Classical Music News of the Week, March 19, 2016

Scott Yoo, New Artistic Director of Mexico City Philharmonic, Leads Summer Festival in California

Each summer since its beginnings in 1971, FESTIVAL MOZAIC transforms the Central Coast of California into a hotbed of classical music culture. July 13-24, 2016, Music Director Scott Yoo will lead a group of more than 60 visiting artists gathered from top orchestras and chamber ensembles from around the world in performances in scenic venues all over picturesque San Luis Obispo County. Scott Yoo, conductor and violinist, was recently appointed Artistic Director of the Mexico City Philharmonic.

Conveniently located on the coast just off iconic Highway 1 –  just three hours from the Bay Area and just three hours from downtown Los Angeles – this region is home to the town of San Luis Obispo, (named  "Happiest City in North America" by National Geographic and Oprah Winfrey) and Paso Robles (named "2013 Wine Region of the Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine).

San Luis Obispo County (or SLO, as the locals call it) has a pleasing mix of farm-to-table bistros, art galleries, boutique shopping, hiking trails and seaside activities, and of course, wine tasting.  It is into this comfortable, captivating ambiance that the musicians of FESTIVAL MOZAIC will bring their international-caliber artistry, celebrating the works of composers both familiar and out-of-the-ordinary. With 20 events in 11 different venues, the Festival offers something for every kind of music lover and provides an welcoming and authentic SLO experience offering the best in culinary, coastal and cultural life.

The Festival will present 20+ events, in four different series in 14 venues.

The festival has a strong tradition of presenting emerging artists early in their careers alongside well-respected professionals. This summer's festival will feature players from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony and a host of other top ensembles across the country.

Subscription Tickets are on sale March 15. Individual tickets are on sale May 1. Tickets may be ordered by calling (805) 781-3009 / (877) 881-8899 or online at

For complete informaiton, visit

--Bettina Swigger, Festival Mozaic

Jazz Bakery Movable Feast & The Wallis Present The Kenny Barron Trio on April 16
American jazz legend and nine-time Grammy Award-nominated master jazz pianist Kenny Barron brings his longstanding trio to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 8:30pm for a singular evening of jazz, presented in conjunction with The Jazz Bakery Movable Feast. Honored by the National Endowment for the Arts as a 2010 Jazz Master, Barron has an unmatched ability to mesmerize his audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms, inspiring the Los Angeles Times to name him "one of the top jazz pianists in the world" and Jazz Weekly to call him "the most lyrical piano player of our time." The Kenny Barron Trio features Barron on piano, Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. Tickets are now available for purchase at

"Kenny is truly one of the greats," said Paul Crewes, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts' new Artistic Director who takes the reins full time in April 2016. "We are thrilled to welcome him, along with Kiyoshi and Jonathan, to The Wallis stage. We are equally thrilled to welcome for the first time the amazing Jazz Bakery as new artistic partners."

The Kenny Barron Trio
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Bram Goldsmith Theater
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA, 90210

Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Single tickets: $25 – $55
Online –
By Phone – 310.746.4000
Box Office – Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

Gil Shaham performs JS Bach's Six Sonatas & Partitas with films by David Michalek April 14 in Zellerbach Hall
Violinist Gil Shaham performs J.S. Bach's complete works for solo violin, the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, BWV 1001-06, in Six Solos, with films created by photographer and video artist David Michalek and co-commissioned by Cal Performances, on Thursday, April 14 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall on the UC campus in Berkeley, CA.

Shaham is acknowledged as one of the foremost violinists performing today, and many regard J.S. Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin as the pinnacle of musical achievement, among the composer's most demanding and emotionally penetrating works. After listening to and studying them, and playing them privately for over 30 years, Shaham recorded the complete unaccompanied sonatas and partitas for a 2015 release, and has been performing them with Michalek's films, inspired by and created to accompany the works, in selected cities. The Baltimore Sun reported: "It's hardly news that Shaham is an impeccable violinist, one capable of bringing out the mechanics and the majesty of Bach in equal measure. Still, it was great to be startled all over again by the brilliance of his playing, the penetrating power of his interpretations."

Tickets for Gil Shaham in Bach: Six Solos with films by David Michalek on Thursday, April 14 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley range from $36.00 to $86.00 and are subject to change. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, at (510) 642-9988, at, and at the door. For more information about discounts, visit

--Louisa Spier, Cal Performances

Wainwright's Prima Donna: A Symphonic Visual Concert Added to Montreal Jazz Fest
The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (FIJM) presented by TD in collaboration with Rio Tinto, will welcome Rufus Wainwright to its 37th Edition, as he presents the Montreal premiere of Prima Donna: A Symphonic Visual Concert on July 2nd and 3rd at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in the Place des Arts.  An artist accustomed to doing things on a grand scale, Wainwright brings his memorable work Prima Donna to new life in a symphonic visual evening residing at the crossroads of lyric opera, cinema and symphonic pop.
Prima Donna relates the story of the world's most acclaimed soprano, Régine Saint-Laurent, as inspired by soprano Maria Callas and explores the themes of doubt, old age and art. In part one, Prima Donna is presented as a concert adaptation of the opera, with an orchestra led by American conductor Jayce Ogren, featuring soprano Lyne Fortin, tenor Antonio Figueroa and American soprano Kathryn Guthrie. The performance is accompanied by the artists' new film installation of the work, directed by Francesco Vezzoli, with pioneering American artist Cindy Sherman playing Maria Callas.

In part two, Wainwright will present symphonic arrangements of his greatest hits on piano accompanied by orchestra, performing favorites including "April Fools," "Little Sister," "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk," and "Oh What a World."

July 2 & 3 at 7:30 PM
Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier - Place des Arts
175 Ste. Catherine St. West
Montreal Canada

For more information, visit

--Liza Prijatel, Rebecca Davis PR

Gargoyle Ensemble to Forge "French Connections" at Chicago Concerts Apr 10 & 30
The Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble, which has been commissioning a whirlwind of new compositions and arrangements for their unusual instrumentation, will give the Chicago premiere of an organ and brass arrangement of late-Romantic French composer Félix-Alexandre Guilmant's Symphony No. 1, Op. 42, for organ and orchestra at their April concerts. Arranger is New England-based composer Craig Garner.

The concert program,"French Connections: Music of Guilmant, Ravel, and Widor," includes Garner's organ and brass arrangement of Maurice Ravel's impressionistic "Pavane pour une infante défunte"; Charles-Marie Widor's "Salvum fac populum tuum" (Save our people), Op. 84, for brass, drum, and organ; and French Baroque composer-organist Louis Marchand's "Grand Dialogue in C" for brass and organ.

Concertgoers will also hear Carlyle Sharpe's "Prelude, Elegy, and Scherzo," a Chicago Gargoyle commission that received its world-premiere recording on the Gargoyle's critically acclaimed debut CD, "Flourishes, Tales and Symphonies," released in December on the MSR Classics label.

The program's final piece will be Michael Burkhardt's organ and brass arrangement of the hymn "You Call Us, Lord, to Be," based on a Welsh folk tune.

The ensemble will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at St. Pauls United Church of Christ, 2335 N. Orchard St., Chicago; and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at St. John Cantius Church, 825 N. Carpenter Street, Chicago. Tickets, which are $20 for adult general admission and $10 for students, are available at

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

NEC Competition Wins and New Appointment Announcements
Cellist Thomas Mesa, New England Conservatory preparatory alumnus, wins the Senior Division First Place at Sphinx Competition.
NEC students win the top three prizes at the Schadt String Competition.
American Academy of Arts and Letters inducts NEC alum David Rakowski and awards the Charles Ives Scholarship to NEC senior Sonnet Swire.
NEC alum Megan Henderson is anmed new Music Director of Revels.

Read all the recent NEC news at

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Media Relations

Coming Up at Weill Hall, Green Music Center
James Ehnes, violin; Orion Weiss, piano
Sat, March 19 at 7:30 pm

Acoustic Africa, featuring Habib Koite and Vusi Mahlasela
Sun, Mar 20 at 7:00 pm

Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal
Kent Nagano, conductor; Daniil Trfonov, piano
Fri, March 25 at 8 pm

Richard Glazier
Sat, March 26 at 7:30 pm

Andre Watts, piano
Fri, April 1 at 7:30 pm

Weill Hall, Sonoma State University
1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

For more information, visit

--Green Music Center

The Crypt Sessions 2016 Season
We're excited and honored to announce the first full season of the Crypt Sessions, presented by Unison Media and the Church of the Intercession, and sponsored by Yamaha. The performances will take place in the magnificent Crypt Chapel of the Church of the Intercession, Harlem, NY, and will feature an extraordinary lineup of artists: Alexandre Tharaud, Matt Haimovitz, The Attacca Quartet, Christina & Michelle Naughton, Gregg Kallor, Di Wu & Adrian Daurov, and Haskell Small.

There will be a complimentary wine & cheese reception for an hour before each concert, before descending into the crypt space.

Alexandre Tharaud, April 4, 2016, 8PM

Haskell Small, May 10, 2016, 8PM

The Attacca Quartet, June 8, 2016, 8PM

Di Wu & Adrian Daurov, August 24, 2016, 8PM

Christina & Michelle Naughton, August 25, 2016, 8PM

Matt Haimovitz, September 23, 2016, 8PM

Gregg Kallor, October 26, 2016, 8PM

For complete informaiton, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

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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