Classical Music News of the Week, January 2, 2016

FWOpera Brings JFK to the Big Screen with Special January Film Release

Fort Wort Opera (FWOpera) is bringing the behind-the-scenes magic of JFK to life on the big screen at a special Making of an Opera release party of Thursday, January 14, 2016 at Fort Worth Near Southside bar, Shipping & Receiving. Free and open to the public, opera and film fans, along with curious music lovers, are invited to join FWOpera as the company unveils the most recent installment of their Making of an Opera series – a five part, multi-year project chronicling the creation and production of FWOpera's 2016 world premiere work JFK by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek – at this unique evening of entertainment.

Like a "movie watching night" with your friends, FWOpera will screen the first two installments of the Making of an Opera film series, The Discovery and The Libretto, before treating guests to a first-ever look at the newest addition to the lineup – The Music. The evening will also featuring food from On the Border, JFK-inspired games, prizes, and cocktails in Shipping & Receiving's hip industrial setting.

The Making of an Opera Release Party
Thursday, January 14, 2016
6:30 – 9:00pm
Shipping & Receiving – The Tilt Room
Complimentary food from On the Border + Cash Bar

This event is free, but RSVPs are strongly encouraged. For more information, contact Emily Weir at 817-288-1214 or via email at RSVPs can be made online at

--Fort Worth Opera

Australian Chamber Orchestra's Film/Concert Fusion THE REEF Gets U.S. Premiere
In February 2016, The Australian Chamber Orchestra brings their "Modern masterpiece" (Sydney Morning Herald) THE REEF to the United States for the first time. Melding film and a wide array of music that is guaranteed to alter the perception of a classical music concert, THE REEF achieved significant success and unanimous critical acclaim during a tour in Australia –– including a sold-out performance at the Sydney Opera House – and will receive its North American debut  at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on February 16th, followed by performances at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on February 18th as part of the Seeing Music Festival and at the Modlin Center in Richmond, VA on February 20th.

View the YouTube trailer here:

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Berkeley Symphony and Pianist Conrad Tao Perform Beethoven's Emperor Concerto Feb. 4
Music Director Joana Carneiro, Berkeley Symphony and composer and pianist Conrad Tao perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor," together on Thursday, February 4 at 8 pm at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA. Carneiro also leads the Orchestra in Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, an orchestral showpiece.

Tickets are $15-$74 and are available at or by phone at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1. Berkeley Symphony offers a $7 Student Rush ticket one hour prior to each performance for those with a valid student ID.

Inspired by Bartók's monumental concerto for orchestra, Lutoslawski wrote his own concerto over a four-year period from 1950-1954, after his First Symphony was banned by the Polish government. The folkloric, nationalistic motifs of Concerto for Orchestra were building blocks in his exploration of what became his new musical language, as well as a rebuke to the government. After the widespread success of this work, he turned to a style that encompassed random passages juxtaposed with more structured music.

Tickets: $15-$74. Tickets are available at and by phone at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1. Berkeley Symphony offers a $7 Student Rush ticket one hour prior to each performance for those with a valid student ID.

For more information, visit

--Jean Shirk Media

Dolora Zajick to Receive Opera Index Distinguished Achievement Award January 17, 2016
On Sunday, January 17, Opera Index will present its 37th Distinguished Achievement Award to Dolora Zajick, a true dramatic mezzo-soprano, acclaimed by The New York Times as "a mezzo in a class by herself," at a gala evening beginning at 6 p.m. at JW Marriott Essex House, 160 Central Park South, NYC. Presenting Ms. Zajick with this year's award will be Matthew Epstein, a former director of the vocal division of Columbia Artists Management whom Opera News declared as "one of the 25 most powerful names in opera."

The black-tie evening, with a guest list that includes many from the worlds of opera and theater, not only celebrates the remarkable career of Ms. Zajick but will also feature performances by all six winners of the 2015 Opera Index Vocal Competition. Over the past 33 years, the competition has bolstered the careers of 375 young singers with awards totaling more than $1 million. Among the notable singers "discovered" by Opera Index have been Stephanie Blythe, Michael Fabiano, Christine Goerke, Susan Graham, Angela Meade, Eric Owens, and Deborah Voigt, among so many others. See a complete list here.

Tickets for the Opera Index Winter Gala range from $350 to $1,000 (a portion of which is tax deductible). More information and tickets are available by phone at 212-706-9550 or from

--Angela Duryea

Daniel Smith, World's Most Recorded Bassoon Soloist, Dies at 77
Daniel Smith, who was one of the few bassoonists recording and performing in both Jazz and Classical music, described as the "Gerry Mulligan of The Bassoon", in the world of Jazz and the "Rampal of The Bassoon" in classical music, dies at 77 on December 19, 2015  in Brooklyn, NY.  The cause of death was an aggressive infection that led to cardiac arrest. His daughter Jacqueline Smith confirmed his death.

Bronx-born Daniel Smith studied music at Manhattan School of Music, Columbia University and The Mannes College of Music. Joining the U.S. Army, he was a member of the West Point Academy Big Band. During his early twenties he played the saxophone with several Big Bands including The Cab Calloway Orchestra and others.

As a teenager, Smith and his friends traveled from the Bronx to attend many jazz shows on New York's famed 52nd Street, in clubs such as Kelly's Stables, Leon & Eddie's, The Famous Door, and Jimmy Ryan's, and others where he heard all the great performers such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, and more.

Smith recorded numerous albums, with repertoire ranging from Baroque concerti to contemporary music, including jazz with a quartet under his own leadership, ragtime, and crossover.

Daniel Smith is the first bassoonist to have recorded all thirty-seven Vivaldi bassoon concertos in recordings made with the English Chamber Orchestra and I Solisti di Zagreb. Smith has also recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Caravaggio Ensemble.

Smith is also noted for his support of the creation of new concerti for his chosen instrument. He gave the United States West Coast premiere of Gunther Schuller's Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra. Daniel Smith has performed solo recitals at New York's Lincoln Center and Carnegie Recital Hall, Wigmore Hall, the BBC Concert Hall, and the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen.

His memory and friendship is cherished by family, close friends, numerous jazz and classical musicians and sidemen as well as collaborators, and his music offerings will live forever.

A memorial concert to celebrate his life in music will be held in 2016.

--Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

ABS Presents Works for Violin by J.S. Bach January 22-25
The American Bach Soloist are pleased to announce the opening of their 27th subscription series with "Bach Favorites," an all-Johann Sebastian Bach program of cantatas and works for violin that display the composer's multi-faceted genius in a variety of settings. ABS Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas will direct the period instrument specialists of ABS, the American Bach Choir, four vocal soloists, and an exciting violin soloist. "Bach Favorites" will be presented in four venues around the San Francisco Bay Area and in Davis from January 22-26, 2016.

Tatiana Chulochnikova will be the soloist for Bach's Concerto for Violin in E Major, BWV 1042. Recipient of the 2016 Jeffrey Thomas Award for her outstanding musicianship and an alumna of the inaugural ABS Academy in 2010, Chulochnikova has since established herself as a thrilling new violinist in the Early Music world. Possessing formidable technical command and bravura style, she was praised for her "… lovely, rich violin sound" and "tremendous musical expression" by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and called her performing intensity "… relentless and devilish." Chulochnikova will also perform her own transcription for solo violin of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. For many, the work bears associations with horror films like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), or even Disney's musical film, Fantasia (1940). This famous organ work's eerie, minor tonality will provide a showcase for Chulochnikova's energy and extroverted violin transcription.

Along with these dazzling instrumental works, the program will feature two extraordinary sacred cantatas from J.S. Bach's first Cantata Cycle in Leipzig, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" ("Heart and mouth and deed and life"), BWV 147, a work best known for the beloved chorale setting, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," and "Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!" ("Watch! Pray! Pray! Watch!"), BWV 70, a bold and urgent setting of a text about the Day of Judgement. Upon assuming the Cantor position at the city's Thomaskirche in 1723, Bach tasked himself with composing a cantata for every Sunday of the liturgical calendar. Continually facing a looming deadline, the composer's astonishing industriousness and inspiration resulted in some of the most expressive, dramatic, and harmonically rich music the world had yet witnessed. Jeffrey Thomas, "unsurpassable as a Bach interpreter" (Fanfare), leads ABS, the American Bach Choir and a powerhouse quartet of leading early music professionals.

Single Tickets: $30-$72. Tickets for ABS subscribers $26-$61. Discounted tickets available for students (21 and under with Valid ID). Please call the ABS Office, (415) 621-7900.

For more information, visit

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

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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 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.
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 simple-minded, 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 Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. 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 LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. 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.

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