Classical Music News of the Week, April 22, 2017

Music Institute Presents Yana Reznik, Academy Orchestra May 20

The Music Institute of Chicago showcases its award-winning Academy Orchestra in a concert featuring pianist Yana Reznik Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. The Music Institute recently hired Reznik to join its piano faculty at the Academy, a prestigious training center for gifted pre-college pianists and string players.

The program includes Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, with Reznik as soloist and Academy Director James Setapen as conductor. Also on the program is Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92, conducted by Roland Vamos.

The Music Institute of Chicago presents Yana Reznik and the Academy Orchestra Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, IL. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available at or 847.905.1500. All programming is subject to change. For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Merola Opera Program 60th Anniversary Season: June 11 Gala and Concert
The Merola Opera Program launches its 60th Anniversary season on Sunday, June 11 with a Benefit Gala at City Hall and a concert immediately following at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, featuring some of the acclaimed Merola program's most illustrious participants.

The 60th Anniversary concert will feature performances by Merola alumni from the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and current and recent participants, including: soprano Deborah Voigt (1985); mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick (1983); Mark Morash, pianist and Merola Opera Program Music Director (1987); and soprano Tracy Dahl (1985); soprano Kristin Clayton (1993), mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook (1990), Bojan Knezevic, bass-baritone (1992, 1993, 1994), and John Churchwell, pianist (1996); baritone Quinn Kelsey (2002); 2013 Merola graduates mezzo-soprano Zanda Švede and tenors Pene Pati and Issachah Savage; soprano Julie Adams, and bass Anthony Reed,  all from 2014; Amina Edris and Toni Marie Palmertree, sopranos; and Brad Walker, bass-baritone, both from 2015; and 2016 artists Sarah Cambidge, soprano; Amitai Pati and Kyle van Schoonhoven, tenors; Andrew G. Manea, baritone; John Elam and Jennifer Szeto, pianists; and director Aria Umezawa.

The evening will begin with an elegant cocktail reception in the historic Rotunda of San Francisco City Hall. A special collection of Signature Events will be the focus of the silent auction, where guests can bid on an exciting array of once-in-a-lifetime, intimate recitals and receptions featuring Merola alumni in private homes and other exclusive settings. Dinner will be held in the North Light Court, where guests will be seated with the new 2017 Merola artists, who will be training and performing beginning in June and throughout the summer. The evening's celebrations will continue in the beautiful Herbst Theatre with the concert, featuring aforementioned Merola alumni from the past four decades. Following the concert, there will be a festive dessert after-party with dancing in the Veterans Building Green Room, where guests can mingle with the concert artists and the 2017 Merolini.

The concert begins at 8 pm with performances from two of Merola's most well-known successes, Deborah Voigt and Dolora Zajick, joined by the 2017 Merolini for "Belle nuit, o nuit d'amour," from Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann. Soprano Julie Adams, who sings Mimi this summer in San Francisco Opera's La Boheme, and tenor Pene Pati will sing the duet "Suzel, buon dì" from Mascagni's L'amico Fritz.

For more information, visit

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

Tucson Desert Song Festival Announces its Sixth Season
The Tucson Desert Song Festival (TDSF) will celebrate the life and music of Leonard Bernstein, the iconic conductor, composer, pianist and educator, from January 16 through February 4th, 2018, in Tucson, Arizona. Over a period of eighteen days, TDSF, in partnership with Tucson's leading arts organizations, will present 30 events honoring Bernstein at 100. The festival will provide a rich and unusual context in which to experience Bernstein's work.

Leonard Bernstein's compositions span classical, Broadway, jazz and pop music idioms with a singularly American voice. TDSF Director George Hanson has curated a festival that draws from every aspect of Bernstein's compositional range, from large to intimate works, featuring, films, lectures, symposiums and master classes. Highlights include a fully-staged production of Bernstein's comic operetta Candide (in partnership with Arizona Opera); Trouble in Tahiti (in partnership with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra) featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Kelly Markgraf; Mass, in a new reduced version (in partnership with True Concord Voices & Orchestra) featuring Jubilant Sykes; the "Kaddish" symphony, narrated by Jamie Bernstein, and an evening with Broadway star Chita Rivera.

George Hanson, a former assistant to Bernstein states, "Leonard Bernstein is one of America's most important and influential musicians. His impact is felt by all who were alive during his glorious career; and is still felt today even by those too young to recall his time on earth. Nowhere else in the world, as far as we know, can a listener experience the full spectrum of Bernstein's genius in such a short period of time, and in such a beautiful place as Tucson."

Jamie Bernstein, narrator, writer and broadcaster, will be TDSF's Artist-in-Residence, sharing insights and memories of her father and his work. Dr. Matthew Mugmon, the New York Philharmonic's Leonard Bernstein Scholar, will also be in residence. Ms. Bernstein and Dr.. Mugmon will provide context to help understand the complex life and career of Leonard Bernstein and will participate in symposia, Leonard Bernstein's Impact on American Music, among them.

For complete information, visit

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

Moab Music Festival Announces 25th Anniversary Season
Concerts celebrate past composers-in-residence, works written by composers in their 25th year, Bernstein's centenary, and signature concerts in the breathtaking Grotto.

This season, the Moab Music Festival (MMF) celebrates 25 years of music in concert with the landscape with "sandstone walls for acoustics, willows for privacy and river sand for a stage" (Sunset Magazine), and more than two decades of what makes this Festival "stand out from many of its competitors." (Chamber Music Magazine)  As Denver Magazine 5280 wrote, "Although I don't know Tchaikovsky from Brahms, the beauty of this festival is that I don't have to. It's about what you feel when the music starts, not about what you know. The combination of music - whether it's chamber music or jazz ensemble - set against the canyon lands background is, in a word, stirring."

For complete information, visit

--Dworkin & Company

In the Salon of Mademoiselle Lévi
Performed by Hesperus: Tina Chancey, John Mark Rozendaal, and Webb Wiggins

May 11, 2017 - 8:00pm
The Santucary of Brotherhood Synagogue
28 Gramercy Park South
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $25/$35/$50/$100
For more information, visit

--Salon/Sanctuary Concets

Pianist Michael Brown Debuts at 92Y - May 3
Winner of 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, pianist Michael Brown makes his 92Y debut at the Buttenwieser Hall on Wednesday, May 3 at 8:30 pm. Selected by Sir András Schiff, Mr. Brown performs at the final concert of 92Y's Sir András Schiff Selects series of the season, featuring works by Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Bernstein and one of the pianist's own composition, Constellations and Toccata.  Praised by The New York Times as a "young piano visionary," Mr. Brown is a Steinway Artist and a member of  CMS Two at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Equally committed as a pianist and composer, Mr. Brown's recent commissions include a piano concerto for the Maryland Symphony and works for the Look & Listen Festival, Bargemusic, Concert Artists Guild, The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, and Shriver Hall. His two-part composition, Constellations and Toccata, was written for and premiered by the acclaimed American pianist Orion Weiss. It draws inspiration from two different modes of perceiving the universe.

For more information, visit

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Francisco J. Núñez to Present Educator Patricia Redd Johnson with Academy for Teachers Award
The Academy for Teachers will present its first-ever fund-raising gala celebrating New York City teachers on Tuesday, May 2, during which Francisco J. Núñez, founder and artistic director of the Young People's Chorus of New York City and an educator himself, will present Patricia Redd Johnson, his former teacher at I.S. 44, with The Academy's Woodridge Award for Great Teachers.

The benefit takes place at the New-York Historical Society and begins with cocktails at 6 p.m. followed by a performance featuring stars of stage and screen Matthew Broderick and Vanessa Williams, jazz great Ron Blake, hip-hop sensation Sean Cross, composer Phil Galdston, poet Taylor Mali, puppet genius Basil Twist, as well as a quartet of gifted students from the Special Music School.  The benefit's honorary co-chairs are Caroline Hirsch, Stephen Sondheim, and Gloria Steinem.

"Show Teachers the Love!"
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), NYC

6 p.m.   Cocktails
7 p.m.   Show
Tapas and dessert to follow                    

For tickets, contact

--Shuman Associates PR

Summer 2017: Weill Hall, the Green Music Center, Sonoma State University
July 4 Fireworks Spectacular
3rd Annual Bluegrass Festival
Gloria Estefan – The Standards and More
Community Concert

Diana Krall
Jake Owen
Blues at the Green feat. Dr. John & The Nite Trippers
Chick Corea Elektric Band | Béla Fleck and the Flecktones
St. Paul and the Broken Bones | Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave.
Pink Martini featuring China Forbes

Taste of Sonoma
George Benson & Kenny G
Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra
Los Tigres del Norte
National Acrobat and Martial Arts of the People's Republic of China

For complete information, visit

--Green Music Center

String Quartet Brooklyn Rider Makes Wallis Debut on May 13
Hailed as "the future of chamber music" (Strings) that perform with "the energy of young rock stars" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), the game-changing string quartet Brooklyn Rider comes to The Wallis for one night only on Saturday, May 13 at 8pm. NPR best described the ensemble when it said: "Take two violins, a viola, a cello. Add the world. Persian, Silk Road, Bartók, Beethoven, Roma, klezmer, Minnesota, Brooklyn, Philip Glass--and you've got Brooklyn Rider. The spell-casting, trail-blazing string quartet straight out of Brooklyn and all over."

Brooklyn Rider will present an eclectic program at The Wallis that includes work by Philip Glass, Leoš Janácek, Beethoven and the ensemble's own violinist, Colin Jacobsen. A pre-concert conversation moderated by Classical KUSC's Brian Lauritzen with members of Brooklyn Rider will take place at 7:00 pm with complimentary wine sponsored by The Henry Wine Group.

Single tickets are now available for $29 - $59. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit, call 310.746.4000, or stop by in person at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Ticket prices subject to change.

For more information, please visit:

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

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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