmonia Mundi USA

A New and Exclusive Benefit for the Friends of Philharmonia
This season, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra introduced a new and exclusive benefit for members of the Friends of Philharmonia (donors to the Orchestra of $150 and up). As one of the perks of membership, Friends of Philharmonia will be able to purchase Premium Single Tickets to the 2015-16 season a full two weeks before single tickets go on sale to the general public.

If you are a Friend of Philharmonia, or would like to join, and you are interested in ordering single tickets or a subscription to the 2015-16 season, please call the patron services department at (415) 295-1900. You can read more about the benefits of joining the Friends of Philharmonia here:

Furthermore, new Friends of Philharmonia will be sent a copy of the orchestra's Highlights CD from the 2014-15 season with their Premium Single Tickets - an extra perk!

Single tickets will go on sale to the general public starting August 17 through City Box Office. Tickets for performances which take place at Stanford University's Bing Concert Hall are sold exclusively through Stanford Live.

Call (415) 295-1900 to order your Premium Single Tickets today.

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Music Institute Dominates International Cooper Competition
The Music Institute of Chicago, one of the nation's leading community schools, and its Academy Program, a top training center for advanced pre-conservatory students, dominated the prestigious 2015 Thomas & Evon Cooper International Competition for Violin. After a rigorous audition process, the competition chose nine of the 21 international competitors from the Music Institute—an unprecedented number from one institution—with two placing at the top of the competition, which was presented by the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Orchestra in late July in Oberlin, Ohio.

Music Institute Academy student Gallia Kastner (18, Arlington Heights, Illinois) earned First Prize of $10,000, tying with Belle Ting (15, Taiwan, also a $10,000 winner). Academy student Joshua Brown (15, Gurnee, Illinois) took second place, winning $6,000, and the Audience Award. All three performed full concertos with the Cleveland Orchestra at Cleveland's venerable Severance Hall and received full four-year scholarship offers to attend the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, each worth more than $200,000. Kastner, who began studying at the Music Institute in 2006, will attend the distinguished Colburn School in Los Angeles this fall studying violin performance with Robert Lipsett.

Music Institute participants, in addition to Kastner and Brown, included Academy students Zachary Brandon (16, Battle Creek, Michigan), Nicholas Brown (18, Gurnee, Illinois and brother of Joshua Brown), Maya Buchanan (sixth place winner of $1,000, Top 6 Recital Finalist, 15, Rapid City, South Dakota), Karisa Chiu (fourth place winner of $1,000, Top 6 Recital Finalist, 16, Palatine, Illinois), Ria Honda (Top 10 Finalist, 15, Wilmette, Illinois), and Hannah White (15, Germantown, Wisconsin) and Community School student Julian Rhee (14, Brookfield, Wisconsin). Advancing to the semi-finals with Brown and Kastner were Buchanan, Chiu, and Honda.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

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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