Classical Music News of the Week, January 14, 2017

The Florence Gould Foundation Awards $20,000 Grant to American Bach Soloists

American Bach Soloists has been awarded a grant of $20,000 from The Florence Gould Foundation in support of our February 2017 concert set, "A Weekend in Paris." The Florence Gould Foundation, which was founded in 1957 by Florence Gould (pictured right on board the SS Normandie, circa 1935), daughter-in-law of the railway magnate Jay Gould, aims to support French-American relations, especially via the arts.

In response to the generous gift, ABS Artistic Director Jeffrey Thomas said, "We are so humbled to receive the support of such a prestigious foundation. It's an honor to have the Foundation's confidence in ABS, especially in what will be an unforgettable night of French Baroque music."

In February, "A Weekend in Paris" will offer a tour to the Opéra, the Ballet, and the Chapelle through the elegant music of masters of the French Baroque. When Jean-Baptiste Lully's monopoly on music in France ended at the end of the 17th century, an explosion of musical creativity erupted in Paris from a new generation of composers including Marais, Rebel, Corrette, Mondonville, and the great master of the age, Jean-Philippe Rameau. Featuring a selection of enchanting works for the Opéra, Ballet, and Chapelle, Thomas and ABS explore the vibrant Parisian spirit of invention, including its incorporation of new, cosmopolitan influences from abroad. The Italian style, especially, is evident in these works, as evidenced by Corrette's Laudate Dominum, which includes an interpolation of Vivaldi's "Spring" from The Four Seasons arranged for choir, vocal soloists, and orchestra.

For more information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

The Crypt Sessions Season 2
Unison Media is excited to announce Season 2 of its acclaimed concert series The Crypt Sessions, featuring intimate classical music and opera performances in the remarkable Crypt chapel underneath the Church of the Intercession in Harlem.

The season will begin February 1, 2017 with pianist Lara Downes performing a program remembering her father and his Harlem childhood, while also paying tribute to the many artists who made Harlem their home and inspiration. Taking place on both the first day of Black History Month as well as the birthday of Harlem Rennaisance poet Langston Hughes, the concert will feature a world premiere by composer/violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, music from Downes' new album America Again by Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Florence Price, Nina Simone, William Grant Still, and a spoken word tribute to Hughes by poet and NEA Fellow Joshua Bennett.

Each Crypt Session will feature a pre-concert reception included in the ticket price, where Magnvm Opvs will host a tasting of wines specially chosen to suit the music of that evening's concert, and Ward 8 Events will provide hors d'oeuvrses similarly tailored to the wine and the performance.

All proceeds from ticket sales of The Crypt Sessions are donated to the Church of the Intercession, where the crypt is located. Unison Media gave over $10,000 to the church over the course of Season 1.

Due to rapid sell-outs and long waiting lists, each new concert will be announced immediately after the one preceding it, first to the mailing list, then via The Crypt Sessions Web site:

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

February Concerts at 92nd Street Y
Thursday, February 2, 2017 at 8 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Kremerata Baltica
Gidon Kremer, violin
Maxim Kantor, artist

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 7:30 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Lars Vogt, piano

Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 8 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Elias String Quartet (92Y debut)

Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 2 PM
Guitar Marathon: The Innovation of Transcriptions – Session 1
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Benjamin Verdery, guitar & artistic director
John Schaefer, host
Brasil Guitar Duo (92Y debut)
Jorge Caballero (92Y debut)
Eden Stell Guitar Duo
Benjamin Verdery
Ana Vidovic

Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 8 PM
Guitar Marathon: The Innovation of Transcriptions – Session 2
Benjamin Verdery, guitar & artistic director
John Schaefer, host
Sergio & Odair Assad
Dublin Guitar Quartet (92Y debut)
Paul Galbraith
VIDA Guitar Quartet (92Y debut)
Max Zuckerman

For more information, visit

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

International Contemporary Ensemble Returns to Abrons Arts Center
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) continues to transform the way music is created and experienced throughout January.

For its next installment of free OpenICE initiatives, on Monday, January 23 at 8:00 p.m., ICE returns to the Abrons Arts Center's Underground Theater in a rare performance of renowned German composer Wolfgang Rihm's hour-long string trio Musik für Drei Streicher. An oblique tribute to Beethoven's late quartets, Rihm's 1977 work remains among the most ambitious in the string trio literature, relentless in its hyper-romantic expressivity and technical demands, "an unfathomable, clear, confused and passionate music, music that is precise and astonished, like human existence."

Launched in 2015, OpenICE continues to develop, engage, and sustain diverse 21st-century listeners through an outpouring of free artist-driven programming that is open to the public. The program serves a wide range of constituencies, ranging from those with limited access to the art form to students of all ages and backgrounds. Through its partnership with the Abrons Arts Center, the performing arts wing of the Henry Street Settlement, OpenICE brings every aspect of the ensemble's artist-curated and ensemble-commissioned music-making—including performances, digital documentation, workshops, hands-on educational activities, and in-person interaction with the composers—into the open for the benefit of new audiences.

On Thursday, January 19 at 6:00 p.m. at the Performing Arts Branch of the New York Public Library, ICE is joined by composer Ashley Fure in an exploration of two of her works: Therefore, I Was for cello, piano and percussion, and Shiver Lung Two. The interactive evening--the third in a series of events at the NYPL which focus on a single composer--allows the audience to participate and ask questions about Fure's compositional process. The event will be recorded as part of an on-going effort to collectively build archives and documentation for composers.

ICE collaborates with other leading musicians and ensembles on Friday, January 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music as part of the Anti-Inaugural Ball, a fundraiser in response to the current political climate, where attendees are encouraged to donate to their preferred social activist organizations. In addition to a performance by ICE, participating artists include Phyllis Chen, Jordan Dodson, ETHEL, Flor de Toloache, Flutronix, Gemini, JACK Quartet, Darius Jones, Loadbang, So Percussion, Adam Tendler, with dancing provided by DJ Robert Maril.

For more information, visit

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Cal Performances Celebrates Steve Reich at 80
Cal Performances celebrates the 80th birthday of composer Steve Reich with the U.S. premiere of his new work, Runner, a Cal Performances co-commission, on Sunday, January 29 at 7 pm in Hertz Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA.

Reich visits Cal Performances with New York's Ensemble Signal, which has performed and recorded his works to great acclaim. The program also includes Reich's Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet (2007), and the recent works Quartet (2013) and Radio Rewrite (2012). Reich himself will join Ensemble Signal's director and conductor, Brad Lubman, for a performance of his seminal 1972 work, Clapping Music. The performance and residency events are part of the Cal Performances 2016/17 Berkeley RADICAL Innovation thematic strand, which follows a group of artistic trailblazers, some celebrating key milestones, who continually ask us to perceive, think, and understand in new ways.

Tickets for Ensemble Signal on Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 7pm in Hertz Hall range from $36-$126 (prices subject to change). Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, at (510) 642-9988, at, and at the door. For more information about discounts, go to

--Louisa Spier, Cal Performances

One Found Sound Performs Debussy, Ravel and Respighi
One Found Sound, a chamber orchestra that performs without a conductor, concludes its 2016-2017 season on Friday, February 3 at Heron Arts with a program of works by Debussy, Ravel and Respighi.

Committed to highlighting the individual talents of musicians from within the orchestra, One Found Sound will feature Sasha Launer (flute), Jeannie Psomas (clarinet) and Meredith Clark (harp) with string quartet in Ravel's chamber work Introduction and Allegro. The program also includes Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite No. 1, a Renaissance-inspired orchestral work that incorporates the unique instrumentation of harpsichord, and an orchestral version of Debussy's Petite Suite for Piano four hands, transcribed by the composer's colleague Henri Büsser. This performance coincides with a solo exhibition of works by local artist Scott Hove entitled "Cakeland," which launches at Heron Arts on January 14.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy

Mahler for Vision at Carnegie Hall
Music For Life International continues its decade-long tradition of global humanitarian concerts at Carnegie Hall by presenting Mahler For Vision, a benefit concert of Gustav Mahler's monumental Second Symphony "Resurrection" on Monday, February 13, 2017 at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. The concert aims to promote the restoration of vision to millions around the world affected by treatable cataract blindness on the most prestigious concert stage in the world. The net proceeds of Mahler For Vision will benefit HelpMeSee's unique efforts to end preventable cataract blindness and to preserve and enrich the dignity of those affected through the innovative use of cutting-edge technology and transformative socio-economic models for distributing these critical public health services.

The performance (the only performance of Mahler's Second Symphony at Carnegie Hall during the 2016-17 season) is the culmination of the Music For Vision series of concerts in the Netherlands and Mumbai and Delhi, India, which has highlighted the issue of cataract blindness on three continents. The performance will be conducted by Singapore-born, Indian conductor and Music For Life Artistic Director, George Mathew, and will feature renowned American violinist, Elmira Darvarova (the first woman ever to serve as Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York); distinguished soprano Indra Thomas; and mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, a familiar voice to New York audiences from more than thirty years of iconic performances at the Metropolitan Opera and the concert stage.

Program: Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection"
When: Monday, February 13, 2017 at 8PM
Where: Carnegie Hall: Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, New York, NY
Tickets: $35-$149 | | CarnegieCharge 212-247-7800 | Box Office at 57th Street & Seventh Avenue, NYC

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

Music Institute Adds New Chicago Campus
The Music Institute of Chicago  announces an additional Chicago teaching campus, broadening its network of locations to eight in the Chicago metropolitan area. The 87-year-old institution, which serves more than 2,000 students of all ages and ability levels, has entered into a partnership with St. James Cathedral, located at 65 E. Huron Street in the heart of one of the nation's busiest urban environments, just one block from "The Magnificent Mile."

Beginning January 30, the Music Institute will offer lessons Monday–Saturday at the new location, expanding its city-based activities beyond programming in the Chicago Public Schools and lessons at Fourth Presbyterian Church's Gratz Center. Immediate opportunities for instruction at the St. James location, home of the well-known Rush Hour Concert Series, will include piano, violin, flute, French horn and harp lessons, with cello and voice to follow.

Music Institute Trustee and Chicago resident David Heroy said, "Downtown residents have struggled with access to the Music Institute's excellent programs for many years. Now music students and enthusiasts will benefit from the Music Institute's increased presence at multiple Chicago locations."

"Our partnership with St. James Cathedral, a musical powerhouse in its own right, allows the Music Institute of Chicago to reach more students who are hungry for music education," commented Music Institute President and CEO Mark George. "That's why we welcome all students, including beginners and casual players, as well as advanced musicians."

For more information, visit or call 847.905.1500.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Three New Operas Developed by American Opera Projects to Premiere
American Opera Projects (AOP) in New York is currently developing twenty-one new operas with three to premiere in 2017 in multiple locations across the US:

Three Way
Premieres January 27-29 @ Nashville Opera; June 15-18 @ Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Developed in AOP's Composers & the Voice and First Chance programs.
Tickets for the January world premiere are on sale at

The Summer King
Premieres April 29-May 7 @ Pittsburgh Opera.
Developed in AOP's Composers & the Voice and First Chance programs.
For tickets and details see

Independence Eve
Premieres June 3 - 11, Signature Theatre, Arlington, VA
Complete info can be found at

--Matthew Gray, American Opera Projects

Fort Worth Opera Launches Exciting Free Event "Opera Unfiltered"
Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) kicks off the New Year with the unveiling of a hot new event on January 26, 2017, at Wild Acre Brewing Company, entitled "Opera Unfiltered." Remaining true to the forward-thinking mission of the company, Opera Overture, a popular highlight of our Festival season, is expanding into a new event called "Opera Unfiltered." Stepping out the art museum and into the brewery, FWOpera's seasonal preview has evolved to capture the raw spirit of the occasion. Designed to highlight and explore the inspiration behind our "Opera Unbound" selections, FWOpera will now present the event free of charge to the public in unique, trendy spaces throughout the city. The title may have changed, but the innovative essence remains the same, as we feature an in-depth discussion with the creative team of our 2014 Frontiers showcase winner Voir Dire.

Written by composer Matthew Peterson and librettist Jason Zencka, this explosive new courtroom opera features grisly, firsthand accounts of real-life cases documented by Zencka as a crime reporter in a Wisconsin courtroom. Festival audiences will find themselves transported back and forth in time, as the narrative flits between macabre legal cases and harrowing flashback scenes of the crimes themselves. Voir Dire's "Circus of the Law" taps into pop culture's enduring fascination with true-crime tales of unspeakable depravity, and its title refers to a French phrase that describes the preliminary questioning of prospective jurors by attorneys and a judge, to determine whether or not they will be biased in their decision making.

Celebrated director David Gately will be on hand to discuss the intricate process of developing the piece from the page to the stage, and fashion stylist|costume designer Meredith Hinson will give audiences a unique view into the creative methodology behind her designs. Stars from Voir Dire, who are also part of FWOpera's prestigious Hattie Mae Lesley Apprentice program, (soprano Christina Pecce, mezzo-soprano Anna Laurenzo, baritone Trevor Martin, tenor Andrew Surrena) will perform selections from the new composition, joined by bass-baritone Nathan Mattingly as Judge Dodsworth. For opera lovers in North Texas, this is the perfect opportunity to gain an insider's perspective of this new work before it receives its world premiere on April 23, as part of the 2017 FWOpera Festival.

"Opera Unfiltered": Voir Dire
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Wild Acre Brewing Company, 1734 East El Paso Street, #190, Fort Worth, TX 76102


--Ryan Lathan, Fort Worth Opera

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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