Classical Music News of the Week, October 26, 2019

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Brings Family Program to Princeton University Concerts

Princeton University Concerts' annual family concert for kids ages 6–12 returns to the Richardson Auditorium stage, Princeton, New Jersey, on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 1PM.

This year's "Meet the Music" program, features musicians from The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with their host, composer Bruce Adolphe. The program, "Oceanophony," will plunge kids into an ocean of music and poetry to meet the sarcastic fringehead fish, an expanding pufferfish, a stoplight parrotfish, a love-struck seahorse, and eight-part fugal octopus, and more! Kids will be introduced to the joys of live chamber music through music by Bruce Adolphe and poems by Kate Light. Musicians from The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center include pianist Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, violinist Alice Ivy-Pemberton, cellist Estelle Choi, double bassist Xavier Foley, flutist Sooyun Kim, clarinetist Romie De Guise-Langlois, bassoonist Brad Balliett, and percussionist Victor Caccese.

Tickets for Princeton University Concerts' family programs go quickly, and are only $5 kids/$10
adults available at, or by calling 609-258-9220.

--Kerry Heimann, Princeton University Concerts

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Juilliard415 Join Forces for a Historically Informed Jam Session, November 10
PBO and The Juilliard School's renowned period instrument ensemble present a program of Baroque heavy hitters, including Bach, Vivaldi, and Rameau.

To nurture the next generation of historically informed performance, Philharmonia and The Juilliard School's Historical Performance program will collaborate for the third time to bring the star students of Juilliard415, the school's acclaimed period-instrument ensemble, to practice and perform alongside PBO's seasoned professionals. Annual residencies include masterclasses, coaching, and a culminating side-by-side showcase of PBO mentors and J415 students.

On November 10 at the ODC Theater in San Francisco, musicians from J415 and the Philharmonia Baroque Chamber Players present a bi-coastal celebration of historically informed performance, with works by Bach, Vivaldi, and Rameau. With the growing popularity of historical performance practice among conservatory students, Philharmonia and The Juilliard School's Historical Performance program launched a long-term collaboration in 2016.

Several musicians who perform with Philharmonia are also on faculty at Juilliard, including oboist Gonzalo X. Ruiz, violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock and cellist Phoebe Carrai. Richard Egarr, Philharmonia's Music Director Designate, has also been on faculty for the past seven years. The Juilliard Historical Performance program celebrate its 10th anniversary this year.

For more information, visit

--Stephanie Li, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

New Century Artist-in-Residence Simone Dinnerstein Leads Bach
New Century Chamber Orchestra continues its 2019-2020 season with the return of pianist Simone Dinnerstein, November 7-10, in venues across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Making her first appearance as artist-in-residence, Dinnerstein will lead the Orchestra from the piano with a program of keyboard concerti by J.S. Bach. Highlighted works include the composer's popular Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, BWV 1050, featuring New Century principal second violinist Candace Guirao and flutist Christina Jennings, Keyboard Concerti in E Major, BWV 1053, F minor, BWV 1056 and D minor, BWV 1052 as well as the Bach-Busoni chorale prelude for piano "Ich ruf zu dir."

The program will be performed on four different occasions throughout the SF Bay Area: Thursday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley; Friday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto; Saturday, November 9 at 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theater, San Francisco; and Sunday, November 10 at 3 p.m., Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael. This season, New Century will offer free admission to its popular Open Rehearsal at 10 AM on Wednesday, November 6 at Trinity & St. Peter's Church, San Francisco.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy Media

Grammy Winner Sharon Isbin Honored with 2020 Musical America Instrumentalist of the Year Award
Musical America announced the annual coveted Musical America Awards today which recognizes each year's stellar performers including multiple Grammy Award winner Sharon Isbin who will be honored with the 2020 Instrumentalist of the Year Award, the first guitarist ever to receive the award in its 59 year history.

Other awardees include Festival of the Year,  Salzburg Festival, Composer of the Year, Joan Tower, Vocalist of the Year, Peter Mattei, and Ensemble of the Year, the Danish String Quartet. Representing the pinnacle of artistic achievement, previous winners include Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, Vladimir Horowitz, Beverly Sills, George Balanchine, Arthur Rubinstein, Itzhak Perlman, Isaac Stern, Marilyn Horne, Andre Previn and Yo-Yo Ma. The ceremony will take place at Carnegie Hall in December.

For more information, visit

--Genevieve Spielberg Inc.

Inuit Singer Lydia Etok Joins Oktoecho as the Artistic Co-Director for Its Aboriginal Projects
Lydia Etok joins Oktoécho as the artistic co-director of its aboriginal division. Oktoécho guides the listener into a sonic world brimming with hope found in the exceptional encounter between Middle Eastern, North American Aboriginal, and the Western musical expressions. Under the artistic direction of composer Katia Makdissi-Warren, Oktoécho explores a musical landscape and musical sounds through original compositions. Oktoécho has collaborated with renowned artists from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq, Austria, Syria, and Argentina, as well as famed Montreal chamber orchestra I Musici.

Lydia Etok is an exceptional Inuit throat singer and a remarkably versatile artist. Hailing from a family of storytellers, her Inuit tales and legends are told in Inuktitut, French and English. "I am delighted to share my culture with respect and in the tradition of my ancestors," she says.

For more information, visit

--France Gaignard

ASPECT Chamber Music Series Presents "Haunted Minds"
The ASPECT Chamber Music Series continues its fourth New York City season of illuminating performances with "Haunted Minds" on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 7:30pm at the Italian Academy of Columbia University, NYC. The concert features the Ariel Quartet in Bartók's String Quartet No. 1 and Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8.

Musicologist Nicholas Chong gives an illustrated talk about how both Bartók and Shostakovich not only survived traumatic experiences, but transformed them into music of inspirational nature. Profoundly hurt when rejected by violinist Stefi Geyer, Bartók turned inwards, weaving music from a 'Stefi' motif that passes from grief to energetic folk-inspired resolution. Half a century later, guilt-ridden at having been pressured into joining the Communist Party, Shostakovich wrote his Eighth Quartet as a kind of epitaph for himself, filling it with quotations from his own works. Both quartets reveal much about how confrontation with darkness can ultimately lead back to the light.

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

NYFOS Presents Two Rare Protest Pieces
New York Festival of Song--the "engaging, ever-curious series" (The New York Times)--presents two exceedingly rare theater works by Marc Blitzstein and Kurt Weill that grapple passionately with themes of social injustice. NYFOS will present 50-minute concert suites from each show, with narration.

Blitzstein's No For An Answer, first staged in 1941, focuses on a feisty group of resort hotel workers struggling with unemployment and oppression during the off-season; Der Silbersee is a dystopian fantasy with a miraculous, happy ending. The Second World War cut the original runs of both shows down to a scant two performances each. Weill was forced to flee Germany after the opening of Der Silbersee, and Blitzstein was shipped off to Europe with the Armed Forces soon after his show had its brief moment off-Broadway.

Both works are about ordinary people fighting to free themselves from tyranny and discrimination. In Der Silbersee, there's a miracle; in No For An Answer, a murder. Both are filled with first-class songs that speak directly to our times.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
 Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
129 West 67th Street, NYC

$20-$65 from the Merkin Box Office: 212-501-3330 or

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Handel and Haydn Society Makes Double NYC Christmastime Appearances
In December 2019, the Boston-based, 204-year-old Handel and Haydn Society, globally renowned for its exceptional body of singers and instrumentalists specializing in authentic Baroque and Classical music traditions, returns to New York as prominently featured artists in two of New York City's most anticipated holiday season performances, occurring simultaneously.

On December 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21, the Handel and Haydn Society Chorus, "internationally respected for its precision and ability to make complex polyphony speak in the most cavernous of halls" (Boston Music Intelligencer), makes their New York Philharmonic debut and first Lincoln Center appearance in more than two decades as the voices of Handel's immortal Messiah with soloists soprano Louise Alder, countertenor Iestyn Davies, tenor Joshua Ellicott, and baritone Dashon Burton, led by acclaimed English conductor Harry Bicket.

For complete information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Celebrate with "A Baroque New Year's Eve at the Opera"
At the end of last season's enormously popular New Year's Eve concert, American Bach Soloists music director Jeffrey Thomas announced that we'd be back at the end of 2019 for a reprise of the event. It turned out to be one of the hottest tickets in town so make your reservations early for a delightful program of arias and instrumental music from opera and concert.

This early night on the town in San Francisco's beautiful Herbst Theatre--a cornerstone and jewel among the city's most prestigious venues--will joyfully ring in the New Year in elegant style. Bring your friends and celebrate a New Year full of wonderful music!

Sarah Coit, mezzo-soprano
Hadleigh Adams, baritone
American Bach Soloists
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
December 31; 4 p.m.
Herbst Theater, San Francisco

For complete information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Miller Theatre Opens Its 2019-20 Jazz Series
Brandee Younger Quintet
Saturday, November 16, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, NYC

Tickets: starting at $20; Students with valid ID: starting at $7

With a style reminiscent of the great Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane, the genre-defying Brandee Younger has helped to re-introduce the harp as a powerful jazz instrument. Her nuanced presence and willingness to push boundaries have made her invaluable on recordings and in live performance, and here she collaborates with some of her esteemed contemporaries.

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Music Institute's Contreras Partners on Latin American Cello Catalog
Dr. Horacio Contreras, a member of the Music Institute of Chicago's cello faculty, has partnered with cellist Dr. Germán Marcano and the Sphinx Organization to update a comprehensive resource: the Sphinx Catalog of Latin American Cello Works. Contreras and Marcano, internationally active cellists from Venezuela and recognized experts in Latin American cello repertoire, will continue to revise the work as the repertoire continues to grow.

Marcano originally created the catalog in 2004 as his doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Sphinx Organization revived it in 2018.

"One of my main interests as a performer and a teacher is to introduce excellent works to musicians and audiences," explained Contreras. "I was interested in Germán's first catalog, and I knew about the Sphinx Organization while I was a student at the University of Michigan, when I had the opportunity to meet and perform with performing artist and social entrepreneur Aaron Dworkin, founder of the Sphinx Organization and a professor at the University of Michigan. Germán and I had talked about making his work more widely available through a website, and Mr. Dworkin recommended we reach out to Sphinx. They generously offered to support the initiative, and, after more than a year of work, it is now a reality! We are very excited about the catalog's potential to exponentially increase the exposure of work by Latin American composers."

The catalog, which is free and accessible at, is the most extensive source of its kind, with more than 2,000 entries on the date of its release. It provides information about a wide range of works in which the cello has a prominent role as a solo instrument, as soloist with orchestra, in duo with another instrument or electronic media, or in cello ensembles.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Ensemble Basiani, Monday, November 18, Princeton University
On Monday, November 18, 2019 at 7:30PM, Ensemble Basiani, the State Vocal Ensemble of Georgia will make its Princeton University Concerts debut in the spellbinding acoustic of the Princeton University Chapel, Princeton, NJ.

The all-male vocal ensemble will be joined by the Princeton University Glee Club who will work with the ensemble during their visit. Performing mesmerizing Georgian sacred and folk choral music from every corner of this ancient, ethnically diverse region, the striking male voices of Ensemble Basiani embody otherworldly sound from the world's oldest polyphonic tradition.

Tickets are $10-$40, and are available online at, by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person two hours prior to the concert at the Princeton University Chapel.

--Kerry Heimann, Princeton University Concerts

Tenor Paul Appleby Performs Schumann's Dichterliebe at Lincoln Center
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents celebrated American tenor Paul Appleby in Schumann's Dichterliebe for Voice and Piano, Op. 48 (1840) with pianist Ken Noda on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 7:30pm at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC.

Part of a concert titled "1891: Brahms's Clarinet Quintet," the program also includes Schubert's Fantasie in F minor for Piano, Four Hands, D. 940, Op. 103 (1828) and Brahms's Quintet in B minor for Clarinet, Two Violins, Viola, and Cello, Op. 115 (1891) performed by pianist and Artistic Director Wu Han, violinists Aaron Boyd and Francisco Fullana, violinist and violist Yura Lee, cellist Keith Robinson, and clarinetist David Shifrin.

Admired for his interpretive depth, vocal strength, and range of expressivity, Paul Appleby is one of the most sought-after voices of his generation. Opera News claims, "[Paul's] tenor is limpid and focused, but with a range of color unusual in an instrument so essentially lyric… His singing is scrupulous and musical; the voice moves fluidly and accurately."

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Wet Ink Ensemble Announces 2019-2020 Season Concerts
The "sublimely exploratory" (The Chicago Reader) Wet Ink Ensemble opens its 21st season in 2019-2020 with two performances at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival followed by a performance of the works of Columbia University undergraduate composers in NYC and a collaboration with vocalist Charmaine Lee and UK-based composers Kristina Wolfe, Bryn Harrison, and Pierre Alexandre Tremblay. The Wet Ink Ensemble is also thrilled to announce the official appointment of frequent collaborator, cellist Mariel Roberts, to the group beginning in the 2019-2020 season.

Seattle Symphony Presents Kate Soper in Recital (Seattle), November 3
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK), November 19-20
Columbia University Undergraduate Composers (NYC), December 7
Wet Ink Collaborations: Huddersfield Composers with Charmaine Lee (NYC), December 13
Constellation Frequency Series: Peter Ablinger + Sam Pluta (Chicago), January 19
Collaborative Premieres: Wubbels/Lee Duo + Wet Ink (NYC), February 13
Kate Soper's The Romance of the Rose, Co-Produced by Peak Performances (NJ), April 2-5
Alex Mincek/Sam Pluta Album Release, April 2020
Wet Ink Large Ensemble Concert (NYC), May 1
Harvard Group for New Music Residency (MA), May 11-16
New Music on the Point Residency (VT), June 1-11

For complete information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

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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