Williams: Across the Stars (CD review)

Music of John Williams. Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin; John Williams, Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles. DG B0030629-02.

If I had to guess which orchestral music of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries would survive into the twenty-second century and beyond, I'd put my money on the film scores of John Williams being among them.

Here, Mr. Williams conducts some of his better-known works to accompany violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, largely in special adaptations for violin and orchestra made by Williams just for Ms. Mutter. How successful the music is in their new arrangements may depend on how familiar you already are with the original film scores and how attached you are to them. Arranged for Ms. Mutter, they can come across as somewhat dewy-eyed to some listeners while being downright inspirational to others. For me, they were pleasantly charming, if fairly lightweight and sometimes schmaltzy.

The Recording Arts Orchestra under the direction of Mr. Williams appears to understand Ms. Mutter's relatively gentle, lyrical, romantic approach to these tunes, and their accompaniment remains buoyant and breezy throughout. Mr. Williams seemed to tailor-make these new arrangements to Ms. Mutter's style, or at least to her style as represented here.

"In discussing this idea, we both (Williams and Mutter) realized that I had adapted only one or two of these pieces for solo violin and orchestra, and that the remainder of the chosen material would have to be newly developed and orchestrated to complete her album. Because the opportunity to write for a great virtuoso always presents an energizing and exciting opportunity, I set about this project with great enthusiasm. Truly, this endeavor has been a particular joy to me." --John Williams

Here's a list of the album's contents:
  1. "Rey's Theme" from Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  2. "Yoda's Theme" from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  3. "Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or Sorcerer's Stone in the US)
  4. "Across the Stars" from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
  5. "Donnybrook Fair" from Far and Away
  6. "Sayuri's Theme" from Memoirs of a Geisha
  7. "Night Journeys" from Dracula
  8. "Theme" from Sabrina
  9. "The Duel" from The Adventures of Tintin
10. "Luke and Leia" from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
11. "Nice to be Around" from Cinderella Liberty
12. "Theme" from Schindler's List

Anne-Sophie Mutter
Ms. Mutter's tone is silky and smooth, of course, perfectly matching Mr. Williams's silky smooth arrangements. It's all a little dreamy, to be sure, but it's mostly enjoyable. "Yoda's Theme," for instance, seems more ethereal than we might have expected, especially in the opening passage. This approach works especially well in "Hedwig's Theme," as well as the various love themes. Not so much in the more adventurous music, which has some of the life sucked out of it.

If I had to pick a favorite track, I'd say "Night Journeys" from Dracula (the  1979 version with Frank Langella, for which I had forgotten Williams did the music). Here, Ms. Mutter's violin commands a melodramatic score that perfectly fits the melodrama of the story.

Having heard most of this material in its original form, I can't say Mr. Williams's new adaptations or Ms. Mutter's virtuoso playing improve on things. Yes, some of it is downright syrupy, but it is different and certainly none of it does any harm to the genuine article. Fans of Ms. Mutter will no doubt adore it. Fans of Mr. Williams may wonder what the fuss is about.

I should add, too, that not only is the music rather pop-oriented, the album follows another well-worn tradition of the pop-music industry: It's relatively short. That is, the playing time is rather brief: twelve selections at about fifty-five minutes.

Producer Bernhard Guttler and engineer Shawn Murphy recorded the music in April 2019 at the Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, CA. According to a booklet note, this was the very location "where, decades earlier, such iconic scores as The Wizard of Oz, Singin' in the Rain and Doctor Zhivago were recorded." So, there's a long film history here. Like Ms. Mutter's playing, the sound is silky and smooth, the violin never too forward, and the orchestra spread out behind and around her (well, OK, maybe too spread out in a cinematic sort of way). Instruments in the orchestra are not particularly well placed, a lot of them appearing to come at us rather haphazardly from here and there around the sound stage. Nevertheless, the violin is well detailed and well positioned, as I say, and always sounds natural, never shrill.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Classical Music News of the Week, October 19, 2019

Concerts at Saint Thomas Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Saint Thomas Choir School

The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys marks the 100th anniversary of Saint Thomas Choir School with a performance with Orchestra of St. Luke's on November 7, 2019 at 7:30 pm at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue (on West 53rd Street, NYC).

The concert will include a repertoire of Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, a concerto for piano and orchestra, which will mark the 85th anniversary of the piece's premiere in Baltimore by the Philadelphia Orchestra and Leopold Stokowski on November 7, 1934. The performance will feature Saint Thomas's newly appointed Organist and Director of Music Jeremy Filsell at the keyboard.

The concert will continue with an homage to T. Tertius Noble, who founded the choir school in 1919, with extracts of his cantata Gloria Domini, which has not been performed in New York since 1916. The choir will close the performance with American composer Stephen Paulus's cantata Prayers and Remembrances, which was commissioned for the tenth anniversary of September 11, in commemoration of the week of Veterans Day.

For more information, visit https://www.saintthomaschurch.org/music/concerts

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Miller Theatre's Early Music series continues with New York Polyphony, Nov. 9
The illustrious male vocal quartet New York Polyphony returns for a program that begins at the dawn of the Renaissance, with selections of the very earliest works that can be found in England. Rescued from the Reformation as recycled book-bindings, these Medieval gems show the mastery of the English style that would influence the next three centuries of composition, such as works by England's first great composer, John Dunstable. The program culminates with music from the Golden Age of the Renaissance in Spain.

November 9, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin
145 West 46th Street (between 6th & 7th Avenues), NYC

For more information, visit http://newyorkpolyphony.com/

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Chelsea Symphony Concert Features Jessie Montgomery's Starburst, Oct. 25-26
The second concert, Made of Stars, on The Chelsea Symphony's 2019/2020 season, "RISE UP: Music that Inspires and Uplifts," on October 25 and 26 is a chamber orchestra concert featuring Jessie Montgomery's Starburst, a work for string orchestra that plays on the imagery of rapidly changing musical colors by using exploding gestures juxtaposed with gentle fleeting melodies to create a multidimensional soundscape.

Starburst was commissioned by the Sphinx Organization and premiered in 2012. Packing a big punch in just three and a half minutes, it "reflects today's fashionable motoric, pop-oriented, post-minimalist style, albeit with memorable melodies, structural discipline, and not one cliché in the book" (Classics Today).

Also on the concert is Mozart's Symphony No. 41, "Jupiter" and "Twilight Song," a World Premiere by TCS resident composer and founding member, Aaron Dai.

Offering seven concert series from September 2019 through June 2020, The Chelsea Symphony's 2019/20 season RISE UP features orchestral works that inspire and uplift.

Friday, October 25 at 8pm
Saturday, October 26 at 8pm
Conductors Reuben Blundell and Mark Seto
St. Paul's Church (315 West 22nd Street), NYC
$25 reserved premium general seating on sale at Eventbrite
$20 suggested donation seating available at the door

For more information, visit https://chelseasymphony.org/

--Elizabeth Holub, Chelsea Symphony

Robert Trevino Signs to Ondine for Multi-Year Recording Deal
Robert Trevino, one of today's most in-demand American conductors of the younger generation, has signed with Ondine for a major, ongoing recording relationship. Trevino is chief conductor of the Basque National Orchestra and of the Malmo Symphony Orchestra, both of which will feature in the first releases - a complete Beethoven symphonies cycle drawn from this season's Beethoven Festival in Malmo and, with the Basques, a survey of American repertoire to include neglected works by Howard Hanson - as well as digital releases of core repertoire works.

Ondine, part of the Naxos group, is one of the most prestigious independent recording labels in the world and has regularly recorded other important conductors such as Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Hannu Lintu. "Ondine chooses the artists with whom it works very carefully," says the label's founding director Reijo Kiilunen, "We try to find the special few; great artists who perform visionary and imaginative interpretations of standard repertoire and who also have an adventurous mind in presenting the public with fascinating lesser-known musical discoveries. Robert Trevino is a perfect match for these qualities."

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Violinist Midori Tours Vivian Fung's Birdsong to DC, NYC, and London
Internationally acclaimed violinist Midori will tour JUNO Award-winning Canadian composer Vivian Fung's Birdsong to DC, NYC, and London from November 2-8, 2019. Commissioned by the Delaware Chamber Music Festival through the DeRosa Family Fund, Fung's 10-minute long Birdsong was premiered in June, 2012 in Wilmington, Delaware by violinist Kristin Lee and pianist Conor Hanick. Birdsong was written in memoriam of Julian Rodescu and showcases the virtuosity of both piano and violin, with quick runs, intense rhythmic passages, and exploration of improvisational moments. The title refers to the birdcalls of the opening and closing, as well as the general rhapsodic nature of the violin in this piece.

On Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 8:00pm, The Library of Congress in DC presents Midori and pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute in a program of works by pieces by prominent living female composers, including Fung's Birdsong.

The program is repeated in New York City on Monday, November 4, 2019 at 8:00pm presented by Le Poisson Rouge. The performance marks the New York premiere of Tamar Diesendruck's new work. Midori and Ieva Jokubaviciute travel to the United Kingdom to perform the program at London's Kings Place on Friday, November 8, 2019 at 7:30pm. The performance marks the UK premieres of both Tamar Diesendruck's new work and Vivian Fung's Birdsong.

Listen to Birdsong on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/vivianfung/birdsong-for-violin-and-piano

For more information, visit http://www.gotomidori.com/concerts/

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Salon/Sanctuary Concerts Opens Its 11th Season
Thriving for centuries before and surviving four centuries after, persisting in a hostile foreign land long after the first ship bearing human cargo arrived in 1619, the chants and dances of Western Africa pre-date by centuries any music that we currently refer to as "early."

Come hear some of the oldest music known to us today – music that survived a harrowing ocean journey, flickering in the shadows of the Land of the Free, pulsing with enduring power through the amplified soundscape of modern American popular song.

Acclaimed Liberian soprano Dawn Padmore and kora master Yacouba Sissoko join Afro Roots Artistic Director, percussion virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Nathaniel and an ensemble of West African virtuosi in a thrilling performance of traditional Western African music from lands now known to us as Ghana, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Our New York season opens with music from the beginning.

In the Beginning: Early Music of Western Africa
Tuesday, November 12, 7:30pm
The Bernie Wohl Center
647 Columbus Avenue, New York City

Tickets: $20/35/50/100
Call 1 888 718 4253 or visit http://www.salonsanctuary.org

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Los Angeles Master Chorale Opens 2019-20 Season
The Los Angeles Master Chorale will open its new season on Saturday, October 19 at 2:00 PM and Sunday, October 20 at 7:00 PM with two works new to the ensemble, conducted by Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director. Bruckner's majestic Mass in F Minor reflects the composer's devout spiritualism and Romantic-era passion, intensity, and color. Golijov's Oceana, which gets its Los Angeles premiere at these concerts, marries music with poetry by Pablo Neruda to depict, in the composer's words, "water and longing, light and hope, the immensity of South America's nature and pain."

Soloists from the ranks of the Master Chorale will join the chorus and orchestra for the Bruckner Mass, and jazz singer Luciana Souza will be the guest soloist in the Golijov's Oceana. "We are thrilled to begin our 2019-20 season at Walt Disney Concert Hall," says Jean Davidson, President and CEO of the Master Chorale. "This pairing of Bruckner's Great Mass No. 3 in F Minor and Osvaldo Golijov's transcendent Oceana together create a feeling of connection, the synthesis of many human voices harmonizing together to remind us that dissonance always leads to resolution, that we are all in this together, that we are not alone."

An opening night benefit celebration will take place after the Sunday evening concert, with live music, cocktails and a buffet inspired by Golijov's Oceana. Tickets to the celebration are $400 for the Opening Night Celebration and a concert ticket, and $250 for the post-concert celebration. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Brian Tillis, Events Manager at events@lasmasterchorale.org (213) 972-3162.

For more information, visit https://lamasterchorale.org/bruckner-mass.

--Lisa Bellamore, LA Master Chorale

The Crypt Sessions Presents Matan Porat
On November 19, 2019, The Crypt Sessions presents pianist Matan Porat, hailed by The New York Times for his "magnificent sound and breath of expression," in his program Lux, a cycle that traces the course of a day from dawn to dusk, journeying through twelve pieces of music composed across twelve centuries. The performance features an eclectic range of composers from Schumann and Beethoven to Adès and Pintscher.

The performance will begin at 8:00 pm, with a food and wine pre-concert reception at 7:00 pm included in the ticket price.

For complete information, visit https://www.deathofclassical.com/cryptsessions/lux

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Single Tickets to All WinterMezzo Events Now on Sale
Festival Mozaic's WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series features three weekends of great works of chamber music, offering sequential ways to connect to the music and the artists. We encourage you to attend all three events in each weekend to experience the special intimacy that only happens at Festival Mozaic.

Join Music Director and Violinist Scott Yoo, along with seven visiting artists, for nine chamber music events throughout the year in San Luis Obispo County, California.

WinterMezzo Series I, November 15-17, 2019: music of Beethoven, Dohnanyi, and Dvorak.
WinterMezzo Series II, February 21-23, 2020: Bach Cello Suites paired with dance by the SLO Movement Arts Collective.
WinterMezzo Series III, April 17-19, 2020: music of Nino Rota and Franz Schubert.

For more information, visit http://www.festivalmozaic.com/

--Festival Mosaic

Hear Chaeyoung Park Performing on WQXR's Young Artist Showcase
Listen to Chaeyoung Park, First Prize winner of the 2019 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, on WQXR's "Young Artist Showcase," hosted by Robert Sherman:

Ms. Park previews selections from her upcoming performance at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, October 27, 2019, 7:30 p.m., and plays additional works just for her Young Artist Showcase appearance (Ms. Park performs works by Ligeti, Ravel, and Rachmaninoff).

"Young Artists Showcase" is a WQXR weekly radio show that, since 1978, has sought out and displayed the talents of young emerging artists. WQXR's Young Artists Showcase is supported by The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation (produced by WQXR).

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

Danish String Quartet is Musical America's 2020 Ensemble of the Year
Kirshbaum Associates is thrilled to congratulate the Danish String Quartet on winning 2020 Ensemble of the Year by Musical America!

These days there is no shortage of bright, shiny young string quartets nipping at the heels of the masters, but there's plenty about the three Danes and one Norwegian who make up the Danish String Quartet to make them stand out from the pack.

They bonded around a football stuck in a tree. "It was our first challenge as a string quartet," quips DSQ violist Asbjørn Nørgaard. Several years and first prizes later, the foursome faces a different challenge: a complete Beethoven cycle and recordings of the late quartets for ECM.

For more information, visit https://www.musicalamerica.com/features/index.cfm?fid=345&fyear=2020

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

PENTATONE Is Gramophone's Label of the Year 2019
We are proud to announce that PENTATONE has been awarded Label of the Year at the prestigious Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2019. The ceremony was hosted by Editor-in-Chief James Jolly at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden, and was broadcast worldwide by Medici TV on October 16, 2019. The winners of the Recording of the Year, Orchestra of the Year, Artist and Young Artist of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award were revealed during the ceremony along with the Disc Award's winners this year.

Quote from Martin Cullingford, Gramophone's Editor and Publisher:
"What do we look for in our label of the year? Firstly, a label that embraces a real breadth of repertoire, that's very innovative, creative and courageous in its programming and in the artists that it chooses and then champions. And then one that presents those albums beautifully, in terms both of the recording quality, but also captivating packaging. Pentatone really fulfils on all of that."

--Talita Sakuntala, PENTATONE

Steiner: King Kong (CD review)

The Complete 1933 Film Score. William Stromberg, Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Naxos 8.557799.

When some of us think of the original 1933 movie King Kong, we think of the gigantic gates that lead into the big ape's domain or the titanic struggle between the two giant dinosaurs or, heck, even Kong himself standing in chains on a Broadway stage. But I wonder how many of us remember the music, without which the whole affair would have been a mere shadow of itself.

Austrian-born composer Max Steiner (1888-1971) is generally credited with having invented film music. He always shrugged it off, saying it was an idea originated with Richard Wagner. Well, Wagner may have championed the idea of musical motifs, but in the early 1930's, film music was in its infancy. Sound had only just been added to movies a few years earlier, and filmmakers were anxious to find as much original music as they could. Steiner's score for Kong was among the first (often cited as THE first) full-length scores with musical cues to underline specific segments of the action.

Steiner would go on to write many more classic film scores for things like Gone With the Wind, Now Voyager, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Fountainhead, The Big Sleep, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and The Searchers.  But it all started with Kong.

Marco Polo gave us Steiner's complete film score for the movie in their 1996 recording, with the music reconstructed and restored by John Morgan, at which time I duly noted it in my review. Now, movie buffs, monster-movie fans, and fanciers of film scores in general should be pleased that Naxos is offering the same recording at an even more affordable price on the parent label. If the higher price of the Marco Polo disc put you off before, this 2005 Naxos reissue gives you a second chance to buy it.

William Stromberg
In the accompanying booklet notes, John Morgan tells us that this recording "is not a recreation of the 1933 music tracks, but a musical performance of the complete score as Steiner's original sketches dictated. When we noted differences in the soundtrack as compared to the original sketches (whether added or subtracted bars, repeated phrases, or instrumentation additions or deletions), we first tried to determine why these changes were made." The results are more than welcome.

The reconstructed musical score is a little over 72 minutes long. Considering that the entire film is only about 103 minutes, this means we are getting practically every note Steiner composed for the picture. Not that all of the music is exceptional, but it is thoroughly entertaining, whether or not one remembers the specific cues in the film. And it's one of those film scores that gets better as it goes along, with "Hey, Look Out! It's Kong. Kong's Coming" and the "King Kong March" among the better items near the end. Steiner does a terrific job evoking atmosphere and even imitating real-life sounds with his orchestra. "The Sea at Night," for instance, and "Cryptic Shadows" create wonderfully flavorful moods, and "Aeroplanes" sounds for all the world like real airplanes. OK, some of it also gets a bit repetitious and maybe even redundant, but that's film music for you.

As far as I could tell, the sonics are the same on the Naxos reissue as they were on the older disc, not entirely transparent but natural. The whole affair sounds like a genuine orchestra playing, not a multi-megabuck hi-fi system. I was especially impressed by the miking distance, which was just close enough for moderate detail yet not distant enough to sound muffled. Depth perception is also good, along with left-to-right orchestral balance. The sonics also have a nice, ambient bloom to them, a quality that will delight those who attend live music regularly and will annoy those who expect absolute audio purity. However, I have to admit I enjoy the sound of this same orchestra, the Moscow Symphony, recorded a tad closer, as they are on the Marco Polo disc of music from Steiner's Treasure of the Sierra Madre, one of the best film recordings ever. And the overall sound level on King Kong is slightly lower than it is on later recordings from this same source, so crank it up and enjoy.

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Lara Downes: For Love of You (CD review)

Music of Robert Schumann and Clara: Piano Concerto in A minor; Fantasiestucke; Three Romances. Lara Downes, piano; Martin West, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Flipside Music FL0013.

"My Clara, what would I not do for love of you?" --Robert Schumann to Clara Wieck, 1838.

"For Love of You is a tribute to Clara Wieck Schumann, painter and composer, celebrating the 200th anniversary of her birth (9/13/1819)."

Pianist Lara Downes is famous for her theme-oriented albums, and this one is no different, honoring the music and marriage of two beloved composers, Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck Schumann. The program begins with Robert's Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 from 1845; continues with Clara's Three Romances, Op. 11 from 1840; and ends with Robert's Fantasiestucke, Op. 12 from 1837.

So, things begin with Robert's Piano Concerto, his one and only piano concerto, with Ms. Downes accompanied by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra under the direction of Martin West, their Music Director since 2005. When Robert premiered the completed concerto, his wife Clara, an accomplished pianist, was the soloist. Here, of course, it's Ms. Downes, also an accomplished pianist, although she doesn't always get to show off her classical credentials in full-scale works.

After so many years of hearing the Piano Concerto played by gung-ho Romantic pianists banging away with it, Ms. Downes's performance may come as a surprise. For the good, I hope. She takes a slightly gentler approach to the score than do most other performers, a more nuanced approach that eschews a lot of the theatrics we often associate with it. Perhaps Ms. Downes is remembering that Clara Schumann premiered the work, and this is part of her tribute to the composer's wife. The interpretation certainly emphasizes the longings and dreamlike aspects of the music.

In any case, with Ms. Downes the opening Allegro affettuoso lives up to its name, "fast but tender and affecting." And Maestro West ensures a poignant presentation with his lyrical direction of the orchestral support. It's really quite refreshing. The slow central movement, an Andantino, follows suit, lighthearted and charming but never sentimental. Then Ms. Downes and company bring the work to a rousing but still softhearted close.

Lara Downes
I've read over the years that Schumann meant his concerto to express the feelings of longing and happiness between two people in love, presumably inspired by the love between Clara and him. If this be the case, Ms. Downes conveys those ideas as well as anyone on record. It's a lovely performance all the way around.

Following the concerto we get Clara Schumann's Three Romances, a brief, three-movement work written during Clara and Robert's rather turbulent courtship. Ms. Downs suggests in the liner notes that the pieces "illustrate the passion and creative synergy that brought two great artists together, despite obstacles and struggles, into a union that produced some of the greatest works of the Romantic era." Ms. Downes's playing illustrates the point with a performance of controlled passion and creativity.

The program concludes with Robert Schumann's Fantasiestucke, also written during Clara and Robert's courtship. The Fantasiestucke is a set of eight solo pieces for piano inspired by an 1814-15 collection of works by one of Robert's favorite authors, E.T.A. Hoffmann (think here of Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann, Delibes's Coppelia, and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker). The music is colorful, to be sure, and as in the concerto depicts the two sides of the composer's own personality, one dreamy, the other passionate. Ms. Downes's handling of the material is appropriately vivid, exciting, picturesque, and reflective.

The only minor drawback to the product is the fact that like so many CD's these days, the disc is enclosed in a slip-out compartment in a cardboard container. This necessitates using one's fingers on the top and bottom of the disc to pull it out, not only incurring inevitable fingerprints but possibly scratching the disc on the cardboard in the process.

Producer Adam Abeshouse made the recording at Skywalker Sound, Marin County, CA in February 2016. As we might expect from a record made at Skywalker, it sounds excellent. In the concerto the piano is exceptionally well defined without being too close-up, and the orchestra, perhaps a trifle soft, is well set out behind the soloist. Never once do we hear a note that is too bright, too edgy, too forward, nor too veiled or subdued. The solo pieces are likewise well detailed and smoothly recorded.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Classical Music News of the Week, October 12, 2019

Holiday Cheer on Stage at VPAC Dec. 21-Jan. 3

This winter season, spend time with loved ones while enjoying uplifting, warm-hearted holiday entertainment courtesy of the Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC). This year's Winter Holiday Series includes shows that will delight audiences of all ages featuring A Classical Christmas with the Boulder Philharmonic; Twas the Night Before Christmas; Judy Collins; Masters of Illusion; and Neil Berg's 50 Years of Rock & Roll. Tickets for each show are on sale now at the VPAC box office (970-845-8497; www.vilarpac.org). The VPAC is located under the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village (68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek, Colorado).

2019 VPAC Winter Holiday Series:
A Classical Christmas with the Boulder Philharmonic: Handel's Messiah
Saturday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. | Starting at $54 Adults/ $20 Students

"Twas the Night Before Christmas"
Monday, Dec. 23 at 6:30 p.m. | $48

An Evening with Judy Collins: Holidays & Hits
Thursday, Dec. 26 at 7 p.m. | Starting at $67

Masters of Illusion – Believe the Impossible
Friday and Saturday, Dec. 27 and 28 at 7 p.m. | $88 Adults/$68 Children 12 & Under

Neil Berg's 50 Years of Rock and Roll
Friday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. | $68

For complete information, visit www.vilarpac.org

--Ruthie Hamrick, Vail Valley Foundation, Vilar Performing Arts Center

Miller Theatre Presents Vocal Quartet New York Polyphony in Gothic Polyphony
Miller Theatre presents illustrious GRAMMY-nominated vocal quartet New York Polyphony in Gothic Polyphony on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 8pm at Church of St. Mary the Virgin, NYC.

The program begins at the dawn of the Renaissance, with selections of the Worcester Fragments. Rescued from the Reformation as recycled book-bindings, these Medieval gems show the mastery of the English style that would influence the next three centuries of composition, such as works by England's first great composer, John Dunstable, as well as John Pyamour, John Plummer, Thomas Byttering, and Leonel Power. The program culminates with music from the Golden Age of the Spanish Renaissance: selections from Francisco de Peñalosa's Missa 'L'homme arme and Sancta Maria, Pedro de Escobar's Stabat mater dolorosa, Francisco Guerrero's Antes que comáis a Dios, and Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla's Stabat mater dolorosa.

Church of St. Mary the Virgin
145 West 46th Street, New York, NY
Tickets: Starting at $30
Link: https://www.millertheatre.com/events/new-york-polyphony-gothic

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Schwalbe Artists in October
Oct. 12:
Meg Bragle
Crumb: Three Early Songs, for Voice and Piano
University of Pennsylvania
Department of Music
Philadelphia, PA

Oct. 13:
Alexander Dobson
Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro
Florentine Opera
Milwaukee, WI

Michael Schade
Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin
McGill University
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Oct. 17, 18, 19 & 20:
Nicholas McGegan
Shaw: The Listeners
Handel: Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley, CA

Oct. 19:
Diana Moore
Mendelssohn: Elijah
Hertfordshire Chorus
St. Albans Cathedral
St. Albans, England

Oct. 20, 21:
Anne Manson
Dvorák: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Saint-Saëns: La Nuit
Sibelius: Symphony No. 3
Aachen Symphony Orchestra

Oct. 20:
Sherezade Panthaki
Love and Revenge: The Baroque Diva
Virtuoso Opera arias by Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Graupner, Clérambault, and more
Katonah, NY

Oct. 26:
Sherezade Panthaki
Brahms: Liebeslieder-Waltzer
Brahms: Nänie
Yale Choral Artists
New Haven, CT

Oct. 24:
Matthew Halls
Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 1
Muffat: Passacaglia from Sonata No. 5
Handel: Concerto grosso, Op. 3 No. 2
Walpurgis: Talestri, Overture
Von Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel: Erwin und Elmire, intermezzo
Haydn: Symphony No. 102
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Reykjavík, Iceland

Oct. 25:
Michael Kelly
Guest Artist for PFund Foundation 2019 Moxie Awards
Minneapolis, MN

Oct. 25 & 27:
Michael Schade
Beethoven: Fidelio
L'Opera de Montreal
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Oct. 26:
Daniel Taylor
"The Coronation of King George"
Theatre of Early Music
Bach Choir of Bethlehem
Bethlehem, PA

Oct. 26, 27:
Stephen Stubbs
Music by Isabella Leonarda
Pacific MusicWorks
Seattle, WA

Oct. 26 & 27:
Nicholas McGegan
Rameau: Music from Dardanus
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 19
Schubert: Overture from Der Häusliche Krieg
Schubert: Symphony No. 6
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles, CA

Oct. 28 & 29:
Diana Moore
Mahler: Rückert Lieder
Bremen Philharmoniker
Bremen, Germany

Oct. 31:
Doug Williams
Mozart: Don Giovanni, K. 527
Opera Atelier
Toronto, ON, Canada

--Schwalbe and Partners

ABS Exclusives 2020 Now Available
If you missed American Bach Soloists' wonderful "Sparkle Gala," we now offer the opportunity for you to attend our upcoming "ABS Exclusives" that were offered first to our Gala attendees.

"ABS Exclusives" are opportunities for patrons to meet, greet, and hear ABS musicians and ABS Academy alumni in up-close-and-personal house concert events. Limited to 25 seats or less on each date, "ABS Exclusives" include a concert, hors d'oeuvres, and plenty of wine. Following the concert, audience members have an opportunity to visit with the musicians on a one-on-one basis.

Hélène Brunet, soprano & Steven Bailey, piano
Sunday January 19 2020 - 4:00 p.m.

"Into the Woods"
Sunday February 23 2020 - 4:00 p.m.

Jesse Blumberg, baritone & Steven Bailey, piano
Sunday March 22 2020 - 4:00 p.m.

Tekla Cunningham, violin & Corey Jamason, harpsichord
Sunday May 3 2020 - 4:00 p.m.

"Baroque in the Backyard" with Tatiana & Friends
Sunday June 7 2020 - 2:00 p.m.

For complete information and tickets, visit https://americanbach.org/ and  https://americanbach.tix.com/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=2641&SubCategory=Music&SubCategory=Fundraiser

--American Bach Soloists

SOLI's 2019-2020 Season Blooms Open with a World Premiere
Our 2019-2020 season blooms open with the World Premiere of a new work from San Antonio-raised composer Yvonne Freckmann for SOLI and field recordings.

SOLI has a long-time relationship with Yvonne. We first met her as a student at Trinity University of both SOLI's pianist Carolyn True and clarinetist Stephanie Key. She then became our first intern (studying in the 'school of SOLI' in Yvonne's words) before receiving a Fulbright award to continue her piano and composition studies in Holland. Now living and composing in Europe, Yvonne is a true success story in which SOLI takes great pride in playing a part. Her new work will incorporate field recordings gathered throughout San Antonio and Lytle, Texas, electronics, and SOLI's core ensemble. Yvonne will also be featured as guest performer for a work for live cactus (yes, cactus) and electronics, called Land of the Living by composer Steven Snowden

Also on the program Elliott Cole's arrangement of Bloom, Robert Ceely's Synoecy for solo clarinet and tape, and Mason Bates' exciting Red River, chronicling the long journey of the mighty Colorado River.

For complete information, visit https://www.solichamberensemble.com/naturesvoices/

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

PBO Mozart's Musings with Guest Conductor Jeannette Sorrell
Grammy award-winning conductor Jeannette Sorrell makes her debut with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale in November.

Sorell and PBO present an enchanting Mozartian voyage, featuring works spanning Mozart's life from childhood to prime. Paired with a beautiful suite from Mozart's then-popular contemporary and rarely-heard today, André Grétry, the music is immersed in Mozart's sound world. PBO's own Gonzalo X. Ruiz, one of America's most sought-after woodwind soloists, will star in Mozart's Concerto for Oboe.

For further information, visit philharmonia.org

--Stephanie Li, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

Sing with New York City
Sing with us at the second annual Young People's Chorus Big Sing!

Saturday, October 19 at 3:00 p.m.
Gerald W. Lynch Theater, 524 W 59th St, New York, NY 10019.

The YPC Big Sing, our second annual community singalong, is less than two weeks away! Join Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez and Associate Director Elizabeth Núñez, along with special guests a cappella quartet Midtown and musical renegade Nick Demeris, in a program of Broadway, pop, and folk favorites.

Tickets on sale now at TicketCentral.com. $15 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under.

For more information, visit https://ypc.org/

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

ROCO's November 2019 Concerts Feature a Newly Commisioned Piece
ROCO's 2019-20 season "Coming of Age" continues with two concerts in November. ROCO's concertmaster, Scott St. John, continues the "Unchambered" series with Morsels on November 2 at MATCH, in a program he has curated including string quartets by Haydn, Mozart, Dvorák, and more, as well as a premiere from composer Rob Maggio.

"Hope for Beauty," the second program of ROCO's In Concert series at Houston's Church of St. John the Divine on November 16, will be conducted by Alaistair Wills. The concert will center around the world premiere of Bruce Adolphe's I Too Bleed, and Hope for Beauty, a musical tribute to Alma Rose, Gustav Mahler's niece and conductor of the women's orchestra at Auschwitz. Adolphe's piece, which was commissioned by ROCO in conjunction with the reopening of the Holocaust Museum Houston, is a testament to the enduring power of music, and how it can offer hope and beauty even in the worst of circumstances. The program will also include Edwar Elgar's Sospiri, op. 70, Giya Kancheli's A Little Daneliade, and El Amor Brujo by Manuel de Falla.

For complete information, visit https://roco.org/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Górecki: Symphony No. 3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" (CD review)

Beth Gibbons, soprano; Krzystof Penderecki, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. Domino WGC0395.

By Karl W. Nehring

Classical music lovers who have been around for a while may well recall the unexpected popularity of Górecki's Symphony No. 3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" when a Nonesuch recording of this at that time relatively obscure Polish composer by American soprano Dawn Upshaw with the London Sinfonietta under the baton of American conductor David Zinman became a worldwide bestseller after its release in 1992, eventually selling a million copies, which was (and remains) an incredible achievement for a classical release of any kind – but especially so for music by a contemporary composer. The mournful, plaintive work seemed to strike a resonant chord in the hearts and minds of both classical fans and what appeared to be a significant cross-section of many other types of music lovers. Speaking from my own experience, I remember a business associate who rarely discussed music gushing enthusiastically about the Górecki, which really surprised me, and my wife -- who enjoys classical music but does not usually have much to say about the recordings I play on our home -- falling immediately head-over-heels for the piece and it remains to this day one of the few pieces she will from time to time request that I put on the stereo.

I also love the symphony and listened to several other recordings over the years (a quick scan of my CD rack reveals that I currently own three recordings – Gritton/Simonov/Royal Philharmonic on Intersound, Kilanowicz/Wit/Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra on Naxos, and the aforementioned Nonesuch). When I am in the mood to listen to the Górecki, it is the Nonesuch to which I nearly always return. It is a wonderful recording.

My interest was perked a couple of months or so ago when I read somewhere of the forthcoming release of a recording of the piece sung by not by some or another opera star but rather by Beth Gibbons, lead singer for the British electronic band Portishead, whose 1994 release Dummy made big waves in the rock world and eventually sold more than three million copies worldwide. So how does a rock singer who neither speaks Polish nor reads music – and does not really have a soprano voice – prepare to sing Polish lyrics as a soprano?

Krzystof Penderecki
According to her website, "she worked from an especially prepared vocal score bearing the original text, a phonetic interpretation, and – crucially - a translation… Beth's voice is, in classical terms, a contralto; Górecki wrote for a soprano, one register higher. While she had ventured into the soprano range before – the chorus of 'All Mine,' from Portishead's second album, for instance – she hadn't spent a sustained stretch of time there in performance. So she had vocal coaching – from Caroline Jaya-Ratnam in England, then Anna Marchwinska from Poland, with whom she also refined the pronunciation."

My goodness, it is difficult to imagine the determination and dedication – and bravery—that that it must have taken not just to learn the piece, but to plan to sing and record it not in some studio somewhere so that the engineer and producer could carefully assemble a finished product, not in a live performance with some second- or third-tier British orchestra, but rather in Warsaw with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by a prominent Polish composer and conductor.

The concert was held in November, 2014 (not sure why it took nearly five years for the recording to be released), and as you can see from the cover of the CD, included an element borrowed from a rock concert in terms of a light show that accompanied the performance. What a spectacle! 

So how did it all turn out? Although Ms. Gibbons seems a bit shaky at the beginning, she soon hits her stride and delivers a solid performance. Judging from the recorded sound, her voice may have been amplified a bit; in any event, it is prominent in the recorded mix, which also seems to favor a close-up perspective on the orchestra. The tempi chosen by Maestro Penderecki seem slightly on the slow side (a comparison of the movement timings with the Nonesuch release confirmed that). This may have been to make it easier to sing, but it also has the effect of increasing the opportunity to reflect emotions. This is, after all, a symphony of sorrowful songs.

All told, this would not be my first recommendation for the classical music lover who has for one reason or another never heard the Górecki Third. I would instead direct that listener to the Nonesuch release, which remains my favorite version.

However, although readers by now might think I don't really care that much for this release, I actually love it! I find it moving. I find it exciting. I find that it really does sound like a symphony of truly sorrowful songs. For listeners coming from a non-classical music perspective (although I doubt many of them follow Classical Candor, alas), this recording might well be a splendid way to whet their appetites for more classical recordings. And for those already familiar with the Górecki Third, I would recommend this new recording to offer them a refreshing and stimulating perspective on a piece they may have heard many times before.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Pianissimo! (CD review)

The Chicago Debut Concert. Pianists Svetlana Belsky, Elena Doubovitskaya, Irina Feoktistova, and Susan Merdinger. Sheridan Music Studio.

Yes, Pianissimo in music refers to a passage or movement played softly or very softly. But Pianissimo! also refers to an ensemble of four very talented pianists. As described in the disc's accompanying booklet, "Pianissimo! was first formed in December 2014, and recently appeared in several venues for "Make Music Chicago." As soloists and duo pianists, the four women have appeared in major concert halls and on TV and radio around the world, recorded a number of CD's, "and won numerous awards and honors, as well as accolades and rave reviews from major publications for their outstanding performances and programming."

The four members of Pianissimo! consist of Dr. Svetlana Beisky, critically acclaimed as "a passionate pianist and scholar," performing extensively in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. Next is Dr. Elena Doubovitskaya, "a native of Russia who established herself as a solo and collaborative musician after moving to the US in 1998." In addition, there is Irina Feoktistova, "a graduate of the Petersburg Conservatoire, Russia," who has performed in the major halls of Russia, Europe, and the United States. And Susan Merdinger, a Steinway Artist who has been hailed as "tender and impassioned" (Glasgow Herald) and "breathtaking" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).

On the current album they present their Chicago debut concert, which includes selections for piano two hands, piano four hands, two pianos four hands, two pianos eight hands, and four pianos, three of the pieces being world-premiere performances. The track list follows:

  1. Beethoven: Egmont Overture (arr. T. Herbert)
  2. Rimsky-Korsakov: Fantasy on Scheherazade (arr. M. Zelenaia; world premiere)
  3. Saint-Saens: Danse Macabre
  4. Tchaikovsky: Capriccio Italienne (arr. A. Ton/S. Belsky)
  5. Gershwin: Fantasy on "The Man I Love" (arr. A. Tsafsman)
  6. Lutoslawski: Variations on a Theme by Paganini
  7. James Stone: Rip Current
  8. Ilya Levinson: Fireball (world premiere)
  9. Ilya Levinson: Broadway Medley for Classical Pianists (world premiere)

The opening overture from Beethoven shows off what can happen with eight hands at two pianos, and it's a rich and rewarding experience. The performers are brilliant in their own right, each a virtuoso, but together they are unmatched, and the playing produces an enriching few minutes.

The next item, the Rimsky-Korsakov fantasy, displays the talents of all four players on four pianos, making the number that much plusher and more opulent in sound and content, and making for a touching and exciting interpretation. And so it goes through the familiar repertoire of names like Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Tchaikovsky, Gershwin, and Rachmaninov in fantasies, variations, and single numbers. (The Danse Macabre for two pianos, eight hands, is particularly thrilling.)

Then there are the two newer selections from the Russian-born composer Ilya Levinson, selections that receive world-premiere performances. They have a more modern sensibility, of course, yet they take us back to an earlier period of twentieth-century American music, too, especially the Broadway medley arranged for four pianos. It pairs up favorite Broadway show tunes with seamless transitions to produce a rollicking good time. The four skilled pianists will make one forget all about Broadway pit orchestras in their lush and luxurious readings.

I should add, as well, that the disc offers a healthy seventy-six minutes of playing time, making the concert not only entertaining but also good value for the dollar.

Engineer Edward Ingold recorded the concert live at the Merit School of Music, Anne and Howard Gottlieb Hall in September 2015. Would I rather have heard Pianissimo recorded in a studio than live? Of course, it would no doubt have sounded even better without the constraints of a live audience present. Nevertheless, we have what we have, and I'm sure Pianissimo fans will enjoy the experience of the live moment. Besides, the wide dynamics of the presentations help to make up for any minor live deficiencies. For example, while there could be more presence, more high-end sheen, more brilliance, and more hall ambience on offer, the intensity of the music making always shines through and lights up the room.

Still, I really could have done without the applause at the end of each selection.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Classical Music News of the Week, October 5, 2019

Handel's Messiah in Grace Cathedral

American Bach Soloists' December concerts begin with three performances of Handel's treasured masterwork, Messiah, in San Francisco's resounding Grace Cathedral. Jeffrey Thomas will conduct the ABS period-instrument orchestra, the acclaimed American Bach Choir, and an outstanding quartet of soloists.

"What stood out above all, in this annual rite that drew a huge crowd, was the sense of being addressed directly, personally, confidingly. Conductor Jeffrey Thomas brought it all together, melding his ABS forces with precision and intuitive responsiveness to Handel's capacious 1742 masterwork." Steven Winn, SFCV

Wednesday December 11 2019 7:30 p.m.
Thursday December 12 2019 7:30 p.m.
Friday December 13 2019 7:30 p.m.

Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

For complete information, visit https://americanbach.org/Messiah2019.html

--American Bach Soloists

Park Avenue Chamber Symphony's 20th Anniversary Season
The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony (PACS) is riding high these days, its Music Director David Bernard and musicians alike so full of energy and vigour that it comes perhaps as a mild shock to learn that this beloved New York orchestra marks its twentieth year with the 2019/20 season. At a time when some orchestras have settled into a routine, a "that's the way we've always done it" attitude, PACS seems to be reinventing - if not the wheel, then themselves - almost with every season.

Recent years have seen - and continue - a partnership with the pioneering InsideOut Concerts with their immersive orchestra experiences (to feature in two programs this PACS season), the launching of a series of recordings on Recursive Classics that have been applauded by critics in Gramophone, The Arts Desk, and elsewhere, and compelling stand-alone events such as their "Tribute to Veterans" (an event that saw more than 300 musicians on the Carnegie Hall stage, and the New York premiere of Dreams of the Fallen by Jake Runestad and poet and military veteran Brian Turner).

For more information, visit https://chambersymphony.com/

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Miller Theatre Presents a "Composer Portrait of Vijay Iyer," with Jennifer Koh and The Knights
The New York Times states that "there's probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output" of composer, pianist, bandleader, and scholar Vijay Iyer. A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist, and DownBeat magazine's Artist of the Year four times, Iyer is creating a modern realization of the practice of American music through his wide-ranging work. Brooklyn-based ensemble The Knights make their Miller debut in this Portrait which includes a world premiere commission as part of Columbia's Year of Water, along with the New York premiere of Iyer's concerto Trouble, written for violinist Jennifer Koh.

"Song for Flint" (2019) world premiere, Miller Theatre commission
"Crisis Modes" (2019) New York premiere
"Trouble" (2017) New York premiere
"The Law of Returns" (2017) New York premiere

Jennifer Koh, violin
The Knights
Vijay Iyer, piano

Thursday, October 24, 2019, 8:00 P.M.
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, NYC
Tickets: starting at $20; Students with valid ID: starting at $7

For complete information, visit https://www.millertheatre.com/events/vijay-iyer-composer-portrait

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Tenor Ian Bostridge & Pianist Brad Mehldau Launch Icons of Song Series
Princeton University Concerts is thrilled to launch the brand-new Icons of Song series with two unmatched musicians: 15-time Grammy nominee tenor Ian Bostridge and pianist Brad Mehldau, considered to be the most influential jazz pianist of our time.

Their concert on Tuesday, October 22 at 8PM will pair Schumann's iconic Dichterliebe cycle with Mehldau's latest song cycle set on texts by Shakespeare, e. e. cummings, Brecht, Yeats, Goethe, Blake, and others. The concert will take place in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.

Tickets are $45-$55 general/$10 student, and free to Princeton University students through Passport to the Arts.

Brad Mehldau will also participate in the first Live Music Meditation of our 2019/20 at 12:30PM on the day of his recital, also in Richardson Auditorium. This free, unticketed event is an opportunity to experience Mehldau's jaw-dropping improvisation within the focus allowed in a guided meditation.

For more information, visit http://www.princetonuniversityconcerts.org/concerts/concert/ian-bostridge-brad-mehldau

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

SOLI Chamber Ensemble Announces Its 2019-2020 Season
Winner of the 2013 CMA/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award, San Antonio based SOLI Chamber Ensemble has earned National and International acclaim for giving voice to 20th-and 21st-century contemporary classical music through its commissioning projects, high-caliber performances, cross-genre collaborations, and engaging educational and outreach programs.

SOLI is proud to present its 26th season, "Rarified Air," featuring 20 exciting pieces from 19 culturally diverse composers and 6 World Premieres.

For complete information, visit https://www.solichamberensemble.com/rarified-air-solis-2019-2020-season/

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Festival Mosaic Offers "Choose-Your-Own WinterMezzo Package"
Festival Mozaic's WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series features three weekends of great works of chamber music, offering sequential ways to connect to the music and the artists. We encourage you to attend all three events in each weekend to experience the special intimacy that only happens at Festival Mozaic.

Join Music Director and Violinist Scott Yoo, along with seven visiting artists, for nine chamber music events throughout the year in San Luis Obispo County, California.

WinterMezzo Series I, November 15-17, 2019: music of Beethoven, Dohnanyi, and Dvorak.
WinterMezzo Series II, February 21-23, 2020: Bach Cello Suites paired with ballet.
WinterMezzo Series III, April 17-19, 2020: music of Nino Rota and Franz Schubert.

For information, visit http://www.festivalmozaic.com/

--Festival Mosaic

Foundation to Assist Young Musicians October 2019 Newsletter
Classes Begin:
The 2019/2020 school has begun and FAYM's Violins For Kids Program is off to a good start!  We have a new group of beginning 3rd grade violin students at the East Las Vegas Community Center and another new group of 3rd grade students at the Pearson Center. These students started lessons using 'stick' bows to learn and practice the correct way to hold a violin bow. I observed classes using their stick bows and saw students trying very hard to learn the correct bow hold. In order to be a good violinist you must have complete control of the bow and if you start by holding the bow incorrectly it is very difficult to unlearn a bad habit!

 Handing out Instruments:
 After two weeks of lessons and home practice these student surrendered their 'stick' bows and were issued 'real' violins to continue their studies. That day was filled with smiles and proud parents as the students embraced 'their' violin and returned to their seats!

New Program at the Library:
Additionally, we are also starting a new group of 1st and 2nd grade students at the East Las Vegas Library located at 2851 E. Bonanza Road (on the corner of Bonanza and 28th street).  This group will meet only once a week on Thursdays. On September 19th, their first day of class they were issued 'stick' bows and eventually they too will receive violins to take home. Many of these students are siblings of our 'veteran' students. They are so excited to get an early start and not having to wait till they reach 3rd grade!

Please join the Family of FAYM:
You can donate directly online (see below) OR by mailing your check to:
FAYM: PO Box 1993; Las Vegas, NV 89125-1993.
Share your love of music with a deserving youngster.  You'll be glad you did!
(All Contributions are Tax Deductible.)

Or, you can support FAYM students at our Web site: https://www.thefaym.org/donate
FAYM keeps our costs low by relying on highly qualified volunteers to handle our administrative tasks. You can be sure that your donation will go directly to scholarship assistance, program support, and student lessons.

--Foundation to Assist Young Musicians

Richardson Chamber Players "Clara Schumann at 200"
On Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 3PM, the Richardson Chamber Players – an ensemble of Princeton University performance faculty, distinguished guest artists, and talented students – will pay tribute to the 200th birthday of Clara Schumann, saluting her extraordinary career as both a virtuoso pianist and a respected composer. The program includes works by Clara Schumann, interspersed with those of her husband Robert Schumann, and close friend Johannes Brahms.

The performers are Alan Feinberg and Jennifer Tao, piano; Chris Komer, horn; Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, soprano; Anna Lim, violin; and Susannah Chapman, cello.

Tickets are $15 General/$5 Students, available online at princetonuniversityconcerts.org, by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person two hours prior to the concert at Richardson Auditorium.

--Kerry Heimann, Princeton University Concerts

On Equipment Interface Options…

By Bryan Geyer

A summary of the means used to interconnect audio equipment chassis

In the beginning (and for ~ 35 years thereafter) the adopted “hi-fi” interface standard was the ubiquitous "phono plug," a.k.a. the RCA plug (and jack). This 1940 relic utilized a relatively small (undefined) diameter coaxial cable wherein the insulated center conductor is used for the hot side of the signal and the common (sometimes called ground) side of that signal is carried by a shield surrounding the center wire. The shield is intended to provide EMI noise isolation, and is generally braided, sometimes spiral-wrapped. It’s composed of copper, or tinned-copper, or, infrequently, aluminum foil. The hot center conductor is routed to the RCA plug’s pin contact, and the shield is routed directly to the shell. An outer jacket provides physical protection. Such cords are readily available in assorted styles and lengths, with various exterior Ø dimensions, dependent on shunt capacity rating. The latter ranges from ~ 15pf/ft. (special “low capacity”) to ~ 35-45pf/ft. (normal).

At some time in the early 1980s, an upgraded version of this RCA-type coax was introduced (as best I can recall) by Hitachi. In this new version the insulated hot conductor remains connected as before, to the pin of both RCA plugs, while a separate common/ground conductor (insulated) is routed along with it, inside the coax core, that connects with the outside shell of both RCA plugs. This wiring completes the intended signal transfer, and eliminates the risk that the impedance might vary if the common was routed only through a braid. A shield overlay is then added to repel EMI. To avoid creating unintended chassis-to-chassis ground loops, this shield is mated to only one RCA shell. That mated end then serves as the designated signal input side, so such cable is arbitrarily defined as being unidirectional*. RCA cords of this type are now prolific; there are many suppliers, e.g. Audioquest.

Any benefit conveyed with this upgraded style of unbalanced coaxial cable is directly related to length (cumulative net impedance). If the required run is fairly short (≤ 1 meter), the likelihood of benefit is minimal. For runs > 1 meter, this unidirectional style coax might possibly be superior to regular braided coax, but not nearly so nice as the balanced AES/EBU option that’s described next.

AES/EBU: In the early 1980s another form of analog interface evolved, as jointly developed by the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). This cable was initially conceived for use in professional and commercial service, where there are often many more cables, frequent disconnects and reconnects, longer runs, and where extreme EMI exposure (strobed lighting, motorized generators) might prevail. This new standard utilized “Cannon barrel plugs”, a connector that was created (in 1950) by James Cannon. We now know these as “balanced” XLR plugs**. Although handicapped by an oversized Ø (~3/4”) that reflects its ~ 70 year old origin, these XLR connectors can provide useful advantages over ordinary “unbalanced” RCA coax cable; e.g…
…the hot and common/ground polarity terminal connections now engage simultaneously.
…the latched nature of the plug-to-jack mating is more secure; less likely to inadvertently detach.
…dependent on the related circuit design (see footnote**), an impedance-balanced XLR connection will facilitate full common mode EMI noise rejection. This latter feature can be a vital asset when heavy EMI is prevalent, and/or when the interconnect runs get lengthy (> 1 meter).

More recently, XLR plugs have been embraced by high-end audiophiles as general purpose interface connectors. This has come about despite ample evidence that basic RCA coax can provide fully sufficient noise immunity in any normal residential setting when the cable runs are ≤ 1 meter***.

Concurrent with creating AES/EBU, a new digital data transfer standard was developed to address the new digital media. This protocol is known as AES3, and it encompasses three distinct means of digital (only) data interface:

(a) Balanced, using a single XLR terminal (at each cable end) for full 2-channel stereo digital data transfer. One cable carries both of the encoded stereo channels.

(b) Unbalanced, using a single 75Ω coaxial cable, normally with RCA-type connectors, and generally labeled “coaxial S/PDIF” (Sony/Philips Digital Interface). Such cable is also offered with BNC terminals, provided the BNC connectors conform with 75Ω (not 50Ω) coax. One cable carries both stereo channels. The standard coax most commonly used is type RG59A/U, which has a 22 AWG compacted-copper center wire. Type RG59B/U, with a 22 AWG solid copper-clad-steel center wire, can also be used. The latter has slightly lower loss, but less flexibility. Both have Ø ≈ 0.24 inch. These are professional quality cables, as used by commercial recording studios. They are available on-line, in various lengths, directly from U.S.-based supplier L-Com, at prices that are far less (often some 80% less) than the selling price from retail high-end audio sellers’ sites.

(c) Optical digital data transfer, via an optical fiber (usually plastic, preferably glass) cable, using Toshiba’s F05 style “Toslink” terminals. Also known as “optical S/PDIF”.

While all three of these digital data transfer means are practical and effective, most people use option (b), the unbalanced 75Ω coax, using either RCA plugs or (less frequently) BNC (75Ω) connectors.

TRS plugs: Three conductor TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) plugs were derived from the old (circa 1930s) 1/4” diameter two conductor telephone switchboard plug. The third wire contact was added via an isolated ring, with the intent that a single plug could then serve for (unbalanced) analog stereo (left-hot, right-hot, plus a common/ground) connector applications. Smaller variants (3.5mm & 2.5mm Ø) soon followed. This basic 3 wire plug can also serve for balanced analog connections, where its smaller (than XLR) size often proves advantageous. As with the XLR plug, dual TRS connectors are needed for balanced analog stereo service. The TRS configuration is not quite so fully shielded as XLR, but it’s generally fine for home stereo; also for most commercial service. Full-sized (1/4 inch) TRS plugs are the normal commercial standard for guitar amplifier inputs/outputs; also for some dynamic mics.

A note about the photos: These plugs (a plug = male, a jack = female, a socket denotes either gender, but is chassis-mounted) are shown side-by-side to give you a sense of the relative size (big!) of an XLR plug. That size becomes X2 when utilized for balanced analog stereo (it requires separate L/R feeds). You can appreciate why a smaller size connector might be of interest when EMI is benign.

BG (September  22, 2019)

*There’s persistent chatter on audio forums (and in Audioquest’s sales pitch) supporting the assertion that wire exhibits directional properties. No proof of this belief exists (just aural hearsay), and prominent engineers don’t concur. This folly stems from irrational groupthink. Wire is not directional; its conductivity is fully bilateral.

**An XLR connector is inherently “balanced” by virtue of its three wire symmetry. However, this “balanced” state does not always extend to the associated active circuitry. Sometimes these XLR connectors are simply wired in direct parallel with unbalanced RCA inputs, so no phase cancellation (noise) benefit is then derived. It’s far better to connect the hot signal (XLR pin 2) to the RCA hot input, and then wire the cold input side (XLR pin 3) in series with a selected (adjustable) resistance that’s precisely equal to the measured input impedance appearing at pin 2. This creates an impedance balanced input that’s fully consistent with effective common mode EMI noise rejection. Do appreciate that this impedance balance can be achieved with virtually any equipment, provided it has an internal means (generally a simple potentiometer) to set the desired pin 3-to-pin 2 impedance match. In very rare and costly instances, entirely symmetrical balance can be automatically assured (no internal adjustment required) by implementing a fully complementary circuit design, with precisely matched differential stages throughout, from input-to-output. Such equipment might, or might not, truly exist; the aspirations of audiophiles know few limits. In any case, fully balanced common mode EMI noise rejection can be accomplished by either means, and both would be equally effective.

***There’s really no need to use analog stereo connectors that were expressly developed to cope with the EMI demands of a rock concert (XLR) when the site is a private home. Good coaxial cable with RCA plugs will yield comparable noise performance when the line-level runs to other components are ≤ 1 meter. (This length restriction does not apply to low bass passband signals routed to the line-level inputs of any self-powered subwoofers. Those RCA coax runs can safely extend some 5 or 6 meters without hum or noise impact.)

Tangos... & Something More (CD review)

Alicia Terzian, Grupo Encuentros. Navona Records NV6246.

According to Wikipedia, the "tango is a popular partner dance and social dance that originated in the 1880s along the Río de la Plata, the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay. It was born in the impoverished port areas of these countries, where natives mixed with slave and European immigrant populations. The tango is the result of a combination of the German Waltz, Czech Polka, Polish Mazurka, and Bohemian Schottische with the Spanish-Cuban Habanera, African Candombe, and Argentinian Milonga."

That's good to know, as this album, "Tangos... & Something More," offers us tangos new and old, over a dozen of them presented in a variety of styles. Most of the styles, however, are of the "nuevo"  or "new tango" kind, the style popularized in the 1980's by Argentinean composer and player Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), represented on the program by three selections. The track listings are as follows:

  1. Roggero: "Mimi Pinzon"
  2. Mores: "Cristal"
  3. Piazzolla: "Picasso"
  4. Piazzolla: "Invierno Porteno"
  5. Terzian: "Argentino Hasta La Muerte"
  6. Castro: "Lloron"
  7. Tienssuu: "Tango Lunar"
  8. Demare: "Malena"
  9. Pedro: "En El Bar..Como Un Tango"
10. Terzian: "Un Argentino de Vuelta"
11. Cobian: "Los Mareados"
12. Piazzolla: "Verano Porteno"
13. Binelli: "Llamado de Tambores"

All of these numbers are expertly performed by Alicia Terzian and Grupo Encuentros. Ms. Terzian is an Argentine composer, conductor, and musicologist who formed Grupo Encuentros (Group Encounters) in 1979 to promote new music by Argentine and Latin American composers. Group members on the present album include Mara Blanco, mezzo; Claudio Espector, piano; Sergio Polizzi, violin; Carlos Nozzi, cello; Fabio Mazzitelli, flute; Matias Tchicourel, clarinet; Daniel Bilelli, bandoneon; and Ms. Terzian, conductor.

Alicia Terzian
The first selection, Aquiles Ruggero's "Mimi Pinzon," one of the oldest compositions on the program, sounds quite traditional, romantic and lyrical. The next one, Mariano Mores's "Cristol," shows us the contrasts in tango music, with vocals and background sounds and a less obvious tango rhythm. Then it's back to a more customary tango with Astor Piazzolla's highly melodic "Picasso." But possibly the most bizarre "tango" on the album is Jukka Tienssuu's "Tango Lunar," which is hardly recognizable as a tango so much as a collection of random sound effects and vocals linked loosely together in a semi-harmonic manner. Following that is one of the loveliest of tangos, Lucio Demare's "Malena," so there's a little "something more" here for everyone.

And so it goes. The questions being, are these dance numbers really "authentic," and is the playing "authentic," whatever that may mean? Certainly, the music, new or old, is squarely in the tango tradition, so, yes, it is authentic, no matter how odd it may seem. And, certainly, one cannot question the validity of an Argentinean ensemble playing Argentinean music, and they've been doing it for so long I don't see how anyone could question their legitimacy in the subject matter. That they play so effectively and effortlessly is like icing on the cake.

To quibble about so excellent a product seems unfair. Still, there was one thing I didn't care for; namely, Navona's packaging. The disc comes tucked into the sleeve of a cardboard fold-over case, and it is impossible to remove the disc without getting your fingers on the playing surface. I can understand that maybe the cardboard is cheaper than a plastic jewel box and that many companies follow this cardboard practice, but that doesn't make it a better choice for the consumer. End quibble.

Executive producer Bob Lord, engineer Andres Polizzi, and mastering engineer Jorge Da Silva recorded the music at a private studio in Buenos Aires, Argentina in August 2015. It's a small ensemble they're working with, and they handle it expertly. Each instrument, including the voice on several tracks, is realistically captured in a warm, lightly resonant environment. Although they are captured a tad close up, they have a fairly natural feel as well. Nicely done.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Classical Music News of the Week, September 28, 2019

More Orchestras Join InsideOut Concerts for 19/20 Season

After last season's sold-out concerts and much media acclaim, InsideOut Concerts - the innovative, audience-within-an-orchestra format created by Music Director David Bernard - announces ramped-up activities for the 2019-20 season. These include a greater number of concerts than ever before, the strengthening of old partnerships and the establishment of new ones. Headlines include a return to the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in New York City (as part of the orchestra's twentieth anniversary celebrations), a first public concert with the Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra, and a debut with the Danbury Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut.

InsideOut Concerts are highly interactive experiences which seat audiences inside a full symphony orchestra as part of a dynamic and developed program, designed to help orchestras grow their audiences, improve donor participation, and deliver meaningful outreach to families and children in the community. Developed and led by David Bernard, InsideOut Concerts have received wide and enthusiastic press coverage, including from New York One television ("The ultimate surround-sound experience..may very well be the future of classical music"- Stephanie Simon), WQXR ("InsideOut is transforming the traditional concert-going experience"), Newsday, Mail Online, Musical America, and Symphony.

The 19/20 season concerts are led/conducted by David Bernard and begin with the Danbury Symphony Orchestra, October 26th 2019: Dvorak New World Symphony, at the Danbury Music Centre. For a complete list of following concerts, detail information, and tickets, visit https://insideoutconcerts.com/

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Soprano Golda Schultz Makes Carnegie Hall Recital Debut with Pianist Jonathan Ware
On Friday, November 1, 2019 at 7:30pm, Carnegie Hall presents celebrated South African soprano Golda Schultz in her Carnegie Hall recital debut in Weill Recital Hall with frequent collaborator, pianist Jonathan Ware.

Part of Carnegie Hall's series "Great Singers III: Evenings of Song," the recital features Schubert's "Der Morgenkuss," "Heimliches Lieben," "Der Vollmond strahlt auf Bergeshöh'n" (Romanze) from Rosamunde, and Suleika I and II; Richard Strauss's "Morgen," "Heimliche Aufforderung," "Ruhe, meine Seele," and "Cäcilie;" Ravel's Shéhérazade; Amy Marcy Beach's Three Browning Songs, Op. 44; and John Carter's Cantata.

For details, visit https://www.carnegiehall.org/calendar/2019/11/01/golda-schultz-soprano-jonathan-ware-piano-0730pm

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Miller Theatre's Early Music series opens with Belgian group Vox Luminis
Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts opens its 2019-2020 Early Music series with the Belgian vocal ensemble Vox Luminis in Scarlatti's Stabat Mater.

The first piece Belgian ensemble Vox Luminis ever sang together was Stabat Mater, Scarlatti's masterpiece about the Virgin Mary that pays homage to the great tradition of polyphony. This signature work anchors a collection of powerfully moving compositions depicting the suffering of the Mother of God at the foot of the cross, fittingly performed in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin.

Saturday, October 19, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin
145 West 46th Street between 6th & 7th Avenues, NYC
Tickets starting at $30; Students with valid ID: starting at $7

For complete information, visit https://www.millertheatre.com/events/vox-luminis-stabat-Mater

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Book Launch, New Artists at Piatigorsky International Cello Festival
The 2020 Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, recently listed by The New York Times as a classical season highlight, and Artistic Director Ralph Kirshbaum, have announced several new developments to the exciting 10-day event, taking place in Los Angeles from March 13-22, 2020, including the addition of several new guest artists, the complete roster of Festival Fellows, and the launch of a never-released work of fiction by the Festival's namesake, Gregor Piatigorsky, published by Adelaide Books. Tickets to all 42 events of this truly unique international celebration of the cello are now on sale.

In conjunction with the Piatigorsky Film Screening & Panel Discussion on Saturday, March 14, 2020, Joram Piatigorsky, Gregor's son, will present the fictional work entitled Mr. Blok. The novel is published with an introduction by Joram, who states about this release, "I am very grateful to Adelaide Books and Stevan Nikolic for publishing my father's novel, Mr. Blok, after it has languished unpublished for some sixty years. In my opinion, this wildly imaginative, surreal novel makes a significant contribution to literature by the creation of a unique fictional character – Mr. Blok – who my father calls in the forward, 'a likable fellow, who will not mind in the slightest being put aside, should he not succeed in holding your attention.'"

The Festival has also announced the addition of cellists Ye Lin (Stella) Cho, Evan Drachman, and Terry King; conductor Hilo Carriel; pianists Vivian Fan, Lily Maisky, and Alin Melik-Adamyan; soprano Sarah Shafer, and violist Yura Lee. The expertise, diversity, and artistry of these outstanding musicians serve to enhance the Festival's already-outstanding roster, through thoughtful programming, direct audience engagement, and mentorship of the Festival Fellows.

Additionally, the Festival Fellows have been selected and announced.  Recommended by the guest artists, each young musician was considered for their immense talent and accomplishments and spend the entirety of the Festival with their mentors and each other, building a network of the next generation of excellent cellists.

Tickets to and information about each Piatigorsky International Cello Festival event are now available for purchase by calling the USC Thornton Ticket Office at 213.740.4672 or clicking here: https://piatigorskyfestival.usc.edu/

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates Inc.

New York Festival of Song presents "Lyrics by Shakespeare"
The "engaging, ever-curious series" (The New York Times)—revisits the very first program it ever presented: "Lyrics By Shakespeare." This highly popular program, which explores the Bard's influence on music over the centuries, returned last August in a sold-out performance presented by Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival.

The 75-minute evening illuminates Shakespeare's classic poetry with musical settings by Berlioz, Dankworth, Kabalevsky, Poulenc, Sondheim, and others.

NYFOS brings back two singers who are not only refined vocalists, but also superb actors: mezzo-soprano Naomi Louisa O'Connell and bass Matt Boehler. Both are blessed with a theatrical imagination, and their chemistry with the great actress Kathleen Chalfant and pianist Steven Blier is magical.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
129 West 67th Street, NYC

For more information, visit http://nyfos.org/shakespeare/

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

SF Girls Chorus Opens Season with "Daring Sisters / Atrevidas Hermanas"
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) and Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe open the 2019-2020 subscription season on Saturday, October 19, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco with Daring Sisters / Atrevidas Hermanas.

In a season that celebrates cultural diversity and the empowerment of women, the carefully curated program will pay homage to Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of the first published feminists of the Americas and a champion of women's rights to education, with an evening of 17th century Latin American Baroque music. A rare performance of Madre la de los primores, the only surviving work written by Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz, will be featured alongside a selection of Mexican, Bolivian and Peruvian music. SFGC will be joined by a variety of Latin American and Spanish Baroque music specialists including soprano Nell Snaidas, who also serves as the program's curator; soprano and SFGC alumna Jennifer Ellis Kampani; and Richard Savino's Grammy-nominated chamber ensemble, El Mundo.

For more information, visit http://www.sfgirlschorus.org

--Brenden Guy PR

Princeton University Orchestra Launches Season
The Princeton University Orchestra launches its 2019-2020 season--the ensemble's 122nd season--on Friday and Saturday October 18-19 at 7:30PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ.

The program features sophomore percussion extraordinaire Elijah Shina performing Pulitzer prize-winning composer Joseph Schwantner's Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra in a tour de force showcase of percussive virtuosity, paired with Johannes Brahms' iconic Fourth Symphony. The program is conducted by the ensemble's director, Michael Pratt.

Tickets to the concert, performed by one of the most celebrated university orchestras in the nation, are only $15 General/$5 Student available by calling 609-258-9220 or at music.princeton.edu.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Behzod Abduraimov Returns to Carnegie Hall
Following the enormous success of his Carnegie Hall recital debut in 2016, the 29-year-old Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov returns to Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage on two occasions in Fall 2019.

On October 25, Mr. Abduraimov joins the storied Munich Philharmonic, under the direction of Valery Gergiev, as the soloist in the vibrant Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, which he also performs with the Philharmonic on October 27 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center; he returns to Carnegie Hall on December 10 with a solo program displaying his enormous range, musical intelligence, and virtuosity which have earned him the international reputation as "the most perfectly accomplished pianist of his generation," (The Independent).

For complete information, visit https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2019/10/25/Munich-Philharmonic-0800PM

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates Inc

The YPC Big Sing Is Back
Following a series of high-profile performances earlier this month, Young People's Chorus of NYC opens its 2019-20 season two big events - the YPC Big Sing and 2019 WIT: Women Inspiring Tomorrow Conference. We are also celebrating the release of our new Decca Gold recording, and joining National Sawdust for its season opener.

The second YPC Big Sing is Saturday, October 19 at 3:00 p.m. at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, NYC.

Tickets are now on sale. Back by popular demand, Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez and Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, along with and special guests a cappella quartet Midtown and musical renegade Nick Demeris, will lead the audience in a program of songs everyone knows and loves.

For complete information, visit https://ypc.org/event/ypc-big-sing-2019/

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Berkeley Symphony Opens Season with Joseph Young's First Appearance as Music Director
Berkeley Symphony opens its 2019-2020 season on Thursday, October 24 at 7:00 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, California, featuring Joseph Young in his first appearance as the orchestra's new Music Director. Recently appointed in April, Maestro Young will lead a program that includes the return of Bay Area favorite Conrad Tao as soloist for Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, a rare performance of Shango Memory by former UC Berkeley professor of music Olly Wilson, and Beethoven's iconic Symphony No. 5 in C minor.

Maestro Young was appointed as Music Director in April 2019 following a highly successful and critically acclaimed debut appearance as guest conductor in January 2019. Due to a last-minute cancellation, Maestro Young stepped in at a moment's notice with only two days to prepare an ambitious program of works that included a Hannah Kendall world premiere, Bernstein's Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, and Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. The result was an instant success with Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle commenting that "Young's ability to tackle at short notice not only Kendall's world premiere but also significant works by Britten and Bernstein was an impressive display."

Single tickets for the concert are $15-$96. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (510) 841-2800 x1 or visit www.berkeleysymphony.org.

--Brenden Guy PR

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 John 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 ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine 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 simple-minded, 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 Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. 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 LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. 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.

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

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa