Classical Music News of the Week, December 24, 2016

ACO and BIS Records Co-Commission New Piano Concerto from José Serebrier

Jose Serebrier
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces a new co-commission in cooperation with the record label BIS, for Symphonic B A C H Variations for Piano and Orchestra, a piano concerto by composer and conductor José Serebrier. The ACO commission is made possible by a special grant from long-time ACO board member Paul Underwood. The Swedish label BIS will undertake the recording with pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, exclusive BIS artist, with an orchestra to be announced.

BIS previously commissioned José Serebrier's Flute Concerto with Tango, which they recorded with soloist Sharon Bezaly and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. American Composers Orchestra gave the U.S. premiere in 2012. José Serebrier has received commissions from the Harvard Musical Association, National Endowment for the Arts, the Joffrey Ballet and many others. His works have been recorded by Leopold Stokowski, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and others.

Yevgeny Sudbin has been hailed by The Telegraph as "potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century." As BIS Records' only exclusive artist, all of Sudbin's recordings have met with critical acclaim and are regularly featured as CD of the Month by BBC Music Magazine or Editor's Choice by Gramophone. His Scriabin recording was awarded CD of the Year by The Telegraph and received the MIDEM Classical Award for Best Solo Instrument Recording at Cannes. It was described by Gramophone as "a disc in a million" while the International Record Review stated that his Rachmaninov recording "confirms him as one of the most important pianistic talents of our time." Sudbin was born in St. Petersburg in 1980 and began his musical studies at the Specialist Music School of the St Petersburg Conservatory with Lyubov Pevsner at the age of 5. He emigrated with his family to Germany in 1990 where he continued his studies at Hanns Eisler Musikhochschule. In 1997, Sudbin moved to London to study at the Purcell School and subsequently the Royal Academy of Music where he completed his Bachelor and Masters degrees under Christopher Elton.

For more information, visit José Serebrier at
and American Composers Orchestra at

--Katy Salomon, Jensen Artists

New World Symphony to Launch Project 305 and Crowdsource Audio and Video for a Symphonic Work
New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy (NWS), will begin crowdsourcing audio and video content for Project 305, an initiative to create a collaborative symphonic work that reflects the city of Miami through the eyes and ears of its residents. Composer Ted Hearne and filmmaker Jonathan David Kane will lead the project, working closely with the MIT Media Lab and Tod Machover, whose previous crowdsourced City Symphonies serve as the foundation for this collaborative work.

By incorporating video from the public in addition to audio, Project 305 marks a new development in the collaborative symphony concept. NWS will be accepting submissions from Miami residents from January 31 through May 12, 2017, and the new work will be premiered on Saturday, October 21, 2017 at a WALLCAST concert conducted by NWS Artistic Director and co-founder Michael Tilson Thomas, with subsequent presentations to follow in communities and neighborhoods throughout Miami. The project is made possible through support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

For more information, visit and

--Shuman Associates PR

California Symphony Performs Beethoven's Symphony No. 4
Music Director Donato Cabrera leads the California Symphony in the Orchestra's first performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 and a performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 with Romanian-Austrian pianist Maria Radutu, who is making her West Coast orchestral debut as soloist, Sunday, January 22 at 4 pm at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Christopher Theofanidis's Peace Love Light YOUMEONE, written during his tenure as the Orchestra's Young American Composer-in-Residence (1994-96), opens the concert.

Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA.

Theofanidis's Bassoon Concerto was nominated this month for a 2017 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, for a recording of a performance by Northwest Sinfonia and conducted by California Symphony's founding Music Director, Barry Jekowsky.

Theofanidis, 48, who won the Rome Prize and the International Masterprize in Composition, was previously nominated for a Grammy Award for best composition for his chorus and orchestra work, The Here and Now, based on the poetry of Rumi. His orchestral concert work, Rainbow Body, is one of the most performed recent orchestral works. Theofanidis has written a ballet for the American Ballet Theatre, a work for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and was commissioned by the San Francisco Opera for his 2011 opera Heart of a Soldier. He has a long-standing relationship with the Atlanta Symphony, and in 2009 had his first symphony premiered and recorded with that orchestra. His 2015 oratorio Creation/Creator was also commissioned and premiered by the Atlanta Symphony.

Theofanidis "uses sound in a way that suggests bright colors – bold blues, bold yellows – it's quite visceral. His is a very powerful voice, creating music that is using the full palette of emotional colors," said Donato Cabrera.

Tickets are $42-$72 and $20 for students, subject to change. Tickets are available at or 925-943-7469. A preconcert talk by Music Director Donato Cabrera, free to ticketholders, begins at 3 pm.

For more information, visit

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

Take Five Concert for Musica Viva NY Features Aeolus Quartet and Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez
The Aeolus Quartet and Musica Viva NY Artistic Director and pianist Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez are featured in Take Five—a concert of piano quintets and string quartets to benefit Musica Viva NY's artistic and outreach endeavors—on Sunday, January 29 at 5:00 p.m. at All Souls Church (Lexington Avenue and 80th Street, NYC).

The program features a new arrangement of Paul Desmond's jazz standard Take Five for piano quintet by Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, as well as Aaron Copland's Two Pieces for String Quartet, Samuel Barber's String Quartet, and Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44.

Founded in 1977, Musica Viva NY is driven by a desire to share the transcendent power of choral and instrumental music with audiences in New York City and beyond. Based in Manhattan's historic All Souls Church, Musica Viva NY's imaginative programming offers joy, solace, and renewal in a complex world. Presenting a broad repertoire of new compositions and classic masterworks, Musica Viva NY emphasizes artistic excellence and transformative interpretations to ennoble the human spirit.

Additional concerts in Musica Viva NY's 2016-17 season include Voices in Motion (Sunday, March 5 at 5:00 p.m.), and An Elegy for all Humanity: Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem (Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 p.m.) at All Souls Church. Additionally, an intimate MUSICAnocturna concert, Forever Young: Great American Songs, is held at NY229—a private townhouse in midtown Manhattan—on Thursday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Take Five is free and open to the public with a free-will donation at the door to benefit Musica Viva NY's artistic offerings and outreach endeavors.

Program Information:
Take Five: A Musica Viva NY Fundraiser
Sunday, January 29 at 5:00 p.m.

All Souls Church
1157 Lexington Avenue (at 80th Street)
New York, NY 10075

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Give the Gift of Song
Young People's Chorus of New York City: As our choristers give the gift of song to unite so many different communities this season, I ask for your support. Singing in harmony, standing side by side, over 1,600 choristers from throughout New York City and beyond are raising their radiant voices to send a clear, crystalline message of hope.

Before the year ends, we ask you to support our young people by making a contribution to YPC. Your gift will help us continue to build a bridge of mutual respect, harmony, and understanding.

Help us empower every child with the skills they need to thrive in the future.

For more information and to contribute, visit

--Young People's Chorus of NYC

Make Twice the Difference for the Music You Love
The past few years have seen triumph after triumph for Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra - and without your support these achievements would not have been possible. Artistic innovation, critical acclaim and incredibly strong collaborations have propelled the Orchestra to the forefront of the early music scene.

Your donation each year is a vote of confidence in the beautiful music that happens throughout the Bay Area and in concert halls across the country. Each contribution makes each season a reality and shows our institutional funders our continued relevance in the field.

As you may know, last year PBO was lucky enough to be the recipient of an extraordinary $150,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies in recognition of our artistic excellence and organizational strength. Supporters like you helped ensure that we received that first grant with matching donations last year.

This year, Bloomberg has challenged us, once again, to raise $30,000 in additional funds to match their second $150,000 grant - will you help us?

Please make your gift before December 31st and help us meet Bloomberg Philanthropies' challenge. We can't do it without your support today.

For more information and to contribute, visit

--Noelle R. Moss, Director of Development, PBO

Centuries of Music History for Your Smartphone with Infomusic
To celebrate the launch of its music history app for smartphones and iOS devices that's taking the classical music world by storm, Informusic announces that it is pricing the app at just 99 cents through January 1, 2017.

Created by Drew Schweppe  and refined along with a select team of leading musicologists, performers, professors, and historians, Informusic is the all-in-one music history and composer resource that means that music students and classical music fans alike will now be able to access a wealth of detailed musical history facts and information with just the swipe of a finger. Now – even better – they can do so for just 99 cents (USD)! It's the unbeatable holiday gift for classical musicians, teachers, students, and fans worldwide.

Informusic offers a huge array of detailed information on Western Art Music's greatest composers and compositions, from the Medieval era, through the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras – and with more expansions yet to come. At the swipe of a screen, users can browse Informusic for such useful and fascinating information as composer biographies, quick facts, and complete works, along with program notes, sheet music, audio samples, and suggested further scholarship.

Informusic also features interactive timelines that enable users to scroll through the chronology of a composer's life and greatest achievements, helping to contextualize musical events with other disciplines like art, literature, politics, and beyond. Users can also curate their searches with ease to filter by year, event type, or specific keywords. The app is constantly updated with ever-expanding content and composers as well.

For more information, visit

--Angela Mitchell, Public Relations, Informusic

PBO Does Rare Gyrowetz with Haydn and Mozart in January
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale kick off the new year with masters Haydn & Mozart in performances throughout the Bay Area January 25-29. PBO music director Nicholas McGegan is considered a leading interpreter of Haydn and will conduct Haydn's Symphony No. 91 following performances of Aldalbert Gyrowetz's Symphony Op. 6, No. 3 and Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 "Turkish," featuring PBO violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock on violin.

McGegan has established himself as a leading interpreter of Haydn. He is known to bring out the humor in his music, particularly in the symphonies. He also pays close attention to the little flourishes and details that other conductors may let slip by.

Wednesday January 25, 7:30 pm
Bing Concert Hall, Stanford, CA

Friday January 27, 8 pm
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA

Saturday January 28, 8 pm
First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA

Sunday January 29, 4 pm
Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, Lafayette, CA

Price: Range from $27 to $108.

Tickets: Available at City Box Office 415-392-4400 or

For more information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Berkeley Symphony and Anna Clyne Chosen for Three-Year Residency Award
Berkeley Symphony and composer Anna Clyne have been chosen from a field of 59 applicant pairs to participate in a three-year composer-orchestra residency program, Music Alive, created by the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA. Berkeley Symphony and Clyne are one of only five composer-orchestra pairs to be selected by their peers, who represent a cross-section the U.S. orchestra world. The other four new Music Alive composer-orchestra pairings are Lembit Beecher and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Stacy Garrop and Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, Hannibal Lokumbe and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Jerod Tate and South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.

Beginning in January 2017 and continuing for three seasons, the Music Alive program prioritizes collaborative work and immersive experiences for composers, orchestra musicians, artistic leadership, and community members. Music Alive hopes to demonstrate, through active partnership with the participants, the power and value of living composers working at the center of American orchestras.

For more information, visit and

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

FAYM Newsletter December
Foundation to Assist Young Musicians: "Building Better Futures Through Music"

On Saturday afternoon, December 6th FAYM held our 8th annual Holiday Recital at the East Las Vegas Community Center. Tim Thomas led the student string orchestra. The students played to a packed house of family, friends, and community members.

On Tuesday, December 6th, FAYM was awarded $2,500 from the Las Vegas Speedway Children's Charities. Executive Director Paulette Anderson hosted several FAYM students and their families for a holiday feast, gifts, and the presentation of the grant. This $2,500 will help expand FAYM's efforts to bring music to more "at possibility" students!

Congratulations to the newly elected officers of FAYM's Board of Directors:
Arturo Ochoa, President
Dick McGee, Vice President
Eugenia Burkett, Treasurer
Gloria Gorlin, Secretary
FAYM's Tenth Anniversary Year will be in good hands with their leadership!

This holiday season, give the gift of music to children in our community. Please include FAYM in your end of year giving. Visit

--Hal Weller, FAYM

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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 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 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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa