Classical Music News of the Week, November 10, 2018

Concerts at Saint Thomas in December: Handel's Messiah, Britten and Messiaen

Concerts at Saint Thomas will host a special series of holiday programs this December, featuring their annual tradition of Handel's Messiah December 4 & 6, Britten's introspective A Ceremony of Carols December 13, and Messiaen's masterful organ cycle La Nativité du Seigneur December 22, performed on their newly inaugurated Miller-Scott Organ.

Handel: Messiah
December 4 & 6, 2018 | Tuesday & Thursday at 7:30 PM
Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC

Britten: A Ceremony of Carols
December 13, 2018 | Thursday at 5:30 PM
Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC

Messiaen: La Nativite du Seigneur
December 22, 2018 | Saturday at 3:00 PM
Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Andrea Bocelli Achieves First Ever U.S. #1 Record
In the year of his 60th birthday and almost a quarter century since his debut release, global classical music icon Andrea Bocelli has topped the U.S. Billboard 200 chart for the first time in his illustrious career with the release of 'Sì' (Decca/Sugar Music), his first album of new original material in 14 years. The album, released in the U.S. on October 26, through Universal Music Classics, part of Verve Label Group, sold 126,000 equivalent units in its first week to debut at #1 stateside and simultaneously topped the charts in the U.K. for the first time.

One of the most universally loved and recognizable performers on the planet, Andrea Bocelli has sold in-excess of 90 million albums to date. His latest album 'Sì' has captivated audiences around the world and features Andrea collaborating with artists including Josh Groban, Dua Lipa, Russian soprano Aida Garifullina, Ed Sheeran and his 21-year-old son Matteo Bocelli. Uniquely for a classical artist, their duet together 'Fall on Me' has become a viral hit around the world with its music video garnering more than 21million views in just 5 weeks, while charting on streaming playlists globally.
'Fall on Me' also appears in the end credits of Disney's latest feature film 'The Nutcracker and The Four Realms' starring Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman which debuted in theaters this week. 'Sì' was recorded at his home in Italy and produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Thirty Seconds To Mars).

--Julia Casey, Universal Music

Naxos Music Group Acquires Opus Arte Label
Naxos is happy to announce its acquisition of the Opus Arte label from the Royal Opera House. The acquisition marks an important step in the company's expansion of its audiovisual activities, as video is gaining importance in the classical music industry.

The Naxos Music Group has been distributing the label worldwide almost since its launch in 1999.  Opus Arte is one of the most important top-line international DVD and Blu-ray labels today, focused on opera, ballet and theatre. The acquisition includes an important catalogue of some 600 productions, many of which are also available for licensing for television and video on demand. While productions of the Royal Opera House are central to its activities, Opus Arte also regularly releases productions of its key partners, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Globe and Glyndebourne.

With the addition of the Opus Arte catalogue, the Naxos Music Group holds rights to some 1,600 audiovisual programmes and is now a major player in the business of performing arts on screen.  Along with the acquisition of Opus Arte, the Naxos Music Group signed a long-term cooperation agreement with the Royal Opera House, giving Naxos the first option to distribute and market new and upcoming audiovisual recordings of opera and ballet performances from the Royal Opera House on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as to television, video on demand platforms and educational and other licensing partners.

For more information, visit

--Mara Miller, Naxos USA

Annenberg Center Live Presents The Crossing @ Christmas
On Friday, December 14, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, The Crossing gives its annual Christmas concert, The Crossing @ Christmas, presented by Annenberg Center Live. The concert is in memorial of Jeffrey Dinsmore, co-founder of The Crossing, and features an evening-length world premiere by Gavin Bryars, composer of The Fifth Century, for which The Crossing won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance.

The Crossing @ Christmas will receive a special encore performance on Sunday, December 16 at 5:00 p.m. at The Crossing's home venue, The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. A pre-concert talk with conductor Donald Nally and composer Gavin Bryars takes place on Sunday at 4:00 pm in the Burleigh Cruikshank Memorial Chapel.

For complete information, call (215) 898-3900 or visit

--Katy Solomon, Morahan Arts and Media

First Annual Andrew Park Composition Prize and Concert
The Andrew Park Foundation has named composers June Young Kim (South Korea) and Joseph Lee (USA) prize-winners in the Foundation's first annual Andrew Park Composition Prize. Messrs. Kim and Lee will each receive a cash prize valued at $1,500 and will have their new works premiered at New York's Merkin Concert Hall on Sunday, December 16, 2018, 3 p.m.

The purpose of the Andrew Park Composition Prize is to build a broader understanding of the connections between the traditions of the West and East through music and poetry. In the past, Toru Takemitsu and Isang Yun produced some of the most important works of Asian modernism, combining their experiences of their own and Western cultures. The Foundation encourages composers to continue in this spirit, bridging differences and forging stronger ties.

Applications for the 2019 Andrew Park Composition Prize will be available in February, 2019. For more information please visit

--Raphael Zinman, Nancy Shear Arts Services

Patrick Dupré Quigley leads PBO in December Program
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale will welcome guest conductor Patrick Dupré Quigley at their "Philharmonic Fire" program December 5-9. Currently the founder and artistic director of the Grammy-nominated ensemble Seraphic Fire, Quigley brings a passionate approach to scholarship and conducting with his program of Bach cantatas and vocal works by Monteverdi, Vivaldi, and Purcell.

"The program features two sides of Bach's musical personality: the florid, Italianate Bach who studied the music of the Roman priest Antonio Vivaldi, and the firm, Lutheran Bach in the capitol of Saxony," says Quigley.

Wednesday December 5 @ 7:30 pm | Bing Concert Hall, Stanford*
Friday December 7 @ 8 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Saturday December 8 @ 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday December 9 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley

*Bing Tickets available at Stanford Live
(650) 724-BING (2464) or

All other concert tickets available at
City Box Office: (415) 392-4400 or
Price range: $32–$120.

For more information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

ASPECT Foundation Presents Mozart, Schumann & the Tales of Hoffmann
The ASPECT Foundation for Music & Arts continues its third New York City season of illuminating performances on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 7:30pm with Mozart, Schumann & the Tales of Hoffmann at Bohemian National Hall. The program features Mozart's String Quintet No. 4 in G minor, K. 516 and Schumann's Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44 performed by an ensemble of world-class musicians: violinists Philippe Quint and Grace Park, violists Matthew Lipman and Kyle Armbrust, cellist Zlatomir Fung, and pianist Vsevolod Dvorkin.

Journalist and author Damian Fowler returns for an illustrated talk on writer E.T.A Hoffmann, about whom Schumann wrote "One hardly dares breathe when reading Hoffmann." Fowler discusses Hoffmann's influence on composers like Schumann, Brahms, and Mozart, having inspired ballets by Tchaikovsky (The Nutcracker) and Delibes (Coppélia), as well as operas by Offenbach, Busoni (Die Brautwahl) and Hindemith (Cardillac). His reach as a author, meanwhile, can be seen in the writings of Baudelaire, Balzac, Maupassant, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Gogol, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Mozart, Schumann & the Tales of Hoffmann
Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 7:30pm
Bohemian National Hall | 321 E 73rd St | New York, NY
Tickets: $45 includes wine and refreshments

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

The Nutcracker in New York
In New York on Saturday December 1st, Experiential Theater is thrilled to be bringing the "Nutcracker Dance Party" to the beautiful Bohemian National Hall, NYC. Be transported inside the story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince. You'll have the opportunity to dance, drink and be merry at this fully interactive concert. Come at 3:30pm for a family friendly experience, and 7:30pm for Adults (with full bar).

Take it from our audience last year, who were dancing to Tchaikovsky's ballet in a magical experience unlike anything else this holiday season!

Did you attend our Nutcracker last year? If so, we'd love to hear from you! We're looking for any and all kinds of feedback, stories, even photos and videos if you have them. If you're willing to share your Nutcracker experience with us, please let us know. We might even feature you on a future post.

