Classical Music News of the Week, July 2, 2016

Orion Announces 24th Season of Miniatures and Masterworks

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for
Adventurous Programming, announces its 24th season, Miniatures and Masterworks, featuring a variety of familiar and rarely heard compositions.

Orion performs each of its four concert programs at venues spanning the Chicagoland area, including the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago, the First Baptist Church of Geneva and the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.

The season opens with "Collage of Colors," with guest violist Stephen Boe, considered one of the finest chamber musicians in Chicago. The program includes a work written for Orion in 1996. Performances take place September 18 (Geneva), September 25 (Evanston) and September 28 (Chicago).

"Serenade by Three: Orion Beginnings" spotlights Orion's three original members: clarinetist Kathryne Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu and pianist Diana Schmück. Performances are November 6 (Geneva), November 13 (Evanston) and November 16 (Chicago).

Orion welcomes back guest violist Stephen Boe for its third concert program of the season, "Connections," which takes its name from a work written for Orion, Robert Kritz's Connections for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano (2001). Performances are March 12 (Geneva), March 15 (Chicago) and March 19 (Evanston).

The season concludes with "Wit and Passion," with violist Stephen Boe joining Orion for a program featuring two works by Jean Francaix. Performances are May 21 (Geneva), May 24 (Chicago) and May 28 (Evanston).

The Orion Ensemble performs its 2016-17 concert programs at three Chicago-area venues: the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Wednesdays, September 28, November 16, March 15 and May 24 at 7:30 p.m.; the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston on Sundays, September 25, November 13, March 19 and May 28 at 7:30 p.m.; and First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva on Sundays, September 18, November 6, March 12 and May 21 at 7 p.m. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; children 12 and younger are free. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit orionensemble.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Music Institute to Honor Memory of Gilda Barston
The Music Institute of Chicago is sad to report that longtime and much-loved cello faculty member Gilda Barston died June 25 after a long illness. She was 71 years old and lived in Evanston, Illinois.

Barston, Dean Emeritus of the Music Institute of Chicago and cello faculty for both its Community Music School and Academy program for gifted pre-college musicians, began her tenure at the Music Institute in 1973. A student of Leonard Rose, she received her bachelor's and master's degrees from The Juilliard School of Music in New York before coming to Illinois. Barston was principal cellist of the Chicago String Ensemble from its founding until 1983 as well as a member of the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski, the Mu Phi Epsilon Trio, and the Lyric Trio. During her long career, she performed as a soloist and chamber musician in the United States, Canada, Australia, Israel, and Japan.

Reflecting Barston's position as a master teacher, the Music Institute's Barston Suzuki Center, one of the largest and most highly regarded Suzuki Education centers in the country, bears her name. In 1998, Barston received a Distinguished Service Award from the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) for her work with the SAA Cello Committee. A Registered Teacher Trainer of Suzuki Cello Pedagogy, she had served on the faculty of the American Suzuki Institute (ASI) since 1976 and was the recipient of the ASI's 2005 Suzuki Chair Award. She was artistic director of the Chicago Suzuki Institute, was CEO of the International Suzuki Association, and taught at many other Institutes and workshops throughout the United States and Canada, most recently as faculty of the National Cello Institute Advanced Cello Residency Program in Orange County, California. She was a faculty member and soloist at the International Suzuki Teachers' Conference in Matsumoto, Japan and taught at the World Conference in Edmonton, Canada; the Pan-Pacific Suzuki Conference in Adelaide, Australia; the Melbourne Autumn Festival; and Korean Suzuki Association Winter Camps. In 2006, she was an honored guest and faculty member at the 14th Suzuki Method World Convention in Turin, Italy. In May 2010, she and her daughter, Amy, were guest master class clinicians at the Suzuki Association of the Americas Conference in Minneapolis. They presented at the same conference in 2016, when the SAA announced the establishment of the Gilda Barston Legacy Scholarship Fund.

For more information, visit https://www.musicinst.org/

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

July 4 Fireworks Spectacular, Plus the Second-Annual GMC Bluegrass Festival
July 4 Fireworks Spectacular:
The Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, with Steve Tyrell and the Santa Rosa Symphony, conducted by Michael Berkowitz. Monday, July 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 http://gmc.sonoma.edu/event/3122011-4th-of-july-fireworks-spectacular

Second Annual GMC Bluegrass Fesival:
The Mando Kings, featuring the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, Sam Bush, and Jeff Austin Band. Sunday, July 10 at 3pm. Gates open at 1pm.

A star-studded event featuring a whose-who in bluegrass music, the GMC's 2nd Annual Bluegrass Festival is quickly becoming an annual favorite in Sonoma County. These multifaceted giants of bluegrass will move you and shake you with their fiery performances.

For more information, visit http://gmc.sonoma.edu/event/3139373-second-annual-gmc-bluegrass-festival

--Green Music Center, Sonoma State University

Emmy Award-Winning Composer and New England Conservatory Alum, Sean Callery
Emmy Award-winning composer and New England Conservatory alum, Sean Callery ("Homeland," "24" and "Bones"), and composer for Marvel's "Jessica Jones," talks about working on the series, his background in music, and much more on "This Week in Marvel," the Marvel Podcast.

Callery was born in Hartford, Connecticut and raised in Bristol, Rhode Island. He studied at New England Conservatory earning a degree in piano performance in 1987. In 1987, Callery moved to Los Angeles to work for New England Digital, the creators of the Synclavier synthesizer.

About "This Week in Marvel":
"This Week in Marvel" focuses on delivering all the Marvel info on news and new releases--from comics to video games to toys to TV to film and beyond. New episodes are released every Tuesday and Thursday and TWiM is co-hosted by Marvel VP & Executive Editor of Digital Media Ryan "Agent M" Penagos and Editorial Director of Marvel Digital Media Ben Morse with Manager, Video & Content Production Blake Garris, Editor Marc Strom, and Assistant Editor Patrick Cavanaugh.

Download episode #243.5 of "This Week in Marvel" from Marvel.com, which features Sean Callery:
http://marvel.com/files/podcasts/mcom_this_week_marvel_243mini.mp3

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Media Relations, New England Conservatory

It's Not Too Late to Help Philharmonia Meet Our Challenge Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies
I wanted to remind everyone that Bloomberg Philanthropies has awarded Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra an unprecedented $150,000 challenge grant in recognition of our artistic excellence and organizational strength. We are in the final hours of our challenge -- please donate by midnight tonight to help support the music you love.

Any donation you make today will be critical in helping us secure these funds next year. Plus, if you contribute $100 or more, you will receive a limited edition 30th anniversary tote bag! If you've already given recently, thank you! Your generosity allows us to bring you incredible music and take important artistic risks -- we could not do it without your support.

For more information on how to donate, visit https://philharmoniabaroqueorchestra.secure.force.com/donate/?dfId=a0ni0000000nXXSAA2

Noelle R. Moss, Director of Development, PBO

Juan Diego Flórez Signs to Sony Classical
Sony Classical is proud to announce a long-term exclusive contract with Juan Diego Flórez, one of today's most prominent stars of the opera and concert stage. The tenor of choice for the world's leading theatres in the bel canto repertoire and beyond, Juan Diego Flórez's fluid, expressive singing and dazzling virtuosity have thrilled audiences and critics alike and earned him global acclaim. The Financial Times recently noted: "For a voice of high class and high C's by the armful, Flórez is your man."

Born in 1973 into a musical family in Lima, Peru, the young singer studied at the National Conservatory of Music and with Peru's Coro Nacional before winning a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his deep love of opera was founded. Standing in for an indisposed colleague as Corradino in Rossini's Matilde di Shabran in 1996 proved to be a turning point in what was to become a stellar career. After this triumph, Mr. Flórez was promptly offered his début at La Scala, Milan, under Riccardo Muti, and since then he has conquered all the world's leading stages, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House in London, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Salzburg Festival, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and the Zurich Opernhaus, to name but a few. He has worked with the best-known conductors of the day, including Riccardo Chailly, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniele Gatti, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Antonio Pappano and many more.

In 2007 Juan Diego Flórez made history at La Scala when he broke a 70-year-old taboo and gave the first encore in the theatre since 1933. The aria in question was "Ah! mes amis" from Donizetti's La Fille du régiment, renowned for its nine high Cs. He repeated the feat a few months later, in 2008, at the Met, again after a number of years in which no encores had been heard, and in 2012 at the Opéra de Paris, where no encore had been heard since the theatre's inauguration in 1989.

Juan Diego Flórez has an extensive discography for which he has been honored with countless international awards. He is passionate about music education and through his foundations Sinfonía por el Perú and Friends of Juan Diego Flórez works to bring about social change through music both in his native country and beyond. Mr. Flórez is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

--Larissa Slezak, Sony Classical

See What YPC Is Up To This Summer
In advance of this year's summer tour, Young People's Chorus of New York City Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez will conduct the YPC Chorale in a one-hour preview of its new tour program at Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park (entrance at 124th St. & 5th Ave.), in a pre-curtain performance to the Classical Theater of Harlem's 2016 Uptown Shakespeare in the Park production of Macbeth. Admission to both the YPC pre-curtain performance and Macbeth is free.

YPC's tour program provides an international musical kaleidoscope, ranging from contemporary treasures and soul- stirring gospel favorites, to music from the Broadway stage and around the world, complete with show-stopping choreography.

Members of YPC's Chorale are currently preparing for their upcoming summer tour. The first leg of their trip begins with a return engagement to Festival Napa Valley in Napa, California, where last year audiences cited the chorus's concerts as among the most memorable of the entire festival and the Napa Valley Register raved of their "remarkable performance(s)" and "outstanding singing." This summer's concerts take place on  Thursday, July 21, at 6 p.m. (PT) at the historic Mont La Salle Chapel and on Saturday, July 23, at 2 p.m. (PT) in a free community concert at the Lincoln Theater.

From Napa Valley, Francisco and the chorus travel to Austin, Texas, known as "the live music capital of the world," where YPC has been invited to perform at the iconic, 100-year-old Paramount Theater, a classical revival style structure that has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The concert takes place on Tuesday, July 26, at 7:30 p.m.

For complete details, visit http://www.ypc.org/

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

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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 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.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine 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 simple-minded, 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 Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. 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 LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. 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.

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

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@gmail.com.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa