Classical Music News of the Week, November 19, 2016

Handel's Messiah in Grace Cathedral

Jeffrey Thomas conducts the period-instrument specialists of American Bach Soloists, the renowned American Bach Choir, and a quartet of brilliant vocal soloists in Handel's beloved masterpiece in one of San Francisco's most awe-inspiring, sacred spaces. ABS, Handel, and Grace Cathedral are perennially a winning combination and a highlight of the holiday season. A beloved San Francisco Bay Area tradition now in its 18th consecutive year, ABS's performances of Handel's timeless work attract music lovers from around the world.

Wednesday December 14, 2016, 7:30 pm
Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

Thursday December 15, 2016, 7:30 pm
Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

Friday December 16, 2016, 7:30 pm
Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

Additional performances:
Saturday December 10, 2016, 7:00 pm at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, Davis, CA
Sunday December 18, 2016, 3:00 pm at the Green Music Center, Rohnert Park, CA

For more information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Canada's Honens Piano Competition Announces Details of its 2018 Edition
Calgary-based Honens today announced details of its 2018 Piano Competition. Pianists of all nationalities, aged 20 to 30 on August 30, 2018, with the exception of past Honens Laureates and professionally managed artists, may apply starting February 1, 2017. The application deadline is October 31, 2017. The Competition's Quarterfinals take place in Berlin and New York in March 2018.  Semifinals and Finals take place in Calgary from August 30 to September 8, 2018.

"Once again, we're looking forward to welcoming the world to Calgary in 2018 as we discover the next Complete Artist," said Neil Edwards, Honens' President. "This is an exciting time to be leading one the world's foremost music competitions."

Today's announcement includes details on the Competition juries, collaborating musicians and mentor.  "Honens' reputation for discovering and nurturing today's most engaging concert pianists is due in large part to the quality of the Competition's jurors, collaborators and mentors.  Once again, for 2018, we have invited some of the world's top music professionals and musicians active on the concert stage," commented Stephen McHolm, Honens' Artistic Director.

The Honens juries include concert pianists and other individuals from the music world who play a meaningful role in a concert artist's career. They include artist managers, collaborative musicians, conductors and concert and festival presenters. All jurors have extensive knowledge of the piano literature and represent and/or are aware of the qualities an artist must possess in order to build and sustain a career today.

For complete information, visit

--Nancy Shear, Shear Arts Service

Tickets to Handel's Joshua with PBO on Sale Now
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra SESSIONS: Handel's Joshua
Tuesday December 6, 2016: 8 PM
San Francisco Jewish Community Center
3200 California St, San Francisco, CA

A superhero, special effects, romance, and cataclysm - all in one English Baroque music drama. G.F. Handel takes the Biblical story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho and brings it to life in his oratorio Joshua. PBO SESSIONS will break down this masterwork with context, history, music, multimedia enhancements, and a lively discussion.

Led by Bruce Lamott, Philharmonia's Chorale Director and Professor of Music History at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, in conversation with KDFC's Hoyt Smith, PBO SESSIONS will include performances by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale as well as special guest vocalists.

Following the concert, stick around to meet Bruce, Hoyt, the Orchestra, and Chorale, and enjoy a glass of complimentary wine provided by WineWise.

General Admission Tickets just $25. For more information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

National Philharmonic Singers Present Holiday Concert
The National Philharmonic Singers, under the direction of conductors Stan Engebretson and Victoria Gau, will present a holiday concert on Saturday, December 3 at 8pm at Christ Episcopal Church, Rockville, MD.

A candlelight processional leads the program that will feature such well-known works as Stanford's Magnificat in G Major; Renaissance motets In Dulci Jubilo and Resonent in Laudibus; popular carols; and a sing-along of Christmas tunes.

The National Philharmonic Singers is a chamber choir and one of several performing groups from the National Philharmonic in residence at the Music Center at Strathmore. As such, it promotes works suited for smaller ensembles, whether with accompaniment or a cappella.  Its repertoire ranges from 15th to 21st centuries, and it often premieres new compositions by local composers.  In summer of 2013, the group was invited to participate in the international choral competition in Llangollen, Wales. This is the 12th year of performances at Christ Church with free-will offering benefiting the Community Ministries of Rockville.

The December 3 concert at the Christ Episcopal Church is free, but donations in support of the Community Ministries of Rockville will be gratefully accepted. The church is located at 107 South Washington Street in Rockville, MD.

For directions, please visit For more information about the concert, call the church at 301-493-9283, ext.116.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Program Change - 92Y December Concert: Peter Serkin
December 10: Peter Serkin steps in with solo recital.

Peter Serkin offers an exciting mix of composers in works that together provide a rich tapestry of works centuries apart. Though their names may be unfamiliar or new to some, Josquin, Sweelinck, Bull, Dowland and Byrd are all eminent and significant 16th-century composers. As Anthony Tommasini recently mentioned in the New York Times, Mr. Serkin has been in the vanguard of "inquisitive artists with a knack for juxtaposing old and new works on imaginative programs." We are privileged that this brilliant pianist brings his passionate love for all music to 92Y. Pianist Julia Hsu, originally scheduled to appear in a duo recital with Mr. Serkin, is regretfully unable to perform.

Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 8 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall
Masters of the Keyboard
Peter Serkin, piano

Tickets are available at or 212-415-5500

For more information, visit

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

Robert Trevino Appointed Basque National Orchestra's New Music Director
Most young conductors, flushed with excitement over their first music directorship, don't set their jaw and speak with determination of the "intense work" ahead. But then Texas-born Robert Trevino, who has just been named the incoming Music Director of the Basque National Orchestra, is not most young conductors.

The 32-year-old, most recently Associate Conductor at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra - and previously Conducting Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival (where he won the James Conlon Prize), at the Tanglewood Festival and Associate Conductor at New York City Opera - dropped out of school in his teenage years to home-study and concentrate on music. The result was an early degree, long, long days of poring over scores, the mentorship of David Ziman and eventually his star-making substitution (for Vasily Sinaisky) to conduct Don Carlo at the Bolshoi.

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Foundation to Assist Young Musicians November Newsletter
Designed to serve youngsters in low income communities, the FAYM "Violins for Kids" project, established in 2009, provides instruments, materials, two class lessons each week, concert experiences, and a 2-week summer camp at nominal cost. Enrollment has grown from 11 to 150 youngsters from 51 schools in greater Las Vegas. Parents play an integral part by paying an affordable tuition fee, attending lessons, and participating in fundraising activities.

FAYM keeps administrative overhead low. Administrative functions are performed by highly qualified volunteers. There is no paid CEO or office staff, and no office or classroom rental fees or utility costs. Legal, accounting, website and other services are generously donated 'pro bono' by experts in their fields. Contributions, therefore, go directly for scholarship assistance, program support, and teacher salaries.

Your generosity is needed to grow this program to serve more "at possibility" youngsters. No gift is too small and ALL are most appreciated!

FAYM's programs have won recognition from the Clark County School District's Board of Trustees & Partnership Program, the Clark County Board of Supervisors, and such celebrities as singer, Josh Groban, world famous solo bassist Gary Karr, Teller (of Penn & Teller), and Jamie Bernstein, daughter of renowned conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein.

Upcoming Events:
Piano Master Class with Igor Lipinski
Friday, November 18, 2016, 3:30-5pm
Doc Rando Hall @ UNLV

Invitation-Only Event
Piano Recital with Igor Lipinski
Sunday, November 20, 2016, 3pm
 Las Ventanas Retirement Community

FAYM Winter Recital
Saturday, December 10, 2016, 3pm
East LV Community Center

Donate by mailing your check to FAYM, 9513 Coral Way, Las Vegas, NV 89117 or by visiting

--Hal Weller, FAYM

Sono Luminus Announces New Partnership with Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Sono Luminus announces a new recording partnership with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. The first recording will be conducted by composer/conductor Daníel Bjarnason, and will feature music by Icelandic composers Daníel Bjarnason, Thurídur Jónsdóttir, María Huld Markan, Hlynur A. Vilmarsson, and Anna Thorvaldsdóttir. The sessions will take place from December 5-9, 2016 at Harpa in Reykjavik, Iceland, and an April 2017 release date is planned.

"I'm thrilled about our new relationship with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra," Sono Luminus CEO Collin Rae says. "It is not only a spectacular step for all involved but also seemingly a very natural one! We look forward to bringing recordings of the ISO's impressive performances, showcasing some of today's most exciting Icelandic composers, to listeners."

Arna Kristin Einarsdottir, Managing Director of ISO says, "To record new Icelandic music is one of the most important role of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Through our collaboration with Sono Luminus we are able to reach further and let Icelandic music be heard."

For more information, visit and

--Katy Salomon, Jensen Artists

Mahler Chamber Orchestra Newsletter
Last week, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra returned to Europe after our almost three-week-long tour in Japan with Artistic Partner Mitsuko Uchida. From Sapporo in the north, we made our way south to Osaka, Toyota and Tokyo, for our residency at Suntory Hall. In 1986, Mitsuko performed the complete Mozart piano concertos during its inaugural season; on this occasion, it was an honour for us to celebrate Suntory Hall's 30th anniversary, with Mitsuko leading us in programmes centered around Mozart's piano concertos.

Next week, we embark on the European part of our tour with Mitsuko Uchida. We are already looking forward to bringing the results of our work together over the past few weeks to our friends in Europe. For us, being able to devote an extended period time working on and performing this repertoire is truly a gift.

We hope that you will join us for one of our concerts on this upcoming tour – so that you, too, can experience the magic of Uchida and Mozart.

Suntory Hall's 30th Anniversary Celebrations:
The MCO and Artistic Partner Mitsuko Uchida celebrated the 30th anniversary of Tokyo's Suntory Hall not only with a residency at Suntory Hall, but also with an extensive Japanese tour featuring additional concerts in Sapporo, Osaka, and Toyota.

German Design Award
The MCO's brand identity, which was developed in close cooperation with Molina Visuals, has received a Special Mention Prize of the German Design Award 2017.

For more information, visit

--Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Utah Symphony and Music Director Thierry Fischer's Emmy Award-Winning National Park Symphony - The Mighty Five
The five-time Emmy Award-winning National Park Symphony–The Mighty Five, featuring spectacular time-lapse footage of Utah's iconic national parks—collectively known as the Mighty 5--set to music selected and recorded by the Utah Symphony and Music Director Thierry Fischer, airs on PBS stations nationwide this holiday season, including on KQED initially on November 27 at 8:30 AM PST. (Check local listings for exact days and times.)

The documentary was inspired by the Utah Symphony's August 2014 Mighty 5 tour during which the orchestra performed free open-air classical music concerts against the natural backdrop of the red rock arches, spires, and canyons for which southern Utah is known.

For more information visit

--Lisa Jaehnig, Schuman Associates

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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