Classical Music News of the Week, May 7, 2016

Michael Christie Leads World Premiere of Moravec's The Shining May 7-15

Michael Christie, Music Director of the Minnesota Opera will lead the world premiere performances of The Shining, an opera composed by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec with libretto by Mark Campbell, based on the 1977 novel by Stephen King.

The cast of The Shining will include Brian Mulligan as Jack Torrance, Kelly Kaduce as Wendy Torrance, Alejandro Vega as Danny Torrance, Arthur Woodley as Dick Hallorann, Mark Walters as Mark Torrance, David Walton as Delbert Grady, Alex Ritchie as Horace Derwent, John Robert Lindsey as Lloyd the Bartender, Robb Asklof as Stuart Ullman, Rick Penning as Bill Watson, Shannon Prickett as Mrs. Massey, and Jeni Houser as Mrs. Grady.

The world premiere of The Shining kicks off the second phase of the Minnesota Opera's New Works Initiative, which will include the world premiere of Dinner at Eight by William Bolcom, a performance of Cold Mountain by Jennifer Higdon, plus remaining commissions yet to be announced. For each commission, Christie is actively involved with the opera's creative team from beginning to end, including extensive workshopping supported by the New Works Initiative.

All 7,056 seats across The Shining's four performances are sold out and only standing room tickets remain for the production

For more information, visit and

--Katy Solomon, Jensen Artists

Berkeley Symphony and Joana Carneiro Announce 2016-17 Season
Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony today announced the concerts and programs for the 2016-17 season, including the world premiere of a new Berkeley Symphony commission by Paul Dresher; the West Coast premiere of James MacMillan's new Symphony No. 4, a co-commission; and the Bay Area premiere of Mason Bates's Cello Concerto, with Joshua Roman as soloist. The Orchestra will also perform Shostakovich's epic Symphony No. 13, "Babi Yar", with bass Denis Sedov and alumni of choruses including the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus, the Pacific Boychoir Academy, and members of the St. John of San Francisco Russian Orthodox Chorale, led by Marika Kuzma. Shai Wosner is soloist in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, and Philippe Quint performs Erich Korngold's Violin Concerto with the Orchestra. The Orchestra performs Stravinsky's Petrushka and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4.

Well established as a presenter of major contemporary orchestral works, Berkeley Symphony continues its steadfast commitment to presenting original and unique programs with new music commissioned by living composers, many of whom Berkeley Symphony has developed an ongoing creative and collaborative relationship. Berkeley Symphony's 2016-17 season includes a new commissioned world premiere, a new co-commissioned West Coast premiere, and a new Bay Area premiere, alongside classic masterworks. Since its 1979-80 season, Berkeley Symphony has performed 64 world premieres, 28 U.S. premieres, and 21 West Coast premieres. In recognition of its leadership in commissioning and creating new music, the Orchestra has received the prestigious ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award in 10 of the past 13 seasons.

In developing programming for Berkeley Symphony's 2016-17 season, Music Director Joana Carneiro said: "We start with new music – relationships that we want to renew or that we want to start. It starts from the music of our time. Paul Dresher is certainly the first one who comes to mind – he is from Berkeley, and he is an iconic figure in our time. Mason Bates is another composer with local ties, and needs no introduction. I've looked forward to collaborating with him for a long time. And working with James MacMillan is something I've worked toward for a long time. Commissioning him has been a dream of mine, and I'm so pleased to be working on this co-commissioning project with two top institutions: the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony."

Ticket information:
2016-17 season subscription packages for the four Berkeley Symphony concerts at Zellerbach Hall concerts are on sale Thursday, April 14 by phone at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1; by fax to (510) 841-5422; or in person or by mail at 1942 University Avenue, Suite 207, Berkeley, CA 94704. Season subscription packages will be available through on June 1, 2016. Prices for the four-concert series range from $39 to $266. Subscribers enjoy a 10% discount on additional single ticket purchases throughout the season.

Tickets to the four-concert chamber music series Berkeley Symphony & Friends at the Piedmont Center for the Arts are $100 for four concerts, and are on sale Thursday, April 14 by phone at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1; by fax to (510) 841-5422; or in person or by mail at 1942 University Avenue, Suite 207, Berkeley, CA 94704.  The series of chamber music concert tickets can be purchased in advance at beginning June 1, 2016.

Single tickets for the Zellerbach Hall concerts and the Berkeley Symphony & Friends chamber music concerts go on sale July 1, 2016.  For more information or to request a brochure, call Berkeley Symphony at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1, email or visit after June 1, 2016.

For complete information, visit

--Jean Shirk Media

Curious Flights Presents West Coast Premiere of The Airborne Symphony
Curious Flights concludes its 2015-2016 season on Saturday, May 28 with the West Coast Premiere of Marc Blitzstein's World War II epic The Airborne Symphony for orchestra, men's chorus, solo voices and narrator. Marin Symphony Music Director Alasdair Neale will lead the combined forces of the Curious Flights Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Merola Opera graduates Brian Thorsett (tenor) and Efrain Solís (baritone) and narrator David Latulippe in a rare performance that marks the 70th anniversary of its world premiere. In support of this project, Curious Flights was recently awarded a $10,000 grant by the Kurt Weill Foundation and is one of only sixteen performing arts institutions nationally to receive awards in 2016 related to the music of Kurt Weill and Marc Blitzstein.

Curious Flights: The Age of Flight
Saturday, May 28, 2016, 8 p.m.
San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Single tickets are priced at $25 for general admission and $50 for reserved seating which also includes a post-concert reception with wine and beer. Tickets can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.

For further information on Curious Flights, please visit or email

--Brenden Guy, Media Relations

Kenneth Woods Takes Reins of Colorado MahlerFest
Kenneth Woods will oversee his first season as Artistic Director of the Boulder-based Colorado MahlerFest, which takes place from May 16 - 22, curating a schedule of varied events with "night" as its theme. At the core of the week-long festival is Mahler's Symphony No. 7, sometimes referred to as "Song of the Night." Other highlights include the US premiere of Viennese composer Kurt Schwertsik's Nachtmusiken ("Night Music") and Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht ("Transfigured Night").

With its combination of conducting, symposia, pre-concert lectures, films, community engagement and blog posts, MahlerFest's format plays perfectly into Woods' multifarious hands. "For me," he says, "Mahler has a singular creative voice. His music should be experienced as an immersive, transformative experience."

For more information about the Colorado MahlerFest, visit

--Melanne Mueller, MusicCo International

Live Streamed Concerts and Living Composers at PICF
The University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with their partner, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and sponsors The Strad and KUSC-FM, present the second Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in Los Angeles May 13-22.  The 26 visiting international cellists, ten pianists, three conductors, nine chamber ensembles-in-residence and 37 fellows, together with classical music lovers from all over the world, converge on Los Angeles for this unprecedented 10-day, 38-event Festival of concerts, workshops, masterclasses, lectures, panel discussions, and exhibitions.

In addition, select evening concerts will be streamed live and available through the Piatigorsky Festival Web site. About the Festival, Deborah Borda, CEO and President of the LA Phil, states: "The Los Angeles Philharmonic is pleased to continue its long and fruitful relationship with the USC Thornton School of Music - our orchestra would not be the same without our USC Thornton graduates, and our partnership in presenting the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival is an occasion for celebration of our shared ongoing local, regional, national, and international musical contributions."

For complete information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

NEC Student Wins Third Prize at the 2016 Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition
Following an intense week of rounds in which 24 young violinists competed in a wide range of repertoire, the 2016 Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition announced that New England Conservatory student, Luke Hsu, ('14 M.M. '16 G.D.) has been awarded third place and will receive an 8,000 Euro prize. Hsu currently studies at NEC with Donald Weilerstein and will graduate this May.

The Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition creates understanding and strengthens the appreciation for classical music; its one-week long competition schedule involves competition rounds, concerts and other events. Held in Odense, Denmark, the birthplace of conductor and violinist, Carl Nielsen, the competition also serves to present Nielsen's work in timely and relevant ways to a modern audience. This happens in a strong collaboration between Carl Nielsen International Music Competitions, Odense Symphony Orchestra, SMKS (The Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts), Odense Municipality and music schools and institutions from all corners of Denmark.

For more information, visit

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Celesta PR

Music Institute's Abraham Stokman Performs May 21
The Music Institute of Chicago celebrates the 80th birthday of piano/improvisation faculty member Abraham Stokman with a solo concert, "Abe Stokman Is Still Alive and Doing Very Well" Saturday, May 21, 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.
The concert program will include:
Bach/Busoni: Choral Preludes (2 selections)
Mozart: Rondo alla Turka
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, Op. 90
Chopin: Mazurka in C Sharp Minor, Op. 50, No. 3
Chopin: Fantaisie-Impromptu, Op. 66
Debussy: L'isle Joyeuse
Wagner/Liszt: Liebestod
Schoenberg: 3 Pieces, Op. 11

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

PBO News
Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale did not miss a beat after the regular season ended on May 1 with  critical praise for "Hymns of Praise." Within a few days they had packed their instruments and headed to New York City for the East Coast premiere of Scarlatti's La Gloria di Primavera at Carnegie's Zankel Hall on May 6.

The reprise of Scarlatti's La Gloria di Primavera continues with performances on May 10 at Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, California and at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, Massachusetts on August 25.

Immediately following the Scarlatti performances, Philharmonia will present a program of works by Handel, Purcell, and Arvo Pärt featuring soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and countertenor Andreas Scholl. Audiences will also hear the world premiere of "Red, Red Rose" by Caroline Shaw, the 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner in composition. The work was commissioned by Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale and inspired by the Robert Burns 1794 poem "O my Luve's like a red, red rose" because of von Otter's fondness for Burns' writing. Shaw is known for her unique compositional style with a particular passion for the Baroque structure.

For more news on Philharmonia Baroque, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Best-selling Author Lauren Belfer Returns with a New Novel
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Belfer of A Fierce Radiance and City of Light returns with a new novel—inspired by historical events—about a mysterious choral masterpiece by Johann Sebastian Bach that changes the lives of all who touch it

The unexpected discovery of a Meisterwerk is the inspiration behind New York Times-bestselling author Lauren Belfer's newest novel, And After the Fire (Harper, May 3, 2016). This powerful and passionate novel asks the question: What if you stumbled upon a long-lost masterpiece – not a painting – but a mysterious choral masterpiece by Johann Sebastian Bach that could potentially change the course of history? Studded with vibrant, real-life musical figures of 18th and 19th century Europe, from Wilhelm Friedemann Bach to Beethoven to the Mendelssohn family, the result is Belfer's best novel yet, a transporting, un-putdownable, multi-generational saga, spanning centuries and continents, that interweaves two Jewish women's lives, one European living in 18th century Berlin and one in present day America, and the mysterious choral masterpiece that changes both their lives.

Lauren Belfer is the author of And After the Fire (Harper, May 2016). Her novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel, an NPR Best Mystery, and a New York Times Editors' Choice. Her debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, a number one Book Sense pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Award nominee, a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and was translated into six languages. She lives in New York City.

For more information, visit

--Heather Drucker, HarperCollins

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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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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