Classical Music News of the Week, July 15, 2017

David Bernard and Park Avenue Chamber Symphony's "Inside Out" Season

Park Avenue Chamber Symphony Music Director David Bernard devotes the entire 2017/18 season to his popular and highly-innovative concert format.

"Hidden inside every classical concert is an experience that is as captivating as the most brilliant, immersive events produced today. And until now, audiences have been mostly limited to a distant, diluted experience that not only keeps the music at arm's length, but also blocks access to the incredible process of music-making that occurs in real time onstage," says David Bernard, music director of New York's Park Avenue Chamber Symphony (PACS). "We will be changing this on a broad scale by revamping our entire 2017-17 season to our 'InsideOut' format--bringing our entire audience onstage with the orchestra at all of our concerts. Sharing the thrilling experience that is usually only available to performers, audiences will not just hear great music, they will be surrounded and enveloped by it. It's an immersive experience that will blow their minds!"

A sold-out success in trials with PACS this past season, Bernard's "InsideOut" concert positions audience members in the precise configuration of the orchestra, in other words, they are sitting inside the sections as though they themselves might be musicians, and the orchestra retains its shape. As with other close-up/immersive productions, "InsideOut" is a premium event, one which Bernard compared to the effect of IMAX on cinema-goers or Immersive Theatre on audiences.

For complete information, visit

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Hotchkiss Summer Piano Portals Program Celebrates Five Years
On July 22, 2017, the talented young students of the Hotchkiss School Summer Portals Piano Program will perform a fifth-anniversary gala performance in honor of Hotchkiss School former Chairman and Board Member Frederick Frank (class of 1950) and Mary Tanner Frank.

The concert features celebrated international pianists, Hotchkiss Piano Program Director Fabio Witkowski and Resident Piano Faculty Gisele Nacif Witkowski; joining them are the Fine Arts Quartet, described as a "powerhouse of American chamber music for more than six decades," (Washington Post) and with "tone… both beguilingly tangy and warm" (The Strad), comprised of violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, violist Gil Sharon, and cellist Niklas Schmidt. The rich program includes Haydn's The Lark String Quartet in D Major, and Robert Schumann's E-flat Major Piano Quartet and E-flat Major Piano Quintet.

The Hotchkiss School recently celebrated its 125th anniversary and remains one of the most lauded educational institutions on the East Coast. For the past 15 years, the Summer Portals program, a nonprofit under the auspices of The Hotchkiss School, has offered highly intensive training to uniquely gifted and dedicated young students between 6th and 12th grades from around the world in a variety of specialized subjects, from DNA Science to Documentary Film, American Literature and Theater to Robotics, and beyond.

For more information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates Inc.

Mozart's Idomeneo Conducted by James Levine on "Great Performances at the Met" Sunday
Music Director Emeritus James Levine conducts an extraordinary ensemble in Idomeneo, Mozart's early masterpiece of love and vengeance following the Trojan War on "Great Performances at the Met" Sunday, July 16 at 12 p.m. on PBS.

Tenor Matthew Polenzani sings the title role of the King of Crete, with mezzo-soprano Alice Coote in the trouser role of his noble son Idamante, soprano Elza van den Heever as Elettra, and soprano Nadine Sierra as Ilia.

For complete information, visit

--Harry Forbes,

New Opera About Steve Jobs by Mason Bates
From Saturday, July 22 – Friday, August 15, 2017, conductor Michael Christie will lead world premiere performances of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs composed by Mason Bates on a libretto by Mark Campbell, presented by Santa Fe Opera.

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, directed by Kevin Newbury, begins at a critical moment in Jobs' life and examines the people and experiences that shaped one of the most influential figures of our time: his father's mentorship, his devotion to Buddhism, his relationships, his rise and fall as a mogul, and finally his marriage to Laurene Jobs, who showed him the power of human connection. The role of Steve Jobs is sung by baritone Edward Parks, joined by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as his wife Laurene Powell, baritone Kelly Markgraf as his father Paul Jobs, bass Wei Wu as Kôbun Chino Otogawa, Jobs' spiritual advisor, and tenor Garrett Sorenson as Woz, his friend and business partner.

"It is a pleasure and an honor to be part of another phenomenally talented American composer's first opera," Christie says. "Mason is a true theater composer, blending voice, drama and his revelatory musical vision."

In the spirit of Steve Jobs' innovation in the tech industry, this production promises to push boundaries. Victoria "Vita" Tzykun, the production's scenic designer, explains, "The products and experiences that (Steve Jobs) dreamed up with his teams defied expectations and provided a sense of wonder. That sense of wonder is what is very important to us to capture in this production. In order to provide that for modern audiences, we are harnessing cutting edge technology, and fusing it with traditional stagecraft in a way that will create a world that has never yet been seen on an operatic stage."

For more information, visit Santa Fe Opera at

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Resident Ensemble of Professional Opera Singers Selected for AOP Training Program
AOP (American Opera Projects) announces the six singers who will become its Resident Ensemble for the upcoming ninth season of its Composers & the Voice training program. Comprised of one each of the basic operatic/vocal categories, the singers for the 2015-16 season will be Coloratura Soprano Tookah Sapper, Lyric Soprano Jennifer Goode Cooper, Mezzo-Soprano Blythe Gaissert, Tenor Blake Friedman, Baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco and Bass Adrian Rosas.

The singers will spend a year working collaboratively with composers and librettists who have received fellowships to develop skills for writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. The Resident Ensemble was selected by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood based on their superior technical and musical skills, as well as their commitment to developing and performing new works.

More information about the 2017-19 Composers & the Voice Series can be found at

--Matt Gray, AOP Producing Director

PBO's Le Temple de la Gloire Nominated for a BachTrack Opera Award
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's first fully-staged opera, Le Temple de la Gloire, has been nominated in Bachtrack's annual Opera Awards, in the category of Best Production Photograph.

PBO Photographer Frank Wing's photograph of Aaron Sheehan (as Apollo) and his muses was taken at the dress rehearsal and is one of six photographs nominated in this international category.

Frank Wing has been photographing PBO concerts and special events for more than a decade and we could not be more honored and proud to work with him.

For more information, visit

--Marketing, Philharmonia Baroque

Summer Greetings from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra
As the concert season winds down for many of our colleagues, we look ahead to our annual residency at the Lucerne Festival, where we will be appearing in two guises: as the core of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

In the past few weeks, we performed with Artistic Advisor Daniele Gatti and violinist Christian Tetzlaff at the annual Dresden Music Festival before returning to Festival de Saint-Denis for the final concert of our residency. We travelled to Jerusalem, where we performed the chamber orchestra version of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde at the Israel Museum's See the Sounds Festival. Just last week, we were back at Rencontres Musicales d'Evian to pay tribute to longtime festival director, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, in a programme featuring conductor Gustavo Dudamel and cellist Edgar Moreau.

And the musical journey this summer continues. We look forward to seeing you in Lucerne – in the KKL for the LFO and MCO concerts, at Inseli for the livestream of the opening concert, or at the Vierwaldstättersee between rehearsals!

For complete information, visit

--Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo Signs to Decca Gold
Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo has signed to Universal Music Group's US-based classical label, Decca Gold. The first album of this new partnership will include arias by Handel and a diverse selection of works by Philip Glass. It is slated for release in the fall of 2018.

Anthony Roth Costanzo has been performing professionally since the age of 11 and has had a wide-ranging career appearing in opera, concert, recital, on Broadway, and in film. As his star continues to rise, he has established himself at the forefront of expanding the boundaries of classical music. His reputation for creativity, interdisciplinary collaboration, and bold repertoire choices have made him a unique force in the evolving musical landscape.

--Julia Casey, Verve Label Group/Decca Gold

Merola Grand Finale Aug. 19 at War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco
The acclaimed Merola Opera Program, one of the most prestigious and selective opera training programs in the United States, concludes its 2017 Summer Festival and its 60th Anniversary Season with the Merola Grand Finale on Saturday, August 19 at 7:30 pm at the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, CA.

Conductor Antony Walker will lead the orchestra and 2017 Merola Apprentice Stage Director Victoria Crutchfield will stage the program, featuring works by Donizetti, Massenet, Verdi, Rossini, Lehár, Berg, Boito, Thomas, Bizet, Mozart, Britten, and Handel. The performance is a culmination of the 12-week Merola Opera training program, and all 23 of the 2017 Merola singers will perform, under the coaching and direction of their fellow artists.

Tickets for the performance range from $25 to $50, with a limited number of $15 student tickets available, and are on sale at San Francisco Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330, or A special post-performance reception follows the Grand Finale (tickets sold separately).

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

Utah Symphony's "Great American Road Trip"
Led by Music Director Thierry Fischer, the Utah Symphony tours the preserved lands of Utah's National Parks, State Parks, and National Monuments from August 29 to September 2, 2017, connecting with rural communities through free outdoor performances and educational activities that pay homage to the state's landscape and the country's Native American heritage.

Supported by Signature Sponsor the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, this "Great American Road Trip" includes three full orchestra concerts and three chamber performances. Mr. Fischer conducts symphonic works that complement the natural beauty of Utah, as well as music by Native American composer Brent Michael Davids, who performs in his own work as a wood flute soloist. The tour's educational outreach comprises in-school assemblies in each local area and pre-concert interactive presentations revolving around the role of wind in music making and regional topics in the natural sciences, while post-concert "star parties," hosted by local astronomy groups and park rangers, allow visitors to experience and learn about Utah's night sky. Utah Symphony's "Great American Road Trip" builds on the successes of the orchestra's 2014 Mighty 5 Tour and its collaboration with KUED on the 2015 Emmy Award-winning documentary National Park Symphony.

Tickets for all performances are free. Evening outdoor concerts with the full orchestra conducted by Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer will headline the tour. Attendance at each concert will be ticketed and free-of-charge.

Tickets will be available through the Utah Symphony/Utah Opera ticket office starting at 10:00 am on May 31 by calling (801) 533-6683. Based on availability, walk-up tickets on the night of each concert may be offered. Visit for more information on obtaining tickets for performances.

--Shuman Associates News

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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