Classical Music News of the Week, September 6, 2015

Salon/Sanctuary Concerts: Highlights of the 2015-2016 Season

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate and Pope Francis' visit to the United States, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts explores the cross-fertilization of Jewish and Catholic musical cultures that enriched the music of both Synagogue and Sanctuary.

Please join us for a rich schedule of events featuring discussion, education, and performance with guest artists and educators from Italy, Croatia, and Israel.

"From Ghetto to Cappella: Interfaith Exchanges in the Music of Baroque Italy" is co-produced by Salon/Sanctuary Concerts and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, with assistance from the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di New York, and originated with support from the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy.

Salon/Sanctuary Concerts was founded in 2009 by Artistic Director Jessica Gould in order to present early music in intimate venues which complement both the acoustic and the historical context of the repertoire and to encourage understanding among people of different faiths through the performance of sacred works in sanctuaries appropriate to the repertoire.

Since its inception, the series has grown to include some of the most prestigious presenting partners throughout Manhattan and Florence, Italy, and a roster which comprises some of the most respected musicians active in historical performance today. Among the artists who have performed concerts and participated in our original interdisciplinary projects are soloists of the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala, award-winning actors from both the Royal Shakespeare Company, Broadway and Hollywood, principal dancers from the New York City Ballet, and an organist of the Duomo of Florence.

For more information about Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, visit

--Salon Sanctuary Concerts

Syrian Musicians Issam Rafea Trio Perform Oct. 18
The Music Institute of Chicago presents Syrian musician and composer Issam Rafea and his Trio October 18 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL. The Trio plays an astonishingly emotional and virtuosic repertoire of traditional Syrian music and new compositions for oud, tabla, and voice.

Issam Rafea, one of Syria's elite musicians, is a refugee now establishing himself as a professional musician and educator in the U.S. He has a passion for infusing traditional Arab and Middle Eastern music with new compositional ideals and instrumentation. Winner of the 2010 Best Composer Award in the Dubai International Film Festival (Muhr Arab) for the film September Rain, Rafea was chair of the Arabic Music Department at the High Institute of Music in Damascus and the principal conductor of the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music. In Syria, he was an active composer and arranger for TV and theatre. In March 2013, Rafea was invited to the U.S. to direct the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble and give a series of presentations and performances at Northern Illinois University School of Music. During his stay in Illinois, he performed with guitar virtuoso Fareed Haque in multiple cross-cultural collaborations. Rafea led a groundbreaking collaboration with Damen Albarn of the British rock bands Blur and The Gorillaz: specifically, Rafea and the Syrian National Orchestra for Arab Music contributed to the Gorrilaz song "White Flag" on its 2010 album Plastic Beach. The collaboration led to a live concert with The Gorillaz at the Citadel, an 11th century fortified palace in ancient Damascus.

The Issam Rafea Trio performs Sunday, October 18 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available at or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. All programming is subject to change. For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

McGegan Opens 30th Season of PBO with U.S. Premiere of Scarlatti Serenata
In early October, Nicholas McGegan will begin his 30th season as music director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra by performing a newly-discovered 300 year old serenata. "The Glory of Spring" by Alessandro Scarlatti was recently uncovered and has yet to be performed in the western hemisphere. McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque are delighted to be the first.

As an internationally renowned and passionate early music scholar, McGegan relishes the opportunity to give audiences a rare encounter with this lost serenata, as realized by his revered period orchestra, 300 years after the work was composed.  His adventurous artistic drive has been at the core of his successful 30-year career as music director at Philharmonia and he begins his anniversary season in classic form with a spectacular modern-day debut of a Baroque masterpiece.

But national audiences don't have to wait for the recording to hear "The Glory of Spring." McGegan and Philharmonia plan to take the serenata, with the full cast, on the road next spring. Performances take place at Zankel Hall at Carnegie, New York on at May 6, 2016 and at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa as presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County on May 10, 2016.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra will perform Scarlatti's "The Glory of Spring" throughout the San Francisco Bay Area starting October 4 at Berkeley's First Congregational Church followed by performances at Bing Concert Hall in Palo Alto on October 7, the newly reopened Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on October 9 and again at Berkeley's First Congregational Church on Saturday, October 10.

Tickets start at $25. For more information about Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, visit For tickets, visit or call 415-392-4400.

--Ben Casement-Stoll, PBO

Duesseldorf Celebrates the Unusual This Fall with Duo of Festivals
Duesseldorf celebrates the Unusual this Fall with Duo of Festivals: 25th "Duesseldorf Festival!" and "New Fall Festival."

Among the highlights of Düsseldorf's cultural event calendar this fall are two major annual festivals that differ in the art forms they present – one features nouveau-cirque and large-scale dance theater and global and classical music productions, the other pop and indie music – but have one thing in common:  they present the best of the unusual and boundary-pushing in the respective genres, artists and performances that are both unexpected and refined. Discover very unusual nouveau-cirque at the 25th "Düsseldorf Festival!" (September 9 – 28, 2015) and very unusual pop and indie music at "New Fall Festival" (October 28 – November 1, 2015).

Düsseldorf, Germany – Düsseldorf is known as a place where you see and hear things for the first time. The names and creations of many pioneers and mavericks who moved to super-stardom in art and music are connected to Düsseldorf. Two major annual festivals celebrate the unusual and create a forum for the best artists in emerging art forms. Don't miss out on seeing the brilliantly new performances in nouveau-cirque and indie and pop at these two festivals:

Düsseldorf Festival! – 25th Anniversary (September 9 – 27, 2015)

New Fall Festival  (October 28 – November 1, 2015)

For more information, visit

--Rainer Perry, Dusseldorf Tourism

Vibraphonist Steve Pouchie Passes
Steve Pouchie passed on Friday August 28, 2015 due to a sudden stroke. A tribute will be forthcoming in his honor.

Steven Vibert Pouchie was born and raised in New York City, where he attended and graduated from Manhattan's Stuyvesant High School. He received a full scholarship to Bard College in upstate New York, where he met teacher and jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd, who inspired him to study music and become a vibraphonist. He graduated with a bachelors degree in economics and an associate degree in music.
Steve worked in corporate sales for a time but soon became a NYC music teacher in 1993 working at Walton High School. In 2004, Steve was awarded the distinguished New York Post Liberty Medal at Gracie Mansion for his outstanding and innovative work as an educator. According to New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg, who presented Steve with his meda, "these men and women have made important contributions to their community through time, work, talent and wisdom."

Despite the demads of being an educator, Steve, always eager to play with his ensemble, continued to develop musically by performing at colleges, restaurants, night clubs, political events and outdoor concerts. He has played with or opened for an array of established musicians, including Tito Puente, Charlie Palmieri, Jimmy Sabater, Dave Valentin, Bobby Sanabria, and many others.

For more information, visit

--Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

Green Music Center: 2015-16 Single Tickets Now on Sale
Single tickets are now available to the Sonoma State Green Music Centers's 2015/16 season.

Among the events on the calendar:
Lang Lang, Sat., Oct 3, 7pm
101 Pianists, Sun., Oct 4, 2pm
Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India, Fri., Oct 16, 7:30pm
Joshua Bell, Sat., Oct 17, 7:30pm
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, Sat., Oct 24, 7:30pm
Chucho Valdés: Irakere 40 Pedrito Martinez Group, Sun., Oct 25, 7pm
Eric Owens, Sun., Nov 1, 3pm
Juilliard String Quartet, Fri., Nov 13, 7:30pm
Chris Thile, Sat., Nov 14, 7:30pm
Compañia Flamenca, José Porcel, Sun., Nov 22, 7pm
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Violinist Augustin Hadelich, Sun., Nov 29, 3pm
Pacifica Quartet, Sun., Dec 13, 3pm
Soweto Gospel Choir, Sat., Dec 19, 7:30pm
Handel's Messiah, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Sun., Dec 20, 3pm
Marc-André Hamelin, Fri., Jan 22, 7:30pm
Ms. Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton, Sat., Feb 6 , 7:30pm
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra with Susan Graham, Sun., Feb 14, 3pm
The Band of the Royal Marines featuring the Pipes, Drums and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards, Fri., Feb 26, 7pm
Binge-Worthy Journalism: Backstage with the Creators of SERIAL, Sarah Koenig and
Julie Snyder, Tue., Mar 8, 7:30pm
Sir James Galway, Lady Jeanne Galway, and the Galway Chamber Players, Fri., Mar 18, 7:30pm
Acoustic Africa featuring Habib Koité & Vusi Mahlasela, Sun., Mar 20, 7pm
André Watts, Fri., Apr 1, 7:30pm
Peter Serkin, Sun., Apr 10, 3pm
Anoushka Shankar, Sat., Apr 16, 7:30pm
Zap Mama, Fri., Apr 22, 7:30pm
Matthias Goerne, Sun., Apr 24, 3pm
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra with Anne Sofie von Otter and Andreas Scholl, Sat., May 14, 7:30pm
And much more

Buy tickets on-one at or call the box office at 1.866.955.6040

--Green Music Center

SMSS at St. Ignatius Loyola Presents Philip Anderson in Caritas Concert
Sacred Music in a Sacred Space's opening Caritas Concert for charity features Philip Anderson at Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, NYC on September 30 at 6:30pm.

The evening will feature a variety of music by Monteverdi, Dowland, Britten, Glass, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. All proceeds benefit St. Vincent De Paul Society.

Church of St. Ignatius Loyola parish cantor and early music mainstay, tenor Philip Anderson kicks off the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space (SMSS) Caritas Concert series in Wallace Hall at the stately Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, on September 30, 2015, with wine and hors d'oeuvres at 6:30pm and performance at 7:00pm. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased here or by calling 212.288.2520.  Anderson will perform a mix of traditional works, intermixed with works by some of America's most beloved composers including Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.

A unique performance approach, Caritas Concerts have the appeal of the less formal salon concerts reminiscent of the 19th century. The evening begins and ends with wine and hors d'oeuvres and includes an opportunity to mingle with the performers. The intimate setting places the audience in close proximity to the music. As the name suggests, Caritas Concerts are benefits, with all proceeds directed toward charities that address social justice concerns. Last year, over $10,000 was given to recipient charities Jesuit Volunteer Corps and LifeWay Network.

For more information, visit www.smssconcerts or phone at 212.288.2520.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

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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