Classical Music News of the Week, March 11, 2017

Utah Opera Announces 2017-18 Season

Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth today announced Utah Opera's 2017-18 season, which celebrates the company's 40th anniversary. From October 2017 to May 2018, Utah Opera will present four main-stage productions, a gala concert featuring soprano Renée Fleming, and numerous community collaborations that celebrate the company and founder Glade Peterson's role in building an audience for opera in Utah.

Utah Opera's 40th anniversary season opens in October 2017 with Puccini's La Bohème, the first opera produced by the company in its inaugural 1978 season. In January 2018, the company presents the Utah premiere of American composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer's Moby-Dick. Co-produced by Utah Opera and Pittsburgh Opera, this new production is designed to be economically viable and to offer traditional, theatrical staging for a wide range of companies, enabling the opera to reach a broader audience. The season continues in March 2018 with a double bill pairing tragedy and comedy in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, whose lead character was a signature role of company founder Glade Peterson, and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. A production of 'Waltz King' Johann Strauss, Jr.'s Die Fledermaus concludes the season in May 2018, capping off the 40th anniversary celebration with the opera's closing "Champagne Song." All four productions will be staged at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre with five performances each.

More information, subscription renewals, and ticket purchases are available online at

--Shuman Associates PR

New York Opera Alliance Presents the Second Annual New York Opera Fest, May & June
The New York Opera Alliance (NYOA), a consortium of New York opera companies and producers, proudly presents the second annual New York Opera Fest (, a two-month celebration of opera during May and June with over 20 New York City-based companies putting on 28 events in venues around the city.

The festival showcases New York's vibrant and varied opera scene, with repertoire ranging from the traditional operatic canon to innovative world premieres, taking place in diverse venues such as theaters, bars, gardens, garages, and playgrounds. With the New York Opera Fest, the Alliance shows how NYC's opera scene is truly a living, breathing community of people who are working together to produce new work, develop new artists and engage with communities of all ages and backgrounds.

For complete information, visit

--Ely Moskowitz, Unison Media

PBO Announces Their 2017-18 Season
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale announce their 2017-2018 Season - A Matter of Character. Inspired by the unique character of their talented musicians, their rare instruments, their inimitable Music Director, Nicholas McGegan, and the uncommon 'mash-up' of Baroque, Classical, early Romantic and newly commissioned repertoire they perform, Philharmonia has assembled another season of passionate, brilliant and original concerts.

The season launches with the U.S. premiere of a major new work by British composer Sally Beamish, the first co-commission by PBO and London's Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment immediately following its world premiere at the acclaimed Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. Throughout the season, audiences will experience star talent including Richard Egarr, music director of the Academy of Ancient Music and renowned cellist Steven Isserlis as well as Julia Doyle, Brenden Gunnell, Roderick Williams, Diana Moore, Sherezade Panthaki, Philip Cutlip and Yulia Van Doren, among others. The season features Handel's "Joseph and His Brethren" as part of PBO's multi-year exploration of Handel's biblical heroes and its Jewish Music Initiative, Beethoven's Mass in C Major, as well as rarely performed works by Locatelli, Pisendel, Albiononi, Corelli, and more.

In addition to the 24 unique concerts in its annual season, Philharmonia will continue its popular alternative series - SESSIONS - with two events in 17/18, and will also present two performances of Handel's Messiah.  In October, PBO officially launches "New Music for Old Instruments" as part of its long-term commitment to new works and how these works were influenced by music of the past. Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw and Sally Beamish will join the Orchestra in a dynamic evening focused on female composers.

Subscriptions to the new 2017-18 season range in price from $177 to $650 and are on public sale. Call (415) 295-1900 to subscribe, or visit

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Crepuscolo Götterdämmerung
Monday, March 13th 8:00 pm.
The Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium, 417 East 61st Street between First and York, NYC.

Jessica Gould, soprano; Eric Hoeprich, clarinet; Diego Cantalupi, classical guitar; Christoph Hammer, fortepiano.

One of the world's leading historical clarinetists, Eric Hoeprich, joins us from London for this program, originally premiered at the Accademia Bartolomeo Cristofori of Florence, Italy,

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.

Giacomo Meyerbeer returns from the Opéra Comique, this time in German mode in a charming Hirtenlied, 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.

For information and tickets, visit

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

92Y April Concerts
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 7:30PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Angela Hewitt, piano

Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 7:30PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Nicola Benedetti, violin (92Y debut)
Leonard Elschenbroich, cello (92Y debut)
Alexei Grynyuk, piano (92Y debut)

Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 7:30PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Anne Akiko Meyers, violin
Akira Eguchi, piano

Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 7PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Alisa Weilerstein, cello

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 8:30PM
92Y - Buttenwieser Hall, NYC
Ariel Quartet

Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 8PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Sergio & Odair Assad, guitar duo

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 8:30PM
92Y - Buttenwieser Hall, NYC
Michael Brown, piano (92Y debut)

For further information and tickets, call 212-415-5500 or visit

--S. Randolph, Kirshbaum Associates

Steven Lehning to Give Free ABS Master Class
The second in the 2017 series of American Bach Soloists Free Master Classes will take place next Monday on March 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street at Van Ness, San Francisco, CA.

Works from Handel's Atalanta.

For more information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

On Site Opera Presents Mozart's The Secret Gardener
OSO partners with The Atlanta Opera's Discoveries series to bring Mozart's The Secret Gardener (La finta giardiniera) to life in a new site-specific co-production that will mark a bi-city first for both companies.

Known for staging "the ultimate in intimate productions" (The New York Times), On Site Opera (OSO) presents a trio of exciting new site-specific opera productions in 2017, beginning May 11-13 with Mozart's rarely-performed early opera The Secret Gardener (La finta giardiniera) at the West Side Community Garden, NYC.

For complete informaiton, visit

--Ely Moskowitz, Unison Media

San Francisco Girls Chorus Appoints New Executive Director
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) and Board President, Shelton Ensley, today announced the appointment of J. Andrew Bradford as Executive Director. Bradford, who joins SFGC on March 13, will serve as chief executive officer of the entire organization, operating the San Francisco Girls Chorus, Chorus School, and the Kanbar Performing Arts Center.

As Executive Director, Bradford will oversee all aspects of SFGC's operations; represent the Chorus in the Bay Area as well as nationally and internationally; and work collaboratively with Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa and Music Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe to establish artistic direction for the organization. Bradford succeeds Melanie Smith who stepped down at the end of June 2016 and takes over from interim Executive Director Beth Schecter.

--Brenden Guy

American Bach Soloists Announce 2017-2018 Season
The American Bach Soloists engage and inspire audiences through historically informed performances, recordings, and educational programs that emphasize the music of the Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic eras. Founded in 1989, the ensemble has achieved its vision of assembling the world's finest vocalists and period-instrument performers to bring this brilliant music to life. For more than two decades, Jeffrey Thomas has brought thoughtful, meaningful, and informed perspectives to his performances as Artistic and Music Director of the American Bach Soloists. Fanfare Magazine proclaimed that "Thomas's direction seems just right, capturing the humanity of the music…there is no higher praise for Bach performance."

To read the complete listing of ABS performances and dates, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Brooklyn's AOP to Select Composers, Librettists
American Opera Projects (AOP) announces the return of its popular "Composers & the Voice" program for its 2017-19 seasons. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, eight composers and librettists will be selected for two-year fellowships to learn the fundamentals of writing for the voice and opera stage. Workshop sessions with professional opera singers, mentors, and instructors are held at AOP's home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

The "Composers & the Voice" fellowships include a year of working with the company's Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships. The workshop sessions between September 2017 and April 2018 include composition of solo works for six voice types (coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, and bass). In addition, over 45 hours of "Skill-Building Sessions" of acting courses with director Mary Birnbaum (Die Zauberflöte at Juilliard), theatrical improvisation led by Terry Greiss (Co-Founder, Ensemble Actor, Executive Director of Irondale Ensemble Project), and libretto development with Libretto Writing Instructor Mark Campbell (librettist, As One, Silent Night), will provide in-depth knowledge of how singers build characters, act in scenes, and sing text.

Applications and complete information will be available beginning March 15 at The deadline for applications is April 28 with fellowships announced by July 1.

--Matt Gray, American Opera Projects

ACME Performs Three Shows at Big Ears
ACME, American Contemporary Music Ensemble, will perform three concerts at this year's Big Ears Festival, on March 23 and 24, 2017, celebrating their new album, Thrive on Routine, released in February on Sono Luminus, as well as collaborating with Icelandic composer and performer Jóhann Jóhannsson, Denmark's Theatre of Voices, and Blonde Redhead.

On Thursday, March 23 at 11:30pm, ACME joins the incomparable Blonde Redhead at The Mill & Mine, performing the band's hypnotic 2004 album Misery Is a Butterfly in its entirety, as well as select songs from the alt-rock trio's extensive catalogue. Blonde Redhead and ACME's sold-out performances of this new collaboration last October in New York, Washington D.C., Montreal and Durham, NC garnered rave reviews.

On Friday, March 24 at 4:30pm, ACME takes the stage at The Mill & Mine for a concert celebrating the group's new album, Thrive on Routine, released February 24 on Sono Luminus. The concert will feature Meredith Monk's first string quartet, Stringsongs, from 2005, which ACME has performed frequently. In addition, ACME will play Charlemagne Palestine's rarely performed landmark piece Strumming Music, with surprise guest musicians, in a version created for ACME's concerts at The Kitchen in New York last spring.

On Friday, March 24 at 7pm, also at The Mill & Mine, ACME performs Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated composer Jóhann Jóhannsson's immersive Drone Mass with Jóhannson, Copenhagen's unparalleled vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices, and conductor Donato Cabrera. Drone Mass is a 60-minute contemporary oratorio which fuses the sounds of string quartet, electronics and vocals, and is inspired by texts from the Nag Hammadi library, sometimes referred to as the Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians.

For more information, visit

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

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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