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

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa