Classical Music News of the Week, September 13, 2015

Cal Performances Presents ZellerBACH: Three Performances Exploring the Music of J.S. Bach

Cal Performances Executive and Artistic Director Matías Tarnopolsky curated three thematic strands when programming the 2015–2016 season. The first, called ZellerBACH, features a series of performances and public programs to explore the lasting musical legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach. American iconoclast Twyla Tharp celebrates a half-century of creating ambitious, complex dance works that embrace and extend the American vernacular, with her 50th Anniversary Tour, featuring new works set to John Zorn, New Orleans jazz, and Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. The Baroque chamber orchestra and choir Bach Collegium Japan, directed by Masaaki Suzuki, are pioneers of period-instrument performance in its home country, performs an all-Bach program. And violinist Gil Shaham plays Bach's complete Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, with new projections by acclaimed visual artist David Michalek. Performances of Twyla Tharp's 50th Anniversary Tour are Friday­­ and Saturday, October 16 and 17 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, October 18 at 3:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall. Bach Collegium Japan performs on Saturday, October 24 at 8:00 p.m. in First Congregational Church, and Gil Shaham takes the stage in Zellerbach Hall, with films by David Michalek, on Thursday, April 14 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall.

In February 2015, Cal Performances unveiled Berkeley RADICAL (Research And Development Initiative in Creativity, Arts, and Learning), its new project to cultivate the artistic literacy of future audiences and to connect the world's most innovative artists with the intellectual capital of the UC Berkeley campus. Through carefully crafted public programs and creative artistic residencies, Berkeley RADICAL serves as a framework to expand the reach of Cal Performances by providing audiences with multiple access points to a single work of art or artist. In addition to the performances, ZellerBACH programs include pre-performance talks, and a community response panel exploring the dynamic attraction of Bach's music for contemporary artists and audiences. For more information as events are announced, visit

Tickets for Twyla Tharp's 50th Anniversary Tour on Friday­­–Saturday, October 16–17 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, October 18 at 3:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall, University of California at Berkeley, range from $40.00 to $96.00. Tickets for Bach Collegium Japan on Saturday, October 24 at 8:00 p.m. in First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA, are priced at $52.00. Tickets for Gil Shaham with films by David Michalek on Thursday, April 14 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall, range from $36.00 to $86.00. All ticket prices are subject to change. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, at (510) 642-9988, at, and at the door. For more information about discounts, go to

--Rusty Barnes, Cal Performances

Berkeley Symphony Opens 2015-16 Season
Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony have announced programming for the 2015-2016 season, including the West Coast premiere of Laterna Magica by Kaija Saariaho, who will be a visiting music professor at UC Berkeley this fall; the West Coast premiere of Mark Grey's new Frankenstein Symphony, co-commissioned with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; and the U.S. premiere of Fachwerk by Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina, featuring the Bay Area debut of Geir Draugsvoll, a pioneer of the bayan, or classical accordion, for whom the work was written. The Orchestra also welcomes soprano Simone Osborne, and violinist Simone Porter, both making their Bay Area debuts, in addition to a first-time Berkeley Symphony appearance by pianist Conrad Tao.

Well-established as a presenter of major contemporary orchestral works, Berkeley Symphony continues its steadfast commitment to presenting original and unique programs, with a 2015-2016 season that combines important contemporary works, U.S. and West Coast premieres, and commissioned work alongside classic masterworks. In addition to the aforementioned premieres, this season Berkeley Symphony will explore classics including Berlioz's Les nuits d'été, featuring soprano Simone Osborne; Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major, featuring Simone Porter; Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor"), with Conrad Tao as soloist; Beethoven's Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus; Ravel's Bolero; Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition; Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, and Gabrieli's Canzon septimi et octavi toni and Sonata pian e forte for brass.

Tickets to all of Berkeley Symphony's 2015-2016 concerts are on sale now at; by phone at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1; by fax to (510) 841-5422; or by mail at 1942 University Avenue, Suite 207, Berkeley, CA 94704. 2015-2016 season subscriptions to the Zellerbach Hall Concert Series (four concerts) are also available. Prices for the four-concert series range from $39 to $266. Subscribers enjoy a 10% discount on additional single ticket purchases throughout the season. Single ticket prices range from $15 to $74. Groups of 6 or more receive a 20% discount off the single ticket price. Berkeley Symphony offers a $7 Student Rush ticket one hour prior to each performance for those with a valid student ID.

--Jean Shirk Media

Tertulia Chamber Music Announces New Season
On September 27th, the cutting edge classical music series Tertulia Chamber Music will launch its fourth season at Chinese-Spanish fusion hotspot Tasca Chino with a unique all-wind program, further continuing their commitment to presenting world-class artists and innovative programming at an eclectic array of restaurants around New York City. In an unparalleled initiative, Tertulia's 2015-2016 season will also include the expansion of the series to San Francisco, with a debut concert featuring the St. Lawrence String Quartet. As the series' mission continues to attract new and experienced classical music audiences and foodies alike, Tertulia's incomparable concerts place chamber music back where it belongs - in a festive, inviting atmosphere.

Tertulia is not your typical classical music presenter. Established in 2011 by Artistic Director Julia Villagra, Tertulia is a chamber music series that is designed to attract new and experienced audiences alike, or really, anyone who loves incredible food and music. Part concert, part dinner party Tertulia presents world-class chamber music concerts in critically acclaimed restaurants in and around New York City. The format and program is designed to enhance the social and culinary experience, but at all Tertulias, the music is paramount. Executed in a dynamic, casual format, Tertulia allows the audience to socialize over dinner and drinks while still adhering to a concert-like set of rules: there is absolutely no talking or moving around and restaurant service is suspended during performances. In its 2014-2015 season, Tertulia welcomed celebrated artists and ensembles including Jennifer Johnson Cano, The Dover Quartet, harpist Bridget Kibbey, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, the Jasper String Quartet, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, the Tesla Quartet and more.

For more information, visit

--Liza Prijatel Thors, Rebecca Davis Public Relations

U.S. Premiere of Peter Sculthorpe's "Island Songs" at Symphony Space 9/25
The Brown and Breen Piano Duo and didgeridoo player Russell Smith give a free concert of rarely-performed works by Australian composers. The group performs Peter Sculthorpe's last composition, "Island Songs," for the first time in the U.S. on September 25 at Symphony Space, NYC, along with works by Percy Grainger, Elena Kats-Chermin, and Miriam Hyde. This program forms the basis for Brown and Breen's forthcoming album, also titled Island Songs.

Formed in 2011, the Brown and Breen Piano Duo has mastered an extremely wide range of music for piano duo and piano four-hands, spanning the greatest composers of the classical canon. However, their collaboration has also been a vehicle for acclaimed Australian pianists Bonnie Brown and Louisa Breen to champion the music of their country, especially the works of contemporary composers. These are the works that Brown and Breen have chosen to share with American audiences on their first tour of the United States.

For more information, visit

--Caroline Heaney, BuckleSweet Media

Howard Gilman Foundation Gifts Young People's Chorus of New York City
Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) is pleased to announce its first grant from the Howard Gilman Foundation. The grant of $75,000 was issued to YPC for its New Music for New Audiences contemporary music programs, as well as for general support of the organization.

Upon receiving the grant, Francisco J. Núñez, artistic director and founder of YPC, said:  "We are enormously grateful to the Howard Gilman Foundation for its remarkable generosity.  This support will help YPC continue to expand the reach and awareness of new music throughout New York City and beyond, and foster an environment of creativity, innovation, and excellence among young people."

New music projects supported by this grant during the 2015-16 season include YPC's Transient Glory and Radio Radiance series, which since 2001 have commissioned more than 80 pieces of music for young voices from today's most distinguished composers, making an important impact on the ever-evolving landscape of music in the 21st century.

All commissions are integrated into YPC's standard repertoire and are performed by the chorus as part of its programming in concerts, on tour, on recordings, and in competition.

For more information, visit

--Lisa Jaehnig, Schuman Associates

Young People's Chorus of NYC Begins Momentous 2015-16 Season
YPC's 2015-16 season begins with a performance that the whole world will be watching. YPC is privileged and honored to be invited to sing for Pope Francis at the World Trade Center as part of his first visit to the United States.

At 11:30 a.m. on Friday, September 25, Pope Francis will visit the 9/11 memorial site for a multi-religious meeting for peace, where the YPC choristers will perform.

World Premiere: Epiphany: The Cycle of Life
YPC makes its BAM Next Wave Festival debut in the world premiere of Epiphany: The Cycle of Life, a co-production between YPC and VisionIntoArt. It takes place in four performances from November 4 to 7.

Radio Radiance Broadcast Premiere: September 14 on WWFM, The Classical Network. This broadcast premieres of the five new 2015 Radio Radiance works by composers Samuel Adler, Ryan Lott, Caroline Mallonée, Frank J. Oteri, and Aaron Siegel will air on WWFM's popular "Celebrating our Musical Future" series hosted by David Osenberg, on Monday, September 14, at 8 p.m. with a repeat broadcast the following day at 12 noon.

YPC Competes in Munich, Germany. In October YPC heads for Munich to compete with the Aarhus Girls' Choir from Denmark and the Romanian Radio Children's Choir in the finals of the 2015 Euroradio Choral Competition, after having been selected by American Public Media (APM) as the only American chorus to represent the United States in this international choral competition.

YPC Releases Transient Glory III: On November 20 YPC is releasing its long-awaited Transient Glory III CD on Bang On a Can's Cantaloupe Music label. The album comprises six major highlights of YPC's Transient Glory new music commissioning series for young voices from composers Michael Gordon, Paquito D'Rivera, John Corigliano, Terry Riley, Meredith Monk, and Bora Yoon.

For more information, visit

--Katharine Gibson, Young People's Chorus of NYC

American Bach Soloists News
"Sparkle" with ABS at the Annual Gala.

We sincerely hope you will join us on September 26 to celebrate and support ABS at our annual fundraising gala. This year's event, "Sparkle," will be held at the James Leary Flood Mansion in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. Enjoy stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz while sipping delicious wines, bidding on items in our silent auction, and meeting with other arts lovers who admire the music of J.S. Bach and support its preservation through the performances of American Bach Soloists.

Dinner will be served and a special live auction will offer opportunities to bid on fabulous trips to Peru, Paris, the U.S. Open, and other wonderful packages. Hosting the auction will be Liam Mayclem, host of the Travel Channel's "World Access" and KCBS's "Foodie Chap." All proceeds from the auction go directly to supporting the performances and educational initiatives of ABS.

For more information, visit

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Brian Current Wins Inaugural Azrieli Commissioning Competition in Jewish Music
The Azrieli Music Project (AMP) is proud to announce that Brian Current is the winner of the inaugural Azrieli Commissioning Competition, a $50,000 prize for a new work of orchestral Jewish Music of 15 to 25 minutes duration, by a Canadian composer. Two new prizes of $50,000 each were established this year by the Azrieli Foundation in order to celebrate, foster and create opportunities for the performance of high quality new orchestral music on a Jewish theme or subject. Current's new work – along with the work to be awarded the international Azrieli Music Prize in early 2016 – will be performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Maestro Kent Nagano at The Azrieli Music Project Gala Concert at Maison symphonique de Montréal on October 19, 2016.

One of Canada's most followed and lauded young composers, Brian Current – a graduate of McGill University as well as UC Berkeley – won a Juno Award earlier this year for his opera Airline Icarus. Azrieli Music Project founder Dr. Sharon Azrieli Perez comments, "I would like to offer my personal congratulations to Brian for both his exceptional talent as a composer, as well as the fascinating proposal he submitted to the competition. In the submissions we received from across the country, the jury noted the extremely high quality of the applicants, as well as the care and thought that went into the excellent proposals. We were impressed with the variety of topics considered and the creative approaches the applicants employed in their attempts to interpret the musical and philosophical questions at the heart of the Azrieli Commissioning Competition." The choice of Mr. Current was unanimous amongst the Azrieli Music Project jury, which includes conductor Boris Brott; composer Aaron Jay Kernis; musicologist Neil Levin; conductor and composer Steven Mercurio; and composer Ana Sokolovic.

For more information, visit

--Shira Gilbert PR

Italian Pianist Luca Buratto Wins 2015 Honens International Piano Competition
Luca Buratto (age 22) has been named Laureate of the 2015 Honens Piano Competition. Mr. Buratto wins the world's largest piano prize of $100,000 (CAN) and an artistic and career development program valued at a half million dollars.  Finalists Henry Kramer (United States/ age 28) and Artem Yasynskyy (Ukraine / age 27) each received a Raeburn Prize of $10,000 (CAD).

"This has been an incredible search for the Complete Pianist," said Stephen McHolm, Honens' Artistic Director.  "We look forward to helping Luca take the next important step in his career."

The Competition's jury included pianists Alessandra Ammara, Janina Fialkowska and Pedja Muzijevic; Jeremy Geffen (Director, Artistic Planning at Carnegie Hall), Charles Hamlen (Artistic Advisor, Orchestra of St Luke's and former head of IMG Artists), Paul Hughes (BBC Symphony Orchestra General Manager), and Costa Pilavachi (Universal Music Group International's Senior Vice President of Classical A&R). The Jury announced its decision following the Finalists' performances with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier on September 10 and 11, 2015.

"All of us on the jury, as well as the audiences at Jack Singer Concert Hall, have experienced two weeks of exhilarating, world-class pianism," said Jury Chairman Charles Hamlen. "Once again, the Honens Piano Competition has shown that it brings to Calgary some of the finest and most creative musicians from around the world. We offer our sincerest congratulations to all of the pianists, with a special nod to 2015 Honens Laureate, Luca Buratto."

--Daniel Guss, Nancy Shear Arts Services

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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 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 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