Classical Music News of the Week, February 16, 2019

Berkshire Opera Festival Announces Its Fourth Season

Berkshire Opera Festival (BOF) is proud to present Gaetano Donizetti's charming classic Don Pasquale for its fourth season, with performances August 24, 27, and 30 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA.

The production is conducted by Artistic Director Brian Garman and directed by and Director of Production Jonathon Loy, the co-founders of Berkshire Opera Festival. As with the first three seasons, there will also be accompanying recitals and outreach events around the local Berkshire community, including an exciting new collaboration with Hancock Shaker Village entitled "Ain't It a Pretty Night: Excerpts from American Opera," and "Savor the Sound: An Evening of Bel Canto," a free concert for the Berkshire community.

The delightful comedy tells the story of a crusty old bachelor, Don Pasquale, who decides to marry a much younger wife and produce an heir to spite his nephew Ernesto, but then gets much more than he bargained for when Doctor Malatesta and Norina decide to teach him a lesson. The production follows BOF's acclaimed first three seasons, which featured Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, and Verdi's Rigoletto.

The cast is made up of some of America's greatest bel canto interpreters, with American bass-baritone Craig Colclough starring in the title role. He is joined by Metropolitan Opera soprano Deanna Breiwick as Norina and American tenor Matthew Grills as her lover, Ernesto. Irish-American baritone Emmett O'Hanlon rounds out the cast as Doctor Malatesta.

Don Pasquale will be sung in Italian with projected English translations. Tickets are priced from $20 to $99. Tickets are on sale now.  For more more information, please visit www.berkshireoperafestival.org/donpasquale.

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Aspen Music Festival & School 70th Anniversary Season
70th anniversary season runs eight weeks with more than 400 events: June 27–Aug. 18.
Music Director Robert Spano leads a season themed "Being American," with works by Gershwin, Ives, Barber, Bernstein, and Copland, including Appalachian Spring; works by contemporary American and immigrant composers; as well as settings of the poetry of Whitman, Melville, Dickinson, and Poe.

In a 1926 article for Theatre Magazine, composer George Gershwin wrote that true music "must repeat the thoughts and aspirations of the people and the time." He went on to emphasize, "My people are Americans. My time is today."

When we ask ourselves what it is to be American, we often look to our artists for inspiration, for answers and for truth. As the Aspen Music Festival and School celebrates its 70th anniversary season, it felt like the right time—as one of America's flagship arts institutions—to ask, through the lens of great music, what it means to be American.

"Being American" is the major strand woven through Aspen's anniversary season, led by Music Director Robert Spano. It will include music by Gershwin, Ives, Copland, Barber and Bernstein; and by Wynton Marsalis, Stephen Sondheim, and Philip Glass. It will feature new and recent works by American composers from the Aspen Music Festival and School's own artist-faculty such as Stephen Hartke, Christopher Theofanidis, Edgar Meyer, Donald Crockett and Alan Fletcher; by composers from immigrant backgrounds such as Kati Agócs, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Vijay Iyer; and by émigrés such as Bartók, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky, all of whom made America their home later in life.

It will include works that reflect the sweeping diversity of American landscape and culture and works inspired by the words of canonical American literati Walt Whitman (whose bicentenary falls this year), Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Like the composers featured this 70th anniversary season, the musicians performing their works represent a wide swath of the American experience, whether visiting artists, members of the AMFS artist-faculty who come from the preeminent classical music teaching and performing institutions in the United States and worldwide or AMFS students, who come to Aspen from 40 U.S. states and 34 other countries.

Tickets and information:                                                                                                       
Online: www.aspenmusicfestival.com
Phone: 970-925-9042 (M-F, 9-5)
Email: tickets@aspenmusic.org

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Steven Isserlis, Gramophone Hall of Fame Cellist, Feb 28
Princeton University Concerts continues its 125th anniversary Concert Classics series on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 8PM at Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ with a debut by Steven Isserlis, one of only two living cellists in the Gramophone Hall of Fame. Joined by pianist Connie Shih, he will present a program juxtaposing works by female composers with those of the men they inspired Clara Schumann and Robert Schumann, Vítezslava Kaprálová and Bohuslav Martinu, and Augusta Holmès and César Franck.

For more information, visit http://www.princetonuniversityconcerts.org/concerts/concert/steven-isserlis-cello-and-connie-shih-piano

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

George Li Signed to Steinway & Sons Artist Roster
Since winning the Silver Medal at the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition, George Li has rapidly established a major international reputation, performing regularly with some of the world's leading orchestras and conductors, including Valery Gergiev, Gustavo Dudamel, Manfred Honeck, Vassily Petrenko, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Long Yu.

This month George Li adds the title of Steinway Artist to an extensive and growing collection of honors, a resume which already includes the 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2012 Gilmore Young Artist Award, and the First Prize winner of the 2010 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. Officially welcomed to the Steinway & Sons family, Li now proudly joins the ranks of Steinway's esteemed roster alongside such distinguished pianists as Martha Argerich, Evgeny Kissin, Lang Lang, Murray Perahia, Mitsuko Uchida, and Yuja Wang, as well as musical legends such as Vladimir Horowitz, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Arthur Rubinstein.

For more information, visit www.georgelipianist.com

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet

Montreal/New Music (MNM) Festival
There is something for everyone at the Montreal/New Music Festival: vocal, digital, acoustic, family. Let yourself be tempted by an experience where music surrounds us!

The Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) is preparing to kick off the Montreal/New Musics International Festival, with a major concert by the Ensemble de la SMCQ entitled HoMa on February 21st, at 7.30 p.m. at l'Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Revealing wind instruments and percussions situated in the four corners of the church – in addition to the grand organ pipes – the concert sets the tone for this 9th edition, with its theme "Wide Open Spaces."

For complete information, visit www.festivalmnm.ca

--France Gaignard, Media Relations

PBO and the Shaw Commissions
In September 2015, Anne Sofie von Otter suggested that Philharmonia commission a young female composer, Caroline Shaw, to write a song for her to sing while on tour with PBO in May 2016. The result was "Red, Red Rose." PBO debuted the song at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and it was a sensation which became the catalyst for PBO's "New Music for Old Instruments Initiative."

The initial commission developed into a song cycle entitled "Is a Rose." The second piece was first performed at PBO's 2017 Annual Gala by Dominique Labelle. Bay Area audiences will hear that piece, titled "The Edge," at PBO's March program with Anne Sofie von Otter March 6-10.

And now, PBO will debut the third and final piece, titled "And So," at Lincoln Center in New York with Anne Sofie von Otter alongside star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo in a program of works by Handel, Purcell, Arvo Pärt, and Caroline Shaw on March 12.

For more information, visit https://philharmonia.org/2018-2019-season/anne-sofie/

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

La Jolla Music Society Announces Opening Gala Concerts
La Jolla Music Society, one of the West Coast's foremost performing arts institutions, has announced the launch of its greatly-anticipated, cutting-edge new home, The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center (The Conrad), with three illustrious opening-weekend concerts.

With ceremonies, performances, and receptions being held Friday through Sunday, April 5, 6, and 7, 2019, the variety and caliber of these festivities in celebration of its $82 million, 49,000-square-foot complex reflect La Jolla Music Society's invaluable positioning in the classical music world at large, and especially of its immeasurable significance to performing arts programming on an international scale.

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

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates Inc.

Chanticleer Presents "Spacious Skies"
Grammy Award-winning Chanticleer continues its 2018-2019 season with "Spacious Skies" March 16 through 21 in venues across the San Francisco Bay Area. Following a highly successful 11-concert European tour across eight countries, the ensemble returns home for a program of works that showcases a vast panorama of American choral repertoire spanning three centuries.

This program will be presented as part of Chanticleer's S.F. Bay Area subscription season on four occasions in locations around the Bay Area: Saturday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m., San Francisco Conservatory of Music; Sunday, March 17 at 5:00 p.m., St. John's Lutheran Church, Sacramento; Tuesday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m., Mission Santa Clara; and Wednesday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m., St. Augustine Church, Pleasanton.

An intimate and curated performance of "Spacious Skies," part of Chanticleer's new Salon Series, and featuring commentary by William Fred Scott will take place on Thursday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m., at a privately owned historic property in San Francisco that will be revealed to attendees.

Single tickets range in price from $20 to $60 and can be purchased through City Box Office: http://www.cityboxoffice.com and (415) 392-4400. Salon Series tickets are currently sold out. Please visit http://www.chanticleer.org for updates on availability.

For further information, please visit http://www.chanticleer.org.

--Brenden Guy PR

New York Philharmonic Ensembles Performs With Pianist Benjamin Hochman
The winner of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2011, pianist Benjamin Hochamn, will be joining the New York Philharmonic Ensembles as guest artist on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 3 pm for an enchanting chamber music concert at the Merkin Hall. Together with musicians from the New York Philharmonic, Benjamin will perform two iconic works from the French piano chamber repertoire: Debussy's Piano Trio and Faure's Piano Quartet.

For the past three years, Benjamin suffered from a hand injury that pulled him away from extensive tours and concert engagements. This upcoming concert with the NY Phil Ensembles marks the first concert he gives in NYC since the sabbatical is over. He opened the 2018-2019 season with a 5-part cycle of the complete Mozart piano sonatas at Bard College Conservatory, followed by Israel Conservatory in Tel Aviv. He returns to center stage this season with Bartok's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Whatcom Symphony and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414 with Santa Fe Pro Musica and the Orlando Philharmonic (play/conduct). In recital and chamber concerts, he gives world premieres by Jesse Brault, Gilad Cohen and Max Grafe, and appears in Seattle, Delaware, Hanover, NH and Chatham, NY, as well as at Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Goucher College and Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Spring.

For more information, visit https://www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/mch/event/new-york-philharmonic-ensembles-4a/

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Stradella's Ester Presented by Salon/Sanctuary
Known as the "Caravaggio of Music," the violent, volatile, and startlingly innovative Alessandro Stradella (1639-1682) can be considered a bridge between Carissimi and Handel. His innumerable works, both sacred and secular, still await a broader hearing in our time.

The historic Brotherhood Synagogue, once a stop on the Underground Railroad, sets the stage for this work dedicated to the Hebrew Queen who saved her people. The first New York performance in over 30 years coincides with Purim, the Jewish holiday dedicated to Esther.

Wednesday, March 13, 8 p.m.
Brotherhood Synagogue
28 Gramercy Park South
New York City

Tickets:
$20 – $100
1 888 718-4253
https://www.sscconcerts.org/current-season

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Merdinger and Greene in Concert
The Northbrook Public Library presents the Merdinger-Greene Piano Duo.

Susan and Steve will perform a program of beloved melodies and themes from opera, film, and classical composers in viturosic arrangements for two pianos: Der Rosenkavalier, Carmen, The Blue Danube, Paganini's 24th Caprice, Bernstein's West Side Story, and more.

March 3, 2019. 3 p.m - 4:30 p.m. 1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook, Illinois, 60062.

"Flair and verve...Intimate and touching."  --Fanfare Magazine

"Delightful playing superbly matched to the musical storytelling" --Hyde Park Herald

This concert is free and open to the public. Reserve seats now at (847) 272-6224.

For more information, visit https://www.northbrook.info/events/2-pianos-4-hands-series-susan-merdinger-and-steven-greene

To download the track "Rachmaninoff: IV. Waltz from Six Pieces for Piano Duet, Op. 11: " for free, go to https://susanmerdingerpianist.com/dl and enter the code zwl2-xc8z

--Susan Merdinger, Sheridan Music

Impromptu Fest Returns March 21–31
New Music Chicago (NMC), an organization dedicated to the performance and support of experimental and non-mainstream music, announces the second annual Impromptu Fest, a celebration of Chicago composers, musicians, and enthusiasts of contemporary music. Concerts take place March 21–31 at the brand-new Guarneri Hall in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

A showcase for NMC members, Impromptu Fest is a series of eight concerts featuring 16 Chicago-based ensembles playing newly composed music. This year, Impromptu Fest showcases a number of student ensembles and a wealth of multimedia presentations incorporating video, electronics, still images, and live improvisation.

"After last year's successful debut, we are expanding our horizons," said Impromptu Fest curator Amy Wurtz. "This year we are celebrating homegrown music with the work of 22 Chicago-based composers, including several performing their own work, and well-known Chicago groups such as Gaudete Brass, Fifth House Ensemble, and Crossing Borders Music. The music ranges from completely acoustic to totally electronic and everything in between. We also are including performers from outside the city, including Elmhurst, Evanston, and Naperville. And we are so pleased to help introduce more music lovers to Guarneri Hall, which has exquisite acoustic engineering and state-of-the-art equipment in an intimate, 75-seat setting."

Impromptu Fest 2019 takes place March 21–31, Thursday–Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. at Guarneri Hall, 11 E. Adams Street, Suite 350A, Chicago.

Single tickets are $20, a four-concert pass is $60, and a pass to all eight concerts is $100;
each ticket level is half price for students.

For information, please visit impromptufest.org.
For tickets, please visit impromptufest.brownpapertickets.com.

--Jill Chukerman, New Music Chicago

Takács Quartet Returns to the Vilar Performing Arts Center on February 19
The Takács Quartet, recognized as one of the world's greatest classical ensembles, will return to the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, February 19 at 7:00 p.m. The quartet plays with a unique blend of drama, warmth and humor, combining four distinct musical personalities to bring fresh insights to the string quartet repertoire.

Single tickets for the show are $68 for adults, $10 for students and are available 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).

--Ruthie Hamrick, Vilar Performing Arts Center

Annual YPC Gala Benefit Concert Tickets on Sale Now
March 12 at 7:00 p.m. | Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall, NYC.

Tickets are now on sale for Young People's Chorus of NYC's Annual Gala Benefit Concert, which supports the 2,000 children that benefit from YPC's programs. A limited number of individual concert tickets, priced at $50, $85, $95, $150, $500, will only be sold through the JALC box office.

Go to Jazz.org, call CenterCharge - 212-721-6500, or visit the Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office in person. (Broadway at 60th Street, ground floor; Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm, Sunday, 12pm-6pm).

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Rule Britannia: Last Night of the Proms (CD review)

Paul Daniel, English Northern Philharmonia and Leeds Festival Chorus. Naxos 8.553981.

The Naxos disclaimer reads, "This is a recording of music performed frequently at the Last Night of the Proms, but not of the event itself." Just so you don't think you're getting an actual live Royal Albert Hall performance as traditionally recorded by other labels.

Nevertheless, the music is thoroughly English in spirit, and the disc represents a good value in popular chauvinistic English music. The program starts with Walton's "Crown Imperial," then goes on to what is practically England's second national anthem, "Jerusalem." It continues with the centerpiece of the collection, Sir Henry Wood's "Fantasia on British Sea Songs"; and it concludes with Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1."

Paul Daniel
In between these works are other pieces by Elgar, Arnold, Parry, and Walton. Maestro Paul Daniel, the English Northern Philharmonia, and the Leeds Festival Chorus play the music with great enthusiasm, if not in so grand a manner as those recordings by Sir Adrian Boult or Sir John Barbirolli. But the music is so stirring and patriotic, it practically makes even a non-British citizen want to stand up and cheer.

The sound Naxos provides is very wide ranging, with good transient impact and a decent depth of field. It is a little thick around the middle, though; not so transparent as the aforementioned Boult or Barbirolli performances on older EMI recordings. The bass is deep enough but not particularly well defined. Ensemble performance and overall tone are not so resplendent as the Philharmonia or London Philharmonic, either, but for the cost of the disc it is quite a reasonable compromise. For the Henry Wood medley itself the disc is worth the price.

JJP

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


Schreker: The Birthday of the Infanta, Suite (CD review)

Also, Prelude to a Drama; the Romantic Suite. JoAnn Falletta, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. Naxos 8.573821.

Here's another of those composers whose music was once very popular but then fell into disfavor, whose name is hardly recognized anymore. Franz Schreker (1878-1934) was an Austrian composer and conductor who at one time in the first part of the twentieth century was among the most-famous living opera composers in the world, second only at the time to Richard Strauss. But he had the misfortune to live at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Austria and Germany, and by the 1930s because he was Jewish his music was banned by the Nazis, and he lost his position in the music world.

Fortunately, we have people like JoAnn Falletta championing his work. On the present album she leaves her familiar Buffalo Symphony for the Berlin Radio Symphony, which is perhaps a tad closer to the source, and presents three of Schreker's purely orchestral pieces.

The program begins with Prelude to a Drama, completed in 1915 as a concert overture to Schreker's opera Die Gezeichneten ("The Branded" or "The Stigmatized"), which the booklet note describes as "a lurid drama involving murder and madness." Although Schreker worked during the onset of the modern era, his roots were still firmly planted in the Romanticism of the eighteenth century with Wagner and the early Richard Strauss, tempered by the emerging impressionism and expressionism movements. The Prelude is filled with unabashed emotionalism and melodrama, yet Ms. Falletta maintains a dignified approach, making it all seem perhaps more substantial than it really is. What's more, the Berlin orchestra plays with such a sophisticated charm, we can almost forgive the music of some of its excesses.

Next comes the album's title piece, Der Geburtstag der Infantin ("The Birthday of the Infanta"), a theatrical pantomime Schreker wrote in 1923. Its subject matter is even more bizarre than Prelude to a Drama, the composer basing his story on Oscar Wilde's "tragic tale of an ugly dwarf who dies of a broken heart."

JoAnn Falletta
In ten sections, The Birthday is the longest piece on the program, and it, too, gets pretty emotional. Ms. Falletta makes the most of it, however, with a flexible rubato and a moderate use of contrast to keep things moving at a steady but not excessive pace. Like the Prelude, it's fun stuff, if overlong. Moreover, there are smoother, richer segments, as in the opening "Reigen" (roundelay or round dance) that are quite lovely. Conversely, there are also long stretches of bombast. Still, it's quite colorful, with surprisingly playful interludes mixed in with the seriousness, and Ms. Falletta presents it persuasively.

The third and final piece on the agenda is the four-part Romantische Suite ("Romantic Suite") from 1903. It is a more lyrical, subjective, abstract work than most of the program music that precedes it on the album. Of the three pieces Ms. Falletta offers here, I found the "Romantic Suite" the most attractive. At about twenty-five minutes it does not overstay its welcome, yet it seems to pretty much encapsulate everything Schreker was capable of doing. Falletta maintains a grand, sweeping Romantic mood throughout, concluding with a rousing dance.

In all, while Schreker probably didn't mine much new territory here nor create much that listeners will take with them for long, he did provide an entertaining assortment of styles, much of which is hard to dislike. More important, Ms. Falletta gives us a refreshingly clear-eyed glimpse into a long-forgotten composer who deserves a second look.

Producer Wolfram Nehls and engineer Ekkehard Stoffregen recorded the music at the Grosser Sendesaal des RBB, Berlin, Germany in June 2017. The sound is natural, as opposed to overly close, bright, edgy, or distant. Speaking of distance, though, there is a good sense of depth to the orchestra and a fairly wide stereo spread. The frequency response does not favor any part of the spectrum too much, unless you count a sometimes prominent peak in the lower treble range. Detailing is good, with instruments standing out well yet still being reasonably warm and resonant. Dynamics appear a little too constricted for absolute realism, and bass could be deeper, so it's really not what I'd call audiophile sound; just pleasantly listenable, if a tad soft, sound.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, February 9, 2019

On Site Opera Presents the World Premiere of Murasaki's Moon

On Site Opera will present the World Premiere of Michi Wiancko and Deborah Brevoort's new opera, Murasaki's Moon on May 17, 2019 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Astor Chinese Garden, NYC. Made possible by Opera America's 2018 Female Composer Grant, the work was commissioned by On Site Opera, MetLiveArts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Lyric Theater.

Murasaki's Moon tells a dramatic tale inspired by the life and work of Lady Murasaki, a member of the Japanese Imperial Court in 11th century Japan. Granddaughter of a writer and daughter of a scholar, Lady Murasaki was well known in her time for her poetry and story-telling, and is historically famous for authoring what many scholars consider the world's first novel, The Tale of Genji.

Friday, May 17 at 4:00pm & 6:30pm
Saturday, May 18 at 2:00pm & 6:00pm
Sunday, May 19 at 11:00am & 3:00pm

Astor Chinese Garden Court
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

For complete information, visit https://osopera.org/productions/murasakismoon/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Free Performance of Rossini's "Petite Messe Solennelle"
The Princeton University Chamber Choir offers a free performance of Gioachino Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle ("Little Solemn Mass") on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 7:30PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

One of only a handful of larger works that Rossini did not write for the opera house, the 80-minute composition is both heart-warming and celebratory, full of Rossinian quirks and bursting with humor, charm and sincerity.

Scored modestly for small choir, two pianos and harmonium, the unusual instrumentation of the work is a reflection of the intimate salon setting for which it was written -- a trait that will translate beautifully into the intimacy of Richardson Auditorium.

Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 7:30PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ.

Tickets for this performance are FREE, available at music.princeton.edu or by calling
Princeton University Ticketing at 609-258-9220.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Join Us for YPC's Annual Gala on March 12
Young People's Chorus of New York City Annual Gala Benefit Concert and Dinner:
Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall.
Dinner immediately following at the Mandarin Oriental.
Please join us for a gala evening at Jazz at Lincoln Center benefiting the 2,000 children of the award-winning Young People's Chorus of New York City.

For more information, please contact our Gala Coordinator at (212) 289-7779 ext. 16 or ypcgala@ypc.org.

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

PBO's Winter Gala Honors Anne Sofie von Otter and Caroline Shaw
On March 1, 2019, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) will host its annual Winter Gala & Auction at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco, chaired by Melanie Peña, and honoring legendary mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw.

Von Otter, who will be honored for her outstanding commitment to early music, is a versatile performer who has never been shy about expressing her affinity for music from all historical eras, from Baroque to pop. She has full command of the operatic canon, including many seminal early operas by Handel and Monteverdi, but she has also recorded the music of Elvis Costello, Kate Bush, Bjork, and Brad Mehldau on her 2016 album "So Many Things" with string quartet Brooklyn Rider.

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Naxos to Launch "The Music of Brazil"
On February 8, 2019 Naxos--the repertoire label--launched "The Music of Brazil," a series which is part of the project Brasil em Concerto, developed by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to promote music by Brazilian composers. Naxos has a long recording history in Brazil, having already recorded the Villa-Lobos symphonies. This new project builds significantly on this recorded legacy, and is to eventually include 30 albums featuring 100 orchestral works from the 19th and 20th centuries by composers such as César Guerra-Peixe, Alberto Nepomuceno, Cláudio Santoro, Bïa Krieger, Antônio Carlo Gomes, Leopoldo Miguez, Marcus Siqueira, Camargo Guarnieri, and many others. It will also include the songs and concertos of Villa-Lobos. The music will be performed by the Minas Gerais Symphony Orchestra, the Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra, and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.

The first release focuses on the music of Alberto Nepomuceno, one of the first composers in his country to employ elements of folklore in his composition. Performed by the Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra led by music director and principal conductor Fabio Mechetti, the album includes Nepomuceno's Prelude to O Garatuja; Série Brasileira; and his Symphony in G Minor.

In announcing this project, Naxos founder Klaus Heymann commented: "This new 30-album project, "The Music of Brazil," introduces the general public to a wide range of often unknown composers and orchestral works. The project is a continuation of my longstanding interest in the classical music of Brazil.

--Paula Mlyn, A440 Arts

Will Crutchfield's Teatro Nuovo Announces Its Second Annual Bel Canto Season
Teatro Nuovo, the cutting-edge Bel Canto ensemble launched last summer by Will Crutchfield, is pleased to announce its 2019 summer season, with performances in The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall, and The Church of the Heavenly Rest on Manhattan's Upper East Side, NYC.

The ensemble will present semi-staged productions of Bellini's La Straniera (July 13 at The PAC; July 17 at Rose) and Rossini's La Gazza Ladra (July 14 at The PAC; July 18 at Rose). These will be preceded by a June 27 pairing of Rossini's Stabat Mater with a first New York hearing of Donizetti's Symphony in E Minor at Heavenly Rest (1085 Fifth Avenue). Additional chamber-music events are to be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information, visit https://www.teatronuovo.org/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Meany Center's Creative Fellowships Initiative Announces Full Roster
The University of Washington has announced the complete roster of artists who have been selected as Creative Research Fellows as part of its first three-year Creative Fellowships Initiative. Funded by a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the interdisciplinary initiative will advance the field of performing arts by supporting artists in the development of new works and by integrating the performing arts disciplines into a broader context--academically, artistically, and socially.

"Research is absolutely imperative in the arts, as it is in the sciences," says Catherine Cole, Divisional Dean for the Arts. "The Mellon Creative Fellowships Initiative is an exceptional opportunity for the University of Washington to create and hold space for the kind of interdisciplinary, open-ended arts research, which is the lifeblood not only of arts advancement, but that also has the potential to have unique implications in the scope of a major research institution like UW."

The Initiative, a partnership between the Department of Dance, Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXArts), the Schools of Music and Drama, and spearheaded by Meany Center for the Performing Arts, supports exploration by guest artists in the fields of dance, theater and music through one- to three-year residencies, which incorporate a multitude of commissions, collaborations and performances.

For more information, visit https://meanycenter.org/engage/creative-fellowships-initiative

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Paul Barnes Premieres Bond, Performs Liszt, Glass
Pianist and chanter Paul Barnes brings "Love, Death, and Resurrection in the Musical Vision of Philip Glass, Victoria Bond, Franz Liszt, and Orthodox Chant," along with a premiere commission by Victoria Bond, to Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois on Sunday, March 10 at 3 p.m., presented by the Music Institute of Chicago.

During the summer of 2017, Barnes lost many close friends to cancer. One of the ways he processed his grief was developing this powerful musical meditation exploring love and death. Beginning with the story of Orpheus, the program connects the music of Glass, Liszt, Bond, and byzantine chant. Glass and Bond have written multiple pieces for him in the past, many based on byzantine chant. He has also specialized in Liszt, particularly in terms of religious symbolism in his piano music.

Admission is $50 for VIP seating, $40 for adults, $25 for senior citizens, and $15 for students.
Tickets are available at musicinst.org/faculty-guest-artist-series or by calling 800.838.3006. For more information, visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

GALA 2019 to Reveal New Commission from Artist Doug Aitken
The Los Angeles Master Chorale--the country's preeminent professional choir and choir-in-residence at Walt Disney Concert Hall--will reveal a new collaboration with acclaimed artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken at GALA 2019 on Saturday, March 23. The Gala will be held at the Marciano Art Foundation at 4357 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA from 5:30PM - 10PM, providing guests with a rare opportunity to enjoy exclusive evening access to the contemporary art gallery's collection and exhibitions in addition to a special preview performance of the commission from Doug Aitken performed by the Master Chorale conducted by Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director.

Aitken will be honored at the black tie event for his visionary work across multiple genres and media alongside fellow honoree, prominent California philanthropist Lillian Lovelace, who will be celebrated for her extraordinary support of the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

For more information, visit lamasterchorale.org

--Jennifer Scott, Los Angeles Master Chorale

Nashville Symphony Announces 2019/20 Season
The Nashville Symphony has announced the lineup for its 2019/20 season, which kicks off in September and features an extensive variety of classical, pops, jazz and family concerts, including top-flight guest artists, film favorites with live orchestral accompaniment, unique speaker events and much more. At the heart of this concert programming, Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero will lead the orchestra in its flagship Classical Series, which includes everything from masterworks by Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Berlioz, and Beethoven to boundary-pushing contemporary American works.

For a full listing of the Nashville Symphony's 2019/20 lineup, visit NashvilleSymphony.org/2019-20.

Season ticket packages are now available for all 2019/20 concerts and may be purchased at NashvilleSymphony.org/2019-20, by phone at 615.687.6400, or in person at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center Box Office. Season ticket holders enjoy a long list of benefits, including priority seating, bonus tickets, free unlimited ticket exchanges, discounted parking and much more.

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Chicago's Bach Week Festival Announces 2019 Season April 26-May 3
The Chicago area's Bach Week Festival has announced its 46th annual concert programs, with performances in Evanston, Illinois, and Chicago April 26 to May 3, 2019, featuring several Johann Sebastian Bach works never before heard at the festival; the return of pianist Sergei Babayan, praised by The New York Times for his "consummate technique and insight"; and a first-time collaboration with gifted pre-college musicians of the Academy of the Music Institute of Chicago.

J. S. Bach works to be performed for the first time at Bach Week include the Prelude and Fugue in B Minor, BWV 544; celebratory wedding cantata "O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit," BWV 210; and church cantata "Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens," BWV 148, according to Richard Webster, Bach Week's long-time music director and conductor. Webster performed in and helped organize Evanston's inaugural Bach Week in 1974 and has been music director since 1975.

Other new programming twists, Webster says, include opening the festival with Spanish Baroque composer Antonio Soler's fiery Fandango for harpsichord and including in the festival lineup, for variety and contrast, a concerto for woodwinds, brass, and strings by Italian Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi and a well-known instrumental suite for recorder and strings by Bach's German contemporary and rival, Georg Phillip Telemann.

Tickets can be purchased online at bachweek.org or by phone, (800) 838-3006. For general festival information, phone 847-269-9050 or email info@bachweek.org.

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

Gade: Jealousy (CD review)

Suites, Tangos & Waltzes. Matthias Aeschbacher, Odense Symphony Orchestra. Dacapo Records 6.220509.

When I first started listening to this album, I expected mainly to enjoy one of the most popular tangos ever written, "Jalousie." What I did not expect was to find some of the best audio I'd heard in quite a long while.

Originally released on the Marco Polo label (now issued by Dacapo), the engineers recorded the music fairly close up yet with plenty of bloom. The middle section of the ensemble displays good depth, as a typical orchestral setup would, while the stereo spread to the sides is quite wide. The disc was a part of a Marco Polo series called "Danish Light Music," and while the musical content might be relatively lightweight, there is obviously nothing light about the arrangements or sonics.

Matthias Aeschbacher
Anyway, the Danish violinist and composer Jacob Gade (1879-1963) wrote his famous tango, "Jalousie 'Tango Tzigane,'" in 1925 as part of the musical accompaniment for the silent film Don Q: Son of Zorro. According to Wikipedia, "The composer claimed that the mood of the piece had been inspired by his reading a sensational news report of a crime of passion, and 'jealousy' became fixed in his mind."

Here, Maestro Matthias Aeschbacher and the Odense Symphony Orchestra take it at a more graceful gait than I have heard it done before, and there is less edge to it and more nobility than I would have thought possible. In fact, they make it sound quite grand in this big, flowing rendition.

The album includes a second tango by Gade called "Romanesca," one he wrote in 1933, a few years after "Jalousie." It, too, is quite good, but it never achieved the attention of the earlier work. Still, Aeschbacher gives it due attention.

In addition, the collection contains other Gade works, like "Leda and the Swan," a short ballet; "Rhapsodietta," "Wedding at Himmelpind," "Valse Capriccio," "Copenhagen Life Waltz," and "Douces Secrets Waltz." Most of these pieces receive their première recordings here, and all of them are equally charming.

This is a surprising and highly recommendable disc.

JJP

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


Bernstein: Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety" (CD review)

Krystian Zimerman, piano; Simon Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic. DG 483 5539.

First, the good news: The album offers the music of one of the world's finest composer-conductor-pianists, Leonard Bernstein; played by one of the world's finest pianists, Krystian Zimerman; conducted by one of the world's finest conductors, Sir Simon Rattle; accompanied by one of the world's finest orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic; and recorded by the world's oldest continuously operating record label, Deutsche Grammophon.

The bad news: DG or DG's producers or Simon Rattle himself decided to recorded the album live; that is, before a live audience. This was Bernstein's wont during his later years, and it has been Rattle's wont for many years as well. They would no doubt say recording live better captures the spirit and spontaneity of the moment; I would say it usually sounds worse than a studio recording; that is, without an audience.

Whatever, Bernstein (1918-1990) completed his Symphony No. 2, "The Age of Anxiety" for piano and orchestra in 1949, revising it in 1965. He subtitled the two-part composition after W.H. Auden's Pulitzer Prizewinning poem of the same name. Bernstein intended that the two parts be performed without pause, although there are a number of subsections (variations) plus a prologue that pretty much mirror Auden's lengthy verse. Here's a run-down of the parts:

Part I:
The Prologue: Lento moderato

The Seven Ages: Variations 1–7
1. L'istesso tempo
2. Poco più mosso
3. Largamente, ma mosso
4. Più mosso
5. Agitato
6. Poco meno mosso
7. L'istesso tempo

The Seven Stages: Variations 8–14
8. Molto moderato, ma movendo
9. Più mosso (Tempo di Valse)
10. Più mosso
11. L'istesso tempo
12. Poco più vivace
13. L'istesso tempo
14. Poco più vivace

Part II
The Dirge: Largo
The Masque: Extremely Fast
The Epilogue: L'istesso temp - Adagio; Andante; Con moto

Krystian Zimerman
Yes, that's quite a lot for one "symphony" to cover. According to Wikipedia, the poem deals with "man's quest to find substance and identity in a shifting and increasingly industrialized world. Set in a wartime bar in New York City, Auden uses four characters--Quant, Malin, Rosetta, and Emble--to explore and develop his themes." Bernstein attempted to establish a musical relationship with those subjects.

When Bernstein celebrated his seventieth birthday, he invited Krystian Zimerman to perform the solo piano part with him. Thirty years later, we have Zimerman doing it again, here with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Incidentally, this live recording also marked Rattle's final performance as the Berlin orchestra's chief conductor.

The album begins with a two-minute interview excerpt with Bernstein that is not too distracting. At least you can bypass it. Rattle's interpretation of the music is probably as exacting and as emotional as one could want. Frankly, I've never cared much for the work; one is hard-pressed to find much peace or harmony in it, but that is the point, of course, the "anxiety" of the title. Zimerman tells us in a booklet note that Bernstein never played the symphony the same way twice; there were always shifts and turns in the way he handled it. Zimerman called Bernstein's way with it "daring," and he says Rattle approaches the music in the same way. Apparently, it was an improvisational spirit the two conductors shared, and certainly Bernstein's score allows for any number of different readings.

So Rattle's realization is no doubt as good as any and shows real imagination in its handling of complex sections, especially the jazz interludes. Zimerman's piano, which is front and foremost throughout much of the proceedings should be considered authoritative as well, given the pianist's association with the piece and its composer. And the Berlin Philharmonic remain one of the world's treasures, even if the live recording doesn't fully do them justice.

Producer Christoph Franke and engineer Rene Moller recorded the symphony live in the Berliner Philharmonie, June 2018. The audience is as quiet as one could expect, helped by the close-up recording, I'm sure, and probably a bit of noise reduction. The sound is mostly warm and comfortable, despite its closeness. It's also exceptionally dynamic, so when big crescendos enter, they are, well, big. They are also a touch hard at the high end, but nothing of serious concern. I can't say there's much depth to the orchestra, either, except for the occasional percussion part; it just seems one big entity surrounding the piano. Thankfully, the engineers have edited out any final applause.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, February 2, 2019

French Musical Treasure on Orion's March Program

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, continues its 26th season with "French Musical Treasure," featuring compositions by three noteworthy women, a Beethoven Piano Quartet and guest violist Stephen Boe.

Performances take place March 3 at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Illinois; March 10 at Chapelstreet Church in Geneva, IL; and March 20 at the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago.

The Program:
Beethoven composed his Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 16 in 1785, when he was only 15 years old. It was one of three piano quartets he wrote that year in what was then a new and rarefied musical form. The piano had still not emerged as the dominant concert keyboard, and Mozart had just written his passionate Piano Concerto in D minor to expand the new instrument's capabilities. This early chamber work exemplifies the passionate, highly lyrical and original ideas of the young composer.

Nancy Van de Vate (b. 1930) is an American composer with more than 200 works recorded and published around the world. She founded the International League of Women Composers in 1975. Her Trio for clarinet, viola and piano is mysterious, impassioned and filled with emotion. The seemingly endless harmonies overlap each instrument, only to give way to impetuous rhythms.

For Cecile Chaminade (1857-1944), the world was largely unaccepting of composers who were women. Her considerable talents as a composer and a pianist highly impressed Georges Bizet, and a review in 1903 said of her, "This is not a woman who composes, but a composer who is a woman." Her Piano Trio in A minor captures the passionate contrasts of late 19th century romanticism.

Stacy Garrop (b. 1969) wrote Little Bits for clarinet, violin, cello and piano in the summer of 2000 at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit orionensemble.org.

--Jill Chukerman, Orion Ensemble

Jazz at Princeton University Presents Nnenna Freelon
The dynamic 2018-19 Jazz at Princeton University season continues with a concert featuring world-renowned jazz singer, composer, producer, arranger, and six-time Grammy nominee Nnenna Freelon. She joins Princeton University students in the Jazz Vocal Collective, directed by Dr. Trineice Robinson-Martin, on Saturday, February 16 at 8PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ.

Freelon will perform with Princeton University students in the Jazz Vocal Collective, Princeton's elite small jazz student ensemble directed by Dr. Trineice Robinson-Martin. Tickets $15 General/$5 Students. For information and tickets call 609-258-9220 or visit music.princeton.edu.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

SF Girls Chorus Presents Fred Frith World Premiere Commission
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) continues its 40th anniversary season with Modern Masters on Sunday, March 3, 2019, 4:00 p.m. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Led by Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, SFGC will present a varied program of choral works by contemporary composers including a new work, Rags of Time, by English avant-rock composer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist Fred Frith marking the first of three world premiere commissions this season. Contralto Kirsten Sollek makes her debut appearance with the ensemble as guest soloist in a rare performance of Vaughan Williams's Magnificat and "The Cow Song" from former SFGC Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa's made-for-TV opera Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser. The program will also feature works by Steve Reich Kaija Saariaho, David Lang, and John Zorn.

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

--Brenden Guy PR

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Announces 2019-2020 Season at Carnegie Hall and 92Y
Now in its 47th year giving innovative concerts in New York, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra today announces programming for its 2019-20 season with three concerts presented in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, and three concerts presented by the 92nd Street Y.

Orpheus is joined this season by an illustrious group of international soloists including pianist Jan Lisiecki, violinist Vadim Gluzman, and trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth at Carnegie Hall, as well as violinist Carolin Widmann at 92nd Street Y. This season, Orpheus welcomes its first Artistic Partner, composer and violinist Jessie Montgomery, who will take part in Orpheus educational initiatives throughout the season and have two works premiered by Orpheus in concert: a world premiere and a reimagining of Tchaikovsky's The Seasons.

Subscriptions are available at orpheusnyc.org or by calling (212) 896-1704 beginning March 1, 2019. Single tickets for Carnegie Hall concerts can be purchased at carnegiehall.org or by calling CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800, beginning mid-August. 92Y single tickets can be purchased at 92Y.org or by calling (212) 415-5500.

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Rachel Barton Pine Cancels Appearance with PBO
Due to health issues, violinist Rachel Barton Pine must cancel her appearances in Viennese Pivot with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale, led by Nicholas McGegan on February 5 in Santa Barbara, CA; February 6 in Palo Alto, CA; February 8 in San Francisco, CA and February 9 and 10 in Berkeley, CA, while the soloist recovers from an unscheduled medical procedure on her knee.

Pine was to perform Franz Clement's Violin Concerto in D major. In its place, PBO's Music Director Nicholas McGegan has chosen to feature rising star violinist Alana Youssefian performing Beethoven's Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61. Ms. Youssefian has appeared with Philharmonia twice before, including last November in a program that focused on recent graduates of The Juilliard School's Historical Performance program. This piece has historical significance with the previously planned program, as it was written for Franz Clement a year after his own concerto. PBO will still perform the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro and Schubert's Sixth Symphony as announced.

Tickets:
City Box Office: (415) 392-4400 or cityboxoffice.com
Price range: $32–$120
For more information, visit https://philharmonia.org/

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Copland House 2019 Cultivate Fellows Announced
Copland House has announced the six Fellows selected to participate in CULTIVATE 2019, its acclaimed, annual emerging composers institute. The composers chosen are Flannery Cunningham 27 (New York, NY); Chelsea Komschlies, 27 (Calgary, Alberta); Charles Peck, 31 (Philadelphia, PA); Igor Santos, 33 (Chicago, IL); Nina Shekar, 23 (Los Angeles, CA); and Sam Yulsman, 28 (New York, NY). Will Healy, 28 (New York, NY) was selected as an Alternate.

According to Artistic and Executive Director Michael Boriskin, the three women and three men were chosen out of 80 applicants from 23 states, Puerto Rico, and one Canadian province by an eminent jury of acclaimed Copland House Resident composers – CULTIVATE Director Derek Bermel, Suzanne Farrin, and Gregory Spears. "Spending time with the rich and varied submissions to CULTIVATE," said Spears, "was an inspiration and an affirmation that great music is being made by incredibly talented young composers across the continent."

An all-scholarship, intensive creative workshop and mentoring program for highly-gifted composers at the start of their professional careers, CULTIVATE will take place this year between June 3 and 9 in northern Westchester County, NY, at Aaron Copland's National Historic Landmark home in Cortlandt Manor and at the Merestead estate in nearby Mount Kisco. Launched in 2012, CULTIVATE quickly became a coveted destination for these young creative artists. "In its combination of composer residency and masterclass format, CULTIVATE is an outstanding addition to Copland House's program of activities," said Russell Platt, a 2018 CULTIVATE juror and a 2006 Copland House Resident.

Tickets for the June 10 CULTIVATE concert are $25 for the general public, $20 for Friends of Copland House, and $10 for students (with ID). Ticket or reservation information is available at (914) 788-4659, office@coplandhouse.org, or coplandhouse.org.

--Dworkin & Company

Wet Ink Ensemble Announces Spring 2019 Concerts
The "sublimely exploratory" (The Chicago Reader) Wet Ink Ensemble announces its spring 2019 concerts, continuing the group's 20th anniversary season as a collective of composers, improvisers, and interpreters at the forefront of the performance and presentation of adventurous music. Named The New York Times's "Best Ensemble of 2018," Wet Ink Ensemble's spring 2019 season includes the debut of Wet Ink: Piano Trios at the DiMenna Center in NYC, a residency at the Boston Conservatory, a performance of Kate Soper's lauded IPSA DIXIT at the University of Northern Colorado, a 20th Anniversary Bash at Roulette in NYC, and performances at Stetson University and New Music New College in Florida.

For complete information, visit http://www.wetink.org/

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

A Classical Ensemble with a Pop Mentality
In the world of classical music, it's rare to find a group that can say they've created an entirely new genre. The Calefax Reed Quintet has done just that: pioneering the concept of a five-member reed ensemble and inspiring classical musicians around the globe.

The Calefax Reed Quintet will perform at the Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC) on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $68 adult and $10 student and are available now at the VPAC box office (970-845-8497; ).The VPAC is located under the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village (68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek, Colorado).

For further information, visit https://vvf.org/arts/

--Ruthie Hamrick, Vilar Performing Arts Center

Violinist Ezinma Signs to Universal Music Classics, USA
Classically trained, hip-hop inspired violinist Ezinma (pronounced Ez-ee-ma, aka EZI) has signed to Universal Music Group's Universal Music Classics, USA. Her inventive covers, which combine hip-hop and classical genres, have gained her a massive following on Instagram, and have led to multiple brand and beauty endorsements. Now, she's signed to the world's largest music company.

Today, Wednesday January 30, Ezinma makes her national TV appearance debut on the nationally syndicated talk show Pickler & Ben, with her song "Sunflower in D," which combines Post Malone & Swae Lee's "Sunflower" from the hit movie Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse with Pachelbel's Canon in D. Tune into the show at picklerandben.com/watch.

--Julia Casey, Unversal Music

BalletX Nicolo Fonte World Premiere in Beaver Creek
BalletX World Premiere slated for Feb. 9 at Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Since its 2005 inception, BalletX has unveiled close to 70 world premieres. Beaver Creek audiences will be treated to the latest when Philadelphia's premier contemporary ballet company returns to town Saturday, Feb. 9. Along with two other works, BalletX will perform a world premiere by choreographer Nicolo Fonte at the Vilar Performing Arts Center as part of the VPAC Winter Dance Series.

BalletX will perform at the Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC) on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $69 for adults and $25 for students and are available now at the VPAC box office (970-845-8497; ). The VPAC is located under the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village (68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek, Colorado). A limited number of tickets for a Post-Performance Dinner with Nicolo Fonte, Christine Cox and the BalletX cast are available for $150 (price includes both the performance and dinner).

--Ruthie Hamrick, Vilar Performing Arts Center

Concert & Conference to Celebrate Architects of African American Art Music
At a time when black people were prohibited from walking through the front doors of public spaces, composer and soprano Ella Sheppard (1851-1915) and the Fisk Jubilee Singers performed on international stages for industry barons, cultural icons, and Queen Victoria. That trailblazing work was furthered by composer and baritone Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949), whose compositions – crossing racial, religious, and class lines – served to bridge the sound and identity of America.

Sheppard and Burleigh's barrier-breaking contributions to the foundation of the American music tradition will be examined in an upcoming concert and conference hosted by the Harry T. Burleigh Society on March 2 and 3 at Carnegie Hall, NYC.

The two-day concert and conference structure was devised to enable performers, audiences and academics to connect with each other, as well as with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and descendants of Burleigh and Sheppard. Organizers hope the experience of hearing these works performed will invigorate recognition of African American contributions to the Western art music canon.

For further information, visit burleigh.info/march2conc and burleigh.info/march3conf

--Beth Stewart, Verismo Communications

Favorite Bach Cantatas
American Bach Soloists Present "Favorite Bach Cantatas"

Friday, February 15, 2019: 8:00 p.m. - St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA
Saturday, February 16, 2019: 8:00 p.m. - First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday February, 17, 2019: 4:00 p.m. - St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
Monday February, 18. 2019: 7:00 p.m. - Davis Community Church, Davis, CA

Bach: "Meine Seel erhebt den Herren," Cantata 10
Bach: "Jesu, der du meine Seele," Cantata 78
Bach: "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott," Cantata 80
Bach: "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme," Cantata 140

Nola Richardson, soprano; Jay Carter, countertenor; Zachary Wilder, tenor; Tyler Duncan, baritone;
American Bach Soloists & American Bach Choir; Jeffrey Thomas conductor.

For more information, visit http://americanbach.org/

--American Bach Soloists

John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

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.

Contact Information

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

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

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa