Classical Music News of the Week, December 2, 2017

Joseph Rubinstein and Jason Kim Receive Latest Opera Genesis Fellowships

The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, FL and New York City's American Opera Projects (AOP) announce the second Opera Genesis Fellowships to composer Joseph N. Rubinstein and librettist Jason Kim.

The award includes a six-week Hermitage residency, in which these two artists will work on their new opera Legendary, about the drag balls of the 1980s in New York City. The Opera Genesis Fellowship awards are presented annually to artists who have completed training in AOP's Composer & the Voice (C&V) training program which helps to develop contemporary American opera.

Joseph N. Rubinstein grew up in Newport News, VA and currently lives in New York City. Joseph's music is often concerned with dramatic narrative and character, and has been presented by Fort Worth Opera Festival, The Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater, Triad: The Boston Choral Collective, American Opera Projects, The Holy Cross Chamber Singers, The Secret Opera, bass-baritone Matthew Burns at the Spoleto Festival USA, Boston Metro Opera, C4, the Society for New Music, and the Young New Yorker's Chorus, among others.

Jason Kim is a Korean-born dramatist based in New York City. His immersive musical KPOP recently completed a critically acclaimed sold-out run at Ars Nova Theater.

American Opera Projects' Composers & the Voice is a two-year fellowship for composers and librettists which provides experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and opera stage. This free training includes a year of working with the company's resident ensemble of singers and artistic team, followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships. Launched in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of sixty-three composers & librettists. Alumni works that went through AOP's opera development program and continued to a world premiere include Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera 2012, Jack Perla), Paul's Case (UrbanArias 2013, Gregory Spears), and The Scarlet Ibis (Prototype 2015, Stefan Weisman). AOP's C&V program is generously supported by a multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For complete information, visit

--Matt Gray, American Opera Projects

The Bronx Opera Announces Its 51st Season
The Bronx Opera will perform a pair of operas in 2018 for its 51st season. They open their season with Mozart's beloved comic gem, The Abduction from the Seraglio (January 12, 13, 14, 15); and Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischütz, the opera that most successfully established the German romantic opera style (May 5, 6, 12, 13). This will be BxO's fifth presentation of The Abduction from the Seraglio and their fourth of Der Freischütz. Each production will be performed in the Bronx, at Lehman College's Lovinger Theatre, and both operas will be performed in English.

The second-oldest continually presenting opera company in New York, the Bronx Opera has become a cultural staple of the city and the borough, supplementing its full productions with concerts and community outreach initiatives to many of the underserved communities in the Bronx. In addition to their two productions, they will also present condensed versions of each opera for children, through their Opera-in-the-Schools program. Furthermore, the season marks an exciting update with regards to Bronx Opera's administration: the Board of Directors has appointed Benjamin Spierman as General Director, leading the company alongside his father, co-founder and Artistic Director Michael Spierman.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

42nd Street Moon's The Secret Garden
San Francisco's acclaimed 42nd Street Moon has announced the full cast and creative team for the 2017-2018 season's Holiday production, the Tony Award-winning family favorite The Secret Garden. Based on the beloved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden has a book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman ('night, Mother) and music by Grammy Award-winner Lucy Simon. The Original Broadway Production won two Tony Awards in 1991: Best Book of a Musical (Marsha Norman) and Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (11-year-old Daisy Eagan, making Eagan the youngest female Tony Award-winner to date).

The Secret Garden runs from December 6 - 24, 2017 and will perform at the Gateway Theatre (formerly the Eureka Theatre), San Francisco, CA. The press opening will take place on Saturday, December 9 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets range from $25 - $76 and can be purchased through the Box Office at (415) 255-8207 or online at

--Jonathan White PR

Giving Tuesday @ American Opera Projects
American Opera Projects: Giving you more new operas.

Last year alone, AOP had 96 performances of new operas
to 45,000 audience members, and will hold
five premiere productions in 2018.

12/2/17: Outdoor Pop Up Opera  @ Brooklyn Cultural District Walking Tour
1/10 thru 1/20/18: The Echo Drift World Premiere @ PROTOTYPE Festival
1/11 thru 1/16/18: As One @ Hawaii Opera Theatre, full production
1/27 & 1/28/18: As One @ Lyric Opera Kansas City, full production
2/9 thru 2/11/18: As One @ Anchorage Opera, full production
2/9 thru 2/11/18: Six. Twenty. Outrageous @ Symphony Space, NYC, World Premiere
2/17 thru 2/25/18: Ashes & Snow @ Pittsburgh Opera, World Premiere

Donate here:

--Matt Gray, American Opera Projects

Philip Glass Headlines 2018 Winnipeg New Music Festival
Each year, at the peak of its frigid winter, Winnipeg transforms into an oasis of the most inspiring, adventurous, and riveting music of our time. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's New Music Festival presents its 27th season from January 27 through February 2, 2018, reveling in the music of today, inspiring artists and igniting abundant audiences of all ages. The week-long internationally-acclaimed celebration of creativity is known for bringing together the biggest luminaries in the music and art world – such as Steve Reich, Jim Jarmusch, Dame Evelyn Glennie, and John Corigliano, to name just a few – to explore, debate, and discover. And concert attendance of over 7,000 makes it one of the best attended new music festivals in the world. WSO Artistic Director Alexander Mickelthwate anticipates, "This year will be nothing short of extraordinary, as we bring you the most famous minimalist composer worldwide, the most beautiful Icelandic soundscapes, the most iconic Canadian visual artist, and the most energetic new talent you can imagine."

The Winnipeg New Music Festival is thrilled to have iconic American composer Philip Glass in residence as composer and performer. The Festival presents the world premiere of Glass's String Quartet No. 8 with the JACK Quartet – deemed "superheroes of the new music world" by The Boston Globe – as well as the Canadian premiere of the composer's Symphony No. 11 (2017). Glass will also be among the stellar pianists in an evening of his complete Piano Etudes. "Seeing the work of two decades compressed into an evening [of Piano Etudes] was immensely satisfying, as America's greatest living composer stakes his claim for immortality," said The Guardian. Another evening, devoted to choral works, presents excerpts from several of Glass's operas. Coming off his 80th birthday season, celebrated worldwide with tributes, premieres, and performances at Carnegie Hall, in San Francisco, in London (UK), and elsewhere, as well as several new recordings, Philip Glass continues to expand his extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times.

For complete information, visit

--Shira Gilbert PR

See Messiah in San Francisco for 30% Off
Experience this holiday favorite in all its historically-informed glory as Handel master Nicholas McGegan and America's leading period instrument Orchestra and Chorale perform with an international cast of stars. Don't miss PBO's Messiah in Berkeley, CA, Rohnert Park, CA, and for the first time in seven years, in San Francisco, too.

Celebrate the San Francisco performance with us and save 30% off single ticket prices from now through December 3rd at midnight.

Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Yulia Van Doren, soprano
Diana Moore, mezzo-soprano
James Reese, tenor
Philip Cutlip, baritone
Philharmonia Chorale, Bruce Lamott, director

San Francisco performance on on sale now for 30%. Use Discount Code: MESSIAHSF

For tickets and information, call (415) 392-4400 or visit

--Marketing, Philharmonia Baroque

SF Girls Chorus Presents "Greetings from All Seasons"
San Francisco Girls Chorus presents "Greetings from All Seasons!" December 18, 7:30pm at Davies Symphony Hall.

A celebrated annual tradition, 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 ('95). The program is highlighted by two world premiere works by Richard Danielpour and Eric Banks.

Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Music Director & Conductor
Michele Kennedy, Soprano
Shira Kammen, Violin/Harp/Oud/Psaltery
Peter Maund, Percussion
Robert Huw Morgan, Organ   

Selected music celebrating Christmas, Hannukah, Chuseok, Chinese New Year, Maslenitsa and Dio de los Muertos as well as Christmas, Hannukah and New Year's audience sing-alongs:
Gustav Holst: "Ave Maria"
William Byrd: "Rejoice, rejoice"
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Chorus from The Snow Maiden
Richard Danielpour: Parable (World Premiere Commission)
Eric Banks: "I Wrote Your Name" from Syrian Seasons (World Premiere)
George Gemora Hernandez: Arrangement of "Pasko Na Naman!"
David Conte: Arrangement of "La Llorona"
Bernice Johnson Reagon: Seven Principles

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy

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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