Classical Music News of the Week, May 11, 2019

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space's Choral Classics Series Closes With Early Handel and Late Haydn

The program pairs Handel's Dixit Dominus with Haydn's Harmoniemesse, May 22 at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, New York City.

On Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 8pm, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space presents the final installment in its Choral Classics series at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, with a program featuring Handel's Dixit Dominus and Haydn's Harmoniemesse. Soloists include soprano Wendy Baker, mezzo-soprano Kate Maroney, tenor John Tiranno, and baritone Neil Netherly. SMSS Artistic Director K. Scott Warren leads the Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola and the Parish Community Choir. Tickets are $20-$80; purchase by calling 212-288-2520 or visit

The concert program is a study in contrasts, juxtaposing a very early work of Handel's, Dixit Dominus, with Harmoniemesse, Haydn's final work. Handel composed Dixit Dominus when he was just 22 (three decades before Messiah) and living in Rome, steeped in the sounds of the Italian Baroque. The work is scored for five soloists, five-part chorus, and string orchestra, and reflects Handel's youth and passion in its energy and virtuosic writing for all vocalists and violins in particular. The remarkably high vocal writing contributes to the sense of urgency and violence of the text. Handel's flair for the dramatic in Dixit Dominus anticipates his later, longer oratorios and operas.

Haydn's Mass in B-flat major, also known as Harmoniemesse, on the other hand, represents Haydn at the end of a long and illustrious career, at 70 years old. Scored for four soloists, four-part chorus, and a relatively large orchestra for the Classical period.

--Caroline Heaney, Bucklesweet

April Showers Bring...
Between weeks of recording sessions, concerts, and gearing up for a full summer of activity (yes, summer is nearly here), we wanted to take a moment to check in and share what we've been busy with and what is to come. This month, we're sharing stories from the latest country we have connected with for recording sessions, new music from Navona and Ravello Records, composer conversations, and much more.

PARMA and the London Symphony Orchestra:
With a mid-spring mist pervading the air, PARMA Art Director Ryan Harrison exited the tube and stepped out into his first experience of London, where he met up with Bob Lord and composer John A. Carollo. Their mission? To record John's symphony with the world-renowned London Symphony Orchestra.

To read more, visit

--Bob Lord, PARMA Recordings

Courtney Bryan's Sanctum and Shostakovich 5
The Chelsea Symphony's (TCS) May 18 &19 concerts, "Rebirth," of their 2018-2019 season "Resolution" which reflects on social action, features the great controversial work, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, called by the composer "a Soviet artist's creative response to just criticism."

Dmitri Shostakovich premiered his Symphony No. 5 in 1937 in Leningrad. The work, particularly the fourth movement, utilizes musical material from his own song, Vozrozhdenije, composed just before the symphony, which sets a poem by Alexander Pushkin commonly known as "Rebirth," which is the inspiration for this concert series title. The denunciation of his work by the Soviet government is well documented, however, and what follows the premiere is mired in controversy.

Beginning both concerts is Courtney Bryan's Sanctum, originally written for the American Composers Orchestra in 2015. The work by the New Orleans native is for orchestra and recorded sound and explores the sonic atmospheres of improvisation in Holiness-preaching traditions.

Saturday, May 18 at 8pm amd Sunday, May 19 at 2pm
The Chelsea Symphony, conducted by Reuben Blundell and Nell Flanders
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music (450 West 37th Street, NYC)
$25 reserved premium general seating on sale at Eventbrite.
$20 suggested donation seating available at the door.

For more information, visit

--Elizabeth Holub, Chelsea Symphony

New Century Announces 2019-2020 Season
Music Director Daniel Hope and New Century Chamber Orchestra today announced its 2019-2020 season increasing its offerings to five subscription weeks in venues across the San Francisco Bay Area.

American pianist Simone Dinnerstein appears as the ensemble's artist-in-residence, including an evening of Bach Keyboard Concerti highlighted by the Brandenburg No. 5 in D Major BWV 1050, education and outreach activities in the Bay Area community and a two-day event entitled "Beethoven in the Presidio." As part of the world-wide celebrations of Ludwig van Beethoven's 250th birthday, New Century will present a two-day event at the newly-renovated Presidio Theatre, showcasing selected Beethoven orchestral and chamber masterworks in two unique programs. The orchestral program, which will also receive an additional evening performance in Berkeley, highlights Simone Dinnerstein, Daniel Hope and cellist Lynn Harrell in Beethoven's Triple Concerto in C Major, Op. 56 while the chamber music program features all three artists in Beethoven's Piano Trio in E-Flat Major, Op. 1 No. 1.

Further season highlights include a Christmas celebration with internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter; an orchestral version of Ernest Chausson's Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet featuring Daniel Hope, 16-year-old American pianist Maxim Lando, and Guest Concertmaster Simos Papanas; and a repeat collaboration with the San Francisco Girls Chorus.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Grammy-Winning Choir, The Crossing, Premieres Aniara
Grammy-winning new music choir, The Crossing, performs the world premiere of Aniara: fragments of time and space, in five performances – Thursday, June 20, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, June 21, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, June 23, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. – at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Philadelphia.

Aniara: fragments of time and space is an epic collaboration developed by The Crossing, Klockriketeatern of Helsinki and American composer Robert Maggio over a period of three years, with artistic direction by Dan Henriksson and Donald Nally. The culmination of The Crossing's 2018-2019 season, Aniara is the ensemble's most ambitious theatrical project to date, featuring Beijing Opera-inspired choreography and dance by Antti Silvennoinen of Wusheng Company, costumes by Erika Turunen, scenic and lighting design by Joonas Tikkanen, and sound design by Paul Vasquez.

For further details, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Composer Laura Kaminsky Hosts and Curates an All-Female Premiere
On Tuesday, June 11 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—showcases Laura Kaminsky & Friends at the LGBT Community Center (The Center) in NYC.

This event is co-presented by NYFOS, 5BMF, and The Center in honor of Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.

Composer Laura Kaminsky curates a salon of songs with an all-women line-up of composers and librettists, featuring the world premiere of the song cycle "After Stonewall," with music by lesbian composers: Kaminsky, Jennifer Higdon, Laura Karpman, Paula Kimper, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, and new face on the scene, Kayla Cashetta, set to poems by Elaine Sexton. This work was commissioned by NYFOS and Five Boroughs Music Festival.

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Take PRIDE This Month with Six LGBTQ Operas
A Letter to East 11th Street, Paul's Case, Three Way, Before Night Falls.... AOP has long been a home for the creation of fearless and unabashed LGBTQ-themed operas. This month we are filled with pride to bring back two of our most groundbreaking works and four brand new mini-operas celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a massive turning point in LGBTQ civil rights and free expression.

We hope you will attend, speak out, march, and help support our creation of more of these important works.

For complete information, visit or

--American Opera Projects

World Premiere of Phil Kline's Florida Man
On Saturday, June 8 at 8:00 p.m., The String Orchestra of Brooklyn (SOB) returns to Roulette to perform world premieres of newly commissioned works by composers Phil Kline and Gregory Spears alongside a new arrangement of Julius Eastman's classic Gay Guerrilla. SOB's founder Eli Spindel conducts.

Phil Kline's Four Songs from Florida Man is a first-hearing of a song cycle-in-progress that features the otherworldly Grammy-nominated vocalist Theo Bleckmann, while Gregory Spears's Concerto for Two Trumpets and Strings features virtuosic trumpeters Brandon Ridenour and Andy Kozar.

Kline, long praised for his mastery of songwriting and found text, here reunites with one of his favorite collaborators and muses, Theo Bleckmann, for whom he wrote the song cycles Zippo Songs, Rumsfeld Songs, and Out Cold. Bleckmann says "Few composers write for voice so perfectly and set a lyric so movingly."

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

SF Girls Chorus Presents Two World Premiere Commissions
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) concludes its 40th anniversary season with two performances of From East to West on Saturday, June 8, 2019, 7:30 p.m. at Mission Dolores Basilica, San Francisco and Sunday, June 9, 2019, 4:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church, Berkeley.

Exploring texts from Eastern and Western poets and visionaries, the program highlights the ensemble's second and third world premiere performances of the season, including Three Parables by Richard Danielpour, an SFGC commission that features a debut appearance by harpist Bridget Kibbey, and The Love of Thousands by Reena Esmail, commissioned by Classical Movements through the Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program for SFGC. Persian classical and world music vocalist Mahsa Vahdat also makes her debut performing a selection of her own songs based on texts by 13th century poets, Rumi and Hafez, arranged for vocalist and girls chorus by Norwegian composer/arranger Tord Gustavsen. Completing the program are excerpts from Eric Banks's The Syrian Seasons, Frank Ferko's O nobilissima viriditas based on texts by Hildegaard von Bingen, and Stanzas in Meditation by Sarah Kirkland Snider.

Tickets range in price from $28 to $38, and can be purchased through City Box Office online at or by calling (415) 392-4400.

--Brenden Guy PR

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa