Classical Music News of the Week, April 9, 2016

Berkeley Symphony in West Coast Premiere of Mark Grey's Frankenstein Symphony May 5

Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony close their 2015-16 season Thursday, May 5 at 8 pm at Zellerbach Hall with the West Coast premiere of Mark Grey's Frankenstein Symphony, which the Orchestra co-commissioned with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Violinist Simone Porter makes her first appearance in the Bay Area, performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the orchestra.

Composer Mark Grey, a native of San Francisco, created the Frankenstein Symphony from his forthcoming opera Frankenstein, which premieres at La Monnaie in Brussels, Belgium, in June 2016. The symphony was co-commissioned with the Atlanta Symphony and premiered there in February 2016. Both works are based on Mary Shelley's book, in honor of the 200th anniversary of its conception.

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.

--Jean Shirk, Jean Shirk Media

American Bach Soloists News
Joyous Bach! Easter & Ascension Oratorios:
From April 22-25, ABS presents "Easter & Ascension Oratorios," a program of glorious works that were composed for two important celebrations within the Lutheran calendar by J.S. Bach, Kuhnau, and Buxtehude. ABS will perform Kuhnau's Ascension cantata Ihr Himmel jubiliert von oben ("Therefore rejoice, you heavens"), and also our namesake's Lobet Gott in seine Reichen ("Praise God in his riches"), otherwise known as the "Ascension Oratorio." Jeffrey Thomas will also conduct a magnificent assemblage of ABS artists—trumpets, timpani, oboes, recorders, flute, strings, voices, and continuo—in celebratory music for Easter, beginning with Buxtehude's Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn ("Today God's Son Triumphs") and J.S. Bach's Oster-Oratorium, or "Easter Oratorio." Join us April 22-25 and let these radiant works uplift you!

2016 Festival Tickets Now on Sale:
Tickets for the 7th annual American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy are now on sale. The 2016 Festival will include performances at St. Mark's Lutheran Church and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music from August 5-14, 2016. Titled "An Italian Journey," many of the concerts and lectures will explore sacred and secular works from the finest composers who worked in Florence, Venice, and Rome during the era. Additionally, the ABS Festival & Academy will present the North American premiere performances of Handel's 1734 Serenata, Parnasso in festa, and Bach's monumental Mass in B Minor.

For tickets and information, visit

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

The Wallis Presents "An Evening with Peter Sellars"
The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts joins forces with the Ojai Music Festival for the first time to present a lively Arts & Ideas conversation between groundbreaking opera and theater director Peter Sellars and The New Yorker music critic Alex Ross. The conversation will take placeon the stage of the Bram Goldsmith Theater on Monday, May 16 at 7:30pm.

Sellars, Music Director of the 2016 Ojai Music Festival in June, has gained international renown for his transformative interpretations of artistic masterpieces such as John Adams's Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer, as well as for his distinctive collaborations with an extraordinary range of artists including Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, dance pioneer Reggie Gray and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison. Ross, a 2008 MacArthur "Genius" Fellow, is the author of The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Tickets for An Evening with Peter Sellars are now available for $25 – $35. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit, call 310.746.4000, or stop by in person at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Ticket prices subject to change.

For more information, visit

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

Robert Spano Leads ASO to Carnegie Hall for Shaw Centennial
Robert Spano returns to Carnegie Hall on April 30 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, joined by soprano Jessica Rivera and baritone Nmon Ford, bringing the New York premiere of Zohar. This oratorio by Jonathan Leshnoff is co-commissioned by the ASO and Carnegie Hall to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the choral giant Robert Shaw and honors his ties to Carnegie Hall. The date is significant as April 30, 2016 would have been Robert Shaw's 100th birthday. The second half of the program features the Brahms Requiem. Now in his fifteenth season with the ASO, Robert Spano makes his ninth appearance at Carnegie Hall over 12 consecutive seasons with this performance.

The immeasurable and lasting influence of Robert Shaw, ASO Music Director from 1967-1988, is still felt by musicians and concertgoers today, 100 years after his birth. Deeply committed to musical expansion and engaging communities with art, Shaw's numerous ambitions for the Orchestra and its service to Atlanta brought the ASO to the forefront of artistic and cultural innovation. Throughout his 21-year tenure as Music Director, Maestro Shaw programmed and commissioned more contemporary pieces than Atlanta had ever seen; his dedication to racial equality eventually led to the integration of black musicians into the all-white Orchestra as well as to the board of directors. Due to the orchestra's increased popularity as a cultural hub and Shaw himself, the importance of a choral program that matched the orchestra's level of excellence rose naturally, with the ASO Chorus officially forming in 1970 and debuting at Carnegie Hall just six years after its inception. The ASO Chorus has made numerous returns to Carnegie since then, solidifying not just its place as one of the nation's most beloved vocal ensembles, but of Shaw's legacy as one of the great musical progressives of the 20th century.

Saturday, April 30, 8:00 PM
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Jessica Rivera, soprano; Nmon Ford, baritone
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus

Leshnoff: Zohar (world premiere)
Brahms: A German Requiem

For more information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

National Philharmonic Announces 2016-17 Season at Strathmore
Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski and the National Philharmonic at Strathmore announced its 2016-2017 season today. The new season will feature the music of Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and more. The season kicks off with an evening of Beethoven featuring a National Philharmonic favorite, pianist Brian Ganz, performing the Piano Concerto No. 4 on September 17 and 18 at the Music Center at Strathmore. Other soloists featured throughout the year include pianist Eric Lu playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2; violinist Chee-Yun performing Vivaldi's and Piazzolla's The Four Seasons; and cellist Zuill Bailey showcasing Bruch's Kol Nidrei and Bloch's Schelomo.

The National Philharmonic Chorale performs its annual Messiah under the direction of Artistic Director Stan Engebretson in mid-December. In addition, the Chorale will be showcased in a program entitled Music From the English Cathedral  and one that includes the rarely heard version of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture (with chorus) paired with Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. In addition, the chorale will participate in a concert presenting the local premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff's oratorio Zohar with soprano Danielle Talamantes and baritone Nmon Ford.

In its eleventh year of residency at the Music Center at Strathmore, the National Philharmonic is performing to nearly 50,000 people each year. The Philharmonic will continue its commitment to education and outreach by offering free concerts to every second grader in Montgomery County Public Schools, free pre-concert lectures, master classes with renowned guest soloists and high quality summer string and choral programs. New this season: The Philharmonic is offering several instrument petting zoos (Oct. 9 and April 23) and a new series -- "Musical Musings with the Maestro" -- during which Maestro Gajewski will discuss music to be performed in upcoming Philharmonic concerts. The "Musical Musings" will be at the Mansion at Strathmore at 10:30 am on October 3, 2016 and January 23 and April 17, 2017.

For the eighth year, National Philharmonic is offering its subscribers a Custom Series, which allows subscribers to create their own packages and receive discounts of up to 25% on tickets. Subscription information is available by calling 301-581-5100 or at

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Carl Palmer's ELP Legacy Announces "Remember Keith and the Music of Emerson Lake & Palmer Tour
Carl Palmer, among the most renowned drummers in rock history and a founding member of both ELP and ASIA, is returning to the United States and Canada for a tour he has decided to name: The 2016 Remembering Keith and the Music of Emerson Lake & Palmer Tour. Originally designed to be a celebration of Palmer's 50th year in music, the focus and name of the tour was changed in light of the tragic death of Keith Emerson on March 11th.

"I will deeply miss Keith and I want you all to know I will carry on flying the ELP banner and playing the great music with my band for many years to come," said Palmer, in a statement. "We have lost a very talented and gifted musician but this great music will continue for a long, long time."

To honor his late friend and former band mate, Palmer, in association with Audio One, will present a special show: "Pictures At An Exhibition--A Tribute To Keith Emerson" which will feature music by Carl Palmer's ELP Legacy band with special guests, cinematic images, and performances by The Center For Contemporary Dance, who will interpret the music of Emerson Lake & Palmer in contemporary dance segments combined with backing from Palmer and his band. The tribute show, which will also include other guest musicians yet to be announced, will be staged one night only, Friday, June 24th, 2016 at Miami, Florida's historic and intimate Olympia Theater. Tickets are available at

For further information on the complete tour, visit

--Bruce Plato

David Enlow at Church of St. Ignatius Loyola
New York-based Organist David Enlow, hailed for his "enormous virtuosity" (Stuttgarter Zeitung), "arresting performances" (The American Organist), and his "gutsy, yet sensitive" playing (Organ Canada), presents a program of all J.S. Bach, taken from his forthcoming album Bach on Park Avenue, recorded at St. Ignatius Loyola on the church's celebrated N.P. Mander Organ. Enlow's performance is Sunday, April 17, at 3:00 pm at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased by calling 212-288-2520.

Set against the grandeur of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space's N.P. Mander Organ Recital Series continues to showcase some of the New York area's most renowned organists in a concert format befitting this majestic setting. At 5,000 pipes, 30 tons and 45 feet high, the N.P Mander organ is the largest tracker-action pipe organ in the New York metropolitan area. This massive, kingly instrument bellows beneath the cavernous vaults at St. Ignatius Loyola. All N.P. Mander Organ Recitals feature large-screen projection, offering the audience a rare view of the organist at work.

For more information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Philharmonia Baroque Closes Season with Powerful Choral Performance
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra will close its 35th anniversary season with Beethoven and Mendelssohn in a program called "Hymns of Praise" to be performed April 27 through May 1 throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. As Nicholas McGegan wraps up his own 30th season as music director of the orchestra, he'll not only lead the orchestra but also a powerful chorus of voices from the Philharmonia Chorale and other local choruses.

The first half of the program will feature three works from Beethoven including his Leonore Overture No. 3, his "Elegischer Gesang" (also known as "Elegiac Song") and "Meeresstille und gl├╝ckliche Fahrt," (translated "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage"). The latter two works will feature the Philharmonia Chorale directed by Bruce Lamott.

The second half is dedicated to Felix Mendelssohn's monumental Symphony No. 2 "Hymn of Praise" or "Lobgesang." This is considered Mendelssohn's most profound work and PBO intends to present it in top form with guest choruses from the San Francisco Conservatory Chamber Choir, directed by Ragnar Bohlin, the Stanford Chamber Chorale directed by Steven Sano, and U.C. Berkeley Chamber Chorus directed by Marika Kuzma. Soloists include regular PBO guest soprano Dominique Labelle, soprano Ashley Valentine, and tenor Thomas Cooley.

Tickets range from $25 to $105. For more information about this and other Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale concerts, visit For tickets, visit or call 415-392-4400.

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

American Bach Soloists Presents Bach Celebratory Oratorios
Bach: Easter Oratorio
Buxtehude: Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn
Bach: Ascension Oratorio
Kuhnau: Ihr Himmel jubiliert von oben

Friday April 22 2016 8:00 pm - St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA
Saturday April 23 2016 8:00 pm - First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday April 24 2016 4:00 pm - St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
Monday April 25 2016 7:00 pm - Davis Community Church, Davis, CA

For more information, visit

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Joshua Bell Honored at Music Institute's 86th Anniversary Gala
The Music Institute of Chicago, now in its 86th year, hosts its annual gala Wednesday, May 25 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, 120 East Delaware Place. The oldest community music school in Illinois and one of the three largest community music schools in the nation, the Music Institute is planning a celebratory evening highlighted by the presentation of the Dushkin Award to acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell.

The evening begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, followed by an elegant dinner and awards presentation. Musical performances throughout the evening include some of the Music Institute's talented Community School students and award-winning students from the Music Institute's Academy for gifted pre-college musicians, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Individual tickets to the Music Institute of Chicago's 86th Anniversary Gala are $550; table sponsorships are available for $5,500–50,000. For information, please call 847.448.8327.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

California Symphony Announces its 30th Anniversary 2016-17 Season
The California Symphony celebrates its 30th season in 2016-17 and its fourth season with Music Director Donato Cabrera, with a year of special programming that highlights the music by a Young American Composer-in-Residence program alumnus on each of its six concerts at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Throughout its 30-year history, the Orchestra has made American repertoire its special focus, nurturing and commissioning work from emerging American composers as well as performing the most revered core classical repertoire.

During the 2016-17 season, Cabrera leads the California Symphony in compositions by Christopher Theofanidis (YACR, 1994-96), Kevin Puts (1996-99), Pierre Jalbert (1999-2002), Kevin Beavers (2002-05), and current YACR composer Dan Visconti (2014-17), who was recently awarded the prestigious Koussevitzky Foundation Grant by the Library of Congress. In May 2017, the Orchestra and Israeli-American cellist Inbal Segev perform the world premiere of Visconti's new cello concerto, Tangle Eye, commissioned as part of the Composer-in-Residence program by California Symphony. Other season highlights include the Orchestra's first performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 and Bruckner's Symphony No. 6; a performance of Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2; Romanian-Austrian pianist Maria Radutu in her West Coast debut as soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23; Bay Area native and rising star flutist Annie Wu in Mozart's Flute Concerto in G; Acting Concertmaster and San Francisco Opera violinist Jennifer Cho in Ravel's Tzigane on an all-French program; and stage and screen star Rita Moreno as the narrator in Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, in two Christmas concerts. Season subscription ticket packages go on sale today, Tuesday, April 5, at 10 am.

"The California Symphony's 30th anniversary season will celebrate both the lasting work and successes of the many Young American Composers-in-Residence who have gone on to great international acclaim, and the artistic excellence of our own California Symphony musicians, many of whom have been performing with the Orchestra for more than 25 years," said Music Director Donato Cabrera. "I am also looking forward to introducing several exciting soloists to our audience, and to performing three beloved symphonies: Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, Bruckner's Symphony No. 6, and Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2."

Subscription ticket package prices for the California Symphony's 2016-17 season range from $100 to $288 and are on sale April 5 to renewing subscribers and the general public. Tickets can be purchased through the California Symphony's Web site at and at 925-280-2490. Tickets for the June 18 California Symphony Cirque du Symphonie concert are on sale now and are available at and at 925-280-2490. All regular season 2016-17 California Symphony concerts will go on sale to buyers of individual concert tickets on August 11.

For complete information, visit

--Jean Shirk, Jean Shirk Media

Kevin Puts's New Work The City to Receive World Premiere
The City, a new work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts, will receive its World Premiere performances April 14-16 in the Washington DC area, Baltimore and New York's Carnegie Hall, performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop as part of the BSO's Centennial Celebration. The piece is a musical portrait of Baltimore, accompanied by an original film by James Bartolomeo featuring iconic imagery from Baltimore's past and present. Heavily influenced by recent events, the video and music reflect on the unrest following Freddie Gray's 2015 death in police custody, as well as the public expressions of optimism and mutual understanding which followed.

There will be three concerts featuring The City: Thursday, April 14 at 8pm at The Music Center at Strathmore; Friday, April 15 at 8pm at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall; and Saturday, April 16 at 8pm at Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Puts, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for his opera Silent Night, writes in his note on the piece, "Though inspired by the city of Baltimore, The City was intended to be an exploration of many aspects of American urban centers. My work on the piece intensified after the unrest of April 2015…after this incident, I aspired to transcend mere illustration and compose a work with the potential to heal, as well."

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison 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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa