Classical Music News of the Week, April 15, 2017

Classical Music Meets Classic California at 47th Annual Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo

Each summer since its beginnings in 1971, FESTIVAL MOZAIC Music Director Scott Yoo transforms the Central Coast of California into a hotbed of classical music culture. July 19-30, 2017, will lead a group of more than 50 visiting artists gathered from top orchestras and chamber ensembles from around the world in performances in scenic venues all over picturesque San Luis Obispo County (or SLO, as the locals call it), combining music with classic California architecture, food and wine.

Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on historic Highway 1, SLO was named "Happiest City in North America" by National Geographic and Oprah Winfrey and Wine Enthusiast Magazine named neighboring Paso Robles "2013 Wine Region of the Year." Award-winning wine and farm-to-fork cuisine are both fueled by SLO's close proximity to California's agricultural epicenter, and play a big part in the Festival's events.

From Bach and beyond to Mozart and more, Festival Mozaic presents nationally and internationally renowned musicians in beautiful venues all over San Luis Obispo County. Founded in 1971 as the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Festival Mozaic is one of the oldest and most respected classical music festivals in the West. Taking place in July, with additional concerts throughout the year, the Festival offers more than 30 events in San Luis Obispo County's most charismatic spaces.

The Festival presents four different types of events – Orchestra (conducted by music director Scott Yoo), Chamber Music (featuring performers like Steven Copes, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; cellist Brian Thornton, Cleveland Orchestra; bassoonist Fei Xie, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; and others), a Notable Encounter series which is equal parts interactive performance and education, and our Fringe series, featuring classically-trained musicians playing in innovative crossover ensembles (like string trio Simply Three, Celtic violin/guitar duo Fire and Grace, and pianist/composer Stephen Prutsman).

Like any good festival, we also present an array of master classes, midday mini-concerts and open rehearsals. Unlike many festivals, we present in 16 venues over an entire county (100 square miles), including a 1772 California Mission, state-of-the-art performance halls, fruit ranches, wineries, historic adobes, farms and private homes. Located in the heart of the up-and-coming Central Coast wine region, an area that has been called the "Rivieria of the U.S.," our festival has been growing steadily in stature and renown over the past few years. Our 2017 season will take place July 19-30.

Here's a video of Festival Mozaic from last summer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8h70euHuzI.

For complete information, visit www.FestivalMozaic.com

--Liz Dodder & Bettina Swigger, Festival Mozaic

Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette on "Great Performances"
Hailed by The New York Times for singing "with white-hot sensuality and impassioned lyricism," Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo star as the tragic lovers in Shakespeare's classic story. Gounod's Roméo et Juliette airs on "Great Performances at the Met" Friday, April 14 at 9 p.m. on PBS.

The Met's new production by director Bartlett Sher also features Virginie Verrez as Stéphano, Elliot Madore as Mercutio, and Mikhail Petrenko as Frère Laurent. Gianandrea Noseda conducts the sumptuous score.

For more information and preview, visit http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/gp-met-romeo-et-juliette-opera/6743/

--Harry Forbes, WNET

Ravinia Creates Role of Conductor Laureate for James Levine
Longtime Music Director James Levine will renew his summer residency, conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and leading master classes at Ravinia's Steans Music Institute.

Ravinia has created the role of Conductor Laureate--a title reserved for an exalted musician whose eminent leadership has formed and shaped an institution's artistic quality over time--for James Levine, recognizing him as one of the most significant conductors in history, announced Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman today. Levine served as Music Director of Ravinia for 21 years (1973–93), almost as long as the combined tenures of the festival's three other music directors (Seiji Ozawa, Christoph Eschenbach, and James Conlon). The five-year appointment has an evergreen renewal.

"Every presenter strives to share the world's greatest artists with their audiences, and this historic appointment is prime proof of Ravinia's devotion to the music, the listeners, and to the man himself," Kauffman said. "Ravinia's love of Levine has shone brightly for decades, and we're thrilled that this exciting new Levine Residency demonstrates that the feeling is mutual."

In this new role, Levine will conduct multiple programs in his two-week annual residency, as part of the CSO's six-week summer residency, beginning in 2018.

"Ravinia commands the ideal resources, a superb orchestra and chorus in a welcoming environment, for live audiences to experience music's rich and varied masterworks," Levine said. "I look forward to sharing this music and my lifelong love for it with Ravinia audiences over the next several summers."

Levine returns to Ravinia on Aug. 8 this season to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Haydn's The Creation.

Ravinia Festival, 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL 60035 Tel: (847) 266-5100.

--Allie Brightwell, Press Ravinia

SIGN & SING, New York Opera Fest
SIGN & SING, a nonprofit performance program that reimagines classical music with American Sign Language (ASL), is proud to invite you to our upcoming event on Sunday, May 21st at 3pm at Symphony Space, NYC.

Can a statue of Venus come alive? Can a vagabond find a travel companion? SIGN & SING's "Explorations" examines three stories of love and travel, reimagining great works of classical music in sung English and American Sign Language (ASL). These works - Heggie and McNally's "At the Statue of Venus," Vaughan Williams and Stevenson's "Songs of Travel," and Elgar's "Sea Pictures" - will be performed on Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 3pm at Symphony Space. A post-show meet-and-greet will occur at Bar Thalia.

Open captions and Jacoti-Lola assisted listening devices will be provided. Symphony Space is ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible.

To buy tickets, click here: http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/9616/Music/sign-sing-explorations

Performers:
Vagabonds: Treshelle Edmond, James W. Guido, Suchan Kim
Seafarers: Tal Heller, Ren
Rose: Alexa Jarvis
Rose's Date: Christopher Tester
Venus: Beth Applebaum
Pianists: Alla Milchtein, Artyom Pak, Thomas Weaver

For more information, visit: http://www.signandsing.org/

--Katharine Dubbs, Sign & Sing

American Bach Soloists Present Handel's La Resurrezione
The American Bach Soloists' 2017 subscription season concludes with Handel's La Resurrezione, a monumental sacred oratorio based on the events from the Saturday after the crucifixion to Easter Sunday. ABS Music Director Jeffrey Thomas conducts performances in the Bay Area and Davis from May 5-8, 2017.

As a young composer in his early twenties, George Frideric Handel traveled to Rome and Venice to learn from the Italian masters of his day, and within only a few months he surpassed their abilities. In Rome, he composed and produced La Resurrezione, a truly "operatic" oratorio, that scandalized the Vatican (opera was prohibited in Rome by Papal edict at the time) yet assured his place as the new master of Italian operatic style. Heaven and Hell—embodied in an Angel and Lucifer—battle for supremacy on earth through this dramatic telling of the emotions and convictions of Mary Magdalene, Mary Cleophas, and John the Evangelist.

Friday, May 5, 2017, 8:00 pm – St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA
Saturday, May 6, 2017, 8:00 pm – First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday, May 7, 2017, 4:00 pm – St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
Monday, May 8, 2017, 7:00 pm – Davis Community Church, Davis, CA
Tickets: $33-$85 / americanbach.org / (415) 621-7900

--American Bach Soloists

Plácido Domingo Stars in a New Met Role, the Title King in Verdi's Nabucco
The legendary Plácido Domingo brings another new baritone role to the Met as the title king in Nabucco, under the baton of his longtime collaborator James Levine on "Great Performances at the Met" Sunday, May 7 on PBS.

Nabucco was originally seen live in movie theaters on January 7 as part of the groundbreaking "The Met: Live in HD" series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The "Live in HD" series has reached a record-breaking 22 million viewers since its inception in 2006.

For complete information on this and other "Great Performances" programs visit "Great Performances" online at www.pbs.org/gperf.

--Harry Forbes, WNET

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein Performs Bach Marathon at 92Y
On Saturday, April 22, American cellist Alisa Weilerstein returns to 92Y's Kaufmann Concert Hall and gives a marathon performance of Bach's complete Suites for Solo Cello. Recipient of a MacArthur "genius grant" Fellowship, Ms. Weilerstein has long proven herself to be in possession of a distinctive musical voice with intensity, sensitivity, and a wholehearted immersion in each of the works she interprets. An exclusive recording artist for Decca Classics since 2010, she is the first cellist to be signed by the prestigious label in more than 30 years.

Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 7 p.m.
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC

For more information, visit http://www.92y.org/event/alisa-weilerstein

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

NYOA Announces April 27 Kickoff Event for the Second Annual New York Opera Fest
The New York Opera Alliance (NYOA) will officially launch their second annual New York Opera Fest with a kickoff event on Thursday April 27th, from 6-8PM, at Marc A. Scorca Hall in the National Opera Center (330 Seventh Ave at 29th St). The event will honor opera star Lauren Flanigan for her exceptional service to the opera community of NYC (the inaugural award last year went to Fred Plotkin), and will also feature performances from the following New York Opera Fest participants:

Regina Opera, Donizetti's L'Elisir d' amour
Opera Mission, William Bolcom's Behind the Mind
American Opera Projects, Robert Paterson's Three Way
Sign & Sing, Jake Heggie's At the Statue of Venus
Rhymes With Opera Bonnie Lander's Coping Mechanisms
Opera Upper West Side, Tome Cipullo's Glory Denied
Opera on Tap, Parksville Murders Behind the Scenes Look
Opera Rox, New Works
Bronx Opera, Verdi's Falstaff

The event is free and open to the public, though attendees must RSVP by April 20 at:
https://www.facebook.com/events/278534352559785/

The second inaugural New York Opera Fest (nyoperafest.com) a two-month celebration of New York's vibrant and varied opera community throughout May and June, 2017, with over 20 companies putting on more than 30 events in venues around the city. In addition to performances, the fest will showcase behind-the-scenes events where the public can attend open rehearsals, forums, showcases, and masterclasses featuring some of opera's brightest emerging talents.

For more information, visit http://nyoperafest.com

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

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.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa