Classical Music News of the Week, October 5, 2019

Handel's Messiah in Grace Cathedral

American Bach Soloists' December concerts begin with three performances of Handel's treasured masterwork, Messiah, in San Francisco's resounding Grace Cathedral. Jeffrey Thomas will conduct the ABS period-instrument orchestra, the acclaimed American Bach Choir, and an outstanding quartet of soloists.

"What stood out above all, in this annual rite that drew a huge crowd, was the sense of being addressed directly, personally, confidingly. Conductor Jeffrey Thomas brought it all together, melding his ABS forces with precision and intuitive responsiveness to Handel's capacious 1742 masterwork." Steven Winn, SFCV

Wednesday December 11 2019 7:30 p.m.
Thursday December 12 2019 7:30 p.m.
Friday December 13 2019 7:30 p.m.

Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

For complete information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Park Avenue Chamber Symphony's 20th Anniversary Season
The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony (PACS) is riding high these days, its Music Director David Bernard and musicians alike so full of energy and vigour that it comes perhaps as a mild shock to learn that this beloved New York orchestra marks its twentieth year with the 2019/20 season. At a time when some orchestras have settled into a routine, a "that's the way we've always done it" attitude, PACS seems to be reinventing - if not the wheel, then themselves - almost with every season.

Recent years have seen - and continue - a partnership with the pioneering InsideOut Concerts with their immersive orchestra experiences (to feature in two programs this PACS season), the launching of a series of recordings on Recursive Classics that have been applauded by critics in Gramophone, The Arts Desk, and elsewhere, and compelling stand-alone events such as their "Tribute to Veterans" (an event that saw more than 300 musicians on the Carnegie Hall stage, and the New York premiere of Dreams of the Fallen by Jake Runestad and poet and military veteran Brian Turner).

For more information, visit

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Miller Theatre Presents a "Composer Portrait of Vijay Iyer," with Jennifer Koh and The Knights
The New York Times states that "there's probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output" of composer, pianist, bandleader, and scholar Vijay Iyer. A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist, and DownBeat magazine's Artist of the Year four times, Iyer is creating a modern realization of the practice of American music through his wide-ranging work. Brooklyn-based ensemble The Knights make their Miller debut in this Portrait which includes a world premiere commission as part of Columbia's Year of Water, along with the New York premiere of Iyer's concerto Trouble, written for violinist Jennifer Koh.

"Song for Flint" (2019) world premiere, Miller Theatre commission
"Crisis Modes" (2019) New York premiere
"Trouble" (2017) New York premiere
"The Law of Returns" (2017) New York premiere

Jennifer Koh, violin
The Knights
Vijay Iyer, piano

Thursday, October 24, 2019, 8:00 P.M.
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, NYC
Tickets: starting at $20; Students with valid ID: starting at $7

For complete information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Tenor Ian Bostridge & Pianist Brad Mehldau Launch Icons of Song Series
Princeton University Concerts is thrilled to launch the brand-new Icons of Song series with two unmatched musicians: 15-time Grammy nominee tenor Ian Bostridge and pianist Brad Mehldau, considered to be the most influential jazz pianist of our time.

Their concert on Tuesday, October 22 at 8PM will pair Schumann's iconic Dichterliebe cycle with Mehldau's latest song cycle set on texts by Shakespeare, e. e. cummings, Brecht, Yeats, Goethe, Blake, and others. The concert will take place in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.

Tickets are $45-$55 general/$10 student, and free to Princeton University students through Passport to the Arts.

Brad Mehldau will also participate in the first Live Music Meditation of our 2019/20 at 12:30PM on the day of his recital, also in Richardson Auditorium. This free, unticketed event is an opportunity to experience Mehldau's jaw-dropping improvisation within the focus allowed in a guided meditation.

For more information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

SOLI Chamber Ensemble Announces Its 2019-2020 Season
Winner of the 2013 CMA/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award, San Antonio based SOLI Chamber Ensemble has earned National and International acclaim for giving voice to 20th-and 21st-century contemporary classical music through its commissioning projects, high-caliber performances, cross-genre collaborations, and engaging educational and outreach programs.

SOLI is proud to present its 26th season, "Rarified Air," featuring 20 exciting pieces from 19 culturally diverse composers and 6 World Premieres.

For complete information, visit

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Festival Mosaic Offers "Choose-Your-Own WinterMezzo Package"
Festival Mozaic's WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series features three weekends of great works of chamber music, offering sequential ways to connect to the music and the artists. We encourage you to attend all three events in each weekend to experience the special intimacy that only happens at Festival Mozaic.

Join Music Director and Violinist Scott Yoo, along with seven visiting artists, for nine chamber music events throughout the year in San Luis Obispo County, California.

WinterMezzo Series I, November 15-17, 2019: music of Beethoven, Dohnanyi, and Dvorak.
WinterMezzo Series II, February 21-23, 2020: Bach Cello Suites paired with ballet.
WinterMezzo Series III, April 17-19, 2020: music of Nino Rota and Franz Schubert.

For information, visit

--Festival Mosaic

Foundation to Assist Young Musicians October 2019 Newsletter
Classes Begin:
The 2019/2020 school has begun and FAYM's Violins For Kids Program is off to a good start!  We have a new group of beginning 3rd grade violin students at the East Las Vegas Community Center and another new group of 3rd grade students at the Pearson Center. These students started lessons using 'stick' bows to learn and practice the correct way to hold a violin bow. I observed classes using their stick bows and saw students trying very hard to learn the correct bow hold. In order to be a good violinist you must have complete control of the bow and if you start by holding the bow incorrectly it is very difficult to unlearn a bad habit!

 Handing out Instruments:
 After two weeks of lessons and home practice these student surrendered their 'stick' bows and were issued 'real' violins to continue their studies. That day was filled with smiles and proud parents as the students embraced 'their' violin and returned to their seats!

New Program at the Library:
Additionally, we are also starting a new group of 1st and 2nd grade students at the East Las Vegas Library located at 2851 E. Bonanza Road (on the corner of Bonanza and 28th street).  This group will meet only once a week on Thursdays. On September 19th, their first day of class they were issued 'stick' bows and eventually they too will receive violins to take home. Many of these students are siblings of our 'veteran' students. They are so excited to get an early start and not having to wait till they reach 3rd grade!

Please join the Family of FAYM:
You can donate directly online (see below) OR by mailing your check to:
FAYM: PO Box 1993; Las Vegas, NV 89125-1993.
Share your love of music with a deserving youngster.  You'll be glad you did!
(All Contributions are Tax Deductible.)

Or, you can support FAYM students at our Web site:
FAYM keeps our costs low by relying on highly qualified volunteers to handle our administrative tasks. You can be sure that your donation will go directly to scholarship assistance, program support, and student lessons.

--Foundation to Assist Young Musicians

Richardson Chamber Players "Clara Schumann at 200"
On Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 3PM, the Richardson Chamber Players – an ensemble of Princeton University performance faculty, distinguished guest artists, and talented students – will pay tribute to the 200th birthday of Clara Schumann, saluting her extraordinary career as both a virtuoso pianist and a respected composer. The program includes works by Clara Schumann, interspersed with those of her husband Robert Schumann, and close friend Johannes Brahms.

The performers are Alan Feinberg and Jennifer Tao, piano; Chris Komer, horn; Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, soprano; Anna Lim, violin; and Susannah Chapman, cello.

Tickets are $15 General/$5 Students, available online at, by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person two hours prior to the concert at Richardson Auditorium.

--Kerry Heimann, Princeton University Concerts

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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