Because of the nature of this performance, seats are limited.  Buy your tickets here:

For more information, visit

--Elizabeth Holub, Experietial Orchestra

Details about Gustavo Dudamel Residency Opening, Dec 1-2
Maestro Gustavo Dudamel's residency at Princeton University Concerts, in honor of our 125th anniversary, will launch on December 1-2, 2018.

As outlined in the press release attached to this email, Maestro Dudamel's first visit to campus will include performances by Afro-Venezuelan folk singer Betsayda Machado, Quartet 212 from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra with mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo, students from the El Sistema-inspired Boston String Academy, and two public discussions with Maestro Dudamel about Art, Education and Social Change: one with musicologist Don Michael Randel, and one with New York Philharmonic President & CEO Deborah Borda.

An updated residency public schedule is available online at

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein Plays Couperin, Glass, Satie, Schumann at Miller Theatre
Saturday, December 8, 2018, 8 p.m.; Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, NYC
"An Evening with Simone Dinnerstein"

The celebrated pianist Simone Dinnerstein brings her signature expressive elegance to works by Schumann, Satie, Couperin, and Glass. This collection of intriguing musical curios was chosen by Dinnerstein for their lyrical, contemplative, and exuberant qualities.

For complete information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Chanticleer Presents "A Chanticleer Christmas"
Chanticleer presents its beloved annual holiday tradition, "A Chanticleer Christmas," with eleven performances in venues across the San Francisco Bay Area, December 11 through 23. Chanticleer will present an offering of sacred music from the Renaissance to joyful spirituals and traditional carols in some of the Bay Area's most ornately decorated missions, churches and cathedrals.

The program will be performed on eleven occasions at eight different venues throughout the Bay Area: Tuesday, December 11 at 8:00 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley; Friday, December 14 at 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., St. Vincent Church, Petaluma; Saturday, December 15 at 8:00 p.m., St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco; Sunday, December 16 at 6:00 p.m, Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland; Tuesday, December 18 at 8:00 p.m., Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Sacramento; Friday, December 21 at 6:00 p.m. & 8:30 p.m., Carmel Mission, Carmel; Saturday, December 22 at 6:00 p.m. & 8:30 p.m., Mission Santa Clara, Santa Clara; and Sunday, December 23 at 8:00 p.m., St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco. This season, Chanticleer will also present "A Very Special Chanticleer Christmas" as part of its Salon Series on Monday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m., Trinity & St. Peter's Church, San Francisco, featuring repertoire from "A Chanticleer Christmas," solo selections and music featuring the church's famed 1924 Skinner Organ.

For further information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Mezzo-Soprano J'Nai Bridges to Make Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall Debut
Mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges makes her highly-anticipated Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall Debut on December 13 in a recital with pianist Mark Markham.

The program showcases the breadth of her music-making with a mix of contemporary and core repertoire, from Danielpour to Mahler and Ravel, along with songs of faith and spirituals including works by Undine S. Moore and Margaret Bonds that she feels express her views as a woman of color living in America today.

Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall
154 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019
Recital with Mark Markham
Thu, Dec 13 @ 7:30pm

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Savannah Music Festival Announces 30th Anniversary Season
From March 28 through April 13, 2019, the Savannah Music Festival (SMF), Savannah, Georgia, celebrates its landmark 30th season with a stellar lineup of concerts, recitals, dance parties and events, and family-friendly performances in nine venues across Savannah's Historic District. From its origins as Savannah On Stage, SMF has grown to become one of the nation's leading multi-disciplinary musical arts events, distinguished by its commitment to innovative programming and known for attracting top-flight artists and audiences from across the country and overseas.

A non-profit performing arts organization, the Savannah Music Festival (SMF) is dedicated to presenting world-class celebrations of the musical arts by creating timeless and adventurous productions that stimulate arts education, foster economic growth and unite artists and audiences in Savannah. In addition to year-round music education and broadcast initiatives, SMF produces one of the most distinctive cross-genre music festivals in the world. The 2019 festival marks the organization's 30th festival season and runs March 28 through April 13, including performances in venues throughout Savannah's historic district.

For more information, visit

--Mike Fila, Bucklesweet

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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