Classical Music News of the Week, June 25, 2016

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space Announces 2016-2017 Season

The renowned Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola's Sacred Music in a Sacred Space (SMSS) concert series, held within the majestic grandeur of the Upper East Side's Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, is known for presenting the finest sacred choral and organ repertoire, spanning over 1,000 years of music history. For 27 seasons, SMSS has presented large-scale choral masterpieces, as well as more intimate and reflective settings by lesser-known composers. The series has emerged as the preeminent showcase for many of the world's premier choirs and organists.

SMSS's 28th season (2016-17) includes several highlights pivotal to the series and the life of the church. "The church's 150th anniversary as a Jesuit parish provides a unique opportunity to introduce new audiences to our stellar performances, and to showcase some stunning sacred works and amazing guest performers," says SMSS Artistic Director K. Scott Warren. "One of my passions is to delve into timeworn pieces and find the treasures that speak to me directly.  I enjoy discovering ways to share my excitement for these works with our choir and our patrons. Our 2016-17 season is replete with some of these gems that may be less familiar to our audiences, but I know they will come to adore them as I do."

2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola as a Jesuit parish. To celebrate this milestone, SMSS presents a special concert, Jesuits in the Americas: Zipoli and his World, on October 28, centering on the music of 18th-century Jesuit composer Domenico Zipoli and his contemporaries in the missions of Bolivia and Paraguay.

This season, SMSS's Choral Series centers on the season-long theme of Sacred Ground. The resident Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola present a 3-concert series of diverse repertoire as a consideration of the question: What is our spiritual, ethical and artistic relationship with the earth? The choral series opens on September 28 with Choral Elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water, featuring lush pieces for choir, harp and string quartet by composers W.A. Mozart, Gustav Holst, Frank Ferko, Frank Ticheli, and John Kennedy. On February 24, in honor of the publication of "Laudato Si," Pope Francis' recent encyclical on the environment, SMSS and The New York Opera Society (NYOS) present the world premiere of Upon this handful of earth, a newly commissioned chamber opera by renowned Norwegian composer Gisle Kverndokk and librettist Aksel-Otto Bull based on the writings of Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The Choral Series concludes on May 24 with Haydn's beloved masterpiece, The Creation, presented in English.

For more information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Victory Hall Opera Uncovers Historical Connection Between Der Rosenkavalier & Charlottesville, VA
Victory Hall Opera presents a chamber version of Der Rosenkavalier on August 14 (matinee), 17 & 20, 2016 at The V. Earl Dickinson Theater. The theater is located at Piedmont Virginia Community College, (501 College Dr., Charlottesville, VA). For more information, please visit The opera features singers Brenda Patterson, Matt Boehler, Miriam Gordon-Stewart, Janinah Burnett and Kenneth Overton, Director Lee Biolos, Conductor Conrad Chu and Set Design by Robin Dripps and Lucia Phinney.

For full information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

NEC Alum Luke Hsu Wins 41st Annual Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition
Violinist, Boston resident, and New England Conservatory alum, Luke Hsu ('14 M.M. and '16 GD - a student of Donald Weilerstein), took first place at the 41st annual Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition and received many other awards at Rice University's Student Concert Hall.

Hsu earned a gold medal, a $25,000 prize and a solo performance at Jones Hall with the Houston Symphony at the final concert of Day of Music at 7:30 p.m. on July 9, 2016. He also won the Hermann Shoss Audience Choice Award and a vote of confidence from Houston Symphony musicians, who awarded him with The Robert and Nancy Peiser Award for Artistic Encouragement. Additionally, Hsu won The Grace Woodson Memorial Award, made possible thanks to the generosity of Symphony patrons John and Tracy Dennis in honor of their grandmother. Hsu's win marks the second year in a row that a Houstonian has won the Ima Hogg Competition; it holds considerable significance as this achievement grants Hsu a second performance with the Houston Symphony.

For more information, visit

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Media Relations

Merola Opera Program Presents Mozart's Così Fan Tutte August 4 and 6
The Merola Opera Program presents Mozart's Così fan tutte, led by conductor Mark Morash and director Ted Huffman, in two performances Thursday, August 4 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, August 6 at 2 pm at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music at 50 Oak Street in San Francisco.

The cast of Così fan tutte features Merola 2016 artists tenor Amitai Pati as Ferrando, bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum as Guglielmo, bass-baritone Josh Quinn as Don Alfonso, soprano Yelena Dyachek as Fiordiligi, mezzo-soprano Alexandra Schenck as Dorabella, and soprano Adelaide Boedecker, who returns for her second year in the Merola program, as Despina. Two distinguished Merola alumni lead the production: conductor Mark Morash (Merola 1987) and director Ted Huffman (Merola 2010).

Conductor Mark Morash is Director of Musical Studies for San Francisco Opera Center. He has led many productions and concerts with the Merola Opera Program and Western Opera Theater. His work with the San Francisco Opera Center has included such varied repertoire as Die Fledermaus, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Barber of Seville, Donizetti's Rita, Pasatieri's The Seagull, Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, and Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire. He has appeared in recital with such renowned artists as Michael Schade, Leah Crocetto, Elza van den Heever and Quinn Kelsey.

Director Ted Huffman studied at Yale University and apprenticed at the Merola Opera Program. He has created original productions for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Dutch National Opera, Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Glyndebourne, Theater an der Wien in der Kammeroper, Opéra national de Lorraine, and Aldeburgh Festival, among others. In the next year, he will make directing debuts at Opéra de Lille, Opernhaus Zürich, Les Théâtres de la ville de Luxembourg, and Oper Frankfurt. Huffman has worked as an acting teacher with young artists from the Royal Opera House's Jette Parker Young Artist Programme, San Francisco Opera's Adler Fellows, LA Opera's Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, Santa Fe Apprentice Program, and Canadian Opera Company Studio.

Tickets for Merola Opera Program's production of Così fan tutte are $65, $45, and $15 for students with ID, and may be purchased by calling the San Francisco Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330 or by visiting The box office is open Monday from 10 am to 5 pm, and Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm.

--Jean Shirk Media

Music Institute Appoints Cooke VP Institutional Advancement
The Music Institute of Chicago announces that Alexis F. Cooke will join the institution as Vice President for Institutional Advancement, effective July 6, 2016. Cooke will serve as a member of the organization's senior management team and be responsible for a broad range of fundraising and donor relations initiatives.

President and CEO Dr. Mark George stated, "The Music Institute is thrilled to welcome Alexis. She brings a unique set of skills that will enable her to build strong relationships with friends and supporters and develop a dynamic platform to advance the mission of our school in the Chicago area."

Cooke has worked exclusively with nonprofit organizations for more than 12 years. Most recently as director of development at the Adler Planetarium, she successfully led the museum's fundraising efforts for major and individual giving, membership, corporate and foundation giving, events, endowment, and planned gifts. Prior to the Adler, she served as the senior officer, major gifts at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs where she was responsible for board relations, securing major funding for special initiatives, and sustaining annual individual donor support. She also worked for the development office at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Tate Museums in London managing membership, ticketing, and annual giving programs. She holds a Master of Research degree in humanities and cultural studies from the London Consortium, UK, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Beloit College in Wisconsin. Cooke lives in Evanston with her husband and two children, and they enjoy exploring the world around them through travel, food, music, and art.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

ChamberFest Tickets Still Available, Plus July 4 Fireworks Spectacular
ChamberFest 2016 Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn
Purchase single tickets or save $50 by purchasing the entire series.

Weill Hall and Lawn at the Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, Ronhert Park, CA.

And July 4 Fireworks Spectacular, with Steve Tyrell and the Santa Rosa Symphony, conducted by Michael Berkowitz. Monday, Jul 4 at 7:30pm. Gates & Kids Zone Open at 4:30pm. Fireworks light up the sky for Rohnert Park's premier 4th of July Festivity! Masterful vocalist Steve Tyrell, along with the Santa Rosa Symphony take  the stage to perform classics from the American Songbook.

For more information, visit

--Green Music Center

Seattle Symphony Announces "Simple Gifts"
The Seattle Symphony today launched "Simple Gifts," a multi-year initiative that will share the inspiration of music to spark joy, alleviate trauma and connect individuals with their creativity through artistic projects, residencies and access to performances. The program is an expansion of the Symphony's current partnerships serving those experiencing homelessness.

The initiative was announced at Benaroya Hall in an event that included performances by Seattle Symphony musicians and community participants as well as remarks by Seattle Symphony President & CEO Simon Woods, Mary's Place Executive Director Marty Hartman, Path with Art Executive Director Holly Jacobson, and City of Seattle Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim. Today's announcement is a response to City of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine's declaration of a State of Emergency for Seattle and King County's homelessness crisis last November. The Seattle Symphony began working with those experiencing homelessness in 2013.

For more information, visit

--You You Xia, Seattle Symphony

2016 American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy August 5-14
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 during the two-week event will explore the music and culture of Baroque Italy, a primary destination for eighteenth-century Europeans on "The Grand Tour." Along with surveys of sacred and secular works from many of the finest composers who worked in Florence, Venice, and Rome during the era, the ABS Festival & Academy will present the North American premiere performances of Handel's 1734 Serenata, Parnasso in festa, and also Bach's monumental Mass in B Minor.

For more information, call 415-621-790 or visit or

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Saluting the Young People's Chorus of NYC Graduating Class
Please join us in saluting our newest graduating class, the young musicians who have been performing with us since childhood. These talented students will now be entering college, as all YPC graduates do every year. For them and for all of us, it's been a banner year - from performing for Pope Francis at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, to making history as the first American chorus to win the European Broadcasting Union's international Let the Peoples Sing competition. As this incredible season draws to a close, please consider making a donation to YPC.

Every child who wants to sing deserves access to a high quality music education. YPC's programs ensure that over 1,500 children participate each year. Your gift will change children's lives through the power of music and the pursuit of artistic excellence.

For more information, visit

--Francisco J. Núñez, YPC

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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