Mozert: Star Wards - A New Hype (Blur-ray review)

A space opera based on John Milton's epic sc-fi adventure, "Paradise Mislaid." Twenty-First Century Vixen Home Entertainment HAL2001.

It was inevitable, I suppose, that a member of the highly prodigious and exceptionally prolific Mozert family of musical geniuses would eventually make his way to Tinseltown. Then, several years later, he would arrive in Hollywood, and the rest would be history. This was, of course, Stanley Alfred Akira Orson Ingmar Federico Francis Mozert, Jr. (1823-1947), the celebrated operatic filmmaker who invented sci-fi, love beads, and singing.

Mozert started it all with his space opera "Star Wards - A New Hype" in 1922, and everybody has been waiting in line for its long-overdue release on Blur-ray longer than Christmas. Now, it's finally here in high deaf, episode twenty-three in the celebrated romantic horror-comedy fantasy, docudrama-opera saga that has shaken, if not to say stirred, the Western World. And a few pocketbooks, too. It couldn't have arrived on Ultra-Lofty Definition (ULD) Blur-ray at a better time.

Mozert's opera was directed on film by Georges Méliès ("A Trip to the Orchestra Pit"), produced by Stephan Spiegelburg ("E.T. The Extra Tenor"), and adapted for the screen by Roger Corperson ("The Beast with a Million Songs"), Petar Jacksson ("Sing Song"), Dino Martin Scoresese ("Boxcar Ballads"), and Francesco A. Capella ("A Pox on Your Lips Now"). It's a prodigious effort by a prodigious team of prodigious (and prolific) filmmakers.

"Star Wards - A New Hype," as you all remember from your Opera Film Study classes, is the story of a waif, Lucas Moneymaker (Narc Hemphill, countertenor), who saves a home for retired movie stars that is far, far away and a heck of a long time ago, like before you were even born, even. Well, maybe not that long.

With the help of his faithful companions--the haughty Hand SoLow (Harrison Fairlaine, baritone), the dauntless Princess Pixar (Carrie Mebacktu Olevirginny, mezzanine-soprano), the wise guru Olden-One Nairobi (Guinness Stout, "It's in the book!"), his comic sidekick ChewTobacco (Bert Skoal), and his mascots See-3-PO'D (Tom Hunks) and How-D-Do-D (Denny DaVeto)--Moneymaker rescues untold numbers of old folks from the diabolical clutches of their evil Overlord, Mala Vista (Robert Igor), his adopted son, Asta La Vista (the Honorable Arnold), and Vista's former henchmen, the brothers Mirra and Max (Darth Harvey and Darth Wienstine, bassi profundi), Dark Overseers of the Cinematheque. A cameo appearance by young soprano Sterling Christensen as the cuddly Judo Master, Yogi Teddybeara, completes the cast.

George Burns dubs the singing parts. Marcel Marceau handles the voices.

Bert Skoal
Fans of the complete saga will welcome this first-ever segment in its first-ever ULD Blur-ray edition (after six laser-disc versions, eight DVD incarnations, ten VHS and Beta tape renderings, and 800 semiannual theatrical rereleases since its première in 1913). Fans will also be pleased to note that this episode contains only a single example of the director's prized CGI creations that were so liberally appended to the saga's later remasterings. Indeed, the viewer may find the quaintness of this early movie's live actors a refreshing change of pace from the computer-generated animations so familiar to us today. Unfortunately, the live performers are unable to replicate the myriad visual nuances and facial expressions of their computer counterparts, but it's all part of the fun of this ancient, campy, live-action technology. Mr. Christensen remains the lone CGI-animated character in the film.

Based in part on the myth "The Hero of a Thousand Voices" by the late, great, celebrated PBS talk-show host J.R.R. "Soupy" Campbell and in part on the classic Samurai farce "The Hidden Fat in Chow Yun" by Acura Kurosodoff, "Star Wards - A New Hype" is THE seminal operatic work in early Hollywood's burgeoning retirement-home opera genre. Grounded in strong metaphysical convictions, deep existential philosophy, uncompromising ethical values, and women in flimsy white negligees, the movie is destined to stand the test of time, at least until the next installment comes out in two weeks.

For this Super-Deluxe, Extra-Elite, 97th Anniversary, Special Edition Blur-ray boxed set, the folks at Twenty-First Century Vixen Home Entertainment have transferred the film, all fourteen minutes of it, to three quad-layer Blur-ray discs, front and back, for optimum AV playback quality. And, of course, the THD-certified ULD-BR audiovisual format preserves the movie's original theatrical-exhibition size, a 360:1 anorexic-ratio, TechnoRabid SwaddleScreen-80 presentation. The filmmakers realize that this format could present some small problem to those viewers whose home theaters are not equipped to do it justice, but by utilizing as simple an array as sixteen 90" curved-screen ULHD televisions in a circular pattern around the viewing area, the film can still provide a fascinating, if somewhat limited, visual experience. Textures are lifelike; flesh tones, particularly light greys and whites, are extraordinarily natural; and the panoramic scenery is, well, panoramic.

The sound reproduction is sound, offered up in the director's preferred configuration, lossless Dolby Digits TrueTH Atmospheric LucasEar 60.8 AX AuralSurround-500. Listeners with fewer than the optimal ten speakers per bank--ten front, twelve back, twenty sides, thirty ceiling, and forty-seven floor, with eight 36" subwoofers--will still get a kick out of the all-enveloping nature of the audio playback. Even as few as 43.6 speakers are adequate for the job, so almost anyone can enjoy the beauty of LucasEar's phenomenal monaural soundtrack. Highly recommended, especially if you don't like your neighbors.

Discs one, two, and three in this ten-disc Blur-ray set are devoted, as mentioned above, to the movie itself, with six separate audio commentaries to enjoy. The first commentary, as expected, is with the director, cast, crew, and stars. The second commentary is with the stars, cast, director, and crew. The third is with everybody already cited plus the guy who cleans up after the lights go out. The fourth is with the best boy. The fifth is with the best boy's best girl. And the sixth is with the gaffer, a compilation of his very best gaffes.

Spoken languages come in Danish, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Lappish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Canadian, Texan, Stallonean, Nabuccon, Freishhok, Bombastic, and Toolouyie; with subtitles in Pitouy, Zha*#/-^sh, Orwellian Doublespeak, and Portlandian Redneck. For an additional charge, you can order English. Scene selections are on the light side, however, at two, including one for the closing credits. It's a small price to pay for perfection.

Discs four through ten contain the major bonus items, including documentaries, featurettes, poster galleries, interactive recipes, interviews, e-mails, private telephone conversations, Easter eggs, duck eggs, Fabergé eggs, scrambled eggs, National Be-Kind-To-Your-Ferret-Day eggs, and plenty of commas. Then there are behind-the-scenes photos of really old retired people (some as old as their fifties and sixties); and other stuff you'll never look at again.

Here, too, you'll find various theatrical trailers and tractors for "Star Wards" prequels, sequels, continuations, and spin-offs, including teasers for the new Ultra-Deluxe, Extra-Elite, Further Anniversary, Special Edition Blur-rays of the movie, plus all the other films in the series that are coming out next month with even more extras than this one.  "Buy now, buy later" is the industry motto. The present discs conclude with promos for various "Star Wards" paraphernalia, including video games, board games, card games, dice games, dart games, graphic novels, comic books, cartoon strips, action figures, thumb screws, razor blades, maps, hats, masks, gloves, ears, noses, eyebrows, laser guns, power drills, jackhammers, ball-peen hammers, and other merchandise the studio hopes to con you into buying before they're through.

Also included: "The Mozert Family Tree," suitable for framing, mounting, or planting. You, too, can grow little Mozerts in your garden. Who knows? Maybe someday one of them will write a sequel.

Finally, tucked away neatly in a back pocket of the beautifully illustrated metal-foil slipcase is a full-scale, foldout cardboard replica of Hand SoLow's lighter-than-air jet aircraft, the Millennium Buzzard. Fully expanded, the airplane measures some 300 feet, nose to tail, with functional cockpit and cargo bays. A word of caution about this item, however. It is designed as a simulation only and will not actually fly. Early reports have indicated that some beta testers apparently attempted to launch their vehicles from garage roofs with less than satisfactory results. The studio warns that such misuse of the product may be hazardous to the model and its occupants and could do irreparable damage to both. This is a full-size likeness only, kids, and should be treated as such. For safety's sake, if you have a 300-foot dresser in your bedroom, that's where you should properly display your Buzzard.

Parting Shots:
In addition to this latest complete edition of the initial chapter in the "Star Wards" saga, the marketing directors at Twenty-First Century Vixen are making available for the first time a special five-shelf Blur-ray disc bookcase to house the over 1800 re-releases so far in the series. As this bookcase will only accommodate Blur-ray discs, however, the studio advises buyers to hang on to their old bookcases to store any BDs, DVDs, videotapes, and laser discs already obtained. Do not, however, attempt to mix or match Blur-ray discs, BDs, DVDs, tapes, and LDs as the formats are not compatible and serious damage could result.

"Star Wards - A New Hype: Part XXXV1, A Space Opera" on Blur-ray may be purchased individually for $59.95 or in a complete box set of all seventy-two episodes (so far) for a MSRP of $6,876.40. Nevertheless, a perusal of the Dark Matter Web reveals several outlets discounting the price considerably, with several on-line stores offering the entire box for $9.95. A shipping and handling fee of $6,866.45 should not deter the dedicated buyer in search of a bargain.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this movie's soundtrack, click below:

Classical Music News of the Week, March 30, 2019

Babayan Performs with Academy and Bach Week Orchestras

Concluding its 2018-19 Faculty and Guest Artist Series, the Music Institute of Chicago showcases the talented students of its Academy Orchestra performing with the Bach Week Festival Orchestra and piano soloist Sergei Babayan Sunday, April 28 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois. This is the second time the two institutions have collaborated, having previously presented Babayan in a solo recital in 2013.

Sergei Babayan, hailed for his emotional intensity, bold energy, and remarkable levels of color, brings a deep understanding and insight to a stylistically diverse repertoire. Le Figaro has praised his "unequaled touch, perfectly harmonious phrasing and breathtaking virtuosity." He performs with the world's leading orchestras, including the London Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestra of the Marinsky Theatre, Warsaw Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, and many others.

Admission is $50 for VIP seating, $40 for adults, $25 for senior citizens, and $15 for students.
Tickets are available by calling 800.838.3006 or at

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

JoAnn Falletta Named 2019 Classical Woman of the Year
Acclaimed conductor JoAnn Falletta was named Performance Today's 2019 Classical Woman of the Year. The award, which was given for the first time, honors the women who have made a lasting impact on classical music or those who love music.

"JoAnn Falletta is a mighty figure on the global music scene. She brings a bright freshness to classical standards, and her vision includes and elevates so many worthy composers and artists who've been too long overlooked," said Fred Child, host of Performance Today. "She is a tireless champion of the art form itself, not just on the podium, but in ways that are not always visible or public; our listeners' nominating stories about her included myriad examples of Falletta's unique combination of artistic authority and compassion, compelling musicianship and humanity. It is an honor for us to name her as Performance Today's 2019 Classical Woman of the Year."

More information on Maestro Falletta may be found at

--Genevieve Spielberg, Inc.

Miller Theatre Presents a Composer Portrait of David T. Little
Composer Portraits: David T. Little
Thursday, April 18, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, NYC

David T. Little grapples with essential human issues through powerfully dramatic compositions. This Portrait features two major works—companion pieces presented together for the first time--that explore the tension between the individual, secrecy, and state violence. Haunt of Last Nightfall, a visceral "ghost play in two acts" for percussion quartet and electronics, examines America's role in the 1981 massacre at El Mozote. AGENCY, for string quartet and electronics, questions individual autonomy, whether we are subject to unknown and powerful social and political forces. Together, they offer a disquieting account of our place in contemporary society.

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

ROCO Announces Its Fifteenth Season: "Coming of Age"
ROCO (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Houston, Texas) is thrilled to announce its 2019-20 season, entitled "Coming of Age."

To celebrate their milestone fifteenth season, ROCO will present a record-breaking 21 new commissions, bringing their total to a whopping 100 distinct premieres since their formation in 2005. Throughout the season, 15 of these new works--comprising the FIFteen project: Fanfares, Interludes, and Finales, organized by Mark Buller--will be sprinkled among each series.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Brazilian-American phenom Clarice Assad Returns to San Antonio
Grammy-nominated composer, performer, and music educator of depth and versatility Clarice Assad returns for an evening of musical delight.

Ever since her sensational SOLI (SOLI Chamber Ensemble) debut in 2016, we have been eagerly crafting another collaboration together to include concerts in San Antonio, followed by a National Tour with the program, and a recording project to memorialize her unique and genre-bending music.

For complete information, visit!//

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

"Avital Meets Avital" at Princeton University Concerts
Princeton University Concerts' new "Crossroads" series, drawing together musicians and music from around the globe, culminates on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 7:30PM with a joint performance by mandolin star Avi Avital and acclaimed jazz performer and composer Omer Avital: "Avital Meets Avital."

While the two musicians are not related and come from differing musical backgrounds, they share a cultural heritage through which they come together in this program, alongside Yonathan Avishai on piano and Itamar Doari on percussion. In addition to their concert, Avi and Omer Avital will also participate in a free public conversation with Princeton University Professor Moulie Vidas at the Princeton Public Library the preceding evening on Monday, April 15, 2019 at 7PM.

For more information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

World Music Institute Presents NY debut of Danish Trio Dreamers' Circus
Thursday, April 11, 2019, 7:30 pm
Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
129 W 67th Street, NYC

The young Danish trio Dreamers' Circus--led by violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen of the Danish String Quartet--is a new driving force in Nordic world music. Contemporary and innovative in their approach, they draw inspiration from the deep traditions of Scandinavian Folk music. The ensemble has won five prestigious Danish Music Awards and toured throughout Europe and beyond, with performances in Japan and Australia. The trio collaborates regularly with the Danish String Quartet and the Copenhagen Philharmonic. This NYC debut is part of their first American tour.

The band states, "Our approach to music sees us challenge the norms of the traditional music we were brought up with and attempt to shape it into how we imagine Nordic music can sound in 2019."

For more information on Dreamers' Circus, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Concerts at Saint Thomas Concludes the Season
An all-orchestral program May 9 and an organ recital by Ken Cowan May 18 at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC.

Concerts at Saint Thomas will wrap up its 2018-19 season with Benjamin Sheen and New York Baroque Incorporated performing a program of chamber music entitled "Now Is The Month of Maying" on May 9 at 6:00 pm. The performance will be a celebration of the Martha J. Dodge Continuo Organ and a new harpsichord recently purchased from Willard Martin, both of which will be played by Benjamin Sheen. The program for the concert will weave Vivaldi's 'La Primavera' from The Four Seasons with two concerti by Handel and Bach, along with Albinoni's beloved Adagio for organ and strings.

The season's final performance will take place on May 18 at 3:00 pm with one final Grand Organ Series performance from Ken Cowan on the Miller-Scott Organ. The program will include pieces from Wagner, Dupré, Bach, Saint-Saëns, and Duruflé. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Salt Bay Chamberfest 2019
The Salt Bay Chamberfest (SBC) has spent 25 years nestled along coastal Maine near Damariscotta's Great Salt Bay. Visitors spend their days taking walks along jetties to historic lighthouses and trails overlooking blueberry bogs, wandering along the dramatic shore where tidal pools hold secret worlds, or taking in Greek Revival and Italianate architecture. But what has recently brought people to Salt Bay in early August is this world-class Festival. Each season Artistic and Executive Director, and cellist, Wilhelmina Smith takes audiences on a journey through a season of concerts which delve in to larger ideas, often connecting the music to historical, political, or even deeper social ideas.

To celebrate 25, Smith has curated a season called "Music of Our Common Earth" which runs August 1-17, and features works connecting us globally through music as it relates to our environment, and studies human nature or uses it as metaphor, explores ancient myths, uncovers current societal issues, and celebrates our shared landscape. SBC's rich history of presenting and commissioning new music continues with some of today's most exciting musical innovators and the performers that inspired them. Most of the concerts are picturesquely set in the historic 19th-century dairy barn turned concert hall, Darrows Barn, overlooking the scenic Great Salt Bay.

For complete information, visit

--Dworkin & Company

Pianist Lang Lang Celebrates World Piano Day
March 29 was World Piano Day and who better to celebrate it than global superstar pianist Lang Lang. He's already inspired millions of children to play the piano through his performances, method books, recordings and educational programs--and now he's releasing his new album "Piano Book," a collection of pieces he has loved and played from a young age.

The repertoire reflects Lang Lang's commitment to music education and his desire to encourage young people to learn the instrument. In that vein, the Lang Lang Foundation also announced their donation of $5MM to U.S. Public Schools over the next 5 years to continue Lang Lang's commitment to music education. This means in five years, the Lang Lang Foundation will be supporting and working with over 140 public schools across the US, reaching over 56,000 students.

In more piano news, last week at Steinway Hall in NYC, Lang Lang and his friend bandleader/pianist Jon Batiste got together to do what they love--play piano. Watch these two superstars at the top of their game in classical and jazz have fun with "Chopsticks":

It has been a whirlwind few weeks for Lang Lang: he's joined Chinese virtual idol Luo Tianyi for a special hologram concert, he's enjoyed international chart success with Beethoven's Für Elise having reached No.4 on the official Chinese pop single charts, and he's even set a new Guinness World Record for the biggest simultaneous four-handed piano performance.

Lang Lang's record-breaking performance took place in his native China, where 777 pianos were packed into the Xiamen Center Sports Stadium and 1554 pianists gathered together to play Schubert's Marche Militaire No.1. The project recruited 777 pairs of 'piano messengers' from schools in five major regions of China, including children from Taiwan. Lang Lang took the helm for the awe-inspiring display, showcasing his gifts as charismatic performer, communicator and educator, as well as his fun-loving personality.

For more information, visit

--Julia Casey, Universal Music

Korngold: The Sea Hawk (CD review)

Also, Symphony in F-Sharp. James DePreist, Oregon Symphony Orchestra. Delos DE 3234.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score for the 1940 film The Sea Hawk has long been a yardstick for swashbuckling music, and the late Maestro James DePreist's version of it with the Oregon Symphony is as swashbuckling as any.

Of course, there are a number of good performances of this work already available, and you probably have one of them, so the real find is Korngold's Symphony in F-Sharp, of which there are few recordings. Korngold premiered it in 1954, this large-scale symphony a throwback to old-fashioned Romanticism at a time when it was no longer in  vogue. Music critics largely dismissed the work as being out of touch with modern music. Their loss; our gain. Like other Romanticists who continued on despite criticism, Korngold wrote music that was big, bold, inventive, and varied, much like the music of his mentor, Gustav Mahler. The Symphony in F-Sharp sounds a little bit cinematic, to be sure, but that's the source. It conjures up a vast, exotic, Sinbad-type adventure palette, especially in its second and fourth movements. The long, funereal Adagio, however, is more Mahler than anything else. The whole piece merits attention.

James DePreist
Engineer John Eargle made the 1998 recording in Delos's Virtual Reality format, a surround sound process that Delos claimed worked best when played back through Dolby Pro Logic circuitry. In ordinary two-channel stereo, like my main system, it sounds overly reverberant but extremely dynamic, with good imaging and depth of field. Played on my smaller, home-theater system in another room, the back speakers do come to life with pleasant reflections, reinforcing the illusion of a large, resonant concert hall.

The only hesitation I have comes when comparing it to a good recording in ordinary stereo, like Charles Gerhardt's RCA issue of The Sea Hawk, and noticing that without the room reflections the RCA sonics are much more lucid. Nonetheless, the Delos VR process is not so distracting as others I have heard and lends an air of realism to the proceedings often completely lacking in other recordings. Then, too, the surround effects seem less obvious for some reason in the Symphony, perhaps more subtly employed.

In the end, this is a good, innovative issue and deserves a wide audience with its unique music and sound.


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

Bach: Violin Concertos (CD review)

Also, sinfonias, overture, sonatas. Isabelle Faust, violin; Bernhard Forck, violin; Xenia Loeffler, oboe, recorder; Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin. Harmonia Mundi HMM 902335.36 (2-disc set).

The album's title, "Violin Concertos," is something of a misnomer. It's much more than that.

In addition to the two familiar Violin Concertos--BWV 1041 and 1042, plus the Concerto for Two Violins--Harmonia Mundi have filled out two discs with everything else that might be considered a Bach violin concerto, including pieces written for other instruments and transcribed (often by Bach himself) for violin. Bach (like many composers of his time) was big on appropriating at least parts of his own earlier work for later compositions, so it's sometimes hard to categorize properly some of his material.

Anyway, the current two-disc set includes not only "violin concertos" but sinfonias, trio sonatas, overtures, and the like. They are all expertly played by German violinist Isabelle Faust, accompanied on selected tracks by violinist Bernhard Forck and oboist Xenia Loeffler, with the Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin. All the performers play on period instruments, Ms. Faust's a Jacobus Stainer (1658).

Now, here's the thing: How well you take to these interpretations may depend largely on what you expect from a period-instrument ensemble. In the past few decades we have come to figure on some excessively quick tempos and highly expressive styles, the historically informed crowd insisting this is how the music was played back in the day. But Ms. Faust and company may not have heard the news, because while most of it can be exhilarating, they can also play much of this music in a fairly sensitive, even conservative manner. The slower parts aren't dull or routine by any means, but they are often reserved and refined. If you like your Bach played both sprightly and elegantly, these are for you.

The opening concerto is a good example of what I meant previously by everything not being exactly what it seems. The Concerto for Violin BWV 1052R is usually considered a harpsichord concerto, but educated conjecture suggests it may actually be a lost violin concerto. So that's the way Ms. Faust and company play it, with a violin soloist. Then comes the Sinfonia from Cantata BWV 174, familiar as the opening movement of the Third Brandenburg Concerto. Ms. Faust handles it with more élan, more dash, and more ardor than she does the opening number, so it comes off as extra refreshing. I'm not sure if that was her intent, but it works well in any case.

Isabelle Faust
And so it goes. The playing is precise but never aggressive, the manner often varying between strikingly invigorating and finely reserved. Contrasts and stresses are kept to an appropriate minimum, though not passively so. Indeed, when occasion arises, the tempos and variations are well up to the task. There's nothing stuffy about these performances, even if they're not among the most imaginative you may have heard. All of which may please a lot of dedicated Bach fans who have become tired of hearing Bach's music being twisted this way and that.

If there was something I didn't care for, however, it was the packaging information. The outside of the three-panel Digipak lists no track info whatsoever. Inside the fold-out, we get a table of contents but without any track numbers, movement breakdowns, or timings. To find out anything specific about the program, you have to go into the booklet itself. And if you want to find more about each selection, you have to go to the part of the booklet in your language--German, French, or English--and then, well, hope to run into whatever you're looking for because instead of the notes referring to each selection as it appears chronologically in the program, the notes seem to discuss items randomly. No big deal, but a trifle annoying.

On the brighter side, the two-disc set contains almost two-and-a-half hours of music for the price of a single disc. So it does represent a good value for the money. And it's very well played and recorded.

Artistic Director Martin Sauer and engineer Rene Moller recorded the music at Teldex Studio, Berlin in December 2017 and September 2018. The first most noticeable thing about the sound is its lifelike characteristics. It has air and space, a realistic ambience, a good sense of depth, and mostly an impressively natural resonant bloom. (I say "mostly" because a couple of selections are perhaps a bit too reverberant). The miking distance is pleasantly moderate, not so close up as many of today's recordings seem to be. Dynamics, too, appear well judged, though with slightly muted impact in some instances, and definition is good without being sharp or bright. It's some of the most pleasing sound I've come across in Baroque music and should satisfy the even the most fastidious listener.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, March 23, 2019

PBO Ends Season with All-Star Production of Handel's Saul

To culminate its 2018/19 season, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) presents Handel's epic oratorio Saul, an ideal vehicle for leading Handel expert and PBO Music Director Nicholas McGegan. With an all-star cast comprised of both frequent PBO collaborators and notable debuts, and the award-winning Philharmonia Chorale, Saul will have four performances in the Bay Area on April 6, 7, 12, and 13, with a touring performance in Los Angeles at Walt Disney Concert Hall on April 10.

Saturday April 6, 2019 @ 7 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday April 7, 2019 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Friday April 12, 2019 @ 7 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Saturday April 13, 2019 @ 7:30 pm | First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, CA

Prices range from $32 to $125. Tickets available at City Box Office at (415) 392-4400 or

For further information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Marketing & Communications Director

Classical Discoveries
Musica Camerata Montréal, one of Canada's foremost chamber music ensembles presents "Classical Discoveries," the 3rd concert of the 49th season on Saturday April 6 at 6 PM at the Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur.

Continuing with their tradition, Musica Camerata Montréal showcases works by great composers very seldom performed. On this occasion, the musicians will feature Mozart-Bach, Dussek and, as a Canadian premiere, a piano quintet by the French composer George Onslow, considered during the XIX Century an important composer admired by no less than Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann.

W. A. Mozart (1756-1791) – Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784)
Prelude and Fugue in F minor, K404a for violin, viola and cello

Jan Ladislav Dussek (Caslav, Czech Republic, 1760 – Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, 1812)
Quintet in F minor op 41 for piano, violin, viola, cello and bass

George Onslow (Clermont-Ferrand, France 1784 – 1853)
First Quintet in B minor op 70 for piano, violin, viola, cello and bass

Saturday April 6 at 6 PM
Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur (100, Sherbrooke East)
Tickets: $40, $30 (seniors and students)
Information and reservations: 514 489- 8713 or visit

--France Gaignard, Relationniste de presse

Steven Mercurio New Music Director of The Czech National Symphony Orchestra
The Czech National Symphony Orchestra (CNSO) announced today that Steven Mercurio will become its new Music Director as of the upcoming 2019/20 season. Maestro Mercurio, an American conductor and composer known for his exceptional versatility and dynamism, has fostered a vibrant, ten-year affiliation with the orchestra, with extensive collaborations taking place across multiple musical genres and in every capacity: symphonically, operatically, and through extensive recording projects. Maestro Mercurio is currently in Prague, conducting the orchestra in music by Martinu and Shostakovich.

The Czech National Symphony Orchestra is self-governed and Maestro Mercurio's appointment is at the behest of the musicians themselves. Jan Hasenöhrl, the orchestra's artistic director said: "After many years of wonderful collaborations, we are very much looking forward to having Maestro Mercurio with us as our Music Director. His musicianship, energy, and versatility make him the ideal conductor for the future of the CNSO." Mercurio succeeds Maestro Libor Pešek, who had held the position since 2007.

--Shira Gilbert PR

Last Happy Hour Concert of the Season
Jeunesses Musicales Canada (JMC) invites music lovers to their Happy Hour Concerts, a golden opportunity to hear the best emerging artists in the classical world in a casual atmosphere, while sipping on a glass of wine after work.

Starting at 6:15 p.m., April 3, JMC partner RéZin offers a selection of wines. Then, at 7 p.m., the audience is in for a little over an hour of music, including commentary by the artists, in a intimate venue with impeccable acoustics. Don't miss this unique occasion, taking place at Joseph Rouleau Hall, located at 305, Avenue du Mont-Royal Est, in Montréal, just a few steps from the Mont-Royal metro station.

Sounds & Scenery, April 3, 2019
Lara Deutsch, flute
Emily Belvedere, harp

--France Gaignard, JMC

Takács Quartet/Marc-André Hamelin/John Feeney
Princeton University Concerts is proud to bring back the Takács String Quartet for their twentieth appearance on our series on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 8PM. In addition to performing string quartets by Haydn and Shostakovich, the beloved ensemble will be joined by pianist Marc-André Hamelin and bassist John Feeney to perform Schubert's "Trout" Quintet -- a work overwhelmingly selected by our audiences as one of their "favorite chamber works of all time" in our audience survey last year. Tickets $10-55.

For complete information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Miller Theatre Announces Spring 2019 Season of Its Free Pop-Up Concerts
Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts announces the spring 2019 season of Pop-Up Concerts, a musical happy hour with the audience onstage.

Tuesday, April 2
Rebecca Fischer

Tuesday, May 7
big dog little dog

Tuesday, May 14
Jason Treuting
Go Placidly with Haste

Tuesday, June 4
Bent Duo

Tuesday, June 11
Ensemble Échappé

Free admission • Doors at 5:30pm, music at 6:00pm at Miller Theatre (2960 Broadway at 116th Street), NYC.

Directions and information are available via the Miller Theatre Box Office at 212.854.7799 or online at

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Brazilian-American Phenom Clarice Assad Returns to San Antonio
Join us for a concert-length musical collaboration with Clarice Assad. Sunday, March 31 @ 3:00 PM | JAZZ TX and Tuesday, April 2 @ 7:30 PM | Ruth Taylor.

Grammy-nominated composer, performer, and music educator of depth and versatility Clarice Assad returns for an evening of musical delight.

Ever since her sensational SOLI Debut in 2016, we have been eagerly crafting another collaboration together to include concerts in San Antonio, followed by a National Tour with the program, and a recording project to memorialize her unique and genre-bending music.

For more information, visit!an-evening-with-clarice/

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Music Mountain Celebrates 90 Years
The venerable, Connecticut-based Music Mountain concert series has announced its full 2019 summer season comprising two distinct series. Marking 90 continuous years of presenting outstanding artists and beloved repertoire to East Coast concertgoers, Music Mountain is now the oldest running chamber music series in the nation, which now features the Chamber Music Concerts series and Twilight Series. 

Founded by Jacques Gordon in 1930 and directed by his son, Nicholas, for 45 years until his passing in 2017, Music Mountain is housed in the idyllic Falls Village community in Northern Connecticut, where the 355-seat Gordon Hall remains at the heart of the campus.

Opening on June 9 with a special benefit concert and reception to celebrate this milestone year, globally-renowned pianist Peter Serkin joins violinist Alexi Kenney, cellist Fred Sherry, and clarinetist Kristyna Petišková in the Music Mountain debut of Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), arranged by Eduard Steuermann, as well as Brahms's A Minor Clarinet Trio and Beethoven's "Ghost" piano trio.

Find out more at Music Mountain's Web site:

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Berlin Philharmonic Chamber Jam
Calling amateur string, woodwind, brass, and percussion players of all levels and ages! Join members of the Berlin Philharmonic in a FREE community sight-reading fest on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 8PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ. All players of orchestral instruments are invited to jam with members of one of the world's greatest orchestras, reading Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" in the eighth annual Princeton University Concerts Chamber Jam.

This incredible chance to "jam" with the pros -- a free opportunity offered to the entire community -- is always one of PUC's most popular offerings. This is the first time that the Chamber Jam is programmed as a stand-alone event; in past seasons, the Chamber Jam was scheduled directly following a Princeton University Concerts performance. Although the Chamber Jam is free, advanced registration is required and can be completed online at or

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

ICE Premieres Seven New Works at Abrons Arts Center
On Monday, April 8, 2019 at 8pm and Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 7:30pm the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) continues its collaboration with the innovative composers of New York University College of Arts and Sciences.

On Monday, April 8 at 8pm, the International Contemporary Ensemble performs the world premieres of works by NYU graduate student composers Fabian Beltran, Michael Seltenreich, Vasiliki Krimitza, Aine Eva Nakamura, and Michael Rose.

On Wednesday, April 10 at 7:30pm, the Ensemble presents an event featuring artists from the ICEcommons composer-discovery database – Merche Blasco, Sofy Yuditskaya and David Coll – in collaboration with the Radical 2 percussion duo. Guest performers include Shelley Hirsch, Dafna Naphtali, Jess Rowland, and Margaret Schedel.

Ross Karre, co-artistic director of the International Contemporary Ensemble says, "ICEcommons, a crowd-sourced index of information about new works, has become the means by which new collaborations form between emerging artists and the International Contemporary Ensemble. The Abrons Arts Center Underground is the perfect environment for the creation of eight brand new works in two free events on April 8th and 10th."

Program Information
NYU Graduate Composers of the College of Arts and Sciences & ICEcommons
Monday, April 8, 2019 at 8:00pm
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 7:30pm
Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St., New York, NY
Tickets: Free

For complete information, visit:

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

New Century Chamber Orchestra Announces Debut European Tour
Music Director Daniel Hope and New Century Chamber Orchestra announce details of the ensemble's inaugural European Tour including nine performances at prestigious festivals and venues across Germany and Poland, June 17 through 27, 2019.

The tour opens with two performances in Germany beginning at the world-renowned Philharmonie Essen Afried Krupp Hall (June 17) and the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm (June 19) before making a stop in Poland at the Filharmonia Szczecin (June 20). The ensemble will then make three appearances at one of Europe's largest music festivals, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, performing in Ulrichshusen (June 21), Stolpe (June 22) and Schwerin (June 23). The tour concludes with a performance at the Stiftung Frauenkirche in Dresden (June 25) and two more festival appearances at Kissinger Sommer in Bad Kissingen (June 26) and the venerable Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Rendsburg (June 27).

For more information about the New Century Chamber Orchestra, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Brooklyn's AOP to Select Composer, Librettists for Free Training
American Opera Projects (AOP) announces the return of its popular Composers & the Voice program for its 2019-21 seasons. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, six composers and up to three librettists will be selected for two-year fellowships to learn the fundamentals of writing for the voice and opera stage.

Workshop sessions with professional opera singers, mentors, and instructors are held at AOP's home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Applications and complete information will be available beginning March 18 at The deadline for applications is April 26 with fellowships announced by July 16.

--American Opera Projects

Basics About Bass

By Bryan Geyer

I began my own DIY hi-fi hobby time in early 1954, after returning from draft duty in Korea. In that era, virtually all serious speaker systems were big, featuring 12” and 15” Ø woofers that were more efficient than most woofers in common use today. As a result, bass reproduction was always pretty solid; we moved a lot of air. And when more was needed we’d just sink 2 or 3 more Bozaks into a handy side wall. This was in the mono-era, so location and directionality aspects were of little concern. The trend to produce bookshelf-sized speakers came about soon enough, and generally curtailed bass output, but then Edgar Villchur (AR) announced his new “acoustic suspension” design, and those speakers could rival a floor-stander’s bass if you’d just sacrifice some efficiency. The new “AR size” speakers (and the competition that they inspired) materially eased the transition to stereo, and bass output never suffered because bigger power amps soon became pervasive. So sufficient and abundant bass was common until the mid-’80s, when the home theater craze came to market.

Cramming all of that “surround stuff” into a home theater room often caused decor problems, so some speaker systems got downsized, and subwoofers got popular. The “subs” were all highly optimized for bass below 100Hz, with cone suspensions having restricted range but long throw axial excursion (Xmax) capability. This tool was vital to deliver the separate low-frequency effects (LFE) channel of the movie media, otherwise known as the “boom track”. Bass accuracy was never the goal. The express intent was to simulate loud explosions, gunshots, and monster grunts. A single shared (blended) subwoofer was fully adequate.

The application of subwoofers for 2-channel stereo service has evolved more recently, partially in response to concerted efforts to render more realistic and authentic bass, but principally because collective advances in technology have now made that goal attainable. These developments include…

…the creation of Linkwitz-Riley 4th order (phase-coherent, non-inverting) active crossovers.
…the increased availability of multi-sourced low noise monolithic op-amp chips at low cost.
…the significantly improved response of “long throw” low bass subwoofers.
…consistent improvement in the performance of super-efficient Class D power amplifiers.

These assets now make it practical to produce more effective and reliable self-powered subwoofers, as well as the frequency-selectable active crossover controllers needed to define and isolate the deep bass passband that they serve. The possibility of providing accurate deep bass has never been more favorable, but the old mechanical constraints still apply. When the listening room is smaller than a public auditorium, it exhibits a Schroeder frequency* that’s too high to avoid the inevitable peaks and dips that arise due to resonant mode rebounds off the room’s planar surfaces. A traditional means of managing this problem is room treatment. Surface-mounted traps (padding) are added to absorb some of the excessive waveform bounce. The customary 2 inch thick broadband absorbers are ineffective at low bass frequencies, so it’s then necessary to use fatter 4 inch absorbers and/or large canister-style tuned bass traps to tame the low bass (< 100Hz) resonance. That decor is acceptable when the listening room is a dedicated “man cave”, but less tolerable in a shared condo living room.

When that’s the case, multiple subwoofers can be utilized to effectively achieve cancellation of the reflected modal bass over large portions of the listening area**. Two subwoofers will work well; more subs will work better. The subwoofers’ output will naturally be ~ 180˚ out-of-phase with the reflected modal bass, so effective partial cancellation will result when the opposing wavefronts converge.

The potential benefit conveyed by using a pair of widely spaced (along front wall) self-powered subwoofers can be appreciable. Their impact will always be advantageous, regardless of the bass capabilities of the main speakers. The variance implicit in room response will preclude full cancellation of low frequency resonance, but the audible improvement will be obvious. The use of wide-spaced subwoofers can dramatically upgrade the bass in any room—including rooms with big full range main speakers. In the latter instance, let the floor-standers handle all of the mid-to-upper bass, and assign the bottom 20Hz-80Hz passband to the more widely spaced subwoofers. (No matter how costly your top quality main woofers might be, good subs can handle the bottom better; it’s their specialty.) Set the external active crossover controller (e.g. Marchand’s XM66†) to split the passbands at 80Hz. (A lower frequency crossover is seldom beneficial; usually detrimental.) Then optimize the subwoofers’ phase angle and input gain control settings in the manner that’s described in our related white paper††. The critical bass octaves above 80Hz can then be reproduced without compromise, and the bottom bass can be programmed (in fixed ±1dB stepped increments, with ±5dB range on both channels) to provide an output level that best fits the genre of the selected source.

