Classical Music News of the Week, March 10, 2018

2018 SF Bach Festival & 2018 Gala

Beginning with the 2018 Festival &
Academy, the American Bach Soloists 30th Season will commemorate the core of ABS's rich history through performances of works that represent the finest of the Baroque era. Grand special events including "Sparkle" — the 2018 Gala Auction, Concert, and Dinner — make the upcoming 30th Season a joyful celebration of the organization's past, present, and future.

The Glorious Court of Dresden
August 3-12, 2018
San Francisco's Summer Bach Festival

For the 2018 ABS Festival & Academy, artistic director Jeffrey Thomas has chosen the music of Germany with a particular emphasis on The Glorious Court of Dresden, known for the extraordinary quality of music that was composed for the Electors and Kings of Saxony who upheld the highest artistic and cultural standards for their subjects. Its splendid Baroque and Rococo architecture brought the city its nickname as the "Jewel Box," and a distinguished roster of performers and composers made it one of Europe's most important musical capitals. A full array of free events—including public master classes, lectures, concerts, and colloquia—complement the performances by American Bach Soloists in two exceptionally fine venues.

The Glorious Court of Dresden
Friday August 3, 2018. 8:00 p.m. St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA

For complete information on all ABS events, visit

--American Bach Soloists

92Y April 2018 Concerts
Tuesday, April 10, 2018, 7:30 pm
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic

Friday, April 13, 2018, 9:00 pm
92Y – Buttenwieser Hall, NYC
Schubert: Epic and Intimate (Part 1)
Shai Wosner, piano

Sunday, April 29, 2018, 3:00 pm
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Steven Isserlis, cello
Richard Egarr, harpsichord (92Y debut)

Tickets and information are available at or 212-415-5500.

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Other Minds Announces Festival 23 Lineup
Other Minds today announced the lineup for its Festival 23 "Sound Poetry: The Wages of Syntax" April 9 through 14 in San Francisco, CA. Curated by Artistic Director Charles Amirkhanian, the festival brings sound poet pioneers from across the United States and Europe for an exploration of text-sound compositions that utilize speech and verbalization as a medium.

Highlighted works include World Premieres by Italian master sound poet Enzo Minarelli, leading American experimental writer Clark Coolidge in collaboration with Rome-based composer Alvin Curran, prominent American essayist Lawrence Weschler, Scandinavian jazz artists Sten Sandell and Tone Åse, and Bay Area composer Amy X Neuburg; the U.S. premiere of the three-movement reconstructed concert version of Gesprochene Musik by Austrian émigré composer Ernst Toch; and rare performances of Virgil Thomson-Gertrude Stein's Capital Capitals, Bernard Heidsieck's La Poinçonneuse, Åke Hodell's politically scathing Mr. Smith in Rhodesia, and Kurt Schwitters' controversial Ursonate.

Single tickets are priced at $30 with discounted $15 tickets available to students. Tickets can be purchased online through or by calling the ODC Theatre Box Office at 415.863.9834.

For complete information, visit

--Brenden Guy Public Relations

Countertenor John Holiday to Tour with the LA Phil
Countertenor John Holiday makes his debut with the LA Phil and conductor Gustavo Dudamel in Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, in celebration of the composer's centennial. The LA Phil will perform four concerts at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, April 19-22, and will continue on to performances in New York City at Lincoln Center (April 29), the Barbican Centre in London (May 4), and the Paris Philharmonie (May 6).

A winner of the prestigious Marian Anderson Award in 2017, John has quickly established himself as a singer to watch, having just premiered the role of John Blue in Daniel Roumain's We Shall Not Be Moved with Opera Philadelphia last fall. A regular performer of the Chichester Psalms and classical repertoire ranging from contemporary to baroque, John also excels in jazz and gospel music, and recently performed a mixed program for his Kennedy Center debut.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Tod Machover Composes and Curates a Symphony of "Philadelphia Voices"
Philadelphia Voices, the sixth and largest-scale installment of Tod Machover's acclaimed City Symphony projects, premieres in April 2018 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by its music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, with a troupe of voices representing multiple Philadelphia-area choruses.

Machover, a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of Musical America's 2016 Composer of the Year award, has long been regarded as one of the most notable trailblazers of 20th and 21st century composition, and one the world's leading authorities on the vast and evolving relationships between music, technology, and human expression. Through specially-designed mobile technologies developed by Machover and his Opera of the Future group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, Machover has given residents of Philadelphia the opportunity to contribute their own samplings of cityscapes, vocalizations, and texts, reviewed and compiled by Machover and his team, uniting the richly diverse communities of Philadelphia through sound. The result is a celebration of the birthplace of American democracy written for, and with, the Philadelphians who know it best.

For more information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

J.S. Bach and Meg Bragle: "An Inspired Choice"
B Minor Mass:
"The Agnus Dei melted my heart." --The Independent

"Ms. Bragle's supple account of the Agnus Dei stood out as a clear highlight." --The New York Times

Next Bach appearances:
St. Matthew Passion
Mercury Houston
March 10

St. John Passion
Music of the Baroque
March 25, 26

"Schleicht, spielende Wellen", BWV 206
Tempesta di Mare
May 19, 20

St. Matthew Passion
Carmel Bach Festival
July 14 - 28

For more about Meg Bragle, visit

--Schwalbe and Partners

Daniel Barenboim and Deutsche Grammophon Announce New Contract
Daniel Barenboim, one of the world's greatest classical artists and a staunch champion of music's civilizing power, has signed a new and exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. The partnership was announced on March 8, 2018, just days after the first anniversary of the Pierre Boulez Saal, Maestro Barenboim's pioneering project devoted to the promotion of cultural exchange and dialogue.

The Berlin connection will be significant throughout his new and future recordings for the yellow label – Barenboim will work with the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Staatsoper unter den Linden, the Boulez Ensemble and members of the Barenboim-Said Akademie. Many of his recordings will be made in the flexible space of the Boulez Saal, home to the Barenboim-Said Akademie, a centre for the cultivation of communication, listening and understanding.

--Julia Casey, DG

Max Richter's SLEEP at SXSW March 12
Composer Max Richter will give the North American debut concert of SLEEP, made possible by premiere sponsor Beautyrest and secondary sponsor Philips on March 12 at SXSW in Austin, TX. Beautyrest mattresses will replace traditional concert seating so attendees can immerse themselves into the eight-hour overnight SLEEP experience. Doors open at 11pm on March 12 at Bass Hall and the concert ends at 8:30AM on March 13. Admission is open to SXSW Platinum and Music badges only.

--Julia Casey, DG

Strathmore 18-19 Season Preview
Strathmore audiences get their first glimpse of what's to come in the 2018-2019 Season with the announcement of 11 performances in the Music Center and historic Mansion at Strathmore, on sale to the general public today, Friday, March 9, 2018.

Strathmore continues its exploration of diverse perspectives and the potential of global music to spark conversations, mutual respect, and greater understanding, beginning with Balkan composer Goran Bregovic's new work for solo violin, Three Letters from Sarajevo. Other international performances include "Queen of Ranchera Music" Aida Cuevas in tribute to her mentor, mariachi legend Juan Gabriel, the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba with Esperanza Spalding, and powerhouse flamenco dancer Farruquito. Dynamic duos coming to the Music Center stage include playwright and activist Eve Ensler in conversation with bestselling author Anne Lamott, and masterful musicians Chick Corea & Béla Fleck. Pioneering jazz guitarist Pat Metheny and circus arts troupe The New Chinese Acrobats add to the growing diversity of programming in the Music Center.

In the historic Mansion at Strathmore, Brazilian vocalist-composer-guitarist Vinicius Cantuária pays homage to bossa nova icon Antonio Carlos Jobim, dynamic harpist Lavinia Meijer performs the music of Phillip Glass, and violinist Tessa Lark explores of the musical form of the Fantasy from the Baroque period through the present.

These performances join just-announced summer concerts with jazz icon Herbie Hancock and sublime vocalist Kristin Chenoweth.

For complete information, call (301) 581-5100 or visit

--Mike Fila, Bucklewweet Media

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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