Classical Music News of the Week, August 18, 2018

Violinist Jennifer Koh Opens the Music Institute of Chicago's 18-19 Artist Series

The Music Institute of Chicago welcomes back alumna violinist Jennifer Koh for the opening concert of its 2018–19 Faculty and Guest Artist Series Saturday, September 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in downtown Evanston, Illinois.

The acclaimed Glen Ellyn native returns to play a program featuring two solo works by Bach--Sonata No. 1 in G minor and Sonata No. 3 in C Major--juxtaposed with a contemporary piece for solo violin, For Violin Alone, by John Harbison. Critics have described her playing of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas as intense, beautifully shaped, and mesmerizing. "Koh's arresting tone and emotional interpretations of Bach are a perfect fit for the acoustics of Nichols Concert Hall," said Music Institute President and CEO Mark George.

Violinist Jennifer Koh is recognized for commanding performances delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. An adventurous musician, she collaborates with artists from multiple disciplines and curates projects that find connections between music of all eras from traditional to contemporary.

For more information, visit and Music Institute of Chicago:

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

PBS: Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2018
There is new video available from "Great Performances: Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2018," led by guest conductor Valery Gergiev, which aired Friday, August 17 on PBS.

The world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic returned for its 15th open-air concert, with the Baroque gardens of Austria's Imperial Schönbrunn Palace serving as the magnificent backdrop. The program featured internationally acclaimed soprano Anna Netrebko as special guest soloist and celebrated Italian operatic masters, with works by Rossini, Verdi and Puccini.

New Clip: Anna Netrebko sings "Stridono lassù":

--Chelsey Saatkamp,

Wet Ink Announces Fall Season in NYC
The "sublimely exploratory" (The Chicago Reader) Wet Ink Ensemble announces its fall 2018 concerts in New York City, celebrating the group's 20th anniversary season as a collective of composers, improvisers, and interpreters at the forefront of the performance and presentation of adventurous music. Described by Time Out New York as "a group [that] doesn't so much cross boundaries as disregard them," Wet Ink Ensemble's fall 2018 season includes a double album release event at The DiMenna Center, Miller Theatre at Columbia University's Composer Portrait of Kate Soper, a performance at the For/With Festival, a performance with Darius Jones as part of "For The People" at Roulette, and a collaboration with Peter Evans' Being & Becoming Ensemble at St. Peter's Church in Chelsea.

Learn more at

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Green Music Center 2018-19 Season
The 2018-19 Season comprises 35 performances representing the finest talent across a variety of genres including classical, jazz, folk, and popular music; world music and dance. Venues include the traditional 1,400-seat Weill Hall, a new setup in Weill Hall called The Loft, which reimagines the concert experience by spinning performers and audiences around to see and hear from a whole new perspective, and the intimate 240-seat Schroeder Hall. All at Green Music Center, Sonoma State Unviersity, Rohnert Park, CA.

Single tickets are now on sale, or save with subscription packages.

For complete information and tickets, visit

--Green Music Center

Kian Soltani Announces His 2018–19 US Tour Dates
Critically acclaimed Austrian-Persian cellist, Kian Soltani, will be performing throughout the United States this season, with dates ranging from August of 2018 to May of 2019. Beginning with the Bernstein Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood, Soltani will perform in a total of nine concerts with ensembles including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra, culminating in his recital debut at Carnegie Hall.

For complete information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

The Crossing Performs of arms and the man at the Park Avenue Armory
Winner of the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, The Crossing, led by conductor Donald Nally, performs of arms and the man on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at New York's Park Avenue Armory.

The evenings will feature the 24-voice ensemble of The Crossing with three cellists (Thomas Mesa, Arlen Hlusko, and Sujin Lee) and will explore the timeless themes of nationalism and war while navigating personal stories of joy and despair.

of arms and the man is designed to utilize the Armory's historic reception rooms with cello solos punctuating the transitions between the spaces. The program features a New York premiere by 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist Ted Hearne, the nation's preeminent composer of works of social advocacy, co-commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and The Crossing. Donald Nally describes, "The concert takes a look at life and war and life during war from a number of angles: national pride, grief, and anger. Ted's new piece is going to fit into this overall theme of how we agree or disagree across nations and continents and what we're actually doing when we act on those alliances or arguments. In of arms and the man, The Crossing continues to ask complex questions for which there may be no easy answers."

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

American Classical Orchestra Opens Lincoln Center Season with All-Mozart Program
American Classical Orchestra (ACO) kicks off its 2018-19 season on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 8:00pm in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center with "Mozart Serenade," a concert of festive music by Mozart.

ACO is joined by acclaimed period violinist Krista Bennion Feeney in Mozart's Haffner Serenade and will use contrabasses instead of cellos as is indicated in the original score, creating a refreshingly transparent sound. Pianist Christian De Luca, a virtuosic Juilliard historical performance program graduate, makes his Lincoln Center debut on fortepiano in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, a work popularized in the Swedish film Elvira Madigan. The 2018-2019 season marks the orchestra's 34th year of presenting historically accurate, engaging, and educational concerts, led by Artistic Director and Founder Thomas Crawford.

Crawford writes, "Our September program is a rare opportunity to hear the fabulous Haffner family wedding music of 1776 on period instruments. This music is paired on the program with Mozart's most well-known of all concertos, No. 21, here performed on the dulcet tones of a 1780 fortepiano. The serene slow movement, loved by millions, is given an intimate portrayal that is both revealing and evocative of another world in another time."

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Wallace Foundation Names New Director of Arts, Bahia Ramos
The Wallace Foundation announced today that Bahia Ramos will become the foundation's new Director of Arts, succeeding Daniel Windham who is retiring at the end of September. Ramos, most recently the National Director/Arts at the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will join Wallace on September 6, 2018.

As Director of Arts, Ramos will lead the arts program unit and the interdisciplinary team responsible for the strategic design and implementation of Wallace's initiatives in the arts, including Building Audiences for Sustainability, the foundation's current initiative funding 25 performing arts organizations in their audience-building efforts. She will also lead Wallace's work in arts education, which seeks to increase the equitable access to high-quality arts education for young people, especially those in high-poverty urban areas.

The full press release can be read here:

--Sarah Palay, Resnicow and Associates

Musikiwest Opens 2018-2019 Season
Artistic Director Michelle Djokic and Musikiwest, a Palo Alto-based chamber ensemble featuring professional musicians from all over the country, opens its 2018-2019 season on Thursday, September 20, 7:30 p.m. at the Mitchell Park Community Center in Palo Alto.

Spanning three centuries and incorporating works inspired by world music, the program will feature three string quartets - John Zorn's Kol Nidre, Kevin Volans's White Man Sleeps and Arvo Pärt's Fratres – as well as Mendelssohn's chamber masterwork Quintet in B flat Major, Op. 87. This season's performances are sponsored by the City of Palo Alto.

Musikiwest's core mission is to help build peaceable communities using the collaborative nature of chamber music. Prior to their public concert, the musicians of Musikiwest will stage three to four "open rehearsals" for local middle and high schools that will address issues such as bullying, shaming and exclusivity. Unknown to the participants, the rehearsal exchanges between musicians are entirely scripted, creating a deeper connection and awareness to the process. Rona Hu MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and founder of CHIPAO, serves as moderator for the open rehearsals, maintaining an interactive dialogue with the audience as they uncover the art of conflict resolution.

Single tickets are $10 and $15 and can be purchased through Event Brite at Admission is free for patrons under 18.

--Brenden Guy

Julia Adolphe Announces LA Phil Commission
Composer Julia Adolphe will see her new orchestral work, Underneath the Sheen, premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic this September as part of the orchestra's centennial season celebration. Additionally, Adolphe's new comic opera, A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears, will be a Project-in-Residence at National Sawdust.

In commemoration of their centennial year, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has commissioned over 50 new works from the world's leading composers to be premiered throughout their 2018-19 season. Adolphe's Underneath the Sheen will premiere on September 27, 2018, as part of their opening night concert and gala event, California Soul, joining a California-centric concert program conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

In addition, as one of four Projects-in-Residence at National Sawdust this season, Adolphe is collaborating with librettist Stephanie Fleischmann and director Elkhanah Pulitzer to adapt Jules Feiffer's loopy fairytale, A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears, into an opera for all ages.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Solera Quartet Announces First Recording and Carnegie Debut
The Solera Quartet, embarking on its fourth season, has already accumulated a remarkable and unique list of accolades, garnered for their fiery musical expression, poetic sensibility, entrepreneurial acumen, and exceptional dedication to outreach initiatives. 

Celebrating this banner year, the Solera Quartet's debut album, "Every Moment Present," is due for release on September 25th, 2018. Comprised of three poignant string quartets by Mendelssohn, Janácek, and Caroline Shaw, the album explores the role of obsessive thought as creative muse.

The Quartet continues this year of milestones by making their Carnegie Hall debut in Weill Auditorium on October 23, 2018. For complete information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

42nd Street Moon Presents Sondheim's Follies in Concert
San Francisco's 42nd Street Moon (Daren A.C. Carollo and Daniel Thomas, Co-Executive Directors) has announced the cast and creative team for the upcoming special engagement of Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical Follies in concert.

Follies features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Goldman. Both performances will take place at the Alcazar Theatre (650 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102) on Friday, September 7 and Saturday, September 8, 2018 (both evenings at 8:00 p.m.). Tickets are $45 and can be purchased through the Box Office at (415) 255-8207 or online at

--Jonathan White PR

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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