Classical Music News of the Week, February 25, 2017

California Symphony 30th Anniversary Benefit Stars Anne Akiko Meyers

California Symphony and Music Director Donato Cabrera celebrate the Orchestra's 30th anniversary with "Symphony Surround," a special event and fundraiser Saturday, June 17, 2017 at the Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, California, with guest violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, who returns to perform with California Symphony for the first time since 2007. Meyers and the Orchestra will perform arrayed in a special configuration for this event, surrounding the guests seated on stage. The proceeds from Symphony Surround benefit the Orchestra's nationally-recognized education programs, including Sound Minds, Music in the Schools, and its Young American Composer-in-Residence program.

The Blackhawk Auto Museum will provide the unique environment for Symphony Surround, with pre-performance cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and a three-course dinner catered by Scott's Restaurant (purchased separately), with an opportunity before the performance to admire privately-owned, one-of-a-kind classic cars and to bid on items in a silent auction to benefit the Orchestra's education programs. Dinner guests enjoy preferred seating on stage among the orchestra musicians for the three-course meal and performance with Meyers, valet parking, a welcome cocktail at 5 pm with Music Director Donato Cabrera, unlimited wine during dinner and a hosted bar all evening, special photo opportunities with musicians and the classic cars following the show, and early access to bid on auction items. Doors will open at 5:30 pm to all cocktail/performance ticket holders, who will have traditional theater-style seating. A live auction will also take place during the event.

The full Orchestra program opens with Attack Sustain Decay Release, written by Mason Bates, who was a Young American Composer-in-Residence with the California Symphony from 2007-2010. Anne Akiko Meyers joins the Orchestra for performances of Morricone's "Love Theme" from Cinema Paradiso; Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me"; Piazzolla's "Oblivion," Gade's "Jealousie"; and Chaplin's "Smile." Meyers made her debut as soloist with the California Symphony in 1994. The principal musicians of the California Symphony, many of whom have been with the Orchestra since its inception thirty years ago, will perform in small chamber ensembles throughout the evening.

Tickets are $135 for cocktail/performance tickets, $500 for dinner/performance tickets, and from $5,000 to $30,000 to sponsor tables. Table tickets are available now by contacting California Symphony Executive Director Aubrey Bergauer at

Dinner/performance tickets and performance-only tickets are on sale at 925-280-2490 or

For more information, visit

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

The Crypt Sessions Presents David Greilsammer's "Labyrinth"
The Crypt Sessions Season 2 continues on April 5, 2017 with Israeli pianist and conductor David Greilsammer giving the only North American performance of his acclaimed "Labyrinth" program. The performance centers around Leoš Janácek's haunting cycle "On An Overgrown Path," interspersed with works by C.P.E Bach, Mozart, and Jean-Féry Rebel, as well as the North American premiere of "Lost in the Labyrinth," by Israeli composer Ofer Pelz.

Says Greilsammer of the program: "Each one of us has been, at some point in life, lost, disoriented, or in search for a safe and luminous path. This feeling of disorientation, leading at times to inner chaos, can also serve as the force that will push us to begin the pursuit of new routes, new ideas, and new emotions. Walking through the daunting sounds of Janácek's music, and exploring the mysterious alleys of various enigmatic pieces from early baroque to our present days, I have decided to embark on a musical journey to the heart of a beautiful, abstract, and dazzling labyrinth."

For tickets and information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Bang on a Can Marathon Celebrates 30 Years
Bang on a Can announces its 30th Anniversary Bang on a Can Marathon, presented for the first time at Brooklyn Museum on Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 2-10pm.

This incomparable super-mix of boundary-busting music from around the corner and around the world features eight hours of rare performances by some of the most innovative musicians of our time side-by-side with some of today's most pioneering young artists. The Marathon is part of "A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism" at the Brooklyn Museum, a yearlong project that celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art through ten diverse exhibitions and an extensive calendar of related public programs. Bang on a Can Marathon artists include Meredith Monk, Julia Wolfe, Joan La Barbara, and many more.

Bang on a Can started as a one day Marathon concert thirty years ago on Mother's Day 1987 in a SoHo art gallery and has grown into a multi-faceted performing arts organization with a broad range of year-round international activities. The New York Times reports, "A quarter-century later their impact has been profound and pervasive. The current universe of do-it-yourself concert series, genre-flouting festivals, composer-owned record labels and amplified, electric-guitar-driven compositional idioms would probably not exist without their pioneering example. The Bang on a Can Marathon, the organization's sprawling, exuberant annual mixtape love letter to its many admirers, has been widely emulated…." The Village Voice recounted, "[one could] enjoy a world made a bit more habitable – something like an authentically felt home-- thanks to all manner of cultural practices that get dissed out in the mainstream."

For more information, call 718.852.7755 or visit

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

West Edge Opera Announces Cast for 2017 Festival
February 7, 2017 – Under the artistic leadership of General Director Mark Streshinksy and Music Director Jonathan Khuner, West Edge Opera announces casting for its 2017 Festival, which takes place August 5 though August 20 at the abandoned train station in West Oakland at 16th and Wood.

Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas opens the Festival on Saturday, August 5 at 8 pm with repeat performances Sunday, August 13 at 3 pm and Saturday, August 19 at 1 pm.

Vicente Martín y Soler's The Chastity Tree, or L'arbore di Diana, opens Sunday, August 6 at 3 pm with repeat performances Saturday, August 12 at 1 pm and Saturday, August 19 at 8 pm.

 Libby Larsen's Frankenstein opens Saturday, August 12 at 8 pm with additional performances Thursday, August 17 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, August 20 at 3 pm.

The audience is invited to hear Mark Streshinsky lead pre-curtain talks approximately 45 minutes before each performance. Patrons will also be able to enjoy box meals from Berkeley's Poulet prior to each show, and food orders may be made either online at or by calling (510) 841-1903.

Complimentary beer and wine will also be available in the shaded Festival Pavilion, which will open to the public two hours before each performance. Guests are invited to attend a reception after each performance where they'll be able to meet the performers and artistic staff.

The abandoned train station in West Oakland has served as West Edge's Festival home for the past two years. Architect Jarvis Hunt designed the station, formally known as the 16th Street Station, in 1912. The Beaux-Arts building served as Oakland's primary train station until the 1989 earthquake, after which the tracks were moved to the other side of I-880 and the building was left to decay. The station remains one of Oakland's most significant historic landmarks.

Festival Subscriptions go on sale March 15, priced from $146 to $260. Single tickets go on sale June 1. Non-series limited view seats will be available one week prior to each performance at a price of $19. All tickets may be purchased online at or by calling (510) 841-1903.

For more information, visit

--Kate McKinney, West Edge Opera

California Symphony Announces Katherine Balch as New Young American Composer-in-Residence
California Symphony and Music Director Donato Cabrera announced today that Katherine Balch has been selected as the orchestra's new Young American Composer-in-Residence, for the three-year period from August 1, 2017 through July 31, 2020. The respected, intensely competitive Young American Composer-In-Residence program, launched in 1991, gives outstanding, emerging American composers a unique opportunity to write orchestral music while working with a professional orchestra and conductor.

Katherine Balch, 26, writes music that seeks to capture the intimate details of existence through sound. Often influenced by the extra-musical arts, literature, and philosophy, she pursues a heterogeneous yet formally cohesive aesthetic characterized by gestural lyricism. Her music has been commissioned and performed by the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony, Ensemble Intercontemporain, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Alea III, Antico Moderno, FLUX Quartet, New York Virtuoso Singers, Yale Philharmonia, American Modern Ensemble, wildUp and others in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall and Wiener Konzerthaus. Performances in the 2016-17 season include those by Contemporaneous, Minnesota Orchestra (Minnesota Orchestra Institute), Albany Symphony Orchestra (American Music Festival), Tokyo Symphony Orchestra (Suntory Hall Summer Arts Festival), and violist Christophe Desjardins as a composer-in-residence with the MANCA festival in Nice, France.

For more information, visit

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

Golden Gate Symphony Presents "Concert for Kids, Ages Eight to Eight Hundred"
The Golden Gate Symphony & Chorus presents a special performance for children and their families on Saturday, March 11 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, "Concert for Kids, Ages Eight to Eight Hundred."

The program will feature a selection of chamber and orchestral works from the classical repertoire, Broadway and Hollywood, including the San Francisco premiere of Rain by 11-year-old Russian composer and cellist Illarion Gershkovich. Gershkovich features as soloist for his own work in addition to Saint-Saëns's Allegro Appasionato for cello and piano. The Golden Gate Symphony also welcomes a first-time collaboration with "The Spring Choir," a Chinese children's chorus from Pleasanton led by conductor Wenbo Deng, who will present a selection of folks songs from around the world. Rounding out the program is a performance of Chopin's Grand Polonaise Brilliante by Bay Area pianist Allison Lovejoy. Tickets begin at $15 with free admission for children under the age of 12.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy

Salon/Sanctuary Concerts Presents "Crepuscolo Götterdämmerung"
Monday, March 13, 8:00 PM

The Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium
417 East 61st, NYC

Tickets are priced at $20/$30/$50/$100.
To reserve call 1 888 718 4253 or go to

In 1797 the walls of the Venetian Ghetto came tumbling down on orders of Napoleon. Bonaparte's favorite composer, Domenico Maria Puccini, the grandfather of Giacomo and Mozart's contemporary, receives an American premiere of his precociously bel canto Sei Canzonette. His Czech coeval, Jan Ladislav Dussek, looks back rather than forward, penning a pianistic ode to a decapitated French Queen in The Sufferings of the Queen of France.

The Meyerbeer Hirtenlied and Weber Opus 33 Silvana Variations for clarinet and fortepiano paint a bucolic idyll, while a proto-Wagnerian song cycle by Louis Spohr caps off a program that stands on the ruins of the ghetto, looking forward into a Brave New World of dubious liberation.

This program was premiered in 2016 at the Accademia Cristofori in Florence, Italy.

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

American Bach Soloists 2017 Festival
Tickets for the 8th annual American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy—San Francisco's Summer Bach Festival—are now on sale. Titled "English Majesty," the 2017 Festival will feature concerts, lectures, and colloquia that extol the masterful achievements of London's most celebrated Baroque composers.

Along with a commemoration of the famous performance of Handel's Water Music on the Thames 300 years ago in 1717, Artistic & Music Director Jeffrey Thomas will lead the ABS Festival Orchestra in two delightful performances of Purcell's King Arthur and two performances of Bach's Mass in B Minor. Additionally, the "period style all-stars" (San Francisco Examiner) of ABS will offer "Bach & Sons," a program that honors J.S. Bach and his most illustrious composer offspring, and the Academy Faculty, a distinguished roster of performers, will offer "Orpheus in Britannia" featuring works by some of the greatest composers of the English Baroque.

Single tickets $30–$95
Purchasers of all 5 Festival productions receive a 15% subscribers discount.
For more information, call 415-621-7900 or visit or

--American Bach Soloists

Nashville Symphony Call for Submissions for Composer Lab and Workshop
Now through April 13, the Nashville Symphony is accepting submissions for the second round of its Composer Lab & Workshop, an initiative created to discover and nurture the next generation of outstanding American composers.

The Composer Lab & Workshop was developed and guided by Nashville Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, who serves as Workshop Director and Chairman of the Selection Panel. The program aims to provide young composers with the opportunity to develop their talents, gain hands-on experience working with a major American orchestra, and showcase their work for local audiences. The Workshop & Lab is an outgrowth of the Nashville Symphony's longstanding commitment to promoting and cultivating American music.

Selected participants will have the opportunity to hear their music performed by the Nashville Symphony, receive mentoring and feedback from orchestra professionals, and potentially earn a performance of their work on the Nashville Symphony's 2018/19 Classical Series.

More information on the Nashville Symphony's Composer Lab & Workshop, including a full listing of submission guidelines and eligibility requirements, is available at

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Gramophone Award-Winning Duo Iestyn Davies and Jonathan Cohen
The conductor and countertenor join Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra March 1-5.

The countertenor voice allows modern audiences to experience the tone and agility of Baroque's leading opera roles originally written for castrati. Countertenor Iestyn Davies and conductor Jonathan Cohen are masters of this thrilling repertoire. Hear them perform stunning works from their 2012 Gramophone award-winning recording Arias for Guadagni accompanied by America's leading period instrument orchestra when they join PBO in March.

Wednesday March 1 @ 7:30 PM
Bing Concert Hall, Stanford, CA

Friday March 3 @ 8:00 PM
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA

Saturday March 4 @ 8:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA

Sunday March 5 @ 4:00 PM
Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, Lafayette, CA

For more information and tickets, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Janoska Ensemble Embarks on First US Tour and Debut CD
The Janoska Ensemble has created an unmistakably unique style. Performing together since childhood, the four musicians are sixth generation classically trained family members with a sound that Andreas Großbauer, chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, describes as "made up of great virtuosity, a literally inexhaustible wealth of musical ideas and bewitchingly mellow sonorities…. A true feast for the ears!"

Founded in 2013, the ensemble has quickly become a force in the music world with its profoundly personal vision that explores a vast range of works, from the classical repertoire to original compositions and completely idiosyncratic arrangements informed by jazz, pop and world music.

In March, the acclaimed ensemble embarks on its first U.S. multi-city tour with stops in New York, Miami and San Antonio, among other locales. They will perform a program based on their debut album "Janoska Style," being released in the U.S. on March 10 by Deutsche Grammophon.

As soloists and performers with numerous orchestras and ensembles, they have amassed impressive resumes, appearing with the likes of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna Art Orchestra, Anna Netrebko, the Roby Lakatos Ensemble, Michel Camilo, Julian Rachlin, and B.B. King, to name but a few.

Sample performance:


--Diane Blackman, BR Public Relations

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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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa