Classical Music News of the Week, April 29, 2017

Salt Bay Chamberfest 2017 Season

Damariscotta, Maine is home to the Damariscotta River oyster and great heaps of sweet local mussels, a twice-weekly local farmers market, fine examples of Greek revival and Italianate architecture, vestiges of a once-thriving shipbuilding life; and the widely-acclaimed, annual Salt Bay Chamberfest. Now in its 23rd season, the Chamberfest takes place from August 8 - 19, 2017 and is set picturesquely in the Darrows Barn, an historic 19th-century dairy barn turned concert hall, overlooking the scenic Great Salt Bay.

Artistic and Executive Director Wilhelmina Smith commented on the exciting plans for this summer's Chamberfest: "The theme Move Me! allows performers and audience to explore all the ways music moves us," she explained. "It does so in the deepest and most profound ways - emotionally, physically, and metaphorically. Our programs will feature the World Premiere of a Chamberfest co-commissioned work by the much-admired young composer Angel Lam, a trailblazing composition by famed Greek master Iannis Xenakis for six percussionists surrounding the audience, music by composers from J.S. Bach to the present day, and our very first collaboration with a dancer."

Four festival concerts begin at 7:30pm at Darrows Barn, Round Top Farm, Business Route 1, Damariscotta, Maine. Other educational activities include a master class with festival musicians for violin, cello, and piano students on Friday, August 11; pre-concert talks by Mark Mandarano at 6:30pm, one hour prior to each festival concert; post-concert gatherings; and informal meetings with musicians at the OffTopic! lecture series on Mondays, August 7 and 14. All dress rehearsals on the morning of each concert are open to the public as well. And for one other delectable morsel, join the Chamberfest and SaltBay performers for a musical lobster bake on Thursday, August 17 at Darrows Barn to support the festival.

For tickets and more information: call (207) 522-3749, e-mail contact@saltbaychamberfest.org, or visit www.saltbaychamberfest.org.

--Elizabeth Dworkin, Dworkin & Company

Rubinstein Competition Premieres Avner Dorman's Fifth Piano Sonata
To have one's new piano work given its world premiere at a prestigious international event is in any circumstances highly desirable. For Avner Dorman, the news that his Piano Sonata No. 5 was to be a set competition piece at the Arthur Rubinstein International Master Piano Competition, and therefore would be played by some 17 competitors, was truly exciting.

Says Dorman, "When I was younger, growing up in Israel, I visited the Arthur Rubinstein Competition quite a few times and found it always inspiring, to see all of those fantastic pianists come from all over the world and regardless of their own backgrounds and cultures, connect and bring things to the same music. So having a piece now commissioned by the competition has been a great honour. And of course, having it played so many times is wonderful for me as the composer!"

Dorman's piece will be played by competitors from countries as disparate as Taiwan, the USA, Italy, China, Israel, France and Poland. Of the (two-movement) sonata itself, Dorman writes, "It celebrates the high level of performance that competitors display...it explores the hues of the modern piano which don't always feature in conventional repertoire...many rhythms are inspired by West African music, and the colors of harmony and melody draw on other cultures. While written in traditional sonata form, this short virtuoso piece also allows pianists to express their own modern, global insights."

The premiere of the sonata comes hard on the heels of the great success of Avner Dorman's opera Wahnfried, still playing in repertoire at the Karlsruhe Staatsoper, Germany. The Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition runs at the Tel Aviv Museum Of Art until May 4th.

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

ASPECT Foundation for Music & Arts - New Concert May 17
Due to popular demand, Aspect Foundation for Music & Arts's founder Irina Knaster announced today that a fifth concert has been added to close the foundation's inaugural season in North America. Described by Epoch Times as "a very welcome addition to the chamber music landscape of New York," the season opened with a brilliantly curated series of four concerts, bringing world-class artists and acclaimed musical commentators together to enrich the performance experience for New York audiences, as it had done previously in London for five successful seasons. The Foundation has made its home the elegant Italian Academy at Columbia University, creating an ambiance of warmth, intimacy, and hospitality for the concerts, which are programmed thematically.

On Wednesday, May 17, Aspect Foundation presents "Winds of Change: Vienna, St. Petersburg, Paris." The program features three of the most revered works in the wind repertoire.  Mozart, who once called his Quintet for Piano and Winds "the best thing I have written in my life" in a letter to his father, utilizes elements of quintessential Viennese Classicism with his signature operatic lyricism and phrasing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 7:30 PM
The Italian Academy - Columbia University
1161 Amsterdam Ave., NYC

For more information, visit http://www.aspectfoundation.net/

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Washington Performing Arts (DC) 2017/18 Season
Building upon the momentum of the still-ongoing 50th anniversary celebration, Washington Performing Arts unveils its 2017/18 season of more than 50 events, taking place in ten venues throughout the D.C. region. The organization's passion for collaboration comes to the fore through numerous premieres, both world and regional, co-commissioned with national and international partners—such as The Blue Hour, collectively composed by five women (including Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw) with text by renowned D.C.-based poet Carolyn Forché, and Steve Reich's Runner—along with co-productions with other local performing arts presenters, notably with the Kennedy Center in the return of the critically acclaimed SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras.

The thought-provoking season brings into focus the connections among artists, cultures, traditions, and innovation. In an exceptionally strong orchestra season, D.C. audiences can look forward to return engagements from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, partnering with a choir comprising singers from several local choral institutions for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and the Mariinsky Orchestra with Daniil Trifonov performing his own Piano Concerto in E-flat minor. In 2018, Washington Performing Arts joins artists and presenters across the country in honoring Leonard Bernstein in his centennial year, offering a free performance featuring his daughter Jamie Bernstein with the United States Air Force Band, and a new all-Bernstein program from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

Subscriptions at WashingtonPerformingArts.org, by phone at (202) 785-9727, or in person at the Washington Performing Arts Ticket Office, 1400 K Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC. A complete listing of 2017/18 season artists and events will be available online as of April 26 at WashingtonPerformingArts.org.

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet Media

April 25th Proclaimed "Ella Fitzgerald Day" in NYC
On the 65th floor at the iconic Rainbow Room, with an expansive view of the city where Ella Fitzgerald got her first big break and performed her last public concert, the singer's 100th Birthday was celebrated. Verve Label Group, in partnership with the Mayor's office, hosted a proclamation ceremony this morning to honor this beloved musical icon on her 100th birthday by naming it "Ella Fitzgerald Day," in New York City. 19-time Grammy winner Tony Bennett joined to acknowledge his dear friend and colleague and closed the ceremony with a rendition of "Our Love Is Here To Stay."  Vocal students from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, which Tony Bennett founded in his hometown of Astoria, Queens, opened the Rainbow Room event appropriately with "Blue Skies," a favorite Ella recording.

Danny Bennett, CEO and President of Verve Label Group acknowledged Ella Fitzgerald's unique relationship with New York City where she first received public acclaim by winning Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre in 1934 and performing her last public concert at Carnegie Hall in 1991. Danny Bennett commented, "A year ago, I was asked to take over at the helm of Verve which was founded by Ella's longtime manager Norman Granz, who created Verve Records in 1955 to provide a nurturing and supportive home for Ella's recording career but also to foster jazz artists and this great American-born musical genre. I am truly humbled to now be the keeper of the flame and contributing to shine a well-deserved light on artists of the magnitude of Ella Fitzgerald."

Starbucks will celebrate Ella Fitzgerald's 100th birthday and musical legacy on April 25th by declaring it "Ella Day," playing her recorded songs in all locations nationwide.

Ella Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1917 and was known as the "First Lady of Song." She received 13 Grammy Awards, was a Kennedy Center Honoree and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of the Arts.

--Tim Plumley, Universal Music Enterprises

Golden Gate Symphony Presents Mahler Symphony No. 2
The Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra & Chorus concludes its 2016-2017 season with two San Francisco performances of Gustav Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 2 in C minor, "Resurrection" on May 14 at the Southern Pacific Brewing Company and May 21 at Herbst Theatre.

Joining the combined, largescale forces of orchestra and chorus are two featured soloists: Chinese soprano Yi Triplett returns for her second appearance this season, and Bay Area mezzo-soprano Crystal Philippi makes her debut appearance.

Admission for the May 14 performance at the Southern Pacific Brewery is free, with a suggested donation of $20. Single tickets for May 21 performance at the Herbst Theatre range in price from $25 to $45 (20% discount for Seniors / Youth Under 18) and are available for purchase at 415.392.4400 or through City Box Office at http://www.cityboxoffice.com.

--Brenden Guy

Copland House Announces CULTIVATE 2017 Fellows
Copland House announces the six Fellows chosen to participate this June in CULTIVATE, its acclaimed, annual emerging composers institute. The composers selected are Oren Boneh  (25, Oakland, CA), Matthew Browne (28, New York, NY), Pierce Gradone (30, Chicago, IL), Tonia Ko (28, Lawrence, KS, and a 2013 Copland House Resident), Patrick O'Malley (27, Los Angeles, CA), and Anthony Vine (28, San Diego, CA). The six Fellows were chosen out of nearly 50 applicants from 20 states and one Canadian province by an eminent jury comprised of three acclaimed former Copland House Residents - CULTIVATE Director Derek Bermel, Professor Kathryn Alexander of Yale, and composer-trumpeter Dave Douglas.

CULTIVATE 2017, an all-scholarship intensive creative workshop and mentoring program, will take place between June 5 and 11 in northern Westchester County, NY, at Aaron Copland's National Historic Landmark home in Cortlandt Manor and at the Merestead estate in nearby Mount Kisco. Launched in 2012, it has quickly become a coveted destination for highly-gifted composers on the threshold of their professional careers.

"This year's CULTIVATE applicants were a terrific group of composers, with widely-varied aesthetic interests and musical styles," said Professor Alexander. "The 2017 Composer Fellows will make for a wonderfully vibrant and inventive community."

Tickets for the June 11 CULTIVATE concert are $25 for the general public, $20 for Friends of Copland House, and $10 for students (with ID). Ticket or reservation information is available at (914) 788-4659, office@coplandhouse.org, or www.coplandhouse.org.

--Elizabeth Dworkin, Dworkin & Company

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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