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

--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

--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

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

City Box Office: (415) 392-4400 or
Price range: $32–$120
For more information, visit

--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,, or

--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

--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

--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

--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 and

--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

--American Bach Soloists

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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on the Big Jon and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simpleminded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa