Classical Music News of the Week, December 30, 2017

The Wallis Returns in 2018 with 18 Great Events

The 2017/18 season of world-class dance, music and theater continues as the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (The Wallis) in Beverly Hills, CA presents its third annual Winter @ The Wallis series. This year, Winter @ The Wallis programming grows to eighteen events to be performed in the Bram Goldsmith Theater and the intimate Lovelace Studio Theater, beginning on Saturday, January 6 with the classical music duo, violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Julio Elizalde. Other highlights include: The Wallis debut of the L.A.-based dance company Lula Washington Dance Theatre; a weekend celebrating the great jazz legend Arturo Sandoval along with other local jazz artists; the modern music collective wild Up under the baton of founder Christopher Rountree; the return of the innovative United Kingdom-based theater company Kneehigh with The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk; and the world premiere of Tom Dugan's Jackie Unveiled.

"The Wallis is here to present dance, theatre and music events that surprise, entertain and inspire," said the organization's Artistic Director Paul Crewes. "This winter, we invite our audiences to enjoy these world-class performances and stay afterwards to socialize with our artists in our bar."

Single tickets for Winter @ The Wallis programming are now available from $20 – $125. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit, call (310) 746.4000, or stop by in person at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Ticket prices subject to change.

The Wallis also offers three different options to subscribe to the 2017/18 season: the Premium Subscription Series; the Design-Your-Own option; and the new 3-show Flex Pass for $99, created for busy young professionals—39 and younger—giving the most flexibility to join The Wallis family of subscribers. Learn more at

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

Two More Days....
Every year, Young People's Chorus of New York City changes the lives of 1,700 children through the power of song. You make it possible. As 2017 comes to a close, please consider giving the gift of music to our young people in 2018.

Please visit Young People's Chorus of NYC at

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Invest in the Future Stars of Historical Performance
As the year draws to an end, I look towards the future and all the promise it holds.

In a star-studded season, one of the brightest lights for me was the formal debut of PBO's partnership with the Julliard School's Historical Performance program. I've played with Philharmonia since 1992, and taught at Juilliard since 2009. Many of my dear colleagues at PBO teach and coach at Juilliard as well.

Gonzalo Ruiz with J415 students Caroline Ross and David Dickey in 2015. Even before this partnership began, PBO was already hosting Juilliard students in intensive workshops alongside our professional musicians. It has been a great joy that some of my students from those early endeavors have already graduated on to pursue exciting careers. David and Caroline, who played by my side in the very first joint PBO/J415 performance, have quickly become valued colleagues I enjoy playing with on both coasts.

I can only imagine all we can accomplish with a flourishing PBO/J415 partnership in the years ahead. What greater pleasure than to share the stage with the stars of tomorrow?

Please help PBO invest in the future by raising a final $5000 by Friday. Thank you for the privilege of performing with PBO, and for your support of the next generation.

To donate, visit

--Gonzalo X. Ruiz, PBO Oboist

What a Year It Has Been!
2017 is rapidly coming to a close and the coming year promises to be a busy and fun one for the SOLI Chamber Ensemble. We are on the eve of our 25th Anniversary Season, and you have been an integral part of our success over the years.

If you already supported SOLI this season, we THANK YOU, but if you haven't had the chance yet there is still time to do so. Give now to directly support our mission of bringing you our innovative performances of exciting new music by living composers, and guiding the emerging generation of musicians through our commissioning and education programs.

To donate, visit

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

This Is What American Opera Projects Looks Like
We are so grateful for everything you are making possible in contemporary opera.  With your help, American Opera Projects (AOP) develops up to twenty new operas at a time, taking operas from concept to workshops and into final productions at leading venues and opera companies across 40 cities. In the 2016/17 season alone, AOP had 80 performances for 38,000 people, many of them seeing an opera for the first time. Here's what's coming in the new year:

AOP-developed operas with 5 full productions in 2018:
The Echo Drift by composer Mikael Karlsson and librettists Elle Kunnos de Voss and Kathryn Walat on solitary confinement, at New York City's PROTOTYPE Festival January 10 - 20, 2018.

Six. Twenty. Outrageous. by composer Daniel Davis based on texts by Gertrude Stein at New York City's Symphony Space, February 9-11, 2018 (and ask about our private party February 11).

Ashes & Snow by composer Douglas J. Cuomo at Pittsburgh Opera, February 17 - 25, 2018 and fall 2018 in New York City.

The Summer King on Negro League star, Josh Gibson, by composer Daniel Sonenberg, co-librettist Daniel Nester, and additional lyrics by Mark Campbell. At Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit from May 12 -19, 2018, following a successful world premiere at Pittsburgh Opera in spring 2017.

As One by composer Laura Kaminsky and librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed. As One will be at Hawaii Opera Theatre, January 11-16; Lyric Opera Kansas City, January 27-28; and Anchorage Opera February 9-11; and more venues through 2018, making it one of the most performed contemporary operas in the US.

AOP's training for emerging artists is growing:
AOP's Composers & the Voice just started a new two-year season to train young composers and librettists - primarily women - in all aspects of operatic writing. AOP also provides and is expanding training programs for college students.

More pop-up operas, now every month:
AOP partners with several community groups  providing 20 free outdoor performances to the general public across New York's five boroughs.

We appreciate your support in the coming year for American Opera Projects and for contemporary opera.

For details, see

--Charles Jarden, General Director, AOP

Tucson Desert Song Festival Celebrates Bernstein at 100: Jan. 16-Feb. 4
The Tucson Desert Song Festival (TDSF) will celebrate the life and music of Leonard Bernstein, the iconic conductor, composer, pianist and educator, from January 16 through February 4th, 2018, in Tucson, Arizona. Over a period of eighteen days, TDSF, in partnership with Tucson's leading arts organizations, will present 30 events honoring Bernstein at 100. The festival will provide a rich and unusual context in which to experience Bernstein's work.

Leonard Bernstein's compositions span classical, Broadway, jazz and pop music idioms with a singularly American voice. TDSF Director George Hanson has curated a festival that draws from every aspect of Bernstein's compositional range, from large to intimate works, featuring, films, lectures, symposiums and master classes. Highlights include a fully-staged production of Bernstein's comic operetta Candide (in partnership with Arizona Opera); Trouble in Tahiti (in partnership with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra) featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Kelly Markgraf; Mass, in a chamber version (in partnership with True Concord Voices & Orchestra) featuring Jubilant Sykes; the "Kaddish" symphony, narrated by Jamie Bernstein, and an evening with Broadway star Chita Rivera.

George Hanson, a former assistant to Bernstein states, "Leonard Bernstein is one of America's most important and influential musicians. His impact is felt by all who were alive during his glorious career; and is still felt today even by those too young to recall his time on earth. Nowhere else in the world, as far as we know, can a listener experience the full spectrum of Bernstein's genius in such a short period of time, and in such a beautiful place as Tucson."

Jamie Bernstein, narrator, writer and broadcaster, will be TDSF's Artist-in-Residence, sharing insights and memories of her father and his work. Dr. Matthew Mugmon, the New York Philharmonic's Leonard Bernstein Scholar, will also be in residence.

For more information, visit

--Raphael Zinman, Tucson Desert Song Festival

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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