Classical Music News of the Week, February 23, 2019

PBO Presents Anne Sofie von Otter and New Shaw Commission

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale presents mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter in works by Handel, Purcell, Arvo Pärt, and commissions by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw, March 6-10.

Shaw will also headline a PBO SESSIONS alt-concert showcasing synergies between old and new music at Stanford on March 7.

Legendary mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter has never been shy about expressing her affinity for music from all historical eras, from Baroque to pop. Her omnivorous musical tastes make her a natural fit for the ethos of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO), which first presented von Otter in a program of works by Handel, Arvo Pärt, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw in Los Angeles in 2016 in celebration of Nicholas McGegan's 30th anniversary as Music Director.

On March 6, 8, 9, and 10, 2019, von Otter and PBO will reprise that program, bringing it home to the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time. McGegan will lead PBO, von Otter, and countertenor Daniel Moody through Handel arias and duets; Purcell's Suite from The Fairy Queen; devotionals by Arvo Pärt; and two works by Shaw, commissioned by PBO. In addition to this concert set, Von Otter, Moody, and Shaw will all perform at PBO's 2019 gala on March 1, 2019 at the Four Seasons in San Francisco.

Wednesday March 6, 2019 @ 7:30 pm | Bing Concert Hall, Stanford, CA
Friday March 8, 2019 @ 8 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Saturday March 9, 2019 @ 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday March 10, 2019 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

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

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Princeton University Concerts: Opera Superstar Joyce DiDonato
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato will make a highly anticipated return to Princeton University Concerts ("PUC") on Sunday, March 10, 2019 at 3PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

This special event performance, a part of PUC's 125th anniversary celebratory season, will feature the Kansas-born operatic superstar, "the perfect 21st-century diva," (The New York Times) in a new, genre-defying program: "Songplay." Joined by pianist Craig Terry, bassist Chuck Israels, trumpeter Charlie Porter, drummer Jimmy Madison and bandoneon player Lautaro Greco, the multi Grammy award-winner will trace the musical thread from the Italian Baroque to the American Songbook, including everything from art songs to sambas to jazz ballads, weaving a musical tapestry connected by a collective sense of joy and experimentation.

Tickets are $45 general/$15 student, available online at princetonuniversityconcerts.org, by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person two hours prior to the concert at the Richardson Auditorium Box Office.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Nu Deco Ensemble to Perform at Global Cuba Fest 2019
Nu Deco Ensemble will return to The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, Miami, FL, March 6 - 8 at 8:00 pm in celebration of the 12th annual Global Cuba Fest.

Presented in collaboration with FUNDarte and Miami Light Project, Nu Deco Nucleus will perform music from rising young Cuban composers, iconic masters, and unique collaborations with guest artists, world-renowned singer-songwriter Yusa.

Tickets for these performances will be available on the Nu Deco website. For more information about Nu Deco Ensemble's fourth season, and to purchase tickets for all upcoming performances, please visit www.nu-deco.org.

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

SF Girls Chorus Honors Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi at Annual Gala
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) will hold its 40th anniversary season Gala: A Ruby Ball on Friday, March 15, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco.

The event will honor Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, as the inaugural recipient of the Elizabeth Appling Arts Champion Award, a new award named for SFGC's founder. The award will be presented annually to an individual who has made profound contributions to the Chorus and the broader Bay Area performing arts community.

A limited number of individual tickets are available for $350, with tables sponsorships starting at $3,000. For more information on the gala, tickets or table sponsorships, please visit sfgirlschorus.org or call (415) 863-1752 x306.

--Brenden Guy PR

U.S. Premieres of Works by Ivan Wyschnegradsky
Other Minds opens Festival 24 on Saturday, March 23, 8:00 p.m at the Wilsey Center Taube Atrium Theater, San Francisco, with the first of two performances dedicated to the rarely heard piano and string chamber works of Franco-Russian microtonal composer Ivan Wyschnegradsky.

The Arditti Quartet of London, champions of Wyschnegradsky's works and leading contemporary music interpreters, will present an entire program of U.S. Premieres including the composer's String Quartets No. 1-3, Composition for String Quartet, and Trio for violin, viola and cello as well as String Quartet No. 2 by Georg Friedrich Haas, an admirer of Wyschnegradsky. Festival 24 will conclude in June with two final performances: a large-scale world premiere by American composer Brian Baumbusch and a second showcase of works for multiple pianos by Wyschnegradsky.

Though considered as one of the founding fathers of microtonal composition and theory, Ivan Wyschnegradsky was ignored and overlooked by the changing musical tastes of the early-mid 20th century. As a result, his music is still largely unknown to this day.

General admission tickets are $45 and can be purchased online at http://www.brownpapertickets. $30 student tickets are available with a valid student ID.

For further information on Other Minds, please visit www.otherminds.org.

--Brenden Guy PR

Los Angeles Master Chorale to Open Salzburg Festival in July
The Los Angeles Master Chorale and Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, will begin their 2019-20 season with a high profile engagement at the prestigious Salzburg Festival in Austria on July 20 and 21 opening the Festival with performances of its critically-acclaimed production of Orlando di Lasso's Lagrime di San Pietro directed by Peter Sellars. The honor of opening the Festival is a huge international profile boost for the Master Chorale, the country's preeminent professional choir that is choir-in-residence at Walt Disney Concert Hall and a founding resident company of The Music Center for the Performing Arts.

--Jennifer Scott, LA Master Chorale

PBO 2019 Winter Gala & Auction Catalogue Is Here
Phiharmonia Baroque Orchestra's 2019 Winter Gala & Auction is just around the corner and we unveil the auction catalogue! Peruse the pages to preview the wonderful items and make your plans. If you can't join us on March 1st, you can still win fabulous items. All proceeds support PBO's artistic and education programs.

If you wish to bid on any of these exceptional items beforehand, please contact Courtney Beck by email at cbeck@philharmonia.org and she will be sure to include your bid on the night of the Gala. (Download the starting bid prices here: https://philharmonia.org/wp-content/uploads/securepdfs/StartingBids.pdf.)

Early bids will be accepted until February 28th at 5 pm.

And there are a few raffle tickets left for the PBO Board of Directors Curated Wine Collection. Tickets are $75 and only 100 will be sold. Purchase your raffle tickets here for a chance to win 24 high-end bottles of wine PLUS a bottle of rare scotch: https://philharmoniabaroqueorchestra.secure.force.com/donate/?dfId=a0ni000000KmgvKAAR

--Melanie P. Peña, 2019 Gala Chair

Montreal/New Musics (MNM) Festival
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."

Events will be held in various Montreal venues until March 2nd. All details can be found at www.festivalmnm.ca.

--France Gaignard, Media Relations

Princeton University Orchestra: Soloist Spotlight
The Princeton University Orchestra brings one of its most popular programs on Friday & Saturday March 8-9 at 7:30PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ.

The "Soloist Spotlight" features winners of this year's concerto competition: violinist Haeun Jung '20 and violist Katie Liu '20 in W. A. Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra in E-flat major, K. 364; and clarinetist Hanson Kang '20 in Jean Francaix's Clarinet Concerto. The program will also feature guest conductor student Lou Chen '19 in Johannes Brahms' beloved Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80. Maurice Ravel's Ma Mere l'Oye (Mother Goose) Suite rounds out the program, otherwise conducted by PUO director Michael Pratt.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Music Institute Chorale Performs The Creation
The Music Institute of Chicago Chorale, conducted by Daniel Wallenberg, performs Joseph Haydn's The Creation Sunday, March 17 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall.

In addition to conducting, Wallenberg has adapted the work for soloists, choir, and chamber ensemble. Soloists include Music Institute faculty member Rae-Myra Hilliard, soprano, along with tenor Nathan Oakes and bass Ivo Suarez. Gregory Shifrin is pianist.

The Music Institute of Chicago Chorale performs The Creation
Sunday, March 17 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $7 for students.
For tickets call 847-905-1500. For information, visit musicinst.org/chorale-creation.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

International Contemporary Ensemble Performs Tyshawn Sorey Miller Theater Composer
On Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 8:00pm, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) joins the JACK Quartet for a Miller Theatre Composer Portrait of composer Tyshawn Sorey. 

Sorey, a 2017 MacArthur Fellow, has a wide-ranging creative practice, embracing the roles of composer, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, scholar, and educator. His Miller Theatre Composer Portrait features two new works, written for ICE and JACK, ensembles with which Sorey has close ties. The program includes the world premiere of Autoschediasms for Creative Chamber Orchestra (2019), commissioned by Miller Theatre, and the New York premiere of ...Changes (2018), as well as Sorey's Violin and Glockenspiel, in Memoriam Muhal Richard Abrams (2018); Bertha's Lair (2016); and Ornations (2014).

Tyshawn Sorey Composer Portrait
Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 8pm
Miller Theatre | 2960 Broadway | New York, NY
Tickets: $20-30
Link: https://www.millertheatre.com/events/tyshawn-sorey

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Third Coast Baroque to Present Chicago Premiere of Handel's Triumph of Time and Disenchantment
Third Coast Baroque will conclude its 2018-19 season with the Chicago premiere of Handel's first oratorio – The Triumph of Time and Disenchantment, HWV 46a – on Friday, April 12, 2019, at 7:30 pm at First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple. Artistic director Rubén Dubrovsky also will lead "Chicago's most accomplished period instrumentalists and singers" (Chicago Tribune) in the work's North Shore premiere Saturday, April 13, 2019, at 7:30 pm at Galvin Recital Hall in Evanston, Illinois.

George Frideric Handel composed The Triumph of Time and Disenchantment (Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno) at age 22, decades before the premiere of his most famous oratorio, The Messiah. Just after young Handel wrote his first operas for Hamburg, he traveled to Italy to absorb the latest musical trends. He developed a reputation as a promising composer and exceptional keyboardist in Florence, Naples, Venice, and Rome, where he created The Triumph of Time and Disenchantment.

Friday, April 12, 2019, 7:30 pm
First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple
77 W Washington Street
Chicago, IL 60602

Saturday, April 13, 2019, 7:30 pm
Galvin Recital Hall
70 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208

Tickets can be purchased in advance online at thirdcoastbaroque.org ($10-50) or at the door ($10-60).

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

Rare Breilh-Decruck Work Performed
The Chelsea Symphony (TCS), continues its 2018-2019 season reflecting on social action with a chamber concert series featuring two pieces written during world wars, including a rarely heard work for voice and orchestra by French and erstwhile New Yorker, Fernande Breilh-Decruck.

French composer Fernande Breilh-Decruck's Cinq poèmes chrétiens (Five Christian Pieces) for voice and orchestra based on text by French poets was written and performed in 1944 occupied France while the composer was living in Paris. Decruck has special ties to The Chelsea Symphony -- she lived in the London Terrace apartments in Chelsea from 1928-1933, and TCS co-Artistic Director Matthew Aubin is the foremost scholar on Decruck and is leading the resurgent interest in her work. Joining TCS as soloist for the Decruck is mezzo-soprano Kate Maroney, recognized by The New York Times for her "vibrant and colorful" singing.

Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 at 8:00 PM
The Chelsea Symphony
Conducted by Matthew Aubin and Reuben Blundell
St. Paul's Church (315 West 22nd Street), New York, NY
$25 reserved premium general seating on sale at Eventbrite.
$20 suggested donation seating available at the door.

--Elizabeth Holub, Chelsea Symphony

New Century Presents Pianist Vanessa Perez
New Century Chamber Orchestra welcomes Venezuelan-American pianist Vanessa Perez for her debut appearance with the ensemble, March 21-24. Exploring works written by composers under the shadow of oppressive regimes, Perez will feature alongside Music Director Daniel Hope in a rare performance of Erwin Schulhoff's Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings. Also featured on the program is Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a, Hans Krása's Tanec and two works by Mendelssohn: String Symphony No. 13 in C minor, "Sinfoniesatz" and String Symphony No. 10 in B minor.

This program will be presented as part of New Century's subscription series on four evenings in different locations around the Bay Area: Thursday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley; Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m., Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto; Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre, San Francisco and Sunday, March 24 at 3 p.m., Osher Marin JCC, San Rafael. New Century offers an Open Rehearsal Wednesday, March 20 at 10 a.m., Trinity St. Peter's Church, San Francisco with free admission. The Open Rehearsal offers a sneak preview of the concert repertoire while allowing audiences to experience the musical democracy of a rehearsal without a conductor.

Single tickets range in price from $29 to $61 and can be purchased through City Box Office: http://www.cityboxoffice.com and (415) 392-4400. Discounted $15 single tickets are available for patrons under 35 and $10 single tickets for Students with a valid ID.

Admission to the Open Rehearsal is free and can be reserved by contacting tickets@ncco.org or (415) 357-1111.

--Brenden Guy PR

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

Contact Information

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa