Classical Music News of the Week, December 19, 2015

Luna Pearl Woolf's Better Gods Debuts at Washington National Opera January 8 & 9

Better Gods, a new opera by composer Luna Pearl Woolf, will have its world premiere at the Kennedy Center on January 8 and 9 presented by Washington National Opera, Francesca Zambello, Artistic Director. The story of the last queen of Hawaii and the fall of the Hawaiian monarchy, with a libretto by Caitlin Vincent, the one-hour opera is part of WSO's ambitious American Opera Initiative.  The music of Luna Pearl Woolf, praised for its "psychological nuances and emotional depth," by The New York Times, is also featured on several new recordings and is the focus of major composer portraits in Washington, DC and in Montreal in 2016.

Better Gods chronicles a pivotal moment in U.S. history, centered upon the woman who becomes the last in a line of beloved Hawaiian monarchs: "Queen Lili'uokalani's best elements of herself – the worldly, educated, deeply Christian woman and the rightful chief of a self-sufficient nation – came to war within herself when that sovereignty was threatened," comments Woolf, "To me, such insuperable tension within one woman makes her a heartbreaking, fascinating and truly operatic heroine."

Woolf's score for Better Gods references some of Lili'uokalani's own musical compositions, exploring the cultural crosscurrents they embrace. The 13-player orchestra combines Western and traditional Hawaiian instruments, including Ka 'eke'eke (bamboo pipe-drums), Pu'ili and 'Ulili (rattles), and nose flutes, which will be seen on stage. Better Gods is directed by Ethan McSweeney with musical direction by Timothy Myers.

January 8 and 9 at 7:00 pm at the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC. Commissioned by the Washington National Opera, Francesca Zambello, Artistic Director.

For more information, visit

--Shira Gilbert PR

200 Senior Singers Storm the Herbst, Jan. 27
Senior Singers Storm San Francisco's Herbst Theater for the Summit of Older Adult Choirs Concert on Wed., Jan. 27, 2016.

How many senior singers can the Herbst Theater stage hold? San Francisco's Community Music Center (CMC) intends to find out when it hosts a free Summit of Older Adult Choirs on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. Following a successful debut in May 2014, the Summit features a performance from seven choirs composed of nearly 200 singers. The 2016 summit, conducted in partnership with senior centers from around San Francisco, serves as the kickoff event to celebrate CMC's 95th anniversary.

The Summit represents a culmination of efforts which are made possible through CMC's Older Adult Choir Program, conceived in 2011. Free to participate and open to anyone 55 years and older, the Program provides many personal, social, artistic and quality-of-life benefits that musical activity brings. The program has grown as choirs have cycled out of the Community of Voices research study, a partnership between UCSF, CMC and the Department of Aging and Adult Services, supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging.

"I feel happy and honored to be part of a choir and I look forward each week's rehearsal so I can spend time with my friends," said Estela A. Moreno, who sings with the 30th Street Senior Center Choir and the Solera Singers at the Mission Neighborhood Center. "The Summit is extremely exciting and to be part of a greater community and having your performance recorded is the ultimate experience for me."

"CMC's free Older Adult Choir Program, one of our most popular offerings since its start four years ago, is a wonderful example of the ways we make music accessible to people of all backgrounds," said Chris Borg, executive director at CMC. "This Summit represents a key highlight for many enthusiastic musicians who love performing. It's also a great way to kick off CMC's 95th anniversary year."

For more information, visit

--Jimin Lee, Landis PR

February Events at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Close Encounters With Music
Grand Piano Trios: Schubert, Mendelssohn and Arensky
Roman Rabinovich, Piano; Sarah McElravy, Violin; Yehuda Hanani, Cello
Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $19, $29, $39

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Friday, February 5, 2016, 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 6, 2016, 8 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $39, $49, $69

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.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Stage 2
Tickets: $39

ASU Concerts at the Center
Joie de Vivre! French Duos for Winds and Piano
Monday, February 8, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
General Admission: $10 (Free for Students, Teachers and Veterans)

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

The Hot Sardines
Wednesday, February 10, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $29, $39, $49

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

Peter Nero
Friday, February 12, 2016, 8 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $39, $49, $69

One Night With Joan Collins
Saturday, February 13, 2016, 8 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $39, $49, $69

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

Virginia G. Piper Concert Series
Orion Weiss
Sunday, February 14, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $29, $39, $59

San Francisco Opera: Grand Opera Cinema Series
I Capuleti e I Montecchi
Wednesday, February 17, 2016, 7 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Stage 2
General Admission: $12

Friday, February 19, 2016, 8 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $39, $49, $69

Broadway Back Together: Avenue Q
Featuring John Tartaglia, Ann Harada, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Alex Gemignani and Music Director Gary Adler
Saturday, February 20, 2016, 8 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $39, $49, $69

ASU Concerts at the Center
Caio Pagano/Avanti Chamber Music Festival
Monday, February 22, 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
The Golden Age of the Piano
Tuesday, February 23, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $29, $39, $49

Michael Feinstein: Sinatra Centennial Celebration
Saturday, February 27, 2016, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Tickets: $79, $89, $109

ASU Concerts at the Center
Saxophone Chamber Ensembles of ASU
Monday, February 29, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
General Admission: $10 (Free for Students, Teachers and Veterans)

For more information, visit

--Bill Thompson, SCCARTS

Second Show Added for P.D.Q. Bach Golden Anniversary
Due to overwhelming demand, a second show has been added for Peter Schickele and friends' P.D.Q. Bach: The Golden Anniversary Concert at New York City's Town Hall on December 29 at 8pm. Ticket prices will be $77, $62 and $42 and will be available through the Town Hall box office and via Ticketmaster. The concerts at Town Hall will be Schickele's first NYC holiday concerts in over 10 years; the concerts were funded through a Kickstarter campaign which reached its goal in just two weeks.

Inspired by the musical comedy of Spike Jones and a British humorist named Gerald Hoffnung, Peter Schickele (under the alias "Professor Schickele") began presenting satirical concerts in the 1950's at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City and the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado.  This eventually led to the first public P.D.Q. Bach concert at New York's Town Hall in 1965. These concerts became an annual event at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York City continuing uninterrupted for 40 years.

For the Town Hall performance, Professor Schickele will be joined by fellow Julliard graduate and teacher, conductor Jorge Mester; Baroque and contemporary music standout, soprano Michèle Eaton; soloist, chorister and recording artist, tenor Brian Dougherty; the New York Pick-Up Ensemble; with color commentary by Peabody Award winning broadcaster and producer Elliott Forrest.

For more information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

"Winter @ The Wallis" Features Nine Special Evenings of Soul-Stirring Classical Music
The New Year will ring in the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts as the place to be for classical music on LA's Westside when it presents "Winter @ The Wallis," a special series of nine
curated classical music performances, January - March 2016. These intimate recitals, chamber ensembles, and orchestral events present an outstanding group of musicians who have created a cross-cultural approach to classical music while performing works by the most beloved composers.

In addition, The Wallis' newly appointed Managing Director Rachel Fine and on-air personalities
from Classical KUSC will host Q&As with artists from this special series prior to their performances. Patrons are invited to attend these free pre-concert talks, enjoy special offerings of wine tastings and pairings specifically chosen for each program by The Henry Wine Group, and listen to lively discussions with such featured artists as pianist Wu Han, violinist Bing Wang and cellist Ben Hong, pianist Jeffrey Siegel, and Santa Cecilia Orchestra's Yalil Guerra, among other special guests.

"Winter @ The Wallis" tickets are available for purchase as singles starting at $39 or as a
package series beginning at $156. For complete information, call 310.746.4000 or visit

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

92Y January - February Concerts
Monday, January 25, 2016 at 8:30pm
Matan Porat, piano:
Variations on a Theme by Scarlatti (92Y debut)
Buttenwieser Hall

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 7:30pm
Buster Keaton's "The General" with pianist Matan Porat
Kaufmann Concert Hall

Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 8pm
Brentano String Quartet & Gabriel Calatrava:
Bach's "The Art of Fugue"
Kaufmann Concert Hall

Sunday, January 31, 2016 at 3pm
Composers Inspired by Art with pianist Garrick Ohlsson
Kaufmann Concert Hall

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 7:30pm
Zukerman Trio
Kaufmann Concert Hall

Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 8pm
Julian Rachlin, violin
Magda Amara, piano
Clifford Ross, video & stage installation
Kaufmann Concert Hall

Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 7:30pm
Australian Chamber Orchestra:"The Reef"
Kaufmann Concert Hall

Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 8pm
Inon Barnatan, piano
Kaufmann Concert Hall

Monday, February 22, 2016 at 8:30pm
Sir András Schiff Selects:
Schaghajegh Nosrati, piano
Buttenwieser Hall

For more information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Make Twice the Difference for the Music You Love
What an extraordinary and momentous year here at Philharmonia. On top of the triple anniversaries we're celebrating - Nic's 30th, the Chorale's 20th and the Orchestra's 35th - I am delighted to let you know that we welcomed almost 550 new subscribers this year, bringing our total number of subscribers to a level not seen since 2005!

It's a vote of confidence for the incredible music that happens throughout the Bay Area and in concert halls across the country. This season has already showcased some breathtaking performances and there are more thrilling concerts in the new year. These concerts - and our robust educational program, touring and recording opportunities - are made possible by supporters like you.

Subscriptions only cover 33% of our operating costs and we must rely on contributions from the PBO family to sustain our mission and bring you the music you love and the artistry you expect year after year.

I am excited to announce that Bloomberg Philanthropies has awarded PBO an unprecedented $150,000 challenge grant in recognition of our artistic excellence and organizational strength. We need to raise $30,000 in additional funds in order to be eligible for a second grant next year.

Please make your gift before December 31st and help us meet their challenge. We can't do it without your support today.

For information on how to donate, visit

--Noelle R. Moss, Director of Development, PBO

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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