Classical Music News of the Week, June 3, 2017

Handel and Haydn Society Bring Purcell's The Fairy Queen to Tanglewood Festival

One of North America's oldest and most-established musical societies, the Boston-based Handel and Haydn Society (H + H), returns to the world-renowned Tanglewood Festival in the Berkshires to perform The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell. H +H is returning to the acclaimed summer festival for the first time since 1997, where they had performed works led by baroque violinist Stanley Ritchie and the beloved late mezzo-soprano, Lorraine Hunt (Lieberson). The H + H Society, known for their practice of honoring historical performance accurately and artistically, is led by artistic director Harry Christophers who will conduct the comedic work.

Based on the wedding play scene in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Purcell realization, which was lost posthumously and rediscovered in the early twentieth century, is a masque reflecting the wit, comedy, secrecy, and mystery in the timeless play, with an adapted script, written by Jeremy Sams (creator of the Metropolitan Opera's The Enchanted Island). The Fairy Queen features H + H's masterful Baroque instrumentalists, nine soloists, a chorus, and narration by classically-trained actress and stage director Antonia Christophers – founder of the UK children's theater company Box Tale Soup, and known for her work on Game of Thrones. Ms. Christophers is the daughter of Harry Christophers, and this production marks both the first time the father and daughter will perform together, as well as the first time Maestro Christophers conducts The Fairy Queen with the Handel and Haydn Society.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at 8:00PM
Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA

Tickets: $12-124
Call 888.266.1200 or the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, in Boston. Or visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Merola Opera Program Presents 60th Anniversary Season Schwabacher Summer Concerts
The acclaimed Merola Opera Program, one of the most prestigious and selective opera training programs in the United States, celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season with the 2017 Summer Festival, presenting the popular Schwabacher Summer Concerts Thursday, July 6 at 7:30 pm at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Sunday, July 9 at 2:30 pm at the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University.

Conducted by Anne Manson and directed by David Lefkowich, the Schwabacher Summer Concert features this year's Merola Opera artists performing extended scenes from operas including The Ballad of Baby Doe by Douglas Moore, Lucrezia Borgia by Gaetano Donizetti, Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber, Thaïs by Jules Massenet, Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni, and Street Scene by Kurt Weill.

Tickets for the July 6 Schwabacher Summer Concert at San Francisco Conservatory of Music are $25 and $45, in addition to a student price of $15. Tickets may be purchased by calling the San Francisco Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330 or by visiting or

Tickets for the Bing Concert Hall performance on the Stanford University campus go on sale June 8 and may be purchased online at; by calling (650) 724-2464; or in person at 327 Lasuen Street on the Stanford University campus.

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

Foundation to Assist Young Musicians: May Newsletter
Our May 17th concert was a big success! It was very encouraging to hear the significant growth that our first year student have made since their last concert on March 18. In just two months, they moved from the "Pepperoni Pizza Song" and "A and D String Finger Warm Up" to "Lightly Row," "Old MacDonald," and variations on "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

Ms. Chun combined Group 4 students with Advanced students and played the theme from "Star Wars." This was a great opportunity for Group 4 students to try out the Advanced class and hopefully many of them will enter our Advanced class next year.

Mr. Thomas also introduced some of our violin group students to play with the orchestra. It is my belief that this will serve to inspire them to try out for the orchestra next year.

I spoke to many parents in the audience and they shared my enthusiasm on the progress that our students have made. The audience was filled with pride in the performance given by our FAYMsters!

A special thanks to our teachers for doing such a great job in working with our students.

Join us next for the String Orchestra Summer Camp Concert on Saturday, June 17th at 10am, at Valley High School, Las Vegas, CA. For more information, visit

--Art Ochoa, FAYM

How Much Research Goes into a Sex Opera?
In June, my evening-length opera Three Way will have its New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, after having received its world premiere with Nashville Opera. The piece consists of three one-act comic operas for eight singers and twelve instrumentalists, with a brilliant libretto by David Cote. The stories involve a woman and her android lover; a BDSM session between a dominatrix and her client; and a swingers party, complete with masks, robes, and frisky behavior.

Several questions that are usually on everyone's minds when they hear this short description are: "Is this a 'sex opera'?" "Does the title really mean a threesome, like a ménage a trois?" And, naturally, "What did you do for research?"

Our goal was to create a relatable opera on contemporary subjects that doesn't rely on shock effect, blatant nudity, or victimization; there are plenty of composers, librettists, and indie opera presenters doing that already. We wanted to use sexuality as the "in": a topic that might intrigue a wider audience, maybe even get someone to attend their first opera. Getting people in the door is key. Opera companies spend a lot of time and money on productions, so you'd better be absolutely sure that they aren't wasting money on you.

To read the entire article, visit

Three Way received its 2017 premiere in a co-production by Nashville Opera and American Opera Projects, as well as developmental support from American Opera Projects' Composers and the Voice and First Chance programs, Fort Worth Opera's Frontiers program, and Opera America's Repertoire Development program. More details about the June 15-18, 2017 production at BAM Fisher, including ticketing information, is available on the Web site for the Brooklyn Academy of Music:

Jun 15-Jun 18, 2017. BAM Fisher, Fishman Space, NYC.
Run time: 2hrs 45min including two intermissions
Full price tickets start at $45 reserved seating, $30 age 30 and under (w ID).

--Robert Paterson, for American Opera Projects

VIREO - Made for TV and Online Opera by Lisa Bielawa
KCETLink Media Group – a leading national independent non-profit public broadcast and digital network – has released all 12 of the approximately 15-minute episodes of made-for-TV and online opera "VIREO: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser," composed and conceived by Lisa Bielawa, at once for free, on-demand streaming at and, and on Apple TV and Roku. VIREO will make its world broadcast television premiere on Tuesday, June 13 at 8pm ET/PT on both KCET in Southern California and Link TV (DirecTV375 and Dish Network 9410) nationwide. Produced in partnership with Cal State Fullerton's Grand Central Art Center (GCAC), the two-and-a-half-hour broadcast will be a special edition of KCETLink's Emmy award-winning arts and culture series ARTBOUND.

VIREO is an Artist Residency Project of Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, a unit of Cal State Fullerton's College of the Arts shepherded by Director and Chief Curator John Spiak, produced in partnership with KCET and Single Cel. The new, made-for-TV-and-online opera conceived and composed by Bielawa on a libretto by Erik Ehn and directed by Charles Otte, is unprecedented in that it is being created expressly for release online and on TV. The unique multimedia initiative includes online articles and videos showcasing various facets of the production. VIREO is the winner of the 2015 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Multimedia Award and was recently awarded a prestigious MAP Fund Grant for 2016 through Grand Central Art Center.

To learn more, please visit or or on social media use #OperaVireo

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends: New Worlds
Through a chance meeting on a flight from Berlin to New York, actor Bill Murray and cellist Jan Vogler became fast friends, curious about each others' artistic worlds and interests. The result of their collaboration is New Worlds, an unexpected and enchanting exploration of the intersection of music and literature. Both the recording and live events feature songs paired with literary readings brought to life with classical music.

The ensemble performing New Worlds consists of Bill Murray (vocals and narration), Jan Vogler (cello), Mira Wang (violin) and Vanessa Perez (piano) – four musicians whose origins span four different continents. Bill Murray comments, "I am bathing in this experience, really. I can't get enough of it."

New Worlds will have its world premiere on June 4 at the Dresden Music Festival, Germany, with its U.S. premiere to follow on July 20 at the Festival Napa Valley, California. The US fall tour will culminate with a performance at Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall on October 16, 2017 (Tickets: A world tour is confirmed for the fall and into 2018.

The recording will be released this September on Decca Gold (the new U.S. classical imprint of Universal Music Group), marking Mr. Murray's first official complete recorded album on a classical music label.

In a recent New York Times story following the final recording session, the project was put into focus: "Mr. Murray described the idea as 'the collision of America and Europe,' in part reflected in the backgrounds of each of the four members of his new group. 'We are from four different continents,' he said. 'And when the continents come together, the music moves right across the peninsulas from one to the other. It's just a short journey from one continent to the other."

New Worlds showcases American values in literature and music, and the bridges artists have built between America and Europe. Twain, Hemingway, Whitman, Cooper, Bernstein, Bach, Piazzolla, Mancini, Gershwin and Foster are some of the writers and composers represented on New Worlds–masters whose distinct voices have influenced generations in America and beyond. Jan Vogler says, "I grew up with Mark Twain, and we had the complete Hemingway at home, of course in German translation."

For more information, visit

--Olga Makrias, Decca Gold/Verve Label Group, Universal Music

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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