Classical Music News of the Week, September 21, 2019

World Premiere of Gavin Bryars's Evening-Length A Capella Work A Native Hill

Grammy-winning new-music choir The Crossing presents the world premiere of English composer Gavin Bryars's substantial new evening-length a cappella work, A Native Hill, on Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 5pm at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, PA.

The long-anticipated follow-up to Gavin Bryars's The Fifth Century, which won The Crossing its first Grammy award, A Native Hill sets texts by the American writer Wendell Berry from his 1968 essay of the same title offering meditations on how life can be experienced, with detailed descriptions of the minutiae of rural existence; where simple natural events reveal themselves as metaphors for universal truths. Bryars has been able to draw on his close working and personal relationship with The Crossing and his intimate knowledge of the singers' individual characteristics to create another meaningful work for the ensemble. The New York Times has called the music of Bryars "accessible and defiantly personal."

A Native Hill will launch The Crossing's domestic season, having just returned from Helsinki where they gave seven performances of Robert Maggio's Aniara: fragments of time and space at the Finnish National Opera, in collaboration with Helsinki's Klockriketeatern (Dan Henriksson, director).

Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill
8855 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118
Tickets: $35 General Admission, $25 Seniors, $20 Students.

For complete information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Statistics of Note
"In 2018 sales of classical music increased faster than any other type of music. Streaming rose 42 per cent. CDs are still 60 per cent of the market and sales rose by 6.9%"

--Boston Audio Society

"Classical music was the fastest-growing genre in 2018, figures released by the recording industry show. Buoyed by the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Katherine Jenkins, and cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, sales and streams increased by 10.2% compared to 2017. That compares favourably to the 5.7% rise in music consumption across all genres.

In fact, sales of classical CDs actually increased by 6.9% - bucking the downward trend in pop and rock. Streams also showed significant growth in 2018, rising 42% year-on-year, compared to a 33% rise in the overall market. Streaming now accounts for a quarter of classical consumption, lagging far behind the rest of the market, where the figure is 63.6%."

--BBC News

Miller Theatre Presents World Premiere of Hannah Lash's Desire
A flowering garden sets the scene for the world premiere of award-winning composer Hannah Lash's newest chamber opera. Written for a cast of three singers and string quartet, Desire grapples with the human, personal struggle of trusting oneself in the midst of doubt.

The score paints a lush sonic landscape, performed by the brilliant JACK Quartet (who will be on stage and costumed, and are the heartbeat of the opera), and transports audiences to this metaphoric garden of creativity. Hannah Lash and JACK have been collaborators for many years, most recently on the album "Filigree: The Music of Hannah Lash" (July 2019).

Desire continues a long tradition of chamber opera at Columbia University, and follows the much-hailed NY premiere of Proving Up by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek last year. It marks the second production of Miller Theatre's Chamber Opera Commissioning Initiative.

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Alain Lefèvre To Unveil New Compositions for the Benefit of Les Foyers de la Création
The acclaimed pianist Alain Lefèvre will unveil his new compositions at a recital for the benefit of Les Foyers de la Création. This event will be held under the honorary chairmanship of Isabelle Brais, First Lady of Quebec. The event will take place on Saturday, September 28 at 7:30 pm at Saint-Pierre Claver Church (2000 Saint-Joseph Boulevard East, Montreal).

Les Foyers de la Création is a permanent shelter and respite center working with adults with autistic adults and people living with an intellectual disability. Since its founding in 2012, it has helped more than 200 people and families by offering both a residential service and a day center.

For more information, visit

--France Gaignard

NYO Canada Teams Up with EUYO in Four Cities
The National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYO Canada) and the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) are joining forces for The Frenergy Tour, a landmark collaboration and celebration of music and friendship, featuring a combined total of 76 outstanding young musicians. Acclaimed Viennese conductor Sascha Goetzel leads the four-city tour, with music by Rossini, Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky, and Wagner, as well as Canadian composer John Estacio's Frenergy for orchestra, connoting both friendship and frenetic energy! Fast-rising violinist and NYO Canada alumnus Blake Pouliot is featured as guest soloist. This ground-breaking tour, including concerts in Toronto, Kingston, Montreal, and Ottawa, is made possible by the European Union Delegation to Canada.

Toronto: Tuesday, November 12, 7:30 pm - Koerner Hall
Kingston: Wednesday, November 13, 7:30 pm - Isabel Bader Centre
Montreal: Thursday, November 14, 7:30 pm - Notre-Dame Basilica
Ottawa: Sunday, November 17, 3:00 pm - National Arts Centre

For complete information, visit

--Shira Gilbert PR

Berkeley Symphony Announces Strategic Realignments
Berkeley Symphony and Board President S. Shariq Yosufzai today announced a strategic realignment of key artistic and executive responsibilities that builds upon the respective strengths and expertise of its current leadership team. After eight years as Executive Director and Artistic Director, René Mandel will now devote his full-time efforts to the role of Artistic Director, working in close collaboration with Music Director Joseph Young to bring his artistic vision to life. Building on his deep relationships in the community, Mandel will also drive major donor fundraising, a key component in achieving the organization's artistic goals.

Former Associate Executive Director Jim Tibbs moves into the role of Executive Director and will be responsible for a variety of administrative tasks including strategic planning, budgeting, staff management, fundraising and achieving earned revenue targets. Young, Mandel, and Tibbs will continue to work in partnership to realize and fulfill Berkeley Symphony's mission.

--Brenden Guy PR

ROCO Continues Their 15th Season with "Flair"
ROCO's (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra) 2019–20 Unchambered series, which brings small ensembles to an intimate environment, will begin on October 19 with "Flair" at MATCH.

