Classical Music News of the Week, November 1, 2015

The Crypt Sessions: Conrad Tao and Lawrence Brownlee to perform in Harlem Crypt

Unison Media launches The Crypt Sessions with Conrad Tao and Lawrence Brownlee. It's a new concert series featuring intimate performances in the crypt underneath the Church of the Intercession in Harlem, New York.

Set in their extraordinary underground crypt, the series will feature some of classical music and opera's most exciting stars, in intimate performances tailored to the space. The concerts are the newest initiative in our mission to explore new and exciting ways to present and promote classical music.

The initial performances will feature pianist/composer Conrad Tao (November 4) and tenor Lawrence Brownlee (December 9), with more concerts to follow in 2016. Tickets are $25, with all proceeds going to the church.

Conrad Tao:
November 4, 2015
Doors 7PM / Show 8PM
Twenty-one-year-old pianist/composer Conrad Tao will perform a wide-ranging set tailored to the space, including some music from his new album Pictures, his own compositions, as well as a few other surprises.

Lawrence Brownlee:
December 9, 2015
Doors 7PM / Show 8PM
Lawrence will take a break from the Metropolitan Opera stage, where he'll be singing Rossini's La Donna del Lago, and share an intimate set of spirituals with longtime collaborator and Harlem resident Damien Sneed.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

January Events at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Talk Cinema
Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 7 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Stage 2
General Admission: $17

Detour Company Theatre
Mary Poppins
January 8–10, 2016
Friday, January 8, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturday, January 9, 3 p.m.
Sunday, January 10, 3 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Free Admission; Donations Welcome

Late Nite Catechism
Starring Patti Hannon
Written by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan
January 8 – March 25, 2016
Performed Weekly, Fridays, 8 p.m.
January 8, 15, 22, 29
February 5, 12, 19, 26
March 4, 11, 18, 25
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Stage 2
Tickets: $39

Late Nite Catechism III: 'Til Death Do Us Part
Starring Patti Hannon
Written by Maripat Donovan With Marc Silvia
January 9 – March 26, 2016
Performed Weekly, Saturdays, 8 p.m.
January 9, 16, 23, 30
February 6, 13, 20, 27
March 5, 12, 19, 26
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Stage 2
Tickets: $39

Native Trails
Selected Thursdays and Saturdays, January 9 – March 31, 2016, Noon – 1 p.m.
January 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, 28, 30
February 11, 18, 20, 25, 27
March 3, 24, 26, 31
Outdoors at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Free Admission

Sunday A'Fair
Selected Sundays, January 10 – April 3, 2016, Noon – 4 p.m.
January 10, 17, 24, 31
February 14, 21, 28
March 6, 20
April 3
Outdoors at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Free Admission

Close Encounters With Music
Grand Piano Quartets: Brahms and Dvorak
Soyeon Kate Lee, Piano; Ara Gregorian, Violin; Xiao-Dong Wang, Viola; Yehuda Hanani, Cello
Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $19, $29, $39

Dave Rawlings Machine
Thursday, January 14, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Advance Tickets: $31.50 ($33.50 day of show)

Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour
Featuring Ravi Coltrane, Nicholas Payton, Raul Midon, Gerald Clayton, Joe Sanders and Justin Brown
Friday, January 15, 2016, 8 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $39, $49, $69

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Pinchas Zukerman, Principal Guest Conductor and Violin Soloist
Saturday, January 16, 2016, 8 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $79, $109, $149

The Peking Acrobats
Sunday, January 17, 2016, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $29, $39, $49

Show Boat
Wednesday, January 20, 2016, 7 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Stage 2
General Admission: $12

See Jane Sing! With Jane Lynch
Saturday, January 23, 2016, 8 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $59, $69, $89

Virginia G. Piper Concert Series
Emanuel Ax
Sunday, January 24, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $29, $49, $69

ASU Concerts at the Center
20th-Century Impressions: Chamber Music with Harp
Monday, January 25, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
General Admission: $10 (Free for Students, Teachers and Veterans)

Keyboard Conversations With Jeffrey Siegel
Splendor From Silence
Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $29, $39, $49

Celtic Nights: Spirit of Freedom
Direct From Ireland
Thursday, January 28, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $39, $49, $69

Canadian Brass
Friday, January 29, 2016, 8 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $39, $49, $69

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
7380 E. Second St.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

For more information, visit

--Bill Thompson, SCCARTS

Music of the Baroque Names Thomas Cooley 45th Anniversary Season Artist-in-Residence
Music of the Baroque (MOB) announced that internationally acclaimed lyric tenor Thomas Cooley will serve as Artist-in-Residence during the ensemble's upcoming 45th Anniversary Concert Season. Mr. Cooley appears with Music of the Baroque three times this season — in MOB's recent program of Bach cantatas; in the title role of Handel's Judas Maccabaeus in performances Thanksgiving weekend; and in April in the great 1610 Vespers of the Blessed Virgin by Claudio Monteverdi. During the season, he will also offer master classes for Chicago-area singers, work with students from Music of the Baroque's "Strong Voices" arts education program at partner Chicago public high schools, and present a spring vocal recital (program to be announced).

Mr. Cooley last sang with Music of the Baroque as tenor soloist in the Mozart Requiem in October 2014; he has also appeared with the ensemble in Handel's Acis and Galatea and L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. "Thomas Cooley as Acis commanded a formidable technical arsenal," wrote Opera News of the former, while Chicago Classical Review said of the latter, "Thomas Cooley proved a vividly characterful presence bringing great relish to his solo opportunities and pin-point clarity to his words."

For more information about Thomas Cooley, visit

--Schwalbe & Partners

Berkeley Symphony Performs Gubaidulina U.S. Premiere, Pictures at an Exhibition Dec. 3
Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony perform the U.S. premiere of Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina's Fachwerk on Thursday, December 3 at 8 pm at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, with world-renowned Norwegian bayan pioneer Geir Draugsvoll in his Bay Area debut. Fachwerk was written for bayan (classical accordion), percussion, and strings. The evening opens with two brass works by Italian Renaissance composer Giovanni Gabrieli – Canzon septimi et octavi toni and Sonata pian e forte – and concludes with Mussorgsky's much-loved Pictures at an Exhibition.

Geir Draugsvoll is considered to be one of the most important musicians on his instrument, the bayan. With a repertoire ranging from Bach, Mozart, Grieg and Stravinsky to modern composers including Gubaidulina, Hosokawa, Berio, Nørgaard, and Piazzolla, he has performed all over Europe, and also toured China and Japan. He has performed with orchestras and ensembles including the London Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, Moscow Soloists, and the Norwegian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Draugsvoll collaborates with many composers, and premiered a large number of their works, including Gubaidulina's Fachwerk, which is dedicated to him. He recorded the work with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra for release on Naxos. Draugsvoll is a professor at Copenhagen's Royal Academy of Music.

Tickets: $15-$74. 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. Berkeley Symphony offers a $7 Student Rush ticket one hour prior to each performance for those with a valid student ID.

--Jean Shirk Media

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Announces Next PBO SESSIONS Concert November 9
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and KDFC are pleased to present PBO SESSIONS: The Royal Brandenburgs, on November 9th at ODC Theater. PBO (Philhrmonia Baroque Orchestra) has quickly gained success with its alternative format concert series and, after public demand, will present its next installment, The Royal Brandenburgs. This upcoming "session"will feature acclaimed conductor and harpsichordist, Richard Egarr, who will present Bach's Brandenburg Concertos in an entirely new and enlightening way.

Since its inception in 2014, SESSIONS has played to sold-out audiences captivated by its refreshing, innovative, and short format.These 90-minute concerts are designed to take audiences on a guided tour of classical music in informal settings, complete with multimedia presentations and dynamic dialogue from the stage. PBO SESSIONS concerts are led by Music Director Nicholas McGegan or guest conductors sharing anecdotes about the composers, the pieces, the period in which the music was created, and how the music is still relevant today. The audience is treated to musical demonstrations in historical context that deepens understanding of classical music in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Following the concerts, free wine and mingling with musicians is always available.

PBO SESSIONS: The Royal Brandenburgs will be hosted by KDFC's Hoyt Smith and plans to explore J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos 3, 4 and 5. Richard Egarr, from the Academy of Ancient Music, will perform, demonstrate and share his deep knowledge of these works with a multimedia presentation and exquisite performances by members of Philharmonia. The concert takes place at the intimate brick-walled ODC Theater in San Francisco's Mission District on Monday, November 9 at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $25 and include the post-concert reception with complimentary wine and access to Egarr and the musicians.

General Admission - $25
More information and tickets at or call 415-295-1900.

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

John Easterlin, B.M. '84, Named 2015 UM Frost School of Distinguished Alumnus
Performing for the first time in his home state of Florida and on the Festival Miami stage, multi Grammy and Emmy Award-winning performer John Easterlin, B.M. '84, was named the 2015 University of Miami Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music Distinguished Alumnus. Easterlin was honored during his October 24 Festival Miami concert, "What a Character! The Many Faces of John Easterlin."

A Miami native, Easterlin travels the world to perform in major venues and productions. One of international opera's most compelling artists, he has turned 2015 into his year of debuts, performing for the first time at the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice, with the Palm Beach Opera in their new production of Ariadne auf Naxos, and with the Nashville Opera in Die Fledermaus.

During his Festival Miami performance, Easterlin thrilled Festival Miami concert goers with a variety of Broadway, gospel, folk, operetta, and opera favorites. New York-based pianist Mitchell Cirker accompanied Easterlin throughout the evening's concert. Shelly Berg, dean of the Frost School of Music, appeared as a special guest on piano and also presented Easterlin with the Distinguished Alumnus plaque during the show.

Easterlin traces his singing success to the early 1980s, when he performed with the UM Chamber Singers under the direction of late music professor Lee "Doc" Kjelson. Easterlin has appeared on PBS's Great Performances and Live from Lincoln Center, as well as a telecast, CD, and DVD of Los Angeles Opera's acclaimed production of Kurt Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, for which he received 2008 Emmy and Peabody Awards and two 2009 Grammy Awards for Opera Recording of the Year and Classical Album of the Year.

Throughout his career, Easterlin has worked with famous conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Andrew Davis, Antonio Pappano, James Conlon, Valery Gergiev, and Dennis Russell Davies, and eminent stage directors like Diane Paulus, Richard Jones, Phelim McDermott, Francesca Zambello, and Robert Wilson.

Read more on Easterlin's success here:

--Megan Ondrizek, University of Miami

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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