Classical Music News of the Week, October 25, 2015

Holiday Concerts: Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Handel's Messiah

American Bach Soloists present two holiday favorites:
Bach's Christmas Oratorio:
Hélène Brunet soprano - Agnes Vojtko alto
Kyle Stegall tenor - Jesse Blumberg baritone
American Bach Soloists ~ American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas conductor
"...unsurpassable as a Bach interpreter." --SFCV

Saturday December 12, 2015 7:30 pm - Saint Ignatius Church, San Francisco

Handel's Messiah:
Hélène Brunet soprano - Agnes Vojtko alto
Kyle Stegall tenor - Jesse Blumberg baritone
American Bach Soloists ~ American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas conductor

Wednesday December 16, 2015 7:30 pm - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Thursday December 17, 2015 7:30 pm - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Friday December 18, 2015 7:30 pm - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

For more information, visit

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Young Artists Orchestra - October Newsletter
"Encore! Classical Music: A Portrait":
The Young Artists Orchestra received an overwhelming amount of praise from their inaugural performance on Sunday, October 18. Hal Weller, the founder of the Las Vegas Philharmonic and founder of FAYM, described the concert as "the highest level performance by a young orchestra I've heard in many years."

An encore is scheduled for today, Sunday, October 25 at 2 PM in the Jewel Box Theater at Clark County Library. Invite your family and friends! Less than 50 tickets remain. Buy tickets at

YAO Showcase #1:
Students from our orchestra come together as soloists, duos, trios, and quartets to perform in an intimate setting. An experience like no other, chamber concerts bring performers and audiences closer together in a personal and unique way. Young Artists Showcase #1: November 15, 2015 at 2 PM. Buy tickets at

"Winter Inspired":
"Winter Inspired" brings together three powerful works surrounded by winters aura. Bryce Dessner's Aheym features music that is fierce, vivid, and chilling. The same thing can be said about Vivaldi's "Winter." As one of the most popular works ever composed, "Winter" leaves little doubt why many consider Vivaldi to be the original rock star. Lastly, we arrive at one of Mahler's most popular and beautiful works, the "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen," which sees Canadian Soprano, Rachel Krehm in her Las Vegas debut. November 15, 2015 at 2 PM. December 19, 2015 at 2 PM. Buy tickets at

Announcting Auditions:
The Las Vegas Young Artists Orchestra announces first round auditions for all string, wind, brass, and percussion instruments. Auditions are scheduled for Sunday, December 13, 2015. Please visit our Web site for more information:

--Hal Weller, Foundation to Assist Young Musicians

Harpist Ben Melsky Performs with The Orion Ensemble
The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, welcomes guest harp virtuoso Ben Melsky, a member of the highly acclaimed Ensemble Dal Niente and principal harpist for the Joffrey Ballet and Ann Arbor Symphony, for his Orion debut on a program of 20th century music, "Harp Fantasy." Performances take place at First Baptist Church of Geneva November 22; the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston November 29; and the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago December 2.

Orion's 2015-16 season, Fantasies and Enchantments, continues with "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 appears on the broadcast series "Live from WFMT" March 28, 2016 at 8 p.m.

The Orion Ensemble's concert program "Harp Fantasy" takes place Sunday, November 22 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva, IL; Sunday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, IL; and Wednesday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pianoforte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago, IL. 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

Conductor Michael Christie Leads World Premieres of The Shining and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs
In 2016 and 2017, conductor Michael Christie will lead world premiere productions of two boundary-breaking operas based on modern culture. At the Minnesota Opera, where Christie is Music Director, he will conduct the world premiere performances of The Shining, an opera composed by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec with libretto by Mark Campbell, based on the novel by Stephen King. The world premiere of The Shining kicks off the second phase of the Minnesota Opera's New Works Initiative, which will include the world premiere of Dinner at Eight by William Bolcom, a performance of Cold Mountain by Jennifer Higdon, plus remaining commissions yet to be announced. The first phase of the New Works Initiative was a seven-year effort to commission and revive new and important American Opera. Christie recently led world premiere performances of composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell's Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night as well as The Manchurian Candidate. For each commission, Christie is actively involved with the operas' creative teams from beginning to end, including extensive workshopping supported by the New Works Initiative.

In 2017, Christie will lead the much-anticipated world premiere performances of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs by Mason Bates and librettist Mark Campbell with The Santa Fe Opera. Recently named the second most-performed living composer, Bates currently serves as the first composer-in-residence of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and this will be his first produced opera. The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs examines the life of one of the most fascinating figures of our time and seeks to capture the buzzing creativity of Silicon Valley. The opera received its first workshop treatment in San Francisco in September 2015 and was shared with a small audience at San Francisco Conservatory of Music in collaboration with Cal Performances at UC Berkeley.

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Jensen Artists

Donato Cabrera, California Symphony Perform Holiday Concerts Dec. 21-23 in Walnut Creek, Napa Valley, CA
The California Symphony and Music Director Donato Cabrera join with the acclaimed, Grammy Award-winning Pacific Boychoir for three holiday concerts December 21-23 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, CA, and at the orchestra's first performance at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center's Lincoln Theater in Yountville, CA. A highlight of the holiday "Traditions New and Old" program is the animated family film The Snowman on the big screen, with the score performed live by the orchestra. The music also includes selections from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, Anderson's "Sleigh Ride," and other festive holiday favorites, including songs and carols for the audience to sing along. The orchestra performs the "Traditions New and Old" holiday program at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville on Monday, December 21 and at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek Tuesday, December 22 and Wednesday, December 23. All concerts are at 7:30 pm.

Tickets for the California Symphony's "Traditions New and Old" concert at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek are $42 to $72, and can be purchased through the California Symphony's website at and at 925-943-7469. Tickets for the Lincoln Theater concert at Yountville's Napa Valley Performing Arts Center are $35 to $70 and can be purchased by calling 707-944-9900 or visiting

--Jean Shirk Media

American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Celebrates 35 Years
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, joined by Music Director for Life Zubin Mehta, returns to the United States in November 2015 for an eight-city tour, with performances taking place in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Cleveland and Palm Desert, CA. The American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (AFIPO) will present gala benefits in five of these cities, as they celebrate their 35th Anniversary supporting and broadening the Orchestra's activities and artistic vision.

Since its founding, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has maintained a strong bond with its American supporters. The non-profit organization American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (AFIPO) was created in 1980 to formalize and broaden the relationship between North America and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with continuing the tradition of giving. In addition to generating an endowment and increasing the reach of the Orchestra through financial support of national and international tours, AFIPO was also instrumental in developing KeyNote, the educational arm of the IPO. Founded in 2000, KeyNote programs bring the joy of classical music to over 29,000 children in Israel each year, while promoting tolerance and mutual respect. AFIPO seeks to strengthen the reach of the IPO as the preeminent cultural ambassador for the State of Israel and expand the support of classical music and musical education in Israel.

For complete information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Stephen Hamilton - Organ Recital 11/15 - St. Ignatius Loyola SMSS Series
Virtuoso concert organist Stephen Jon Hamilton performs on Sacred Music in a Sacred Space's 2015-2016 N.P. Mander Organ Recital Series, November 15th at 3pm at New York City's Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Organist Stephen Jon Hamilton has long been prominent on the American organ scene. For the past thirty years, Hamilton has earned critical acclaim as a thoroughly engaging and popular artist and has firmly established his reputation as a leading and much sought-after personality. Stephen Jon Hamilton performs the second recital in the four-part N.P. Mander Organ Recital Series on November 15, 2015, at 3:00 pm.

The New York Times wrote of a performance of the Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor: "Hamilton … obviously knew the instrument's sonorous capabilities and brought them powerfully to bear in a rousing account." The Charleston Daily Mail reviewed: "This performance had to be one of the supreme moments of music making in this year's or any other year's Orgelfest offerings." And the St. Petersburg Independent said, "Performing a most taxing program with ease, here was a serious, thorough, competent, and well disciplined musician who played with authority and poise."

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

PBO & J!
Philharmonia & Juilliard415
November 22

Here's your opportunity to hear the best and brightest young musicians in the country as Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra join Juilliard415 at this very special side-by-side concert.

Juilliard415 is the Juilliard School's student Baroque ensemble. These brilliant students represent the future of Baroque music in America and this is your chance to spot the talent early.

Don't miss this rare collaboration between the nation's leading period-instrument orchestra and the Juilliard School.

Telemann: Die Tageszeiten
LeClair: Suite from Scylla et Glaucus

When: Sunday, November 22 at 4 p.m.
Where: First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Tickets: $25 General Admission

Call 415-392-4400 or order online at

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Augustin Hadelich Wins Inaugural Warner Music Prize
Augustin Hadelich is the winner of the inaugural Warner Music Prize, it was announced today in New York City. The prize, a new classical music award established by the Warner Music Group, is to be given annually to a musician under the age of 35 who demonstrates exceptional talent and promise. The winner, chosen from a pool of 16 artists, is selected by a jury of world-renowned classical musicians and music industry leaders. The award includes a $100,000 cash prize and an opportunity to make a recording for Warner Classics. The prize is also supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, which supports classical music and cultural projects.

Nominees for the inaugural 2015 Warner Music Prize were drawn from young singers and instrumentalists presented by Carnegie Hall in significant solo roles during the 2014-15 concert season. Augustin has appeared on the stages of Carnegie Hall numerous times, most recently in December 2014 performing Barber's Violin Concerto in Stern Auditorium with the New York String Orchestra. Prior to that, in April 2014 in Zankel Hall, he gave the world-premiere performance of mystery sonatas by David Lang, a work commissioned by Carnegie Hall. "I cannot imagine a better performance than the one Mr. Hadelich gave," enthused The New York Times's Anthony Tommasini. "His playing combined impressive technical command with plush, rich-textured sound. And with magisterial poise and serene control, Mr. Hadelich became a riveting storyteller." Augustin will return to Stern Auditorium in December 2015 when he makes his debut with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

For more information, visit

--Melanne Mueller, MusicCo International

Boston Baroque's 2015-16 Season Opens
Boston Baroque 2015-16 season features music of Vivaldi, Beethoven, Haydn, Handel, and Mozart.
The season launched on October 23rd with Vivaldi's only surviving oratorio, Juditha Triumphans. The concerts are presented at the New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall and Harvard's Sanders Theatre.

Boston Baroque's 2015-2016 season launched October 23 with Vivaldi's Juditha Triumphans. This fine Italian Baroque oratorio – Vivaldi's only surviving work in the genre – is part of a season which also includes Handel's Messiah, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout and Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) starring Nicholas Phan.

"For the 2015–2016 season, Boston Baroque continues its commitment to presenting today's leading performers, alongside our Grammy-nominated orchestra and chorus. To kick off the season, we present Vivaldi's masterpiece oratorio Juditha Triumphans, featuring the Boston Baroque debut and the Boston debut of mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack, a finalist in the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition," notes Boston Baroque founder and music director Martin Pearlman.

For a complete schedule and informaiton, visit

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Chicago Pianist Places Third in International Chopin Competition
Music Institute of Chicago alumna Kate Liu has placed third—the highest-placing American—in the 17th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition, in yet another example of the extraordinary accomplishments of students from the Music Institute's Academy for gifted pre-college musicians, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Kate Liu, 21 years old, is from Winnetka, Illinois and attended New Trier High School. She studied at the Music Institute beginning in 2004 with the late Emilio del Rosario, then with Micah Yui and Alan Chow. She now studies with Robert McDonald at the Curtis Institute of Music. She was a member of the inaugural class of the Academy, a program that has consistently produced top performing classical musicians like violinist Ben Beilman, violist Matthew Lipman and cellist Gabriel Cabezas.

Her prize is 20,000 euros and a bronze medal, funded by the President of the Council of Ministers.

Alan Chow, piano faculty at Northwestern University and the Music Institute Academy, commented, "Kate is an absolute joy to know and to teach... What sets her apart from other pianists of her generation are perhaps two things: first, her intensely personal desire to know more, to search for meaning and answers in her music—she is always thinking and is never easily satisfied. Second, it's her ability to express and communicate her emotions fully and completely in performance—she's 'in the moment' on stage. And when she performs, it's completely honest—no affectations of any kind. I think this combination of qualities is quite rare in someone her age. She is clearly on the verge of a wonderful performing career!"

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

92Y November Concerts
Monday, November 2, 2015 at 8:30pm
"Persecution and Promise: A Legacy of Czech Music"
Daedalus Quartet
With members of SPEAKmusic:
Deborah Bradley-Kramer, Artistic Director and piano,
Joseph Morag, violin, and Maddie Tucker, cello
Elizabeth Brown, theremin; James Austin Smith, oboe
Buttenwieser Hall

Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 8:00pm
Olga Kern, piano
Kaufmann Concert Hall

Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 8:00pm
Jeremy Denk, Artistic Director and piano
Stefan Jackiw, violin
New York Polyphony, vocal ensemble (92Y debut)
Kaufmann Concert Hall

Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 3:00pm
Rachmaninoff: A Philharmonic Festival
Daniil Trifonov, piano (92Y debut)
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic
Kaufmann Concert Hall

For more information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

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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

Contact Information

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa