Classical Music News of the Week, November 25, 2017

Philharmonia Baroque O. Does Back-to-Back Handel Oratorios in December

From standard repertoire to rare gems, no one interprets George Frideric Handel like conductor Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, who will perform back-to-back Handel programs in December. First will be PBO's critically-acclaimed, historically-informed performances of Handel's Messiah in concerts December 8-10 followed by the rarely performed Joseph and his Brethren with concerts December 14-17.

McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale will inspire audiences with Handel's holiday treasure Messiah at Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA on Friday, December 8 at 7 pm; on Saturday, December 9 at 7 pm at First Congregational Church in Berkeley, CA; and Sunday, December 10 at 3 pm at Weill Hall, Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, CA. The Orchestra and Chorale will be joined by soprano Yulia Van Doren, mezzo-soprano Diana Moore, tenor James Reese and baritone Philip Cutlip. There will be a pre-concert talk given by Philharmonia Chorale Director Bruce Lamott forty-five minutes prior to each performance that will be open to all ticket-holders. 

McGegan is also excited to present Handel's Joseph and his Brethren, never performed before by PBO. The program features mezzo-soprano Diana Moore in a trouser role as the title character with soprano Sherezade Panthaki, tenor Nicholas Phan and baritone Philip Cutlip. Soprano Gabrielle Haigh and mezzo-soprano Abigail Levis will also be featured, as will the Philharmonia Chorale who will perform the roles of Joseph's Brethren, Egyptians and Hebrews.

McGegan leads PBO in Joseph and his Brethren on Thursday, December 14 at 7 pm at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco; on Friday, December 15 at 7:30 pm at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto, CA; and on Saturday, December 16 at 7 pm and Sunday, December 17 at 4 pm at First Congregational Church in Berkeley, CA. There will be a pre-concert talk given by Philharmonia Chorale Director Bruce Lamott forty-five minutes prior to each performance that will be open to all ticket-holders.

Tickets range from $28 to $125. For more information about these and other Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale concerts, visit For tickets, visit or call 415-392-4400. Tickets to the Green Music Center available at

(Save 20% on tickets now and catch all the drama and intrigue as this story unfolds December 14-17 in Palo Alto, San Francisco and Berkeley. Special e-mail offer: 20% off tickets!
Use Discount Code: HANDELx2 at

For more information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonica Barooque Orchestra

Salon/Sanctuary Concerts - Early Music of the Maghreb and Carthage Conquer'd
Early Music of the Maghreb:
The region of Northern Africa to the west of Egypt, once known as the Barbary Coast and later, the Maghreb, nurtured a volatile mix of Phoenician, Carthaginian, and later Berber, Jewish, and Arabic cultures. Its most legendary city a sacrifice to Rome's founding, its more recent turmoil the troubled heir of European colonialization.

An ethnic cauldron and brutal colonialism forged a vibrant and kaleidoscopic musical tradition that lives on to this day. Please join us for our second collaboration with Afro Roots Tuesdays, as we welcome an ensemble of gifted musicians of Algerian, Tunisian, and Morrocan origin, for an early music concert surely unlike any other.

Tuesday, December 12 at 7:30 PM
The Bernie Wohl Center
647 Columbus Avenue, NYC

Carthage Conquer'd:
The capital of Tunisia was once the legendary city of Carthage. Its Queen Dido, loved and abandoned by Aeneas on his mission to found Rome, inspired countless musical masterworks from the baroque era to Berlioz. This concert alternates cantatas dedicated to the Carthaginian Queen with the Arabic form of improvisation known as Taksim, as two historically informed ensembles – one western and the other Tunisian, share a stage, offering a new perspective on Dido the misused monarch and the site of Northern Africa as both exploited resource and object of fantasy in the Western European mythscape.

Saturday, December 16 at 8:00 PM
The Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium
417 East 61st Street, NYC

For more information, visit

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

"A Pure Classical Thrill Ride"
The value of a classical concert is not a function of length.

Take the Cleveland Orchestra this last week. Friday night at Severance Hall, the group delivered a near-perfect 18th-century package, all in a little over an hour.

It didn't used to be this way. In an amusing pre-concert address from the stage, two orchestra members and conductor Nicholas McGegan, a specialist in early music, reminded the first 'Fridays@7' audience of the year that concerts in Mozart's day were often elaborate, evening-length affairs featuring any number of performances.

Happily, on Friday, the orchestra cut right to the chase. Between Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9 and 'Linz' Symphony No. 36, the group had just enough to delight and engage but not enough to overstay any welcome."

After such joys, one truly couldn't have asked for more."

--Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer

San Francisco Girls Chorus Presents Annual Holiday Concert
San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) presents its annual holiday concert, "Greetings From All Seasons!" on Monday, December 18, 7:30 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall.

This year's concert will celebrate holiday traditions of multiple faiths with a selection of festive music from across the world. Music Director and Principal Conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe will lead the combined forces of nearly 300 choristers and various featured guest artists including soprano and SFGC alumnae Michele Kennedy (1995); multi-instrumentalist and traditional music specialist Shira Kammen; Stanford University Organist Robert Huw Morgan; and Ensemble Alcatraz percussionist Peter Maund. Continuing its commitment to new music, SFGC will also present two World Premieres including Parable by Richard Danielpour, a commission inspired by the Iranian New Year Festival of Nowruz, and "I Wrote Your Name" from "Syrian Seasons" by Seattle-based composer Eric Banks.

Tickets range in price from $30 to $60, and can be purchased by calling (415) 392-4400 or through City Box Office online at

--Brenden Guy, Marketing and PR

Free Cultural Walking Tours of Brooklyn's Downtown Art Scene
On Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 11:00am, Fulton Area Business Alliance (FAB) and contemporary opera producer American Opera Projects (AOP) will offer The Brooklyn Cultural District Walking Tour, a free, two-hour guided walking tour through Fort Greene, Brooklyn that shows how the neighborhood has become one of the most vibrant hubs for the arts in America today. Live performances by opera singers of specially selected songs accompany the tour.

The tours are free, but space is limited and advance registration is required. For registration and more information about the tours, visit or contact: or 718-398-4024.

--Matt Gray, American Opera Projects

Preview the New Opera from Greg Spears and Christopher Williams
Philadelphia Dance Projects in partnership with AOP present Wolf-in-Skins
First Chance Informance of Act II. Run time: 60 minutes.

Philadelphia Dance Projects in partnership with American Opera Projects will present an "Informance" with choreographer Christopher Williams and composer Gregory Spears as the culmination of a creative artist residency to further develop their original dance opera, Wolf-in-Skins. An "Informance" is a work-in-progress showing, where the artists are in conversation with the audience about the content of the work, their ideas and inspiration. Dancers, singers and musicians will perform sections from the work.

November 29 & 30 | 7 :30 PM
SEI Innovation Studio at The Kimmel Center
300 South Broad Street
Philadelphia PA 19102

Tickets: $10

--Matt Gray, American Opera Projects

#GivingTuesday Is Less Than a Week Away, and SOLI Is Among the Organizations You Can Support
Join the movement & give back, November 28th, 2017.

We have two days for getting deals - Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On #GivingTuesday, we have a day for giving back! Together, people are creating a new ritual for our annual calendar. #GivingTuesday is the opening day of the giving season: a reminder of the "reason for the season." Every act of generosity counts, and each means even more when we give together.

Everyday, SOLI Chamber Ensemble fulfill's an important role in our community:
Bringing the newest and the best contemporary music to the people of San Antonio, therefore establishing our city as one of the most eclectic cultural centers in the United States, and educating the future generation of music lovers and professionals, who will continue to spread the joy, fulfillment, and the compassion that music promotes.

Please help us continue to change lives through music. Make a contribution today:!giving-tuesday/

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

First-Ever Nutcracker Dance Party
As you prepare for Thanksgiving, Experiential Orchestra is busily preparing for our first-ever Nutcracker Dance Party next week! In true EXO fashion, we have assembled an outrageously brilliant orchestra to perform the complete ballet in its full orchestration, so you will hear all of Tchaikovsk's gorgeous orchestral colors in all of their glory and mystery and magic. If you don't have tickets yet, now is the time! A perfect early Christmas gift, or a great way to start this holiday season with pure joy.

No ballet experience is necessary for this dance party, and if you would rather not dance, there are seats available either inside the orchestra, where the sound will surround you and embrace you, or off to the sides (if you'd prefer to be like Marie in the second act).

Nutcracker Dance Party
Thursday, November 30 at 8pm
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music (450 West 37th Street, NYC)
$40 for dancing or standing room; $75 for a seat inside the orchestra; $100 VIP ticket with champagne reception.

Nutcracker Dance Party for Kids (5+ with their adult dancing companions)
Saturday, December 2 at 2:30pm
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music (450 West 37th Street, NYC)
Adult tickets: $40 for dancing-room or seats farther away, and $75 for prime seating.
Kid tickets: $25 for one, $45 for two, and $60 for three. (All children must be accompanied by an adult dancing companion.)

For tickets and information, visit

--Experiential Orhestra

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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 Jon 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 of The $ensible Sound magazine 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 simpleminded, 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 Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. 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 cell phone. 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.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

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