Classical Music News of the Week, January 23, 2016

John Nelson to Conduct Bach's Mass in B Minor March 11

SDG Music Foundation's 2016 Chicago Bach Project concert will feature J. S. Bach's monumental Mass in B Minor, BWV 232, with Grammy Award-winner John Nelson conducting an all-new cast of soloists and the Chicago Bach Choir and Orchestra.

The one-night-only performance will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 11, 2016, at the Harris Theater at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, Il.

Mass in B Minor soloists will include soprano Kathryn Lewek, mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore, tenor John McVeigh, and bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch.

Prior to the Mass in B Minor performance, the choir under chorus master Donald Nally will give the U.S. premiere of Laudate, commissioned by SDG Music Foundation for its Psalms Project. The contemplative a cappella choral work, set in Latin, was composed by John Metcalf, founder and artistic director of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in Wales.

Now in its sixth season, the Chicago Bach Project has staged world-class productions of one of J. S. Bach's towering sacred masterworks each spring since 2011. The rotating cycle launched with a sold-out performance of the St. Matthew Passion conducted by Nelson, who is SDG's founding artistic director. Nelson also conducted the project's 2012 St. John Passion, 2013 Mass in B Minor, 2014 St. Matthew Passion, and 2015 St. John Passion.

The 2016 performance returns to Bach's final crowning achievement, the Mass in B Minor, which many consider the greatest composition in Western classical music. Although completed in 1749, the work was never performed in its entirety during the composer's lifetime and did not receive its first full performance until over 100 years later in 1859. The work moves far beyond its liturgical origins in scale and offers some of Bach's most profound and beautiful music.

Free Pre-Concert Events March 1 and 7. Conductor Nelson will offer "A Bach Briefing" from 5:30–6:45 pm. on Monday, March 7. Nelson will demonstrate themes from the Mass in B Minor at the piano and offer insights into Bach's work. While both events are free to the general public, seating is limited. Pre-registration is required by e-mailing sdg@sdgmusic.org or phoning (630) 983-4300, ext. 400.

Tickets and information:
Single ticket prices for the Mass in B Minor concert are $25 to $55. Tickets are available online at HarrisTheaterChicago.org, by phone at (312) 334-7777, or in person at the Harris Theater Box Office, 205 E. Randolph Drive, Chicago, IL 60201.

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

Vanessa Perez Performs Spanish-Influenced Music by de Falla & Debussy, 1/28 at Americas Society
A product of the same musical culture that produced internationally renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel, and pianist Gabriela Montero, Vanessa Perez is undoubtedly a rising star in her own right. Perez brings her bold, energetic pianism to works by Manuel de Falla and Claude Debussy at the Americas Society (680 Park Avenue, NYC) on January 28 at 7pm. The program is inspired by Perez's latest album for the Steinway & Sons label, "Spain," which showcases her artistic sensitivity and acute awareness of unexpected connections between composers and musical styles. Admission to the concert is $20 general admission and free for AS/COA members; $10 tickets will be available at the door for students and seniors.

Perez made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2004, but as a testament to her versatility, her first New York performance wasn't in an uptown classical concert hall – it was at the downtown jazz shrine of the Blue Note, where Latin jazz star Arturo Sandoval had her perform his Sureña, a piece laced with Venezuelan folk melodies.

For more information on Ms. Perez, visit www.vanessaperez.com

For ticket information, call 212-249-8950 or visit http://www.as-coa.org/events/vanessa-perez-spain

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg to Step Down as Music Director of New Century
New Century Chamber Orchestra announced that Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg will step down from her role as Music Director following the 25th anniversary season in 2016-2017.

Appointed in September 2008, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg led New Century through an exciting period of growth over the course of eight highly successful seasons. Through her leadership, the orchestra founded a Featured Composer program, commissioning a total of eight new works and expanding the string orchestra repertoire; embarked upon three extensive national tours garnering record-breaking audiences and national critical acclaim; recorded three live recordings on Nadja's own NSS music label; cultivated vibrant partnerships with some of the Bay Area's most celebrated arts organizations such as the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Girls Chorus and Chanticleer; and further enhanced the orchestra's national footprint through a rapidly increased national radio presence.

"The impact of Nadja's tenure as Music Director is incalculable and her achievements are many," said President of the Board of Directors Mark Salkind. "After nearly a decade of extraordinary leadership, New Century has risen to a new height of artistic excellence and acclaim. Thanks to her hard work and dedication, we are confident that our search for a successor will attract an illustrious pool of candidates."

As one of the leading violinists of her generation, Salerno-Sonnenberg's career began when she won the 1981 Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition which she followed up two years later with an Avery Fisher Career Grant and later in 1999 the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize. A powerful and creative presence on the recording scene, Nadja has released over 20 recordings on EMI and Nonesuch labels as well as working with an extensive roster of musicians on her own NSS label including her most recent New Century release "From A to Z" (May 2014) featuring commissioned works by Clarice Assad, William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.

For more information on New Century, please visit http://www.ncco.org

--Brenden Guy, NCCO

Yale Cellist Chang Pan Makes Carnegie Debut with Brazilian Pianist Ronaldo Rolim
A recipient of full scholarships to Yale and the Heifetz International Music Institute, 27-year-old cellist Chang Pan will perform his Carnegie Hall debut recital in New York with pianist Ronaldo Rolim on Wednesday, February 3 at 8:00 PM at Weill Recital Hall.

Presented by esteemed Yale School of Music Professor Aldo Parisot, Mr. Pan's program includes Manuel de Falla's popular Suite Española, César Franck's Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, Edvard Grieg's Sonata for Piano and Cello in A minor, Op. 36 and Wentao Jiang/Ling Cao's Festival Tianshan.

Admission: $25, $20 for students and seniors. Tickets on sale at www.carnegiehall.org, CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, and at the Carnegie Hall Box Office.

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

PBO SESSIONS' "Mozart's Piano" Almost Sold Out
PBO SESSIONS: "Mozart's Piano," Thursday, February 4, 8 PM at the ODC Theater in San Francisco's Mission District.

Mozart selections from Concerto for Fortepiano No. 23 in A major.

Keyboard master Kristian Bezuidenhout will hold you captive as he demonstrates what Mozart intended you to hear when composing some of the best music of all time, on a replica of Mozart's piano.

Hosted by KDFC's Hoyt Smith, PBO Music Director Nicholas McGegan and Kristian will discuss Mozart's Concerto No. 23 as one of his most popular piano concertos. Then Nic and the full orchestra will accompany Kris in a performance of the entire work.

Following the concert, stick around to meet Nic, Kris, Hoyt and the orchestra and enjoy a glass of complimentary wine provided by WineWise.

General Admission Tickets just $25. For more information, visit https://philharmoniabaroqueorchestra.secure.force.com/ticket/#sections_a0Fi000000KSfXZEA1

--Dianne Provenano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Cellist Zuill Bailey Performs Vivaldi at Strathmore
Award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey joins the National Philharmonic, led by Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, in a performance of two concertos by the Baroque master Antonio Vivaldi on Saturday, February 20 at 8 pm and on Sunday, February 21 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore.

Bailey also performs Gregor Piatigorsky's brilliant Variations on a Paganini Theme. The concert also features two choral works--Beethoven's Elegischer Gesang (Elegiac Song) and Vivaldi's Gloria. A free pre-concert lecture will be offered in the Concert Hall at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday and at 1:45 pm on Sunday. Tickets start at $29 and are free for young people 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, visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301-581-5100.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Third Coast Percussion Performs NYC Premiere of Dennehy's Surface Tension, 2/10 at Met Museum
Widely praised for their continuing efforts to redefine the repertoire for percussion ensemble, Third Coast Percussion brings an exciting new work by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy to New York City. Dennehy's work, Surface Tension, was written expressly for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's extensive collection of historic percussion instruments.

In this new piece, inspired by the playing techniques associated with the Irish bodhrán drum, the performers surround the audience with a battery of over 40 drums tuned using a special technique designed expressly for this piece. Surface Tension was commissioned by the University of Notre Dame's DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is dedicated to Third Coast Percussion.

Also on the program is Steve Reich's Sextet, a seminal work for percussion ensemble that is included on Third Coast's latest album, "Third Coast Percussion / Steve Reich." 2016 marks Reich's 80th birthday and this album pays tribute to the profound impact the composer has had on contemporary music and on the ensemble's members. Of Reich's influence, Third Coast's Robert Dillon says: "While most composers now welcome our instruments on the concert stage, only a few have shown audiences how percussion can be absolutely essential. The rhythmic drive, articulated melody, and perpetual cycle of Reich's music seems to have marimbas and vibraphones in its very DNA."

Third Coast Percussion returns to the Met Museum's MetLiveArts series on Wednesday, February 10 at 7pm. Tickets are $30; call 212-570-3949 or visit http://www.metmuseum.org/events/programs/met-live-arts/third-coast-percussion?eid=83022

Members of Third Coast Percussion will join Dennehy and curators from the Met's musical instrument collection on Sunday, January 24 at 3pm for a free discussion about the creation of this one-of-a-kind work.

--Caroline Heaney, BuckleSweet Media

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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.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa