Classical Music News of the Week, February 27, 2016

World premiere of The Scarlet Letter at Opera Colorado

This May, Opera Colorado will present the world premiere of The Scarlet Letter—a new adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's iconic American novel by composer Lori Laitman and librettist David Mason. The premiere marks yet another major milestone for Opera Colorado, which recently announced a return to a three-production season in 2016-17.

Under the direction of Beth Greenberg, who is making her Opera Colorado debut, and with set design by Erhard Rom and costume design by Terese Wadden, Opera Colorado's premiere of The Scarlet Letter will feature soprano Laura Claycomb as Hester Prynne in her Opera Colorado debut. Claycomb takes the place of Elizabeth Futral, who has had to withdraw from the production due to personal health reasons. Additional cast members include: baritone Malcolm MacKenzie as Roger Chillingworth; tenor Dominic Armstrong as Arthur Dimmesdale; mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak as Mistress Hibbons; baritone Daniel Belcher as Governor Bellingham; and tenor Kyle Erdos Knapp as John Wilson.

"Opera Colorado is committed to presenting new American opera—from our co-production of John Adams's Nixon in China in 2008, to the presentation of Daniel Catan's Florencia En El Amazonas in 2012, to our upcoming presentation of Laura Kaminsky's As One in 2017, and now the world premiere of The Scarlet Letter," stated General Director Greg Carpenter. "Lori Laitman and David Mason have created a truly American opera which speaks to social issues that are just as relevant today as they were over 160 years ago when Hawthorne first published his celebrated novel." Carpenter continued, "We are sorry that Elizabeth has had to withdraw from the production and wish her all the best. We are thrilled that Laura Claycomb was available to step into the role of Hester Prynne. We know that Laura will bring this role to life in a most compelling way and we look forward to introducing her to our audiences."

For more complete information, visit http://my.operacolorado.org/single/psDetail.aspx?psn=21

--Abby Margulies, Resnicow and Associates

SMSS Space Presents New York Premiere of Culverhouse Requiem at St. Ignatius Loyola
Continuing with their Choral America season Sacred Music in a Sacred Space presents Frank Ferko's Stabat Mater and the New York premiere of William Culverhouse's Requiem.

The acclaimed Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola under director K. Scott Warren welcomes soprano Tami Petty for Ferko's Stabat Mater and harpist Victoria Drake for Culverhouse's Requiem. The annual Passion concert at Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on March 16th at 7:00 p.m. connects ancient texts with real-life experiences in works by two living American composers.

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space's annual Passion concert, held just prior to Palm Sunday, perfectly sets the stage for the unfolding drama of Holy Week and Easter. This year's concert, to be held March 16, 2016, at 7 p.m. brings a program of powerful, moving works by two masterful living American choral composers – Frank Ferko and William Culverhouse – to the arresting visual beauty of New York City's Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Tickets range from $25-80 and may be purchased by calling 212.288.2520 or visiting http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1850272.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Maya Beiser at Big Ears in Two Concerts - Philip Glass Concerto and Solo Show
Maya Beiser will perform twice at this year's Big Ears Festival. On Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 7pm, she is the featured soloist in Philip Glass's Cello Concerto No. 2 "Naqoyqatsi" with the Knoxville Symphony at the Tennessee Theatre (604 Gay St., Knoxville, TN).

On Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 2pm at the Bijou Theatre (803 Gay St.), Maya will play a solo show featuring music written specifically for her including Steve Reich's iconic Cello Counterpoint (with film by Bill Morrison), Osvaldo Golijov's haunting Mariel, Michael Harrison's otherworldly Just Ancient Loops (with film by Bill Morrison), plus David Lang's visceral take on Lou Reed's Heroin and Maya's own signature interpretation of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir. Kashmir is part of her latest solo album, Uncovered, a collection of re-imagined and re-contextualized classic rock, which was described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "bringing genre-defining music into modern global music consciousness."

For tickets and information, visit www.bigearsfestival.com

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Curious Flights Presents "Transatlantic Crossings"
Curious Flights continues its 2015-2016 season on Saturday, March 19, 8 p.m. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a program of new works by U.S. and U.K. composers including three world premiere commissions, two U.S. premieres and a week-long residency by two-time British Composer Award winner Simon Dobson.

Building upon the "Transatlantic Crossings" program launched in its inaugural 2013 season, Curious Flights brings British composer Simon Dobson to the Bay Area for a weeklong residency offering master classes to local schools and music institutions in addition to leading rehearsals for works that will be showcased at the performance. The program will feature a broad spectrum of his music including the world premiere of a Curious Flights commissioned work for clarinet and electronics performed by clarinetist and Artistic Director Brenden Guy and the U.S. premieres of Crystal for eight trumpets and Another World's Hell featuring the San Francisco Wind Ensemble. The Bay Area's premiere wind ensemble will also highlight new works by Bay Area composers including a second Curious Flights world premiere commission by Noah Luna and a wind ensemble arrangement world premiere of Metanoia by Robert Chastain, both graduates of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. All three composers will conduct the San Francisco Wind Ensemble for these works. Completing the evening are two chamber works including Tension Study No. 1 by Samuel Adams performed by the Living Earth Show and Red River by Mason Bates featuring the Curious Flights Chamber Ensemble.

For further information on Curious Flights, please visit www.curiousflights.com or email info@curiousflights.com.

--Brenden Guy, Press and Media Relations

92Y Announces Programming for 2016-17 Season
92nd Street Y today announced concert programming for the 2016/17 season, which features some of the world's most renowned artists in 92Y's acoustically rich Kaufmann Concert Hall and atmospheric Buttenwieser Hall. 92Y is proud to present performances in which artists are able to engage and inspire audiences through a wide and varied repertoire from across musical eras.

Pianist Angela Hewitt begins her Bach Odyssey—a four-year survey of the complete keyboard works by J.S. Bach, which will also be presented by London's Wigmore Hall. Soundscape returns for its second season, presenting three concerts of both young and established musicians in boundary-pushing programs. Sir András Schiff Selects: Young Pianists continues in its third season, offering recitals by three young artists selected by Sir András Schiff. The 2016/17 season also features New York premieres of a 92Y co-commission by Pat Metheny, and of works by Mohammed Fairouz, George Tsontakis, Mark-Anthony Turnage, and Jörg Widmann, as well as an arrangement by Peter Serkin of Brahms's Eleven Chorale-Preludes, Op. 122; and debuts by 20 distinguished artists on the 92Y stages.

In addition to this broad array of artists and programming, 92Y continues to present its established and highly-regarded series, such as Distinguished Artists, Masters of the Keyboard, Chamber Ensembles, and Art of the Guitar. These series continually reinforce 92Y's position as a presenter that collaborates closely with its performing artists to bring audiences engaging and passionately performed programs of a rich variety of repertoire from the past and the present. The excellence in quality and program innovation continues to be a standard bearer in New York's cultural community.

Ms. Arie-Gaifman notes: "We have an exciting season planned, which runs the gamut from renowned virtuosi to fast-rising artists of the new classical generation. I am particularly pleased that we are offering six New York premieres and the 92Y debuts of over ten artists. There is a wide range of artistic vision—from complete Bach cycles to juxtapositions of Renaissance and 21st century music—and high-quality musicianship represented this season, with something for everyone to enjoy."

For complete information, visit www.92Y.org

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

Boston Baroque Announces 2016 - 2017 Season
Boston Baroque is pleased to announce its 2016 - 2017 season.  The season will feature the Boston Baroque debut of international star countertenor David Daniels in Bach's Mass in B minor on October 21 and 23, as well as the return of soprano Susanna Phillips in her debut of the iconic role of Cleopatra in Handel's opera Giulio Cesare on April 21 and 23, 2017. A very special program of Biber's virtuosic and rarely performed The Mystery Sonatas will feature concertmaster Christina Day Martinson as the solo violinist on March 10. Two annual traditions continue with Handel's Messiah on December 9 and 10, 2016, and the very popular New Year's Eve and Day Gala concerts on December 31 and January 1 featuring Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks and Bach's Violin Concerto in A Minor.

All programs will take place at NEC's Jordan Hall, (30 Gainsborough Street, Boston) except for the two New Year's concerts, which will be performed at Sanders Theatre (45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA). Both concert venues are wheelchair accessible.

Season subscriptions starting at $168 will go on sale Saturday, February 27 at 10:00 am at www.bostonbaroque.org or by calling 617-987-8600.

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

NYU Student Operas to Commemorate Brooklyn Park
By the end of this spring, one of New York City's most historic and vibrant neighborhoods will be commemorated in song. And not just one song, but an entire series of new operas. This spring, students in the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (GMTWP) at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts will learn the ins and outs of opera writing when Brooklyn's American Opera Projects (AOP) partners with the esteemed arts school for a new "Opera Writing Workshop." Led by composer Randall Eng, the workshop is an advanced class for composers and librettists of GMTWP at Tisch who will collaborate with an ensemble of eight professional opera singers and two music directors to create short operas under the mentorship of AOP, an opera company in Fort Greene that has developed and premiered contemporary operas for over 25 years.

For the inaugural workshop, AOP and Eng have assigned the students to create operas inspired by the Brooklyn neighborhood Fort Greene and the historic Fort Greene Park, the latter of which has been home to a graveyard of Revolutionary War soldiers as well as a source of inspiration for writers Richard Wright and Marianne Moore and filmmaker Spike Lee. In addition to the musical team, AOP will provide the students with special access to staff from NYC Parks and Fort Greene Park Conservancy. NYU associate professor and opera director Sam Helfrich will direct the AOP workshop singers in the site-specific scenes being created with the participation of his design students in Tisch's Design for Stage and Film Department. The operas will be performed in conjunction with American Opera Projects at GMTWP's Black Box Theatre on May 7, 2016 and in Fort Greene Park itself on May 8, 2016.

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

--Matthew Gray, American Opera Projects

ABS Presents Bach's Birthday Concert March 18 2016
To honor their namesake's March 21 birthday and celebrate March 2016 as Early Music Month, the American Bach Soloists announce a special concert on March 18 by organist and ABS co-founder Jonathan Dimmock.

An internationally acclaimed recitalist, Dimmock is currently the organist for the San Francisco Symphony and principal organist at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. He holds the unique distinction of having been the only American to be an Organ Scholar of Westminster Abbey and is one of the few organists in the world to tour on six continents. Dimmock will perform an all-Bach program that celebrates the master's genius as composer for "the king of instruments." Performing on one of the Bay Area's most treasured tracker organs, he will perform favorites such as the E Minor Prelude & Fugue ("Wedge") and the Toccata & Fugue in D Minor ("Dorian"), along with a few lesser-known yet brilliant works.

March 2016 is "Early Music Month," a new, nationwide, grassroots initiative sponsored by Early Music America to highlight the artistry and contributions of Early Music performers, scholars, and instrument builders. In celebration of the occasion, ABS is pleased to showcase the music of Johann Sebastian Bach with this special concert.

Tickets: $25. For more information, visit americanbach.org.

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

PBO Performs L'Allegro with Mark Morris Dance Group March 11-13
Philharmonia Baroque's partnership with the Mark Morris Dance Group continues next month as they revive his critically acclaimed L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA.

Handel's  L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato  ("The Cheerful, the Thoughtful, and the Moderate Man") is a pastoral ode by George Frideric Handel based on the poetry of John Milton. Morris has created a stunning and highly revered interpretation of the work that has remained in demand since it's 1988 premiere. Philharmonia is pleased to take part in this collaboration once again.

"The brazen beauty of the ensemble sections is another kind of irresistible..." --The New York Times

"The marvel of Morris's interpretation is that it doesn't seem as if the choreography is simply set to Handel's score but rather woven into the very fabric of its conception..." --The Boston Globe

"...Mark Morris has created an instant classic." --The Guardian

Friday March 11 @ 8:00 PM
Saturday March 12 @ 8:00 PM
Sunday March 13 @ 3:00 PM
Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA

For more information and tickets, visit http://calperformances.org/performances/2015-16/dance/mark-morris-dance-group-philharmonia-baroque-orchestra-lallegro.php

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

SDG Events to Illuminate Bach's Mass in B Minor March 1 & 7
SDG Music Foundation has announced updated details about two free public events it is producing in early March to illuminate J. S. Bach's Mass in B Minor, the featured work at the foundation's March 11 Chicago Bach Project concert, where Grammy-winning conductor John Nelson will lead the Chicago Bach Choir and Orchestra and an all-new cast of world-class soloists.

The pre-concert events are intended to give listeners a deeper understanding of Bach's monumental, final masterpiece, which many consider the greatest composition in Western classical music.

"The Mass as a Musical Form: History and Debate" March 1:
A panel discussion on "The Mass as a Musical Form" will take place from 5:30–6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, in the recital hall of PianoForte Studios, 1335 South Michigan Ave., Chicago.

Johann S. Buis, a guest lecturer for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and associate professor of musicology at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, will moderate a discussion about "The Mass as a Musical Form."

Panelists will include Martin E. Marty, Fairfax M. Cone distinguished service professor emeritus of the history of modern Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School; Mark Peters, professor of music and music department chair, Trinity Christian College; and Jesse Rosenberg, clinical associate professor, musicology, Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University.

"A Bach Briefing" March 7:
Johann Buis will present "A Bach Briefing" from 5:30–6:45 pm. on Monday, March 7, at Pianoforte Studios. Buis says his talk will offer insights into Bach's Mass in B Minor from "the performer's perspective."

He'll discuss how performances of the work have changed since its concert hall debut in the mid-19th century, with an emphasis on conductor John Nelson's interpretative approach.

Chicago Bach Project Concert March 11:
The one-night-only Chicago Bach Project performance of Bach's Mass in B Minor will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 11, 2016, at the Harris Theater at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.

Mass in B Minor soloists will include soprano Kathryn Lewek, mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore, tenor John McVeigh, and bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch, all making their Chicago Bach Project debuts.

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.

Group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Students and military personnel may purchase up to two discounted tickets with valid student or military I.D. at the Harris Theater box office. Special group discounts for students and seniors are available through SDG Music Foundation, 630-984-4300. Web site: www.ChicagoBachProject.org.

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

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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