Classical Music News of the Week, June 18, 2016

2016-17 Season Announcement - 5th Anniversary of Weill Hall

The Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, announces 2016-17 season and the 5th anniversary of Weill Hall.

5th Season Opening Night Gala feat:
Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, with Wynton Marsalis
Sat, Oct 1 at 7pm

From the Buena Vista Social Club Omara Portuondo 85 Tour with special guests Roberto Fonseca, Anat Cohen & Regina Carter
Sun, Oct 2 at 7pm

Denis Matsuev, piano
Sat, Oct 22 at 7:30pm

Zakir Hussain, tabla, with Niladri Kumar, sitar
Sun, Oct 30 at 3pm

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Nicholas McGegan, conductor Robert Levin, fortepiano
Sat, Oct 15 at 7:30pm

Tomatito, Flamenco Guitar
Sun, Oct 23 at 7pm

Michael Feinstein: Great American Songbook
Sat, Nov 12 at 7:30pm

And much more through June 2017.

Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, 1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. For more information, call 1.866.955.6040 or visit

--Green Music Center

FWOpera Announces Call for Submission for Frontiers 2017
Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) announced today a call for submissions for its fifth annual Frontiers showcase, to be held during the 2017 Fort Worth Opera Festival – April 15, 2017 – May 7, 2017 and during the 2017 Opera America Conference being held in Dallas/Fort Worth. Launched during the company's 2012-2013 season, Frontiers remains one of the only programs world-wide that seeks out unproduced works by the finest up-and-coming composers and librettists from North, South, and Central America, and has been acclaimed for the opportunities it provides its winners. Composers and librettists whose works are selected as part of the Frontiers showcase gain valuable exposure for their works in a live performance environment while also taking part in unparalleled networking opportunities with industry professionals including artistic directors of other established opera companies, artist managers, classical music publishers, funding organizations, and conductors.

Composer and librettist teams whose works are selected for the 2017 Frontiers showcase will be in residence during the 2017 Festival where they will attend the showcase, participate in the final rehearsals of their work, and engage in post-performance discussions with panelists and audience members. Selected composers and librettists will also receive feedback on their piece through private meetings with the Frontiers jury panel and will have a recording of their work provided to assist them further in their compositional process.

Building on the model established by the program's first four installments, the 2017 Frontiers showcase will continue in its goal of specifically seeking out works for future production in FWOpera's popular alternative venue series Opera Unbound, which presents new or rarely-performed works by contemporary composers. To that end, the program's selection panel will include collaborative partners who will play a critical role in the long-term development of the Frontiers works and ensuring their future development.

For full information, visit

--Ryan Lathan, Fort Worth Opera

U.S. Duo Wins 2016 International Duo Piano Competition
The Music Institute of Chicago announces that Duo Amadeae from the United States has won the $10,000 grand prize in the 2016 Chicago International Duo Piano Competition. Duo Amadeae also won the Director's Award, which honors them with an appearance during the 2017 Chicago Duo Piano Festival. Yordana and Kyurkchiev (Bulgaria) won the $5,000 second prize, and Klimova and Maholetti (Slovenia and Russia) won the $2,500 third prize. South Korea's Kim and Lee and Hong Kong's Ping and Ting each received $500 Honorable Mentions.

An initial 32 piano duos, ranging in age from 25 to 38 and representing 18 countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, competed for a spot in the quarterfinals. Judges for the video round included renowned pianists Edward and Anne Turgeon and Du Huang. The 19 duos in the quarterfinals, narrowed to 10 for the semifinals and five for the finals, competed before a panel of distinguished judges, including Jeffrey Swann (chair), Alvin Chow, Sandra Shapiro, and the duo Stanislava Varshavski and Diana Shapiro. All rounds took place at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

Chicago Duo Piano Festival:
Called a "duo piano mecca" by Pioneer Press, Chicago Duo Piano Festival (CDPF) was founded in 1988 by Music Institute faculty members and resident piano duo Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem. Its mission is to foster a deeper interest in the repertoire, performance, and teaching of music for piano, four hands and two pianos. The Festival includes an annual summer festival, a winter mini-fest, and periodic national and international duo piano competitions for youth and adults. The 28th annual Chicago Duo Piano Festival takes place July 8–17.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Neil Edwards Appointed President of Honens
After an extensive international search, Honens has announced the appointment of Neil Edwards as President.

Neil Edwards joins Honens from the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra where, as CEO for the past five years, he has been instrumental in shaping the organization into a prominent musical force in Atlantic Canada. He has more than 15 years of experience in arts leadership as Executive Director of both the Nova Scotia Kiwanis Music Festival Association and of Debut Atlantic, Atlantic Canada's premiere arts touring organization which offers first touring opportunities and career support to Canada's outstanding emerging artists.

Honens discovers, nurtures and presents Complete Artists—21st century pianists for 21st century audiences. The Honens Piano Competition takes place every three years and is considered one of the world's most prestigious events of its kind. Honens prepares its Laureates for the rigors and realities of professional careers in music and creates opportunities for growth and exposure. The annual Honens Festival is one of Canada's premier piano events. Earlier this year, the 2015 Honens Festival & Piano Competition was named 'Festival of the Year' at Tourism Calgary's White Hat Awards. The 2016 Honens Festival takes place in Calgary, September 8 to 11. The next Honens Piano Competition will be held in 2018.

For more information, visit

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

ChamberFest 2016, Green Music Center
ChamberFest 2016: Program VII - Finale
 Sun, Jun 26, 2016 at 3pm
 Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622
 Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola in E-Flat Major, K.  364
 Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 1 in D Major
 Mozart: Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos in E-Flat Major, K. 365

 Jeffrey Kahane, conductor and piano | David Shifrin, clarinet
 Benjamin Beilman, violin | Paul Neubauer, viola
 Benjamin Jaber, horn | Jon Kimura Parker, piano

Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA

For more information, visit

--Green Music Center

Berkshire Opera Festival Announces Its Inaugural Season This August
Berkshire Opera Festival is proud to launch its inaugural season this summer with a production of Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly at the historic Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts (August 27, 30, and September 2 at 7:30pm). BOF will offer a welcome return of locally-produced opera to the longtime classical music hub.

General Director and Co-Founder Jonathon Loy, a frequent guest director at The Metropolitan Opera in New York, and who has deep family roots in the Berkshires, commented: "We're very excited for the first season of Berkshire Opera Festival, and to be presenting the first fully-produced opera in the Berkshires in years." BOF's other Co-Founder, Artistic Director and conductor Brian Garman, added: "To perform this perennial favorite with a world-class cast – I can't think of a better way to launch Berkshire Opera Festival and help revive opera in the Berkshires." ?

The Festival will also include two recitals. The first, "Breaking Down Barriers" (August 10 at 7:30pm at Ventfort Hall in Lenox), will feature songs by female composers of Puccini's day, whose music was largely overlooked during their lifetimes. The second program, "The 'Unknown' Puccini" (August 16 at 7:30pm at Saint James Place in Great Barrington), will present rarely-heard songs Puccini wrote for voice and piano.

Madama Butterfly, which will be set in the 1960s against the backdrop of Japan's economic boom, features an international cast of singers, including Moldovan soprano Inna Los in the title role. From the Metropolitan Opera to Deutsche Oper Berlin to the Wiener Staatsoper, she has sung around the globe to great acclaim, and her performances of Puccini's doomed geisha have enjoyed success worldwide. Tenor Jason Slayden, recognized for his stirring portrayals of many Verdi and Puccini roles, sings Pinkerton. Reprising a favorite role that has earned him raves, the American baritone Weston Hurt stars as Sharpless, the U.S. consul. Fast-rising mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen takes on the role of Suzuki, while Metropolitan Opera tenor Eduardo Valdes sings Goro. Legendary bass and Berkshire resident John Cheek fills out the cast in the role of Butterfly's uncle, the Bonze. The performances feature the Berkshire Opera Festival Orchestra and Chorus.

Tickets are priced from $20 to $98, and are available by calling the box office at 413-997-4444 or at

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

American Pianists Association Announces Partnership with U. of Indianapolis
The American Pianists Association and the University of Indianapolis announced today a partnership to launch an artist-in-residence program and create opportunities for college students and the broader community to experience world-class musical talent.

Under the agreement, the winner of the 2017 American Pianists Awards in classical music – one of the world's most prestigious music competitions – will serve as artist-in-residence at UIndy during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic years. Residencies each semester will include guest lectures, master classes, public performances, private lessons for students and other activities. The artist also will rehearse and perform a concert with the UIndy Chamber Orchestra.

"Our collaboration with the University of Indianapolis is one of the most exciting developments to have come forth at American Pianists Association in recent years," said APA President/CEO and Artistic Director Joel Harrison. "I have worked with UIndy in numerous ways since my earliest years at APA, and I am especially delighted to have this entrepreneurial program come to life in such a creative way, thanks to the support and vision of the UIndy administration and faculty at all levels." He noted that the partnership complements APA's ongoing Concerto Curriculum program, through which its competition winners and finalists work with high school students.

For more information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Naxos of America Launches New Labels
Ansonica Records:
Real music by real people. Boutique record label presenting finely crafted contemporary music from across the globe.

Digressione was launched in 2008 as an association by Girolamo Samarelli with the intention of creating an original cultural project of record label and publisher operating in South of Italy. After some years of experience and significant attention received by critics, in 2012 was born the record company Digressione Music S.r.l., that continues the work already done by the association, expanding the range of activities with more professionalism and expertise.

Paraclete Recordings:
Paraclete Recordings is a classical and sacred music label committed to uncompromising quality and faithful interpretation in recorded sound. A conduit for artists passionate about pursuing beauty and truth through performance authenticity and compelling spirituality in the musical arts, Paraclete Recordings promotes and preserves the best of inspired works from Gregorian Chant into the 21st century.

Recursive Classics:
Recursive Classics brings a diverse catalog of recordings featuring exciting classical works.

Sorel Classics:
Sorel Classics expands the mission of the Sorel Charitable Organization as a non profit recording label. The label is designed to gain visibility by worldwide promotion and distribution of the records, while directing the profits to the artists. By placing the musicians at the heart of our mission we empower them to build tangible legacies.

Troubadisc was founded in 1991. The direction of this committed label was evident from the very first release - a disc of chamber works by Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel. The classical music here offers a welcome addition to the more traditional repertory and provides listeners with a totally new experience in the world of sound: lively, appealing and topical.

--Kelly Voigt, Naxos of America

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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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa