Classical Music News of the Week, April 2, 2017

Music Institute Presents Sergei Babayan May 5

The Music Institute of Chicago welcomes back celebrated pianist Sergei Babayan, in a co-presentation as part of the 44th annual Bach Week festival, May 5 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

On a program featuring the Bach Week Festival Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Richard Webster, Babayan performs Bach's Concerto in E Major BWF 1053 and Concerto for Two Keyboards in C minor, BWV 1062, joined on the latter by pianist Grace Fong. Other soloists include Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Katinka Kleijn, performing Suite No. 2 in D minor for Unaccompanied Cello, MWV 1008, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra flutist Jennifer Gunn, performing Partita in A minor for Unaccompanied Flute, BWV 1013.

A pre-concert lecture with Carl Grapentine, morning program host on Chicago's classical music station WFMT, takes place at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available by calling 847.905.1500 or at musicinst.org/faculty-guest-artist-series. All programming is subject to change. For more information, visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Honens Names Pianist Jon Kimura Parker Artistic Director
Canada's Honens International Piano Competition is pleased to announce the appointment of pianist Jon Kimura Parker as Artistic Director. Mr. Parker assumes his new role in January 2018.

"This is a historic day," said Honens President, Neil Edwards. "Jon Kimura Parker, apart from being one of the most highly respected pianists and teachers in the world, is a Canadian icon. A better fit for Honens I can't imagine. We look forward to 2018 with great anticipation."

Parker is one of Canada's most celebrated pianists, enjoying a multi-faceted international career performing with leading orchestras and in recital on the world's great concert stages. A committed educator, he is also Professor of Piano at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston. Jon Kimura Parker has had a long relationship with Honens, having served on the 1992 and 2012 Competition juries. He values Honens' artistic philosophy of discovering a unique, imaginative and informed artist—an emerging Complete Artist whose distinctive voice, versatility and communication skills demonstrate the level of preparation required to embark upon a successful professional career.

"Honens represents the highest standards of what a piano competition should be. The triennial Competition and annual Festival have become focal points of artistic and musical expression for the city of Calgary and, indeed, for all of Canada. Having performed in Calgary for more than 30 years, I have always been met with the warmest possible welcome and a sense of joy in discovering the artistic possibilities of great piano music," said Jon Kimura Parker. "I am absolutely thrilled to become the Artistic Director of Honens. This is a beautifully-run organization dedicated to increasing awareness about the vast riches of piano music and to identifying young musicians who have artistic vision."

Honens discovers, nurtures and presents Complete Artists—21st century pianists for 21st century audiences. The Honens Piano Competition takes place every three years and is considered one of the world's most prestigious events of its kind. Honens prepares its Laureates for the rigors and realities of professional careers in music and creates opportunities for growth and exposure. The annual Honens Festival is one of Canada's premier piano events. The 2017 Honens Festival takes place in Calgary, September 8 to 11. The next Honens Piano Competition will be held in 2018.

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

"Wade in the Water" Concert Sunday, April 30
The Los Angeles Master Chorale puts spirituals at the forefront of a concert called "Wade in the Water" to be performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Sunday, April 30 at 7 PM. The concert features 13 songs with the spirituals juxtaposed with other folk music traditions such as early American shape note singing, as well as a contemporary Korean piece, and a pair of European choral masterpieces from the 20th century. The concert will feature 48 singers performing a cappella, conducted by Artistic Director Grant Gershon and Assistant Conductor Jenny Wong. The concert also provides an opportunity to highlight several of the Master Chorale's solo voices on the program.

Gershon said although they appear very different, there is a connection between all of the songs: "There is a kinship to all of these pieces that has to do with emotional directness and a spirituality that reflects inward. They share a lyricism and clarity that are natural and effortless."

Gershon said while choirs love to sing spirituals, they are often sung to close out a traditional choral concert or as an encore. With "Wade in the Water" he wanted to make them the touchstone of the program: "We'll hear spirituals reflecting the perspectives of an array of composers and arrangers and interacting with other music on an eclectic program, to reflect and deepen themes of music of the spirit and of renewal."

Tickets to the concert range from $29-$129 and are available by phone at 213-972-7282 or from lamasterchorale.org.

For more information, visit lamasterchorale.org

--Jennifer Scott, Director of Public Relations

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Annual Gala to Honor Robert F. Arning
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra hosts its Annual Gala on Thursday, May 4 at the Metropolitan Club. The evening honors Robert F. Arning, Vice Chair of Market Development at KPMG, the fastest-growing "Big Four" professional services firm worldwide. The evening celebrates the long-standing partnership between Orpheus and KPMG, marking the shared ideals of collaboration, innovation, and excellence on a global stage. With the help of Mr. Arning and KPMG's advocacy, Orpheus has developed a unique cultural niche both in the U.S. and abroad, particularly in Japan where Orpheus has toured for over twenty-five years, enjoying close connections to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Sendai.

"We're very proud to honor the continued commitment that Robert Arning has to our orchestra," said Orpheus Executive Director Alexander Scheirle. "Thanks to Robert's tireless advocacy for Orpheus, we are able to continue to share our unique artistry and model of music-making in New York City and around the world."

The gala features a private performance by Orpheus, joined by double bassist and the recent winner of prestigious 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Xavier Foley.

The May 4th gala includes a cocktail reception beginning at 6:15 p.m., followed by the private concert, dinner, and a silent auction featuring a range of unique experiences and luxury items. Gala tables are priced at $100,000, $75,000, $50,000, $30,000, and $17,500, and include a table of ten guests at the dinner along with tiered benefits. Pairs of tickets can be purchased for $5,000 and individual gala tickets are $2,500.

More information on table/ticket reservation and silent auction can be found by calling the Development Office at 212-896-1713 or by visiting www.orpheusnyc.org/support/annual-gala.

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Bang on a Can Marathon at Brooklyn Museum
Bang on a Can announces the complete lineup and schedule for its 30th Anniversary Bang on a Can Marathon, presented for the first time at Brooklyn Museum on Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 2-10pm in the Museum's Beaux-Arts Court. 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.

In its 30th year, Bang on a Can is committed more than ever to an increasing and inclusive worldwide community dedicated to innovation through music – a world where ideas flow freely across boundaries whether they are musical, geographical, spiritual. Co-founders Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe explain, "Thirty years ago we started dreaming of the world we wanted to live in. It would be a kind of utopia for music: all the boundaries between composers would come down, all the boundaries between genres would come down, all the boundaries between musicians and audience would come down. Then we started trying to build it. Building a utopia is a political act – it pushes people to change. It is also an act of resistance to the things that keep us apart."

Brooklyn Museum: 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
Marathon Admission: Free with Brooklyn Museum admission
Museum admission free after 5pm courtesy of Target First Saturday
Information: 718.852.7755 or www.bangonacan.org

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Basque National Orchestra Announces Robert Trevino's Inaugural Season
It's a new era at the Basque National Orchestra. That much was clear at a press conference held this week in San Sebastian, where the orchestra has its base (though they are resident in cities across the Basque Country). Oriol Roch, the orchestra's General Manager, was presenting not only the 2017/18 season, but music lovers' first insight into the programming philosophy of Roch's big new hire, incoming Music Director Robert Trevino.

Much is expected of the highly-rated young American conductor and, Trevino and Roch both made clear, the new season would be varied, entertaining, adventurous and consequential. "Music can be transformative," Trevino has said, "and the making of music is an all-consuming effort. The world we live in is full of joys and substantial challenges. I believe humanity demands of we artists to look around at the world and inspire, elevate, console and reflect. We see in the world violence and division; but we also see everywhere humanity's capacity for love, for the creation of beauty. With music, it's possible to redicover who and what we can be together. This is what we in music, whether we be making music or listening to it, must keep in mind, and that's how it can come to have a positive impact in the world." Therefore, he announced, this first season will be guided by a theme of resistance and reconciliation.

For full season details, please see the Basque National Orchestra's Web site: http://www.euskadikoorkestra.es/es/default.asp

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

California Symphony Announces 2017-18 Concert Programs
The California Symphony announced its 2017-18 season, its thirty-first, and its fifth with Music Director Donato Cabrera.

The season includes a world premiere and a West Coast premiere, first performances of Mozart's Requiem and Sibelius's Third Symphony, the first performances in more than 20 years of Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, Pastoral, and Mahler's Symphony No. 4, the first performance of a work of Mahler's since the Orchestra's 1997-98 season. The Orchestra also welcomes guest soloists Haochen Zhang in Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2; soprano Maria Valdes in Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and in Mahler's Symphony No. 4; and Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 with Alexi Kenney. The Orchestra gives the world premiere of new Young American Composer-in-Residence Katherine Balch's newest work, a California Symphony commission; and performs two works by Bay Area-based composer Nathaniel Stookey: the West Coast premiere of YTTE (Yield to Total Elation), and The Composer is Dead, the popular orchestral whodunit by Stookey and author Lemony Snicket, with Broadway star Manoel Felciano as narrator. Other highlights include performances with the San Francisco Conservatory Chorus and conductor Ragnar Bohlin of Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Arvo Pärt's Te Deum, as part of the Mozart Requiem concert, and a performance of Smetana's Vltava (Die Moldau).

Following a tremendously successful 2016-17 season, in which it experienced large increases in sales, donations, and subscription renewal rates, the Orchestra also announced it is expanding the number of concerts it performs in the 2017-18 season, with three new Saturday night concerts at the Lesher Center for the Arts, in addition to its Sunday afternoon concerts. Diablo Regional Arts Association is the presenting sponsor of the California Symphony's new Saturday night concert series.

Subscription ticket package prices for the California Symphony's 2017-18 season range from $99 to $288 and are on sale today to renewing subscribers and the general public. Season subscribers can save up to 40% and choose their own season with 3-, 4-, or 5-concert packages, including the new Saturday night series. Tickets can be purchased through the California Symphony's website at www.californiasymphony.org and at 925-280-2490. All regular season 2017-18 California Symphony concerts will go on sale to buyers of individual concert tickets on July 27.

The California Symphony's 2017-18 season opens Sunday, September 24 at the Lesher Center for the Arts, with Cabrera leading the Orchestra in its first music by Gustav Mahler in 20 years: Mahler's Symphony No. 4, with soprano Maria Valdes as soloist. Valdes also performs in Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915. A recent graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship program, she makes her debut with the Orchestra in this concert. The West Coast premiere of Bay Area-based composer Nathaniel Stookey's YTTE (Yield To Total Elation), which Cabrera premiered with the Las Vegas Philharmonic in January 2017, completes the program.

For more information, please visit www.californiasymphony.org

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

Lawrence Brownlee Joins Opera Philadelphia as Artistic Advisor
Opera Philadelphia announced today that Lawrence Brownlee, whose lead performance in the 2015 world premiere of Charlie Parker's YARDBIRD kick started the company's "big commitment to new repertoire" (The Wall Street Journal), has joined the company as an Artistic Advisor. In this position, Brownlee will work with General Director & President David B. Devan and Corrado Rovaris, the Jack Mulroney Music Director, to advise and advocate for expanded repertoire, provide insights on diversity in artistic practices and community initiatives, and collaborate with senior management in identifying and securing financial support for the company.

Brownlee's "stunningly voiced Parker" (Opera News) in June 2015 affirmed Opera Philadelphia's mission as a 21st-century opera company that inspires artists to create their most imaginative work that resonates and excites a varied audience. The superstar tenor, one of the most in-demand singers around the world, led an acclaimed 2016 production of the opera at The Apollo Theater in Harlem and just wrapped a celebrated interpretation of Parker with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (March 24-26). He will next sing the European premiere with English National Opera at Hackney Empire in London (June 9-17). His experience with the role of Parker sparked his interest in working with Opera Philadelphia's artistic team.

"I'm honored and humbled to join the extraordinary team at Opera Philadelphia, and in my role as Artistic Advisor, I look forward to working with them towards their mission of moving the art form forward and changing the very notion of what opera can be," said Lawrence Brownlee.

Learn more at lawrencebrownlee.com and operaphila.org.

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Kaija Saariaho's Opera "L'Amour de Loin" Comes to "Great Performances at the Met"
Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de Loin ("Love From Afar"), one of the most highly praised operas of recent years, airs on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, April 2 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

The production, with a libretto by Amin Maalouf, had its Met premiere earlier this season in a production directed by Robert Lepage and conducted by Susanna Mälkki in her Met debut. Lepage's staging, which uses thousands of LED lights to create the sea that separates the opera's distant lovers, is a co-production with L'Opéra de Québec, where it premiered to accolades in the summer of 2015.

Susanna Phillips stars as Clémence, the Countess of Tripoli, opposite Eric Owens as Jaufré Rudel, a troubadour on a quest to find his perfect love, and Tamara Mumford as the Pilgrim who carries messages back and forth between them.

--Harry Forbes, WNET

Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Gatti and Viennese Traditions:
On this tour, with concerts in Budapest (17 April), Pavia (18 April), Bologna (19 April), Reggio Emilia (20 April) and Cremona (21 April), the MCO and Artistic Advisor Daniele Gatti explore two distinct sides of Vienna through a programme featuring works by Schubert and Webern while continuing their exploration of symphonic traditions.

Trifonov Plays Chopin:
This tour marks the MCO's debut with pianist Daniil Trifonov. In this all-Polish programme, Frédéric Chopin's piano concertos – in the version by Mikhail Pletnev, who will be conducting – are complemented by Mieczyslaw Karlowicz's Serenade for Strings and will be performed in Heidelberg (29 April), Dortmund (30 April) and Torino (2 May).

Coro II:
On this tour, the MCO reconvenes with Artistic Partner Teodor Currentzis and his MusicAeterna Choir for further performances, in Hamburg (29 May) and Saint-Denis (30 May), of two programmes performed on the Coro I tour.

For more information, visit http://www.mahlerchamber.com/

--Mahler Chamber Orchestra

FAYM Newsletter
On March 18th Foundation to Assist Young Muscians students performed in the Spring Concert.
FAYM Orchestra Director Tim Thomas believes that having music students perform has many benefits. Preparing for a concert not only provides students with a helpful short-term goal, it also challenges them to step up their game.

"I felt aware and was filled with excitement and my nerves were dancing the salsa!" --Alyda, Student
"Estoy tan orgullosa por el avance que veo en todos los niños. Es una emoción y una satisfacción tremenda estar en el programa que nos da FAYM. Gracias por todo!" --Yuri, Parent
"Huge improvement since fall!" --Ms. McFaddin, Teacher

You can support students like Diana, Aileen, and Liliana at our website: http://thefaym.org/donate/
FAYM keeps our costs low by relying on highly qualified volunteers to handle our administrative tasks. You can be sure that your donation will go directly to scholarship assistance, program support, and student lessons.

For more information, visit http://thefaym.org/

--Arturo (Art) Ochoa, FAYM Board President

Berkeley Symphony Performs Shostakovich's Symphony No. 13, "Babi Yar"
Guest conductor Christian Reif will lead Berkeley Symphony in Shostakovich's evening-long, epic Symphony No. 13, "Babi Yar," on Thursday, May 4 at 8 pm at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA.

The Orchestra is joined for the Berkeley Symphony's season finale performance by bass Denis Sedov and a men's chorus comprised of alumni of the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus, the Pacific Boychoir Academy, and members of the St. John of San Francisco Russian Orthodox Chorale, led by chorusmaster Marika Kuzma. Reif is stepping in for Berkeley Symphony Music Director Joana Carneiro, who recently gave birth to triplets.

Tickets for the Berkeley Symphony concert on May 4 start at $15 and are available at www.berkeleysymphony.org or by phone at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1.

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk 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