Classical Music News of the Week, October 18, 2015

SMSS Choral Concert "Chichester Pslams" at St. Ignatius Loyola, 10/28

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space's Choral Concert Series Opens with Bernstein's Chichester Psalms featuring countertenors Eric S. Brenner and Timothy Parsons. October 28 at 7pm at New York City's Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.

The venerable concert series Sacred Music in a Sacred Space (SMSS) in its home at New York City's visually arresting Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, has delighted and inspired audiences for 27 years. The SMSS concert series continues to serve as one of the leading cultural institutions in New York City for sacred classical music, attracting New York City's finest musical talent for exhilarating performances.

SMSS' 2015-2016 season theme Choral America represents an offering of works as diverse as the nation itself. Encompassing many musical forms and styles—from the European classical tradition to Appalachian folk songs, spirituals, jazz and blues—the Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola over three Choral Concerts pay homage to some of America's most treasured composers.

The 2015-2016 Choral Concerts begin on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, at 7pm with a quartet of American works for choir and orchestra by three of America's most revered choral composers. The Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola under the direction of K. Scott Warren are joined by countertenors Eric S. Brenner and Timothy Parsons.

Tickets are $25-$80 and are available by calling 212-288-2520 or clicking here:

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Music Institute Awards First Hurtado Scholarship
The Music Institute of Chicago, a community music school dedicated to transforming lives through music education, announced that Angela Lee, Wilmette resident and a junior at New Trier High School, is the first recipient of the Hurtado Scholarship. Lee is a cello student of Music Institute faculty member Gilda Barston.

The Music Institute will award the Hurtado Scholarship, which covers one year of tuition, annually to a Music Institute student who demonstrates a high degree of accomplishment in music and a strong character as a musician in the community. Family and friends of nine-year-old cello student Ilan Hurtado, who tragically died in an automobile accident last year, established the scholarship in his memory in the hope that his exemplary spirit and love of music would live on through other young musicians.

Angela Lee is a member of New Trier High School's Chamber and Symphony Orchestras, serving as the principal cellist in the former and the associate principal in the latter. The Illinois Music Education Association selected her for the District Senior Orchestra and All-State Orchestra in 2015. She also often forms chamber groups with her peers to perform at various events.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Philharmonia and KDFC Present the Next Installment of PBO SESSIONS

Mark your calendars! On Monday, November 9th, Philharmonia and KDFC present PBO SESSIONS: The Royal Brandenburgs at the ODC Theater, San Francisco. Acclaimed conductor and harpsichordist from the Academy of Ancient Music, Richard Egarr, will perform with Philharmonia and share insights on the ever-popular Brandenburg Concertos by J.S. Bach.

PBO SESSIONS is a complete classical music experience with dialogue, multimedia presentation and exquisite performances. It all takes place in the intimate brick-walled ODC Theater, in San Francisco's Mission District. After the concert, stick around and join Richard and the musicians for conversation and free wine in the lobby.

The Brandenburg Concertos are Bach's most popular examples of instrumental music. But did you know that the Royal Margrave to whom they were dedicated never heard them performed in his own lifetime? It was only 100 years later that these pieces were rediscovered, and begun to be recognized as the finest orchestral music of the Baroque period.

Learn more at

--Dianne Provenano, Philharmonia Baroque

Chucho Valdés Launches Irakere 40 Tour
Chucho Valdés celebrates the 40th anniversary of the legendary Afro-Cuban jazz group Irakere with
a major U.S. fall tour.

The Chucho Valdés: Irakere 40 tour is a celebration of Irakere, the Cuban band that, with its bold fusion of Afro-Cuban ritual and popular musics, jazz and rock, marked a before and after in Latin jazz.

But this 2015 tour also plays as a summing up of the extraordinary contributions of five-time Grammy and three-time Latin Grammy-winning pianist, composer and bandleader Jesús "Chucho" Valdés, Irakere's founder, main composer and arranger.

In conjunction with the U.S. tour, Chucho Valdés will release Tribute to Irakere [Live at Marciac] (Jazz Village) on October 20th. Jazz Village released Valdés´s Grammy-nominated Border-Free in 2013 featuring his current group, The Afro-Cuban Messengers. The young Messengers grew up in Cuba listening to the music of Irakere — something that became a defining element for this project.

Vist them live at

--Sarah Folger, Harmonia Mundi USA

One World Symphony News
One World Symphony
Sung Jin Hong, Artistic Director and Composer-Conductor
Countertenor Nicholas Tamagna as Hannibal Lecter
One World Symphony Vocal Artists

One Night Only:
Sunday, October 25, 2015 - Seating is limited
8:00 p.m.
Holy Apostles Church
296 Ninth Avenue at West 28th Street
Manhattan, NY

Igor Stravinsky: "Sacrificial Dance" from The Rite of Spring (1913)
Gabriel Fauré: from Requiem (1900)
Johann Sebastian Bach: from Goldberg Variations
Kaija Saariaho: Ballade (2005)
Sung Jin Hong: Hannibal (2015, World Premiere Opera)

Concert length is approximately 90 minutes without intermission. Program may be subject to change.

Tickets - Limited availability
$30 Students/Seniors (available at the door only)
$40 General

Hannibal can save lives!
A special collaboration between New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center's Heart Institute and One World Symphony!

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, staff from New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center's Heart Institute will be at the world premiere of Hannibal (2015) teaching HandsOnly CPR - a technique that could be a potentially life-saving difference for someone who is suffering a sudden cardiac arrest.

The inspiration for the unique community collaboration was begun when Sung Jin Hong researched and decided to include actual heart rhythms and murmurs (including "pathological") in Hannibal (2015). His research was confirmed by cardiologist Dr. Steven Markowitz at New York-Presbyterian. Their stimulating dialogue and discussions led them to present a community event that could save lives.

For more information, visit

--One World Symphony

Sony Classical Signs Soprano Pretty Yende
Sony Classical is proud to announce an exclusive long-term agreement with Pretty Yende, the sensational young South African soprano whose career has risen to the top of the opera world with unparalleled speed within the past few years. She has already been engaged by every major opera house in the world and after her debut recital in London, The Telegraph commented, "Possessed of diamanté tone and a megawatt smile... a soprano of real musical intelligence." The New York Times wrote, "Her voice has a luminous sheen combined with steely resolve... she delivered some of the most difficult coloratura passages with scintillating precision."

In 2013, she stepped in at a month's notice to sing in Rossini's Le comte Ory opposite Juan Diego Flórez at New York's Metropolitan Opera to rapturous acclaim. Later that year, she also replaced an indisposed Cecilia Bartoli at Vienna's Theater an der Wien in the same opera.

Born in 1985 in the small town of Piet Retief, about two hundred miles from Johannesburg, Yende's journey to become one of the world's most sought-after singers is like a modern fairy-tale. She was initially introduced to singing in a manner familiar to many South Africans - in her church choir. Then at the age of sixteen, she heard the "Flower Duet" from Lakmé on a British Airways television advertisement, and was so enraptured by its beauty that she determined to find out what it was. On learning that it was opera, she decided at that moment to abandon her plans to become an accountant, and train to become an opera singer instead.

She started her vocal studies at South African College of Music (SACM UCT) with Virginia Davids and developed her musical and stage experience with Angelo Gobato and Kemal Khan of the Colleges' Opera school. Yende's extraordinary talent blossomed, and in 2009 she became the first singer to win first prize in every category in the Belvedere Singing Competition in Vienna. This led to an offer to join the prestigious young artists' programme at La Scala in Milan. In 2011, she then won first prize in Plácido Domingo's Operalia competition in Moscow, also winning the prizes of the Public and the Zarzuela prize, the first singer in history to win all three prizes.

Yende's debut album on Sony Classical, scheduled for autumn 2016, will celebrate some of the milestones of her extraordinary musical journey. In addition to the much-loved Lakmé duet which first opened her heart to the world of opera, there will be arias from Le comte Ory in which she shot to international attention at the Met. She will also perform arias from other roles in which she continues to dazzle audiences and critics: Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), and Elvira (I puritani). She will perform the latter opera at Zurich opera in June 2016.

For more information about Pretty Yende, visit

--Larissa Slezak, Sony Classical

Curious Flights Postpones November 11 "Recital Masters"
Curious Flights concert series are postponing the November 11 performance "Recital Masters" with British violinist Madeleine Mitchell due to unforeseen circumstances. Ms. Mitchell was due to appear in recital at the Century Club of California as part of her tour of the United States, with a Veteran's Day program of works by American and British war era composers. Curious Flights looks forward to working with Ms. Mitchell to bring her back to San Francisco at a later date.

Curious Flights recently kicked off its second full season on August 29 with a program of chamber works by English composers and continues on March 19, 2016 with a showcase of contemporary works by local Bay Area composers and a residency by two-time British Composer Award winner Simon Dobson. The San Francisco Wind Ensemble will present two world premiere commissions by Bay Area composers Noah Luna and Bobby Chastain in addition to a U.S. premiere by Simon Dobson. A further world premiere commission for clarinet and electronics by Dobson features alongside chamber works by Samuel Adams and Mason Bates.

The season concludes on May 28, 2016 with the West Coast Premiere of Marc Blitzstein's The Airborne Symphony led by Marin Symphony Music Director Alasdair Neale. This monumental work for large orchestra, men's chorus, solo voices and narrator will be performed by the Curious Flights Symphony Orchestra, Curious Flights Festival Chorus and soloists Brian Thorsett (tenor) and Efrain Solis (baritone). Focusing on the untold contributions of American composers to both the war effort and the general promotion of American music during this era, the program will also include Copland's Sextet for clarinet, piano and string quartet, Barber's Stopwatch and an Ordance Map and an arrangement of music from Korngold's film score to the Constant Nymph.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy

Tod Machover Named Composer Of The Year by Musical America
Tod Machover has been named 2016 Composer of the Year by Musical America, the prestigious classical music publication.  Joining the ranks of composers who have received this illustrious honor, such as John Luther Adams, Meredith Monk, Arvo Pärt, George Crumb, Steve Reich, Stephen Sondheim, John Adams, and Milton Babbitt, Machover states, "I am very grateful to Musical America for this honor and am thrilled to join a tradition that includes so many composers whose musical imagination and impact I admire." Carnegie Hall will host the annual Musical America Awards on December 8, where Machover is joined by Artist of the Year Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Instrumentalist of the Year Jennifer Koh, Vocalist of the Year Mark Padmore, and Ensemble of the Year BMOP (Boston Modern Orchestra Project).  Read the article HERE.

Called "visionary" by the New York Times, Machover will premiere the fifth of his collaborative City Symphony Series - the first in the U.S.- in Detroit in November. Commissioned and performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, led by Leonard Slatkin, Symphony in D integrates music, sounds of the city, new technology, and the creative participation of numerous citizens of Detroit, of all backgrounds and ages. Machover premiered A Symphony for Lucerne to great critical and public acclaim last month at the Lucerne Festival, where he was this year's Composer-In-Residence.

Machover is the inventor of Hyperinstruments and is known for pushing the boundaries of technology, live performance and the audience experience. He is the composer of many groundbreaking operas including VALIS, the Brain Opera, Resurrection, and the robotic Death and the Powers that was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Machover is the Muriel L. Cooper Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab and Director of its Opera of the Future Group.  He studied with Elliott Carter at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez's IRCAM in Paris.

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Big Competition Win
Young People's Chorus of NYC has done it again! YPC and Francisco Núñez returned from Munich, Germany, on Monday, October 12, where they were hosted by BR Klassik, with a first-place win in the Children and Youth Category after a flawless performance in the 2015 European Broadcasting Network's Let the Peoples Sing competition, among the most prestigious choral competitions in all of Europe. YPC is the first American chorus ever to place first in the competition's 54-year history.

After Sunday's competition performances among YPC, the Aarhus Girls' Chorus from Denmark and the Romanian Radio Children's Choir, the judges named the Danish choir the winner. However, on Monday morning, the judges rethought their initial decision and determined that the American chorus should tie with the Danish choir for first place in the Children's and Youth category.

Francisco and the choristers received the news while 35,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean on their return flight to New York. Tears and cheers ensued!

--Katharine Gibson, YPC

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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