The concert features the flair of ROCO clarinetists Nathan Williams and Maiko Sasaki as they musically tell their coming of age stories, through a wide-ranging program of classic favorites to more recently composed works by Theresa Martin, Michael Tenzer, and Houston's very own Marcus Maroney. Pianist Colette Valentine will join our clarinetists for Mendelssohn's Concert Piece No. 1, "The Meeting" by Amilcare Ponchielli, a Broadway-inspired tune by Gary Schocker, and the rabble-rousing "Greetings from the Balkan" by Béla Kovács.

For complete information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Razzia(s): Travel Broadens the Mind!
The Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) launches its 54th season, and the 7th edition of the Homage Series, dedicated this year to composer Katia Makdissi-Warren. On Friday, September 27, at 7:30 pm Razzia(s), will be performed at the Salle Pierre-Mercure as part of the "Journées de la culture."

The SMCQ Ensemble and the Oktoécho Ensemble will share the stage, under the direction of Katia Makdissi-Warren, Walter Boudreau and Véronique Lussier. The audience will enjoy three works by the honoured composer focussing on shades of of the Middle East (including "Orientalized" excerpts from Vivaldi's famous Seasons), a work by the late Claude Vivier evoking Marco Polo's China, and a creation by Keiko Devaux for ensemble and kanoun, a plucked string instrument from the zither family.

Concert Razzia(s)
SMCQ Ensemble and Oktoécho Ensemble

Friday, September 27, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Salle Pierre-Mercure – UQAM
Metro Berri-UQAM

Free admission

514 843-9305 #301

--France Gaignard

Calidore String Quartet to Tour Complete Beethoven String Quartet Cycle
The Calidore String Quartet celebrates its tenth anniversary and the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth by performing the complete Beethoven String Quartets at the University of Buffalo, University of Toronto and University of Delaware in concerts throughout the 2019-20 season. The Calidore will also take part in a complete cycle of Beethoven String Quartets at the Colburn School in Los Angeles where the quartet was founded.

For Colburn's Beethoven 250 celebration, the Calidore String Quartet will coach student musicians in the days leading up to a presentation of six concerts in three days (October 16-18) during which the Calidore will perform nine of the Beethoven string quartets alongside faculty and students who will perform the rest.

For a complete listing of  their 2019-20 engagements, visit the Calidore String Quartet's Web site at

--Rebecca Davis PR

Los Angeles Master Chorale Receives Challenge Grant
The Los Angeles Master Chorale announced today that the Abbott L. Brown Foundation (ALBF) has awarded a challenge grant to support the organization's mission and programs. The ALBF will match up to a total of $100,000 funded contributions to the newly formed Leadership Circle, founded by Abbott L. Brown and Jerrie Paula Ortega-Brown.

"I was proud to serve on the Board of Directors and as Chairman in the late 1980s when the Los Angeles Master Chorale was actively building upon its reputation as the leading choral ensemble in the country," said Brown. "The establishment of the Leadership Circle will help enable the Master Chorale to share its groundbreaking programs and the joy of choral music more broadly in our local communities and throughout the world."

Los Angeles Master Chorale President & CEO Jean Davidson said, "On behalf of the Master Chorale, we are extremely grateful for Abbott's support and generosity. This gift to establish the Master Chorale's first ever Leadership Circle is a wonderful recognition of our current efforts and successes, and helps secure the foundation for our broader aspirations for the future."

For information about how to join the Leadership Circle, please contact Elizabeth Greenway, Chief Advancement Officer, at 213-972-3114 or

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communicaitons

International Contemporary Ensemble Performs George Lewis's Soundlines
The pioneering International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) returns to NYU Skirball for two performances of George Lewis's Soundlines on Friday, October 18, 2019 and Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 7:30pm. Following the group's critically acclaimed, sold-out run of David Lang's the whisper opera in 2018, Soundlines features two premieres by composer and MacArthur Fellow George Lewis: the NYC premiere of Lewis's Soundlines: A Dreaming Track and the New York premiere of P. Multitudinis. Building on a decade of collaborative work, the International Contemporary Ensemble, George Lewis, Steven Schick, and Jim Findlay's Soundlines is a monodrama in the style of a radio play that explores and confronts the relationships between self, identity, and personal journeys within complex social constructs.

As a musical interpretation of percussionist Steven Schick's journal documenting his 700-mile walk from the US-Mexico border to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, Soundlines: A Dreaming Track traverses space in order to transmit an introspective narrative. Schick's diary, written during the many months of this trip, has been adapted as the text for a speaker, accompanied by a percussionist; a chamber ensemble of seven instruments; and an array of digitally spatialized multichannel electronics. Reminiscent of Alexis de Tocqueville and Henry David Thoreau, the text describes his inner moods, doubts, meditations, aesthetics, his personal musical practice, and social commentary.

Friday, October 18, 2019 at 7:30pm
Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 7:30pm
NYU Skirball | 566 LaGuardia Pl | NYC
Tickets: $35-45

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Strathmore Announces 2019-20 Season
The theme of innovative and surprising collaborations between artists runs throughout Strathmore's 2019–2020 season. This concept of "Inspired Pairings" arose in response to the ways in which some of today's top artists are choosing to create and present their work. In these "Inspired Pairings," artists from within a single genre or across contrasting styles, come together and meld their unique perspectives to create a product that is more than the sum of its parts. "When artists collaborate, the range of colors and nuance expands," explains Strathmore Artistic Director Joi Brown. "The work becomes more dimensional and broadens in its perspective."

Strathmore Venues:
Mansion at Strathmore
10701 Rockville Pike
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Music Center at Strathmore
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, MD 20852

(301) 581-5100

--Amy Killion, Bucklesweet

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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 John 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 ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine 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 simple-minded, 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 Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. 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 LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. 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.

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