Classical Music News of the Week, December 5, 2015

International Bronze Medalist Kate Liu Performs Jan. 16 at Nichols Concert Hall

After capturing the Bronze Medal at the prestigious Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, Kate Liu, an alumna of the Music Institute of Chicago, makes her first Chicago concert appearance on Saturday, January 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in downtown Evanston, Illinois. The concert, which the Music Institute is presenting in partnership with the Steinway Piano Galleries of Chicago, benefits the Emilio del Rosario Scholarship Fund for Young Pianists.

Liu will perform works by Chopin, including the Sonata No. 3 in B Minor and Mazurkas, Op. 56. In addition to the Bronze Medal, she also received the Mazurka Prize at the Competition. Later in 2016, Liu will embark upon an international concert tour, including Japan, Korea, Poland, Singapore, and Shanghai.

The 21-year-old Liu 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. Kate Liu was a member of the inaugural class of the Academy, a special program at the Music Institute for gifted pre-college musicians. The Academy, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has consistently produced world-class classical musicians with significant performing careers, including violist Matthew Lipman and cellist Gabriel Cabezas.

The Music Institute of Chicago's presentation of Kate Liu in concert takes place Saturday, January 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available at musicinst.org or 847.905.1500. All programming is subject to change. For more information, visit musicinst.org

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

New Century Chamber Orchestra Presents "Holiday Lights" December 17-20
New Century Chamber Orchestra celebrates the holidays December 17-20 with a program of festive classics that shines a light on the Christmas and Hanukkah season. Building upon the orchestra's creative collaborations with distinguished guest artists and ensembles, New Century welcomes the return of the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Girls Chorus and introduces audiences to the genre-bending, international klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer.

Last season's holiday collaboration with the San Francisco Girls Chorus was billed as "irresistible" by George Rowe of the Contra Costa Times who went on to say "With Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and her players establishing gently rhythmic, lilting waves of sound, the Girls Chorus sang with firm tone and graceful phrasing. The effect was gorgeous…" This year, they team up with New Century for "O Divine Redeemer" by Charles Gounod and "Dixit Dominus" by Baldassare Galuppi as well as performing alone for "I Wonder as I Wander" by John Jacob Niles and a medley of Christmas Carols. New Century opens the program with two of Johann Sebastian Bach's most beloved chorales, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and "Sheep May Safely Graze."

"Holiday Lights" will be given on four evenings in different locations around the Bay Area: Thursday, December 17 at 8 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley, Friday, December 18 at 8 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, Saturday, December 19 at 8 p.m., Herbst Theatre, San Francisco and Sunday, December 20 at 5 p.m., Osher Marin JCC, San Rafael. New Century offers an Open Rehearsal Wednesday, December 16 at 10 a.m., Kanbar Performing Arts Center, San Francisco for a price of only $15. The Open Rehearsal will offer a sneak preview of the concert repertoire while allowing audiences to experience the musical democracy of a rehearsal without a conductor.

For more information, visit http://ncco.org/

--Brenden Guy

Young People's Chorus of New York City Celebrates the Holidays
Sunday, December 13, 2015, 2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
92nd Street Y at 1395 Lexington Avenue
"A New York City Holiday"
Young People's Chorus of New York City – all divisions
Francisco J.  Núñez, Artistic Director/Founder

Tickets: 2:00 p.m. Matinee – Starting at $20
Tickets: 5:30 p.m. Evening – Starting at $25
Tickets are available at the 92nd Street Y box office, by calling 212-415-5500, or online at www.92y.org

Thursday, December 17, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
St. Patrick's Cathedral (Fifth Avenue and 51st Street)
36th Annual "A City Singing at Christmas"

Admission is free. Come early for best seats.  More information is available from St. Patrick's Cathedral or from www.ypc.org

Friday, December 18, 2015, 11:35 p.m.
"The Tonight Show" starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC
Choristers from the YPC are scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. Program details and guests are to be announced at a later date.

Sunday, December 20, 2015, 3:00 p.m.
The Church of The Intercession
Broadway at West 155th Street
New York's Oldest Christmas Tradition

For more information, visit http://www.ypc.org/

--Schuman Associates News

Pianists Jenny Lin and Uri Caine Offer Fresh Interpretations of Scarlatti, Mozart
Pianists are often presented with a quandary – to improvise or not to improvise. For acclaimed pianists Jenny Lin and Uri Caine, the response to this dilemma is: why not both? Lin and Caine's recent recording collaboration for Steinway & Sons, The Spirio Sessions, combines standard compositions from Domenico Scarlatti, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and others with improvisations by Caine, offering a new take on the classics. Selections from The Spirio Sessions will be performed live at Le Poisson Rouge on January 4, 2016 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $15-$25; purchase by calling 212-505-3474 or for the box office lpr.com.

--Caroline Heaney, BuckleSweet Media, Steinway

Joyce DiDonato and Rufus Wainwright "In Conversation" at SubCulture
On Wednesday, December 16, at 8PM, opera star Joyce DiDonato and world-renowned singer, songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright will come together for an intimate evening "In Conversation" at New York City's SubCulture. The two will engage in a lively discussion around a variety of topics, including the differences and similarities between opera and popular music, the current place of opera in modern culture, why music matters both to them personally and in general, and more.

They will also discuss recent performances and releases – Joyce's world premiere performance of the new opera Great Scott in Dallas as well as her new Warner Classics recital album Joyce & Tony, and the recent Deutsche Grammophon release of Rufus' acclaimed opera Prima Donna.

Tickets will be $20 in advance, with a portion of the proceeds going to The Kate McGarrigle Foundation, raising money to combat sarcoma.

For more information, visit http://subculturenewyork.com/event/joyce-didonato-rufus-wainwright/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Pianist Brian Ganz Continues Quest to Perform All of Chopin's Works at Strathmore
The National Philharmonic will present pianist Brian Ganz for his sixth all-Chopin recital (Chopin: Bel Canto of the Piano) at The Music Center at Strathmore on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 8 pm. Ganz, who is beyond the mid-point of performing approximately 250 works of Chopin, will accompany Polish soprano Iwona Sobotka [Evona Sobotka] in 10 of the composer's seldom heard songs written in the lyrical bel canto style as well as perform solo works, including the Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58. Ganz will perform on Van Cliburn's Steinway as he also plays a little-known Cantabile, Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat Major and two nocturnes.

"Chopin loved the human voice, and he made the piano sing as no other composer has before or since," said Ganz. "I'll begin the program with a few solo works that highlight that ability, like the rarely heard 'Cantabile,' which means 'in a singing tone.' It's a tiny gem, even shorter than most of the composer's preludes."

Ganz will highlight both the Steinway and Chopin in the first half of his concert by continuing with the Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat Major, Op. 29, and a selection of nocturnes. The highlight of the first half, according to Ganz, will be "the incredible voice of Iwona Sobotka, who will bring 10 of Chopin's songs to life."

The second half of the concert will feature Ganz's performance of Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op 58. One of only four sonatas composed by Chopin, Sonata No. 3 was written when he was at his peak of creativity. Musicologist Tadeusz Zielinski calls it Chopin's "deepest" work.

Tickets start at $29 and are free for children ages 7-17 through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program. ALL KIDS tickets must be reserved by calling (301-581-5100) or visiting the Strathmore Box Office. Parking is complimentary. Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 301-581-5100 or visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Cyber Monday Sale - Only 2 Days Left!
Weill Hall - Schroeder Hall
Green Music Center, Sonoma State University

20% Off all remaining 2015/16 season concerts in Weill Hall.

No promo code needed - All tickets are discounted on-line.
Discounted tickets are limited and can run out.

Sale began at Midnight Monday, November 30 and runs through Sunday, December 6.

For more ticket information, visit http://gmc.sonoma.edu/

--Green Music Center

American Bach Soloists Name Garrett Shatzer Development Director
The American Bach Soloists (ABS) announce the appointment of Garrett Shatzer as the organization's Development Director effective January 1, 2016. Mr. Shatzer joins the San Francisco­–based staff after engagements as the Annual Fund & Institutional Giving Manager at the Oakland Symphony and the Annual Fund Manager at Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

"I am deeply honored to be joining the staff of the American Bach Soloists. I've greatly admired the group since I first heard of them when I moved to Davis in 2008. Their musicianship is extraordinary, and I've had the pleasure of attending many of their concerts over the years. ABS has made great strides recently, and I very much look forward to contributing my efforts to ensure its continued success" stated Shatzer.

Executive Director Don Scott Carpenter added, "I am very pleased that Garrett is joining us and I look forward to working with him as we enhance a development plan that continues to support the artistic excellence created by artistic director Jeffrey Thomas; this is an important step for the future of ABS."

Mr. Shatzer will work closely with Mr. Carpenter, as well as the development committee and the board in cultivating and soliciting individual donations, as well as corporate, foundation, and government gifts.

For more information, visit http://americanbach.org/

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Taylor Swift Donates $50,000 to Seattle Symphony
The Seattle Symphony has received a major donation in the amount of $50,000 from recording artist Taylor Swift, in support of the future of the orchestra's musicians and musicians of the future. Swift's donation to the Seattle Symphony will support two signature programs, Link Up: Seattle Symphony, which will reach over 12,000 third through fifth graders this year, and the musicians' pension fund.

Inspired by listening to the orchestra's 2014 recording of John Luther Adams's Become Ocean, Swift wrote to Music Director Ludovic Morlot to express her appreciation to the musicians who recorded the music. "I was thrilled to hear that Taylor was moved by Become Ocean, like all of us at the Seattle Symphony," Morlot said. "This is a powerful piece with a unique soundscape. We're especially thankful that she wishes to support our musicians, and that she shares our belief that all people should be able to experience symphonic music." In her letter to Morlot, Swift also praised the beauty of the composition, the musicianship of the orchestra and reminisced about going to hear her local symphony with her grandmother and how important the experience was to her.

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

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.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa