Classical Music News of the Week, July 7, 2018

The Crossing Announces 2018-2019 Season: Aniara

Winner of the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, The Crossing, with conductor Donald Nally, today announces its 2018-19 season, titled Aniara. The season--which is centered around exploring mankind's place in the universe, the relationships between humans, navigating through space and life, and the passage of time--features The Crossing's New York Philharmonic and Peak Performances debuts, the world premiere of the choral-theater work Aniara: fragments of time and space; and world premieres by Gavin Bryars, Michael Gordon, Thomas Lloyd, and Toivo Tulev.

The season kicks off on Sunday, September 16, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. with a performance at FringeArts in Philadelphia as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, featuring a world premiere from Ted Hearne, co-commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and The Crossing, together with Toivo Tulev's setting of Walt Whitman's "A child said, what is the grass?," a rare performance of David Lang's depart for 3 cellos and women, plus works by Louis Andriessen, Benjamin C.S. Boyle, Sebastian Currier, Suzanne Giraud, Gabriel Jackson, David Shapiro, and Kile Smith. The program, Arms and the Man, explores themes of nationalism and war, victory and loss, and joy and despair; it is also performed at New York's Park Avenue Armory on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in an expanded concert experience that winds through the Armory's historic reception rooms.

And so on through July 2019. For a complete listing of the season's events, visit

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Why Jeffrey Thomas Is Excited about San Francisco's ABS Festival, August 3–12
I'm often asked which of our American Bach Soloists Festival programs bring me the greatest joy and excitement. That's a tough call! Our 2018 Festival is jam-packed with enticements! A few years ago, when our Summer Festival focused on music from Versailles, it was a thrill to prepare and perform the stunning music that was composed for some of the greatest performers in Baroque Europe who performed in Paris. But, whereas one would be well justified in remarking that it was the composers who shone brightest in that ilk, at this summer's Festival we visit the legacy of what was probably the finest orchestra in all of Europe at the time, the famed Hofkapelle, or court orchestra, in Dresden. We've put together two extraordinary programs that focus on music for that incredible Dresden orchestra.

The first, which shares its title with the moniker for this year's Festival, is called "The Glorious Court of Dresden" and features music composed by Dresden's finest resident composers. Their names might be a little less recognizable than some, but their music demanded the virtuosity of the Hofkapelle's roster, and we've got our own ABS virtuosi lined up to take us back to that golden age.

On the second evening of our Festival, titled "To Dresden With Love," we present music composed by non-residents of Dresden but sent to the court through some sort of solicitation or, in the case of the Bach celebratory cantata on our program, offered to its Elector as a testimonial of its composer's esteem for the Dresden musicians and, more to the point, of his desire and ambition to be a part of the city's coveted musical scene as developed first under the patronage of Augustus II the Strong, then upheld by his son and successor, Frederick Augustus III. Paired with the Bach is Vivaldi's "Dixit Dominus" that was rediscovered in our current 21st century in a Dresden library.

For complete information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

This Month, YPC Performs at the Mostly Mozart Festival
Mostly Mozart Festival: Bernstein Mass
July 17-18 at 7:30 p.m., David Geffen Hall, NYC

Young People's Chorus of New York City, led by Elizabeth Núñez, returns to Lincoln Center's "Mostly Mozart Festival" as featured artists in the New York production premiere of two fully staged productions of Bernstein's MASS: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers. Mostly Mozart Artistic Director Louis Langrée conducts the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, baritone Nmon Ford, and the cast in this lavish work described by The New York Times as "An extravagant, exuberant and endlessly inventive creation."

For complete information, visit or

--Young People's Chorus of NYC

"The Journey Continues" for Orion's 26th Season
Highlights include guest cellist Ian Maksin and guest violist Stephen Boe in downtown Chicago, Evanston, and Geneva, Illinois.

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, announces its 26th season, "The Journey Continues," featuring classic and contemporary chamber works, respected guest artists and the widely praised musicianship of its core members: clarinetist Kathryne Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu, pianist Diana Schmück and cellist Judy Stone.

Orion performs each concert program at venues spanning the Chicago area, including the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago, Chapelstreet Church in Geneva and the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, along with a new venue this season: First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn. Guest violist Stephen Boe will participate in all four concert programs.

For complete information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, The Orion Ensemble

Foundation to Assist Young Musicians - July Newsletter
FAYM does not have weekly classes during the summer months but we did have a Summer Camp from June 5 through June 9. That week was extremely busy for Mr. Tim Thomas, our Program Coordinator and for our teaching/coaching staff. While there was a speed bump in our road, the summer camp started June 5th rather than the planned June 4th. Thanks to Mr. Thomas and the Roy Martin Administration, the 'glitch' was solved and we were able to start on June 5th.

Even though we do not have classes during the summer months there is lots of planning that takes place. We need to hire some staff members to replace those that cannot be with us for the 2018/2019 school year and we are also looking at consolidating some classes and perhaps adding a class or two. Things are still in the planning phase so we will not have an August Newsletter but we will bring you up to date in September.

As I look back, 2017/2018 was a good year. I am looking forward to 2018/2019 as an even better year!

You can support FAYM students at our Web site:

--Arturo Ochoa, President, FAYM

Get Ready for Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo County
In less than two short weeks, more than 50 musicians will arrive on the Central Coast to begin rehearsals for our 48th annual summer festival, Music Without Borders, July 17-29, 2018, featuring 30 events in 19 different venues in beautiful San Luis Obispo County, California.

Explore all of Festival Mozaic's unique concert programs: Orchestra, Chamber Music, UnClassical, and Notable Encounters. The Festival also offers Free Community Events, including lectures, open rehearsals, master classes, and our popular Midday Mini-Concerts.

View the full brochure for more information about each of our events:

--Festival Mosaic

Award-Winning Piano Duo Kim and Song Perform July 10
Music Institute of Chicago duo pianists Lauren Kim and Colin Song cap off a busy year of concerts across the country with a performance at home as part the Chicago Duo Piano Festival's 30th Anniversary celebration.

Known as Duo Appassionato, the young musicians, coached by Music Institute faculty Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem, won the 2017 Chicago National Youth Competition for Piano Duos last summer. In February, the duo was selected to appear on an episode of From the Top, the hit NPR radio program featuring America's best young classical musicians, taped live at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas. In March, they competed at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) National Conference in Orlando, Florida as the East Central Division winners of the MTNA Competition. Lauren, 17, will be a senior at Northside College Preparatory High School in Chicago this fall and studies with Music Institute Piano Department Chair Elaine Felder. Colin, 15, lives in Glenview and will be a junior at Glenbrook South High School this fall; he studies piano with Ralph Neiweem at the Music Institute.

Lauren and Colin will perform Leonard Bernstein's Overture to Candide Tuesday, July 10 at Nichols Concert Hall as part of the Chicago Duo Piano Festival's 30th anniversary summer festival.

The 30th anniversary Chicago Duo Piano Festival features six concerts, including the "Basically Bernstein" concert July 10 featuring Lauren Kim and Colin Song, July 8–20 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston. Single concert tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students; a 3-PASS is $60 for adults, $40 for seniors, and $20 for students. Call 847-905-1500, ext. 108 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Opera Rara and Warner Classics Announce New Partnership
On Thursday 5 July, Opera Rara announced an important new partnership with Warner Classics who will assume worldwide distribution for Opera Rara recordings. The agreement includes all future recordings, together with Opera Rara's most recent releases: International Opera Award-winning recordings of Offenbach's Fantasio and Donizetti's Les Martyrs, and selected recordings of the extensive back catalogue of more than 85 recordings.

Friday 7 September marks the release of Rossini's Semiramide, the first Opera Rara recording to be distributed under the new agreement.  Conducted by Opera Rara's Artistic Director, Sir Mark Elder, Semiramide was recorded in the studio with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Albina Shagimuratova in the title role and Daniela Barcellona as Arsace.  As The Spectator commented on Opera Rara's performance with the same forces at the 2016 BBC Proms, "Rossini's Semiramide is a challenge to even the world's top opera houses.  Canny repertoire choices and superb casting have helped this enterprising outfit return many a work to the popular canon, and if this concert preview of its latest release is anything to go by, it's done it again."

On the new collaboration with Opera Rara, Alain Lançeron, President of Warner Classics & Erato, said: "For many years I have been an admirer of Opera Rara and their mission to bring neglected operatic masterpieces to life.  We are delighted to welcome them to our roster of distributed labels."

To watch a recording of the "Making of Semiramide," click here:

--Moe Faulkner, Macbeth Media Relations

The Angel's Share Continues in August
The Angel's Share, the acclaimed new concert series by Unison Media and The Green-Wood Historic Fund that features opera and chamber music concerts in the remarkable Catacombs of New York's Green-Wood cemetary, will continue in August with programs by harpist Bridget Kibbey and twin sister piano duo Christina and Michelle Naughton. The series, which kicked off in June with the world premiere of David Hertzberg's chamber opera The Rose Elf directed by R. B. Schlather, was praised by The New York Observer as being "everything you want opera to be...[it] shocked, confounded, disturbed, and, in the end, exalted."

The Angel's Share follows Unison Media's acclaimed Crypt Sessions, which debuted at the Church of the Intercession in Harlem in 2015. The intimate performances have generated unprecedented attention, with tickets selling out within minutes of the on-sale date. The New York Times included one of last year's Crypt Sessions on its list of the "Best Classical Music Performances of 2017."

For complete information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

The Results Are in...
We are thrilled to announce that Young People's Chorus of New York City has received two first place wins at the 2018 International Choral Kathaumixw!

YPC, led by Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, competed in 3 out of 7 possible categories, and won in two categories: Children's Choir and Contemporary Choral Music. Now, tonight, they will compete one more time—in a 12-minute program--this time against the winners in the other five Kathaumixw categories for the title of "Choir of the World."

The International Choral Kathaumixw is a five-day choral festival attended by 1,200 singers from choruses in North America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe. Visit the Summer Tour page on our website for photos, videos and updates from our tours to both Canada and Japan:

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

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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