**Refer pp. 234-262 of Floyd Toole’s “Sound Reproduction”, 3rd edition (Routledge, 2018, ISBN 978-1-138-92136-8).

††Refer “On Optimizing Subwoofer Gain & Phase Angle…”

BG (January 2019)

Joyce DiDonato: Songplay (CD review)

Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano; Craig Terry, piano; Charlie Porter, trumpet; Lautaro Greco, bandoneon; Chuck Israels, bass; Jimmy Madison, drums; Stever Barnett, shaker. Erato 0190295534387.

"You got to love to be able to play."  --Louis Armstrong

In the past twenty years or so, the American operatic singer Joyce DiDonato has become one of the world's preeminent sopranos. You would think that by now she'd take the easy route of so many other singers and give us yet another album of popular classical numbers. But, no. In "Songplay" she does something different.

This time out she has chosen to give us an integrated program of classical and modern pop-jazz love tunes, yet with an additional twist. She stylizes the pop-jazz items in somewhat classical fashion and the classical selections in a semi-modern pop-jazz style. The result, with accompaniment by Craig Terry, piano, and an accomplished ensemble of musicians, is a seamless run of musical treats spanning hundreds of years that the performers make appear to sound fresh and new and all of a similar and familiar mode. It's a clever idea, well crafted and immaculately executed.

Here's a run-down on the tracks:
  1. Parisotti: "Se tu m'ami" / "Star vicino"
  2. Torelli: "Tu lo sai"
  3. Wrubel/Magidson: "(I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over"
  4. Shearing/Weiss: "Lullaby of Birdland"
  5. Bock/Harnick: from "She Loves Me, Acte 1: "Will He Like Me?"
  6. Caccini: "Amarilli, mia bella"
  7. Scheer: "Lean Away"
  8. Vivaldi: "Col piacer della mia fede"
  9. Vivaldi: "Vedrò con mio diletto"
10. Ellington/DeLange: "(In My) Solitude"
11. Conti: "Quella Fiamma"
12. Giordani: "Caro mio ben"
13. Paisiello: "Nel cor più non mi sento"
14. Rodgers/Hart: With a Song in My Heart"

Joyce DiDonato
The songs are so well sung and so well integrated that they're sure to impress both pop-jazz fans as well as more than a few classical admirers. In fact, except for the differences in language, Ms. DiDonato makes the older material sound much like the newer stuff and vice versa. It's a remarkable combination, actually.

Then, too, there is always the phrasing and stylistic touches to consider. Ms. DiDonato, Craig Terry, and the ensemble considered "love and heartfelt music-making" as the platform they had in mind. Certainly, there is "heartfelt" to consider. Delicious.

I have to admit I'm usually immune to pop collections, where the artist just throws together seemingly random song selections and lets the listener pick and choose the ones to hear in the future. I don't have time for that and prefer to hear something more unified, more thematic, longer and more of a whole. I suppose, too, it's why I prefer listening to classical music to most pop material. Yet Ms. DiDonato's album held my attention, maybe because it did appear thematically of one piece.

Favorites? Not really. It's not that kind of album. It isn't a hit here and a miss there. It's more a kind of continuum, a symphony in its way. For instance, the Vivaldi and Conti interludes act sort of as scherzos in the midst of less lively, more-subdued material. It's a unique and remarkable disc.

Oh, and hang around after the last selection. As Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over till it's over."

Producers Alain Lanceron and Steve Barnett and engineer Preston Smith recorded the music at Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California in March 2018. The sound produced is very much in the good studio-pop category. There is plenty of distance and air between instruments, some fine dynamics and transient impact, and excellent overall definition. What suffers is mostly imaging, where the artists as a group don't quite gel as a single ensemble but rather sound like a company of individuals not exactly performing in one place. So, spacing is a bit of an issue. Whatever, as this is primarily a pop album, it works as well as any pop enthusiast would expect.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, March 16, 201

2019 Summer Festival - Music of the Old World

Music of the Old World, July 24 to August 4, 2019. San Luis Obispo County, California

Five hundred years ago, the music of Spain became influenced by the Middle Eastern peoples who settled on the Iberian peninsula. This influence then began to permeate early Western classical music. This is most clear in the music of Domenico Scarlatti, who traveled from Italy to serve the Queen of Spain during the early 18th century, composing an astounding 555 keyboard sonatas. These sonatas merged the ethnic sounds and rhythms that had infused the music of Spain, while adapting the Spanish guitar sound to Scarlatti's Italian Baroque sensitivity. Scarlatti's interpretation of these old world elements inspired composers of later eras, including Brahms and Chopin. This summer, experience this music in beautiful venues of the Central Coast, as you explore Scarlatti's inspiration with us in festive and intimate performances. We look forward to seeing you here.

Click here to flip through the 2019 Festival brochure and see the complete lineup of events:

Click here for more information:

--Scott Yoo, Music Director

Meet the Music Family Concert at Princeton University Concerts
Princeton University Concerts' annual family concert for kids ages 6-12 returns to the Richardson Auditorium stage, Princeton, NJ, on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 1PM. This year's "Meet the Music" program, brought by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center featuring original music by composer and host Bruce Adolphe, is a musical telling of Paul Goble's beloved story, "The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses."

Featuring guests from Princeton Girlchoir, the concert will introduce kids to the joys of live chamber music through telling the exciting tale of a Native American girl who runs away from home to be with wild horses, animals to whom she is mystically drawn. Musicians from The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center include flutist Sooyun Kim, clarinetist Romie de Guise-Langlois, violinists Francisco Fullana and Grace Park, cellist Mihai Marica, pianist David Kaplan, and percussionist Eduardo Leandro.

Tickets just $5 kids/$10 adults, at  609-258-9220 and

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

World Music Institute Presents the Mongolian Band Anda Union
Anda Union is a powerhouse ensemble combining the far-reaching styles of traditional folk music across Mongolia into new and engaging sounds.

Saturday, March 30, 2019, 8:00 p.m., Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center, 129 W 67th Street, Manhattan. Tickets: $25 - $35.

Anda Union's thoroughly addictive presentation of Mongolian musical styles from all across Inner Mongolia is a reflection of their roots. Hailing from different ethnic nomadic cultures, each of the nine members of the band brings their tribal and music traditions to the group. Anda Union combines a wide range of musical instruments and vocal styles, resulting in a fusion of which Genghis Khan himself would have been proud. Keenly aware of the threat to the Grasslands and their age-old Mongolian culture, Anda Union fights for the survival of this endangered way of life by keeping the essence of its music alive.

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

American Bach Soloists Announce Their 2019-2020 Season
Now beginning our fourth decade, we offer a redesigned season built to give you, our audiences, more of what you love from ABS! Let music Captivate your soul. Celebrate our new season with us at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and cultivate your love for the extraordinary music of the Baroque.

Sunday, July 28, 2019, 4:00 p.m.: Opening Concert "Tis Nature's Voice"
Friday, August 2, 2019, 8:00 p.m.: "Treasures from Lyon"
Saturday, August 3, 2019, 7:00 p.m.: "Les Gouts Reunis"
Sunday, August 4, 2019, 4:00 p.m.: Bach: "Mass in B Minor"
Tuesday, August 6, 2019, 7:00 p.m.: "Bach Explorations I: Bach to Bluegrass & Beyond"
Wednesday, August 7, 2019, 7:00 p.m.: "Bach Explorations II: Bach Re-imagined"
Thursday, August 8 & Friday, August 9, 2019, 8:00 p.m.: Handel: Terpsicore and Lotti:  "Mass for Three Choirs"
Sunday, August 11, 2019, 4:00 p.m.: Bach: "Mass in B Minor"

In addition, there are free concerts and events.

For complete information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Goode, Honeck, and the NY Philharmonic Celebrate Mozart
What a wonderful harbinger of Spring - the always inspiring Richard Goode, Manfred Honeck, and the New York Philharmonic celebrating Mozart and the new season with a Mozart program that's sure to be memorable. It includes two great works from the composer's last year, 1791 - the B-flat Piano Concerto, K. 595 and the Requiem, K. 624.

The New York Times has selected this as one of the top classical concerts in New York: March 13, 15, 16 and 19.

"It's always a treat to hear the pianist Richard Goode, whose playing is invariably a revelation." --New York Times

--Frank Salomon Associates, Inc.

Nu Deco Ensemble to Perform at the Arsht Center
Nu Deco will continue their fourth season with a concert at The Arsht Center on April 18, featuring multifaceted musician Ben Folds and singer/actress Kimbra, who performed on Gotye's smash hit "Somebody That I Used To Know." The performance will also include Aaron Copland's Billy the Kid Suite and a new symphonic suite of music by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Bill Withers.

Additionally, Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak will join Nu Deco to perform composer William Brittelle's series of electro-acoustic songs, Spiritual America, which explores the issues of secular spirituality in American culture.

Tickets for The Arsht can be purchased at Nu Deco Ensemble's Web site. For more information about Nu Deco Ensemble's fourth season, and to purchase tickets for all upcoming performances, please visit their website at

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Happy Hour Concerts: Hidden Treasures
Jeunesses Musicales Canada (JMC) invites music lovers to their Happy Hour Concerts, a golden opportunity to hear the best emerging artists in the classical world in a casual atmosphere, while sipping on a glass of wine after work.

Starting at 6:15 p.m., JMC partner RéZin offers a selection of wines. Then, at 7 p.m., the audience is in for a little over an hour of music, including commentary by the artists, in a intimate venue with impeccable acoustics. Don't miss this unique occasion, taking place at Joseph Rouleau Hall, located at 305, Avenue du Mont-Royal Est, in Montréal, just a few steps from the Mont-Royal metro station.

Sounds & Scenery, April 3, 2019
Lara Deutsch, flute; Emily Belvedere, harp

In Sounds & Scenery, Duo Kalysta will perform works directly inspired by scenes in nature and art, as well as share the unique stories behind each one of them. This program features classic repertoire for the flute and harp while also highlighting a few remarkable works by Canadian composers, including R. Murray Schafer and Jocelyn Morlock.

For more information, visit

France Gaignard, Jeunesses Musicales Canada

American Classical Orchestra Announces Winner of Sfzp International Fortepiano Competition
American Classical Orchestra (ACO) announces that David Belkovski, current Masters of Music in Historical Performance student at The Juilliard School, has been named winner of the first annual Sfzp International Fortepiano Competition co-sponsored by American Classical Orchestra and the Academy of Fortepiano Performance in Hunter, New York. Second prize has been awarded to University of Michigan student Gabriel Merrill-Steskal and an Honorable Mention to Cornell University student Shin Hwang.

The final round of the Sfzp International Fortepiano Competition took place on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at the Ethical Culture Society in NYC and was judged by ACO Music Director and Founder Thomas Crawford and lauded fortepianists Malcolm Bilson, Steven Lubin, Dongsok Shin, Yi-heng Yang, and Eric Zivian. In addition to a $5,000 cash prize, David Belkovski will be awarded an appearance as featured soloist with the American Classical Orchestra during its 2019-20 season at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall; a solo appearance on the opening concert of the Academy of Fortepiano Performance in Hunter, New York; and a professional concert engagement at the Valley of the Moon Music Festival in Sonoma, California in summer 2019. Second prize winner Gabriel Merrill-Steskal be awarded a $2,500 cash prize, as well as a solo appearance on the opening concert of the Academy of Fortepiano Performance.

All five final round finalists (David Belkovski, Shin Hwang, Gabriel Merrill-Steskal, Mao Omori, and Yuehan Wang) will receive a full scholarship to the Academy of Fortepiano Performance in Hunter, New York, to take place May 25 – June 2, 2019.

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

The "Rain" Is Coming... a World Premiere from the Creators of As One
Today It Rains is a new chamber opera inspired by a real event in the life of American artist Georgia O'Keeffe. On the rainy morning of April 29, 1929, O'Keeffe boarded a train in New York with fellow artist Rebecca Strand, leaving behind her tumultuous marriage with Alfred Stieglitz and yearning for escape and creative fulfillment. Three days later, she arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, inspired by the power of the area's landscape and ready for a new artistic experience.

The 90-minute work that imagines this life event will be performed by a cast of eight singers and an instrumental ensemble of eleven, and will feature a sophisticated projection design, including 'film arias' created by Kimberly Reed and Brian Staufenbiel. While taking its inspiration from this singular artist's journey, the story will resonate with anyone who seeks creative freedom and is transformed by the beauty of Nature. Today It Rains is a courageous woman's story and an independent artist's story. It is also a uniquely American story.

Thursday, March 28, at 7:30 pm
Friday, March 29, at 7:30 pm
Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 pm
Sunday, March 31, at 2 pm
ZSpace, 450 Florida St, San Francisco, CA

Co-commissioned by Opera Parallèle and American Opera Projects.
For more information, visit

--American Opera Projects

ASPECT Foundation for Music and Arts Presents "Archduke Rudolph: Beethoven's Pupil and Patron"
The ASPECT Foundation for Music & Arts continues its third New York City season of illuminating performances with Archduke Rudolf: Beethoven's Pupil and Patron on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 7:30pm at Bohemian National Hall. Russian-American pianist and conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn is joined by violinist Korbinian Altenberger and cellist Na-Young Baek for a program of works Beethoven dedicated to his most significant patron and composition student, Archduke Rudolf of Austria: the Violin Sonata No.10 in G major, Op.96 and Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97 "Archduke."

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 7:30pm
Bohemian National Hall | 321 E 73rd St. | New York, NY
Tickets: $45 includes wine and refreshments

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Pianist Inga Fiolia's U.S. Debut
German-Georgian pianist Inga Fiolia will make her U.S. debut in a recital at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center, NYC, on Monday, April 29, 2019, at 7 p.m. She will perform works by Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Glinka, Rachmaninov, and Tsintsadse.

Ms. Fiolia, a recipient of the Solti Award and German Piano Magazine´s Piano News Prize, has made recent solo debut appearances at prestigious venues such as London's St. Martin in the Fields, the Allerheilige Hofkirche in Munich, Schloss Mirabell in Salzburg, and Hamamatsu Philharmonic Hall in Tokyo.

Her recent discography includes two recordings of Mikhail Glinka´s complete piano works: "Piano Variations" (2017), and "Dances" (2018), on Naxos´s Grand Piano label. International Piano Magazine said about Ms. Fiolia, "This superb artist understands the art in making the instrument a total musical experience for the listener. …here, one finds grace, charm and again beautiful singing tone for its own sake." Her latest recording, "24 Preludes by Georgian composer Sulkhan Tsintsadze," has just been released (2019).

For more about Inga Fiolia, visit

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

Collage New Music Announces Final Concert of 47th Season
Collage New Music announces the last concert of their 47th season, to be held at the Pickman Hall at Longy School of Bard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at 8pm.

Each performance includes a 7PM pre-concert, talk with the composers and music director, as well as a post-concert reception. Individual tickets and season subscriptions may be purchased through the group's web site. Student and senior discounts are available.

Concert Three Information:
Sunday, March 31, 2019
7:00PM (pre-talk), Concert 8:00PM- 10:00PM

For complete information, visit

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Celesta PR

Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja Makes Debut
One of the most highly-anticipated debuts of Princeton University Concerts' 125th anniversary season has finally arrived! On Thursday, March 28 at 8PM we welcome violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and pianist Polina Leschenko to Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ, for a program of works by Bartók, Enescu, Poulenc, and Ravel.

This wild-child of the violin, a "player of rare expressive energy and disarming informality, of whimsy and theatrical ambition," (The New York Times) has exploded onto the international scene in recent years with an untamable energy and a far-reaching approach to repertoire that runs from baroque and classical to commissions and reimagined modern masterpieces, earning her countless awards and nominations, including a recent Grammy award.

For more information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Announcing Season 2 of the Angel's Share
The acclaimed series will return to the Catacombs of The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, presented by Death of Classical and Green-Wood, curated by Andrew Ousley.

Performances include a fully-staged production of Purcell's Dido & Aeneas starring Daniela Mack, baroque ensemble Voyage Sonique, pianists Adam Tendler and Jenny Lin playing Liszt's Poetic and Religious Harmonies, and the String Orchestra of Brooklyn playing Pergolesi's Stabat Mater with video projections along the Catacombs

Each performance includes a pre-concert reception with a whiskey tasting overlooking the Manhattan skyline and harbor at sunset.

Ticket holders must be 21 years or older. Tickets are $85, $80 for Green-Wood Historic Fund and Brooklyn Historical Society members ($80 and $75 for Burgers, Bourbon & Beethoven). To purchase tickets, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 11 "The Year 1905" (CD Review)

Andris Nelsons, Boston Symphony Orchestra. DG B0028595-02.

By Karl W. Nehring

If you paid much attention to the recent Grammy Awards you would already know that this two-CD set from DG was honored not only as the best classical recording of 2018 but also as the best-engineered classical recording of 2018. Of course, there was the time that the Grammy for Best Heavy Metal Album was bestowed upon Jethro Tull, so perhaps we might want to consider this Shostakovich recording a little more closely before automatically running out -- or more likely these days, sitting down at our keyboards -- to pick up a copy.

Shostakovich composed his Fourth Symphony in 1936 during the same time period when his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtesnsk District gained popularity with the public but disfavor from the Communist party. The composer, fearing for the safety of his family, tucked the manuscript away. It finally received its premier in Moscow in 1961.

It is a large symphony, in many ways a brash symphony, not the kind of work that most of us can just casually audition and immediately be drawn in. Indeed, although I have owned several recordings over the years, I never heard one that I can really say that I liked. The music always just sounded too hard, too brittle, both in performance but also in sound. I had a Haitink version on CD for quite some time, and a Jarvi, but they got taken to the used-CD store to be traded in during one of my infrequent shelf purges (poor Shostakovich!) when I would rid myself of CDs that I had little or no interest in ever playing again. I had subsequently added to my collection a version led by Ormandy, but seldom played it -- it was part of a set that also included the Tenth, which I was much more inclined to listen to on the rare occasions that I pulled that particular boxed set off the shelf.

Andris Nelsons
However, as an avid Shostakovich fan I could never quite get the Fourth out of my mind, so when this new recording appeared, I decided to give the piece a fresh hearing. What a revelation! No longer did it strike my ears as hard and brittle. Brash, yes, but in a bold and exciting way. From the opening notes, the music just pulled me in, with a warm sound that was both powerful and deep. At less than half a minute into the work, the sheer power of the music and recording are already made mightily manifest -- my goodness, what a bold introduction!

The mood of the Fourth is martial. This is music of conflict, turmoil, heat, passion, and power. As intense as his Fifth, Eighth, and Tenth Symphonies might be, it is the Fourth that captures Shostakovich at his most powerful and passionate. Like Mahler on steroids washed down with Red Bull. The liner notes refer to the work as "immense, confident, and extroverted." The conductor, orchestra, and recording engineers have done their best to underline that assertion. If you are a fan of Shostakovich and/or of Mahler, this recording is something you must hear.

The Eleventh Symphony, subtitled "The Year 1905," was composed in 1957, when the USSR was observing the 40th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. There had been an uprising in 1905 that came to be regarded as a kind of "dress rehearsal" for 1917, so Shostakovich composed a symphony that reworked the melodies of some revolutionary workers' songs plus a couple of songs that he had previously written as part of his 1951 composition, Ten Poems. Although there is still an undercurrent of tension in this music, the overall mood is more subdued that in the Fourth.

Indeed, the Eleventh could almost be taken for a movie soundtrack. It is moody, reflective, occasionally flaring up into a kind of smoldering tension. Overall, it is easier to listen to than the Fourth, but not as rewarding. Still, it is an interesting symphony, well recorded, and certainly a worthy disc-mate to the Fourth. Both symphonies were recorded in concert performance, but there is thankfully no audience distraction to be heard.

Whether this release truly is the best classical performance and recording of the year is an open question, but there is no doubt that it is certainly in solid contention for both honors. To listen to it on a good system is an ear- and mind-opening experience not to be missed by Shostakovich fans (and those whose could be).


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

Respighi: Roman Trilogy (CD review)

Roman Festivals; Fountains of Rome; Pines of Rome. JoAnn Falletta, Buffalo Philharmonic. Naxos 8.574013.

Here's an interesting observation to begin: In this day and age when due to financial concerns most of the world's great orchestras find it difficult to produce many recordings (and when they do, they're most often live performances), the Buffalo Philharmonic under the guidance of conductor JoAnn Falletta continues to turn out a stream of excellent performances with the Naxos label. What have they discovered up there in Buffalo that most everybody else is missing? I dunno. But we should not look a gift horse (or buffalo) in the mouth; we're lucky that Ms. Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic are as good as they are.

Anyway, the Italian composer, violinist, and musicologist Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) is probably best known today for his trio of lavishly orchestrated tone poems describing various famous places in Italy, the three works on this disc now known as the "Roman Trilogy." Of course, he wrote quite a lot more, but these three pieces so overshadow the others, the lesser works tend to get forgotten.

Even though Respighi wrote the Fountains of Rome first (1917), Ms. Falletta has chosen to open the agenda with the Feste roman ("Roman Festivals") the last of the trilogy, which Respighi wrote in 1928. For me these are the least-successful parts of the trilogy. Respighi appears to have been trying to outdo himself in the work, and the music becomes more than a little hectic and bombastic as a result. I can only assume Ms. Falletta begins the show with it because it's so brash, and it acts as a sort of overture or curtain-raiser. The music is about as loud and forward as it can be, yet even so Ms. Falletta finds her way to make it all seem more meaningful than it really is, being especially careful to cultivate a refined attitude throughout.

Next, we get the Fountains of Rome (1916), the work that started it all and containing some of the more festive, colorful, and descriptive of the tone poems. Each of the four movements describes a celebrated fountain in Rome, the music, as in the other works, playing without a break. We hear noises of the country, noises of the city, noises of mystical creatures, and noises of crowds, among many other things, the music finally fading away into silence as night falls.

JoAnn Falletta
Ms. Falletta carefully draws out the morning beauty of the opening "Fountain of Valle Guilia at Dawn." It's never too rushed and the contrasts in light and shadow are nicely accentuated. The "Triton Fountain" fairly bursts forth, although, again, not overly dramatically so. Ms. Falletta contains herself, never vulgarizing the music and, thus, making it all the more effective. She takes "The Trivi Fountain at Midday" at a triumphant gait, and she manages the closing "Villa Medici Fountain at Sunset" in a solemn yet stately manner.

The disc's program ends with possibly Respighi's most-popular work, the Pines of Rome ((1924). It opens with a big splash of color in "The Pines of the Villa Borghese," which Ms. Falletta treats in suitably bright, flamboyant fashion, while never trivializing or debasing it. The second movement, "Pines Near a Catacomb," is initially bleak until Respighi opens it up to a more sincere melancholy and finally a kind of regal dirge. Ms. Falletta maintains each of the varying moods without the piece sounding routine or overstaying its welcome. After that, she makes the third movement, the "Juniculum" pines, with its song of the nightingale, as sweetly appealing as any I've heard, the atmosphere easygoing and composed. It is a prelude, really, to the big finale, the "Pines of the Appian Way," maybe the single most-famous thing Respighi ever wrote. The march of ancient Roman soldiers as they return home in triumph along the Appian Way interrupts the tranquility of Nature and the chirping of birds (yes, Respighi left instructions for real bird sounds here). Ms. Falletta maintains a strong control of the march tempo as the steps of the soldiers get increasingly more pronounced and more insistent. It's a splendid production all the way around.

Producer and engineer Tim Handley recorded the music at Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York in May and June 2018. Starting with the "Roman Festivals" was not only a good curtain raiser, it was a good way to show off the disc's sound. This is one of the most well-rounded sounding recordings I think I've ever heard from Naxos. The sound is well spread out across the speakers; and it's very dynamic and wide ranging. There is a solid bass response present that most engineers are content to dampen for fear, I suppose, of offending some listeners (or blowing up their speakers or earbuds). Although the sound gets a little muddled in the loudest passages, the impact, depth, and clarity are impressive. This is sound worthy of Respighi's music.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, March 9, 2019

Boundary-Breaking Time for Three Performs April 7

Giving audiences a wide variety of music to enjoy, Time for Three performs Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m., presented by the Music Institute of Chicago. Nichols Concert Hall is located at 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois.

The young, dynamic trio—violinist/vocalist Nicolas (Nick) Kendall, violinist/vocalist Charles Yang, and double bassist/vocalist Ranaan Meyer—breaks boundaries with its performances and defies traditional genre classification, performing works from Bach to Brahms to bluegrass to the Beatles, giving world premieres by Pulitzer Prize winners William Bolcom and Jennifer Higdon, as well as playing originals and their own arrangements of everything from folk tunes to ingenious mash-ups of hits by Kanye West, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, and more.

Time for Three performs Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, Il.

Admission is $50 for VIP seating, $40 for adults, $25 for senior citizens, and $15 for students.
Tickets are available at or by calling 800.838.3006.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

NYOA Presents the Fourth Annual New York Opera Fest
New York Opera Alliance (NYOA), a consortium of New York opera companies and producers, presents the fourth annual New York Opera Fest (, a two-month celebration of opera on an unprecedented scale that takes place throughout May and June, with over 20 New York City-based companies large and small, putting on over 25 events in venues around the city, with the Fest kicking off on April 29 at Marc Scorca Hall.

NYOA is excited to announce the return of FestTix: $25 tickets that grant access to a number of the Fest's productions. FestTix will be on sale April 1 through May 1 on the New York Opera Fest website:

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Alexander Melnikov & Andreas Staier at Princeton University Concerts
Princeton University Concerts is thrilled to bring back pianist Alexander Melnikov, who gave a jaw-dropping PUC debut in 2016 playing the complete Shostakovich preludes and fugues in our annual Paderewski Memorial Concert. He returns on Thursday, March 14 at 8PM with fellow keyboard maven Andreas Staier for a gloriously intimate program of Schubert's music for piano four-hands, including the beloved Fantasie in F Minor.

A program-illuminating talk by Professor Emeritus Scott Burnham is free to all ticketholders, at 7PM. Tickets are $10-$55 at  609-258-9220 or

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Bach's Masterpiece - Saint Matthew Passion
American Bach Soloists and Jeffrey Thomas, "unsurpassable as a Bach interpreter" (San Francisco Classical Voice), have become closely associated with Bach's masterpiece, the Saint Matthew Passion. Their emotionally stirring performances are unforgettable.

The experience of their 2012 performances of an early version of the work made a profound impact on audiences and critics alike. "I am so grateful I was there," one patron excitedly proclaimed. SFCV also remarked that the work, "when cleansed of much historical baggage, shone as new. Thanks to Thomas and ABS for such a profoundly beautiful, moving evening."

Returning to its more familiar form this season, Thomas will direct the Saint Matthew Passion with his distinctive focus on musical detail, transparent textures, direct expression, and intense intimacy. ABS and the American Bach Choir will be joined by ten superb vocal soloists.

Friday March 22 2019 7:00 p.m. • St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA
Saturday March 23 2019 7:00 p.m. • First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday March 24 2019 4:00 p.m. • St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
Monday March 25 2019 7:00 p.m. • Davis Community Church, Davis, CA

For complete information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Piatigorsky International Cello Festival
Following the unprecedented success of the previous Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in 2016, which welcomed more than 5,300 Festival attendees, the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and the Los Angeles Philharmonic have announced the third iteration of this truly unparalleled, 10-day, 42-event Festival, will take place from March 13-22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

Bringing together masters of the cello and young cellists from around the world, this remarkable celebration of the cello, its music and musicians will present more than 30 renowned international artists representing 15 countries and four continents.  The Festival will also feature the world premieres of several newly commissioned compositions.

For more information about the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, go to

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Australian Chamber Orchestra 2019 U.S. Tour
In late March, The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) will return to the US for a two-week tour of North America where it will present eight concerts over 15 days in New York, Boston, Northern and Southern California, New Jersey, Virginia and Indiana. On the ACO's first return to the United States in nearly three years, "the finest chamber orchestra on earth" (The Telegraph) will be joined by internationally renowned pianists Paul Lewis and Inon Barnatan at New York's Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA and a list of eminent US concert halls (see complete dates below.)

The ACO will perform three different program compilations comprised of JS Bach's The Art of Fugue, Mozart's Piano Concerto No.12 and Violin Concerto No.3 (featuring Artistic Director Richard Tognetti as soloist) and Beethoven's String Quartet, Op.130 and Grosse Fuge, Op.133.

On this 19th visit to the US, the ACO will also present the US premiere of Samuel Adams's Movements (for us and them). Commissioned by the ACO and Stanford Live, the Adams piece had its world premiere in a critically-acclaimed national tour across Australia, including multiple sell-out performances in Sydney and Melbourne, in June 2018. Of that performance, the Canberra Times praised Samuel Adams's Movements (for us and them), saying "the performance stole the show…Adams' work creates in sound music on which to balance the weight of the world.  I was moved by the subtle emotional power of this new work."

For complete information, visit

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Handel and Haydn Society Chorus Makes New York Philharmonic Debut
In December 2019, the Boston-based Handel and Haydn Society Chorus, celebrated for its internationally-renowned ensemble of singers, will make its New York Philharmonic debut and first Lincoln Center appearance in more than two decades as the featured voices of Handel's immortal Messiah, led by acclaimed English conductor Harry Bicket and featuring four of the world's most highly regarded rising soloists.  Under artistic director Harry Christophers, the Handel and Haydn Society Chorus has been praised extensively for its "dynamics, counterpoint, expression...all confident and crisp" (The Boston Globe) and "internationally respected for its precision and ability to make complex polyphony speak in the most cavernous of halls" (Boston Music Intelligencer).

David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center
Tuesday, December 17, 2019 at 7:30 PM
Wednesday, December 18, 2019 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, December 19, 2019 at 7:30 PM
Friday, December 20, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 7:30 PM

For more information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates Inc.

Northbrook Symphony Features Susan Merdinger in Brahms Piano Concerto
Celebrate Romanticism!
Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 4 pm
Guest Artist: Susan Merdinger, Piano

The program opens with the splendor of Glazunov's Wedding March, Op. 21 followed by the majestic sweep of Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2, a monumental, 4-movement "Symphony for Piano and Orchestra." After intermission enjoy the Glazunov works of Four Dances from Raymonda, Suite from Ruses d'Amour and Cortege Solenelle, Op. 89 No. 2.

This performance marks the first appearance of renowned pianist Susan Merdinger with the NSO.

For more information, visit

--Northbrook Symphony Orchestra

Wet Ink Ensemble Celebrates 20th Anniversary
On Monday, April 1st, 2019 at 8:00pm, the "sublimely exploratory" (The Chicago Reader) Wet Ink Ensemble, named The New York Times's "Best Ensemble of 2018," celebrates 20 years of adventurous music-making in a concert at Roulette Intermedium.

The anniversary bash celebrates the work of the Wet Ink Ensemble's four acclaimed composer members--Alex Mincek, Sam Pluta, Kate Soper, and Eric Wubbels--and features a retrospective look at "classics" of Wet Ink's repertoire, including Alex Mincek's From Nowhere to Nowhere and Kate Soper's Door, as well as new sounds including Sam Pluta's binary/momentary iii for solo cello featuring Mariel Roberts and the world premiere of a new work for Wet Ink's core septet of composer-performers by Eric Wubbels. Rounding out the program, the ensemble will perform Julien Malaussena's dynamic quintet Concerning Articulated Sound Energy.

Wet Ink: 20th Anniversary Bash
Monday, April 1st, 2019 at 8:00pm
Roulette | 509 Atlantic Avenue | Brooklyn, NY 11217
Tickets: $18 in advance, $25 at the door.

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Savannah Music Festival Announces Violinist Daniel Hope's Final Season
The 2019 Savannah Music Festival (SMF) will be the 16th and final season for violinist Daniel Hope as Associate Artistic Director. For the 2020 season, he will be succeeded by violist/conductor Philip Dukes, who will serve as SMF Artistic Advisor (Chamber Music).

Mr. Hope's career has grown extensively alongside SMF. Due to his current Music Director posts (Zurich Chamber Orchestra and San Francisco's New Century Chamber Orchestra), an Artistic Directorship of the Frauenkirche Cathedral in Dresden and a worldwide touring schedule, Mr. Hope has decided to reduce the amount of international travel time to which he is obligated. In his own words: "Giving up making music every year for Savannah audiences is not something I do lightly. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to be a part of the SMF. Working with the entire team for almost 16 years has inspired me to new heights.

Having said that, we intend to make the 30th anniversary season the best it has ever been. And with the appointment of my great friend and longtime collaborator Philip Dukes as Artistic Advisor for 2020, SMF audiences can rest assured that chamber music programming will continue in the same collaborative spirit which we have enjoyed so successfully."

For more information visit

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet

A Taste of Spain in Beaver Creek
Get a taste of Spain in Beaver Creek with Spanish guitar legend Pablo Sainz Villegas, Monday, March 11, 7pm at the VPAC in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

During an intimate evening see worldwide sensation known as this generation's great guitarist and "the soul of the Spanish guitar." He is known for his passionate, emotive and open-hearted playing. He's certainly charmed audiences around the globe, playing on many of the most prestigious stages including Carnegie Hall, Philharmonie in Berlín and Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In the USA he has performed with the symphonic orchestras of New York, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati.

Joining Villegas is Nacho Arimany, known as one of Spain's most sought-after Flamenco percussionists; as well as Pedro Giraudo, a highly versatile bassist, composer, conductor and arranger.  He is also a member of several prominent ensembles ranging from tango to jazz.

For more informaiton, visit

--Ruthie Hamrick, Vilar Performing Arts Center

A Devastating Effect
American Opera Projects presents a special preview of The Interaction Effect.

Mikaela, a senior statistics major at a liberal arts college, just wants to forget the night her friend Adam raped her at a college party, and her school administration's painful mishandling of her assault. But when Mikaela learns that Adam has assaulted another student—a sophomore too scared to report the assault—she is forced to confront her community and administration's desire to ignore campus sexual assault.

Fresh from their fellowships in the most recent season of AOP's Composers & the Voice opera training program, Pamela and Laura's new opera is an original story filled with humanity, complexity, and raw emotion that gives voice to those women who have been pressured not to have one.

Sunday, March 24
Reception to follow

Marc Scorca Hall at the National Opera Center
330 7th Avenue, 7th floor NY, NY 10001

$20 General/$10 Seniors & Students
For more information, visit

--American Opera Projects

New York Festival of Song
On Thursday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m., NYFOS NEXT--the moveable modern song salon from the "indefatigable art-song devotees" (The New Yorker) at New York Festival of Song--features Kate Soper & Friend" at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Guggenheim fellow, and Radcliffe alum, Kate Soper's music has been described as "exquisitely quirky" (The New York Times) and "epic" (WQXR). As a performer, she has been praised as a "dazzling vocalist" (The New Yorker) and likened to "Lucille Ball reinterpreted by Linda Blair" (Pitchfork).

For her first curatorship with NYFOS Next, Kate hosts, performs in, and delivers a program that delves into the wonderfully treacherous landscape of the human voice when combined with electronics.

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Julia Bullock to Host Opera Programs on ALL ARTS
Vocalist Julia Bullock will be the host of opera programming on the new ALL ARTS broadcast channel and streaming platform. Bullock has been hailed by Vanity Fair as "one of opera's fastest-rising stars," and according to The New York Times, she "has anchored some of the most innovative performances of recent years." The Julliard-trained soprano now has a vast international career, which includes a San Francisco Opera debut and the starring role in Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine--a musical portrait of Josephine Baker that she developed in collaboration with Peter Sellars.

ALL ARTS is the newly launched multi-media arts platform from WNET, parent company of New York's PBS stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV. The free streaming app, website and TV station (available over the air and cable in the New York area) offer viewers access to a wide array of arts content 24/7. The programming highlights both emerging and established art and artists, across a wide range of genres including dance, film, literature, music, theater, visual art, and design. Along with acquired programs from around the globe, the platform also features new original programs, archival programs mined from WNET's 50-year history of arts broadcasting, and PBS programs relevant to the ALL ARTS audience.

For more information, visit

--Titi Oluwo, ALL ARTS

Eighth Blackbird Performs in San Antonio
Formed, originally, in 1996, Eighth Blackbird will be performing in San Antonio on March 10 at 3:15pm, at Temple Beth-El, 211 Belknap Place.

Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as "one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet," the group consists of six former Oberlin Conservatory students. They quickly became "a brand name defined by adventure, vibrancy and quality." (Detroit Free Press)

Over the course of more than two decades, Eighth Blackbird continually pushes at the edges of what it means to be a contemporary chamber ensemble, presenting distinct programs nationally, and internationally, reaching audiences numbering in the tens of thousands.

For more information, visit

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Brahms Finale Concludes Orion's Season
The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, concludes its 26th season with "A Brahms Finale," joined by guest violinist Mathias Tacke and guest violist Stephen Boe.

Performances take place May 5 at Chapelstreet Church in Geneva; May 15 at the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago; and May 19 at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Illinois.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, The Orion Ensemble

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.

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.

Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to both its equipment and recordings review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me — point out recordings that they 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 Marantz CD 6007 and Onkyo CD 7030 CD players, NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, 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.
The reader will find Classical Candor's Mission Statement, Staff Profiles, and contact information ( toward the bottom of each page.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Writer

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. 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 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. Most recently I’ve moved to my “ultimate system” consisting of a BlueSound Node streamer, an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a CD transport, Legacy Wavelet DAC/preamp/crossover, Tandberg 2016A and Legacy PowerBloc2 amps, and Legacy Signature SE speakers (biamped), all connected with decently made, no-frills cables. With the arrival of CD and higher resolution streaming, that is now the source for most of my listening.

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

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

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa