Classical Music News of the Week, April 3, 2016

Second Piatigorsky International Cello Festival Draws Near

The city of Los Angeles has begun to anticipate the scores of artists, students, and classical music lovers who will gather together for the second Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, emerging as one of the most important music festivals in North America, taking place May 13-22.

"World-class music is at the heart of L.A.'s identity, and we are proud to host the 2016 Piatigorsky International Cello Festival," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "This unique cultural event showcases the creative vibrancy of some of our most important and respected musical institutions - and we can't wait to welcome incredible artists from around the world to share their gifts with us." In 2012, the inaugural Piatigorsky International Cello Festival was proclaimed "Cello Week" by the City of Los Angeles. Artistic Director Ralph Kirshbaum states: "Having directed 11 International Cello Festivals over a span of 25 years, I never cease to be amazed, touched, and inspired by the artistry and generosity of spirit exhibited by my remarkable colleagues. With their rich and varied musical palette, they breathe life into every event, creating for aficionados and amateurs alike an unforgettable cultural experience."

In addition to the exceptional roster of diverse international artists participating in this year's festival, the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival Fellows also represent a compendium of cultures and musical traditions. Young cellists from 15 countries, 4 continents and across 10 US states in the early stages of their careers are selected based on recommendations from teachers and artists to participate in masterclasses and to perform in the mass cello ensemble. Music lovers and cello aficionados from around the world are eagerly buying all-festival passes and single tickets, both of which are now available for purchase.

For more information on the festival and tickets, visit piatigorskyfestival.usc.edu/tickets/

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

World Premiere Commission by Dan Visconti
The California Symphony performs the world premiere commission of Young American Composer in Residence Dan Visconti's Living Language, a concerto for guitar and orchestra, with Grammy Award winner Jason Vieaux as soloist, May 6 in Yountville and May 8 in Walnut Creek.

Visconti, who is in the midst of a three-year composer residency with the Orchestra, is one of five winners this year of the prestigious Koussevitzky Grant for this work, awarded by the Library of Congress in November. Acclaimed classical guitarist Jason Vieaux won the Grammy Award in 2015 for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for his solo album Play. Music Director Donato Cabrera leads the Orchestra, in a program that also includes Brahms's Symphony No. 2 and Philip Glass's Company for String Orchestra. The concerts are on Friday, May 6 at 7:30 pm at the Lincoln Theater at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center in Yountville, and Sunday, May 8 at 4 pm at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

"I'm looking forward to premiering Dan Visconti's new Living Language with Jason Vieaux," said Donato Cabrera. "To receive the highly coveted Koussevitzky Foundation Commission is not only a recognition of Mr. Visconti's talent, and unique and engaging compositional voice, but it also recognizes and celebrates California Symphony's continued and ardent support for newly composed works."

"Living Language will explore an inversion of the typical concerto format, where the orchestra normally exposes material with the soloist elaborating and commenting; to the contrary, my piece will explore the orchestra as a kind of echo chamber that passes around gestures that all originate from the guitar soloist's melodic material," said Visconti. Richmond Symphony, Reading Symphony, and Fort Wayne Philharmonic have also scheduled future performances of Living Language.

Tickets for the California Symphony's May 6 concert in Yountville are $35 to $100, and can be purchased at www.lincolntheater.com or 707-944-9900. Tickets for the May 8 concert are $42 to $72, and can be purchased through the California Symphony's Web site at www.californiasymphony.org and at 925-943-7469. For the May 6 concert, a $100 VIP ticket includes the best seating in the house, a pre-concert reception on the private roof deck patio at Lincoln Theater with wine, hors d'oeuvres, and exclusive time with Jason Vieaux, and a $30 donation to support the California Symphony's Napa Valley performance. Cabrera offers a pre-concert talk one hour before each performance, free to ticketholders.

For more information, visit http://www.californiasymphony.org/

--Jean Shirk Media

Ars Minerva Presents Carlo Pallavicino's The Amazons in the Fortunate Isles
Ars Minerva, a San Francisco based arts nonprofit organization, presents Carlo Pallavicino's The Amazons in the Fortunate Isles, May 21 and 22 at Marines' Memorial Theater, San Francisco, CA. This performance, directed by Founder and Artistic Director of Ars Minerva soprano Céline Ricci, marks the first time the Venetian opera has been performed since its creation in 1679.

"Can I be an Amazon,yet not a warrior? In this instant, Love has turned me from a fighter to a lover," says the Queen of the Amazons, sung by soprano Aurélie Veruni. Her conflicted feelings and questions reveal her as a modern heroine who doesn't want to give up love or her leadership. Other characters such as Auralba, performed by Jennifer Paulino, who doubles as the character Genius, and Florinda, performed by Ann Moss, experience love through surprising intrigues or even madness. The opera is set after the Amazon's defeat at the hands of the Greeks when they migrate to the legendary Fortunate Isles in the Atlantic Ocean. One day, a Moorish captain shipwrecks on the shore and professes his love and loyalty to every woman he meets, including the Queen. When a conquering army, led by the Sultan, arrives on the shore and sets siege to the Amazon fortress, the captain's loyalty and the Amazons' love for each other is tested.

Rounding out the cast of baroque specialists are Ann Moss, Molly Mahoney, Cara Gabrielson, Ryan Matos and Spencer Dodd. This production will be directed by Céline Ricci and will feature dancers just as the original production would have.

After last year's success of La Cleopatra, Ars Minerva's first opera performance, the organization has committed to reviving Venetian opera annually in commemoration of the legendary Carnival season that saw the creation of public opera. Opera News said, "It was a great treat to hear this beautiful, well-composed opera that has been unjustly forgotten for so long," of the 2015 production of La Cleopatra. Alongside modern world premieres, Ars Minerva aims to educate the public about this relatively little known chapter in opera history through workshops and its Baroque for Kids outreach program in partnership with the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts.

For more information, visit http://www.arsminerva.org/

--Adam Cockerham, Ars Minerva

Ike Sturm Presented by St. Ignatius's SMSS Series 4/13 in Caritas Concert
Sacred Music in a Sacred Space's final Caritas Concert of the season features jazz artists Ike Sturm + Evergreen at Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on April 13th at 6:30pm. The evening features selections from Sturm's newest album Shelter of Trees released in late 2015. All proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity's work in New York City.

Ike Sturm, Director of Music for the jazz ministry at NYC's St. Peter's Church brings to a close this season's Sacred Music in a Sacred Space (SMSS) Caritas Concert series in Wallace Hall at the stately Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, on April 13, 2016. The evening begins with wine and hors d'oeuvres at 6:30pm followed by the performance at 7:00pm. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased here or by calling 212.288.2520.

Sturm, and his ensemble Evergreen, will perform works from his latest album Shelter of Trees, which coincides with his landmark tenth anniversary at the church and the entire 50-year legacy of Jazz at Saint Peter's. "Shelter of Trees speaks to listeners of any faith or simply jazz aficionados in search of meaningful and emotional music," says Sturm. "Bringing sacred music into a jazz setting can be uncomfortable for people. It's not always a natural fit. For me, it grew out of my own faith. My music comes from the deepest place I have access to within myself, so my spiritual beliefs really came through and affected what I wrote." Downbeat magazine declared Shelter of Trees to be "…undeniably beautiful."

For more information, visit http://smssconcerts.org/site/

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Boston Baroque's Period-Instrument Magic Flute April 15-16
Boston Baroque closes their 2015-2016 season with their annual operatic offering in two performances of Mozart's "singspiel" Die Zauberflöte ("The Magic Flute") on April 15th and 16th at 7:30pm at Jordan Hall in Boston. Having presented the American period-instrument premiere of The Magic Flute in 1989, Boston Baroque revisits the work in a semi-staged production that will feature American tenor Nicholas Phan – returning to Boston Baroque by popular demand to perform the role of Tamino – and the "lovely presence and shining voice" (Detroit Free Press) of American soprano Leah Partridge as his beloved Pamina.

Boston Baroque has gone to notable lengths to stay true to a period-instrument presentation of the popular Mozart opera. The glockenspiel which accompanies Papageno raises special challenges for a period-instrument orchestra. The metal bars of the traditional orchestral glockenspiel are played by mallets, but Mozart's glockenspiel for The Magic Flute, is operated by a keyboard. Finding a keyed glockenspiel tuned to Baroque pitch (A430) had been next to impossible (the only one that had been in existence is at La Scala in Milan) until Jennings Organs, an instrument maker in England, built one specifically for The Magic Flute. Boston Baroque has imported this instrument for their performances.  Additionally, the pan flutes Baritone Andrew Garland will use as Papageno are considered the "Cadillac of Panflutes," made especially for Garland by Charlie Hind in South Carolina, who is world-renowned for his craftsmanship on these specialty instruments that are played by Papagenos around the world.

April 15 & 16, 2016 – 7:30pm
NEC's Jordan Hall
30 Gainsborough Street, Boston
Information and tickets at http://www.bostonbaroque.org/concerts/all-shows

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

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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