Classical Music News of the Week, December 27, 2015

Cameron Carpenter Launches 34-City North American Tour in January 2016

Organist Cameron Carpenter embarks on massive 34-city North American tour in January 2016, with nearly every engagement featuring a debut for the International Touring Organ. With 27 stops in new cities and/or venues, this marks the biggest tour ever from any organist, let alone one who travels with his own organ.

Since the debut of his brainchild, the revolutionary International Touring Organ, at Lincoln Center in March 2014, which was described by The New York Times as "quite terrific," Cameron Carpenter has continued to break the barriers of traditional organ and classical music with a style, sound and energy that is uniquely his own. The custom-built International Touring Organ dispenses with traditional pipes and instead uses digitalized sounds culled from instruments from across the globe, thus allowing Carpenter's artistry to expand in even more compelling directions. Above and beyond the impressive technical wonders and effects that have become his trademark, Carpenter's music is imbued with deep sensitivity and emotional power, the manifestation of Carpenter's joy at being able to connect with his very own instrument.

For 2016, Carpenter embarks on his most ambitious tour to date. In fact, with 34 cities across 12 states and two countries, it is the largest tour ever by an organist.  The vast majority of cities comprising the tour will be debuts for both Carpenter and the International Touring Organ. In addition to solo engagements, Carpenter also embarks on a "tour within a tour" of leading Canadian venues in cities including Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, and Ottawa, and plays a series of concerts in March 2016 with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, featuring Saint-Saëns's Symphony No. 3 "Organ" and Poulenc's Concerto for Organ.

For more information on Cameron Carpenter, the North American tour, or the International Touring Organ, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Academy Celebrates 10 Years With Concert, Zukerman Master Class
The Music Institute of Chicago celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Academy program, which has educated and prepared gifted pre-college musicians for professional training and music careers, with several public events in 2016. On Saturday, February 6, renowned violinist/violist/conductor Pinchas Zukerman gives a master class for Academy students, free and open to the public, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Principal Clarinetist Stephen Williamson performs chamber music with Academy students. Both events take place at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

The Music Institute of Chicago's Academy 10th Anniversary Celebration Concert featuring Stephen Williamson takes place Saturday, February 6 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 or 847.905.1500. All programming is subject to change. For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

California Symphony Performs Gershwin, Weill, Bernstein
The California Symphony and Music Director Donato Cabrera perform a program of music inspired by American jazz of the 1920s on Sunday, January 24, with pianist Charlie Albright joining the Orchestra for the original jazz band version of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. A suite of songs from Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera, Bernstein's little-heard Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs, Stravinsky's Scherzo à la russe, and Milhaud's Le création du monde complete the "American Roots" program. The concert is at 4 pm at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, with a free pre-concert talk with Cabrera beginning at 3 pm.

The music on the program shares a common inspiration: American jazz. Stravinsky's Scherzo à la russe was originally written as part of a film score for a jazz orchestra, then rewritten and premiered by the San Francisco Symphony, with Stravinsky himself conducting. Milhaud's Le création du monde (The creation of the world) was inspired by the French composer's first exposure to jazz in the early 20s. Kurt Weill's music for The Threepenny Opera was born of a more formal compositional technique, but influenced by the newly popular jazz that was sweeping through Europe. And the now-familiar, fully orchestrated version of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue first was written as an arrangement for jazz band. "It was originally written for (1920s and 30s American bandleader) Paul Whiteman," Cabrera explains, "with parts for four violins, four saxophones, banjo – it was conceived for a 1920s-style jazz band."

Tickets for the California Symphony's "American Roots" concert at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek are $42 to $72, and can be purchased through the California Symphony's Web site at and at 925-943-7469.

--Jean Shirk Media

Music Institute's Free Petting Zoo, Jan. 10
The Music Institute of Chicago invites families to learn about music and options for music lessons and classes by attending a Musical Petting Zoo and Registration Day Sunday, January 10 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at its Winnetka Campus, 300 Green Bay Road. This event is free and open to the public.

Children can try a wide range of instruments at a musical petting zoo as well as enjoy music games and refreshments while parents learn about the Music Institute from faculty and staff. In addition to a raffle drawing for $200 off lessons or classes, all first-time day-of registrants receive a $100 discount.

The Musical Petting Zoo and Registration Day is free and open to the public. For more information, call 847-905-1500, ext. 127. To learn more about lessons and classes at the Music Institute of Chicago, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

PARMA Recordings Announces Completion of First Round of Cuba Recordings
Bob Lord, CEO of PARMA Recordings LLC, has announced the completion of the company's first recording sessions in Cuba. The music will be released in 2016, with PARMA returning to Cuba in the Spring for the next round of sessions.

Lord, who was named in 2015 as one of Musical America's 30 Professionals of the Year: Key Influencers, first visited Cuba in May following President Obama's loosening of restrictions imposed by the 55-year old embargo. Lord returned in November to record works by living composers, all of whom were in attendance, with Cuban musicians.

Lord recently wrote about his experiences on the PARMA BLOG.  About the Cuba sessions, Lord says, "It was a profoundly exciting and energizing experience to work with the Cuban musicians. What I heard during my week in the studios and concert halls was a true collaboration, the real ideal of musical and artistic interaction, in which composition and composer and performer and team come together to create something fresh and beautiful."

More information about the release of music and the Spring sessions in Cuba will be announced after the New Year.

Bob Lord is a producer, composer, bassist and CEO of PARMA Recordings, the New Hampshire-based audio production house and parent company of the Navona, Ravello, and Big Round label imprints.  As of 2015, he has more than 400 recording and production credits on his resume.

--Bob Lord, PARMA Recordings

Collage New Music Winter Performance: Voices of Now and Tomorrow, January 10
Collage New Music announces the next concert in its 2015-2016 season titled, Voices of Now and Tomorrow. The performance features the talent of world-renowned vocalist soprano, Dominique LaBelle. In the weeks leading up to the performance, highly acclaimed, award-winning composers David Rakowski, Chaya Czernowin, and Yehudi Wyner, as well as, composer and CNM '15-16 Fellow, Talia Amar have each been rehearsing their compositions with Collage New Music. All four composers will be in attendance at the concert. David Hoose will conduct.

Featuring Dominique LaBelle, Talia Amar, David Rakowski, Chaya Czernowin, and Yehudi Wyner.

The concert will be held on January 10, 2016 in Edward Pickman Hall at the Longy School of Music at Bard College, 27 Garden St. in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Pre-talk with composers and musicians at 7pm; performance starts at 8pm.

For additional performance information, please visit:

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Celesta Marketing and PR

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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