Classical Music News of the Week, November 9, 2019

Miller Theatre Presents a Composer Portrait of Annea Lockwood

Composer Portraits: Thursday, November 14, 2019, 8:00 P.M.
Columbia University School of the Arts
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, NYC

A tiger's purr, burning pianos, helium balloons, and the Hudson River have all played a part in the music of Annea Lockwood (b. 1939). The intense focus on deep listening of sonic details from nature and electronics has formed the basis of the eclectic output of the New Zealand-born composer and sound artist. The adventurous piano and percussion quartet Yarn/Wire returns to perform a world premiere commission, alongside three other works, including the technically demanding Becoming Air, written for and performed by trumpeter Nate Wooley.

Into the Vanishing Point (2019) world premiere, co-commissioned by New York State Council on the Arts and Miller Theatre
Becoming Air (2018)
Ear-Walking Woman (1996)
I Give You Back (1995)

Estelí Gomez, voice
Nate Wooley, trumpet

For complete information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Nimrod Borenstein Composes For Top Hong Kong Piano Competition
Rising composer Nimrod Borenstein is in demand these days from leading music competitions--his Mephisto piano etude received its world premiere recently, 15 times over as it were, from all the semi-finalists at the Hong Kong International Piano Competition. Every day from October 7th to 14th will see two competitors play the new work, which was specially commissioned from Borenstein by the competition.

Borenstein, whose music has received frequent recordings in recent years (by Vladimir Ashkenazy and others), is no stranger to writing for competitions - among those to have commissioned him are the International Jeunesses Musicales Competition (for their forthcoming 50th anniversary), and the Marie Cantagrill International Violin Competition.

"It's an honour and a great experience to compose for great competitions like the Hong Kong International Piano Competition," says Borenstein, "Because, as an artist, how often is it that you get to hear 15 performances - 15 different interpretations of your work by brilliant musicians? At the same time, the competition setting imposes a useful discipline to compose in a way that really explores various technical facilities of the instrument - which is also of course a kind of freedom!"

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Le matin des magiciens
The Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) presents "Le matin des magiciens," as part of a first collaboration with the Arab World Festival of Montreal on November 10 at 3 pm at the Place des Arts (Cinquième salle), Montreal.

As part of the Homage Series dedicated to composer Katia Makdissi-Warren, this major concert features an eclectic repertoire, by the nature of the works and the instruments used, marked by an opening with music from the Middle East and the Orient.

The SMCQ Ensemble, musicians from Toronto's Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan and the Oktoécho Ensemble, which is co-producing the event, share the stage, highlighting the Indonesian hues characteristic of the gamelan.

Katia Makdissi-Warren and composer Gabriel Evangelista will present new works for gamelan and Middle Eastern instruments, directed by conductor Jean-Michaël Lavoie, while two works for gamelan and instruments from Quebec's contemporary repertoire will be presented under the baton of conductor Walter Boudreau.

For more information, visit

--France Gaignard

Experiential Orchestra Presents "Bulgarian Virtuosity" November 15
For our concert at Roulette (Brooklyn, NY) on November 15, we have commissioned five superb composers--Brad Balliett, Patrick Castillo, Lainie Fefferman, Michi Wiancko, and Kate Copeland Ettinger--to write pieces in dialogue with the music that Bulgarika, on tour from Bulgaria, will be playing.

Today the pieces arrived! They are tr
emendous, engaging, personal, and we can't wait to premiere them for you in two weeks. Each piece will be performed juxtaposed with the performances by Bulgarika of the same melodies.

In addition to music of Béla Bartók (arrangements of his "Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm" pieces from Mikrokosmos), we will be presenting music by Pancho Vladigerov, the most renowned Bulgarian classical composer of the last century, and we are honored to be giving the US premiere of several of his works for you.

For those of you who are fascinated by the incredible choral tradition in Bulgaria, we will be performing string arrangements of several of the most beloved pieces familiar from the Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares recordings of the 1980s.

In order to experience the sound in different ways, we offer the chance to sit embedded in the orchestra; and we feature a gorgeous arrangement of Michi Wiancko that places our musicians in all corners of the hall. Finally, in true EXO fashion, we will end the concert with the audience dancing (note: dancing optional but encouraged).

Tickets are available here:

Additional information here:

--Experiential Orchestra

92Y Presents Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Violinist Carolin Widmann
On Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 8:00pm at Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC, 92nd Street Y presents the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and German violinist Carolin Widmann in her New York debut.

Widmann takes the lead in Kurt Weill's showstopping Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, Op. 12, which combines the composer's classical European pedigree with hints of the swinging Broadway style he would later adopt in full. Works for winds by Mozart bookend the Weill Concerto: a transcription of the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro and the substantial, operatic Serenade No. 10 in B-flat Major, K. 361 "Gran Partita," notably used in the popular film Amadeus.

Program Information
Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 8:00pm
92nd Street Y | Kaufmann Concert Hall
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Carolin Widmann, violin


--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Handel's Judas Maccabaeus with Tenor Nicholas Phan
This holiday season, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) will present one of Handel's most celebrated vocal works, as Nicholas McGegan, an international authority on Handel, conducts his final Handel oratorio as music director. Judas Maccabaeus, a stirring tale of the triumph of perseverance and peace over oppression, has endured relevance and popularity since its original performances, and PBO will perform this work for the first time since 1992. Powerhouse tenor Nicholas Phan takes on the title role of the conquering hero, and the award-winning Philharmonia Chorale led by Bruce Lamott shares the spotlight as the Chorus of Israelites. Performances take place throughout the San Francisco Bay Area on December 5–8.

For complete information, visit

--Stephanie Li, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

Chelsea Symphony's Annual Holiday Concert
The Chelsea Symphony's Holiday Concert at 8pm on December 6th, 2019, features the orchestra's annual performance of Aaron Dai's "The Night Before Christmas," narrated by actor and comedian Mario Cantone, best known for his role as Anthony on Sex and the City.

Also on the concert is the NYC premiere of Fernande Breilh-Decruck's Les clochers de Vienne: Suite de Valses, a work first published in 1935 and is unique in its pioneering inclusion of the vibraphone, an instrument that only became widely available in the previous decade. The orchestra will also perform Arturo Márquez's Danzón No. 2. Written in 1994, Danzón No. 2 is one of the most widely-known works from the Mexican contemporary classical canon, and was featured in the Amazon original series "Mozart in the Jungle."

Concertos for this concert are Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 featuring Molly Fletcher, and Camille Saint-Saëns's Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso with violinist Dawn Wang. In a Chelsea Symphony tradition, the winner of the previous year's holiday concert silent auction will conduct Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride." TCS is thrilled this year to welcome award-winning actor, director, and choreographer Devanand Janki to the podium for this festive event.

Following the concert, the orchestra will host a reception and silent auction to benefit the orchestra.

Friday, December 6, 8:00 p.m.
St. Paul's Church, 315 West 22nd Street, NYC

For more information, visit

--Elizabeth Holub, Chelsea Symphony

Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis Announces New Book
Internationally acclaimed harpist Yolanda Kondonassis announces the release of her new book, The Composer's Guide to Writing Well for the Modern Harp (Carl Fischer Music), a comprehensive guide and conversational text on composing idiomatically for the harp. The book features 22 detailed chapters on a full spectrum of topics, including technical logistics, chromaticism, notation, context, resonance management, special effects, and more.

As one of the world's most renowned harp soloists, as well as an author, professor, orchestral harpist, and passionate champion of new music for her instrument, Kondonassis' experience spans over thirty years in the field of classical music. She writes, "In many ways, this book has been writing itself in my head for at least two decades. My motivation to demystify the harp is strong; I would even go so far as to call it a mission, but my goal is not merely to provide a set of rules, lists, and practical suggestions. While I have made a concentrated effort to streamline information and highlight those areas that I consider to be the most valuable and important, this volume should not read like a textbook. It should feel more like a friendly, candid conversation with an experienced harpist who wants to make composing for the harp easier and more successful."

For more information, visit

--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

Winter Wonder Tickets on Sale
Young People's Chorus of New York City Presents "Winter Wonder: A Festive Holiday Concert"
Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 4:00 pm. David Geffen Hall, NYC

Share the magic of the holidays with friends and family at the Young People's Chorus of New York City's very special "Winter Wonder" holiday concert! Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez and Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez turn the spotlight on YPC's award-winning choristers and two extraordinary guest artists: Metropolitan Opera star Nadine Sierra and the incredible dramatic baritone Lester Lynch, who will join their voices with over 400 talented young people in a joyous program of holiday classics. If you can only make it to one holiday concert this season, make sure it is Winter Wonder!

For complete information, visit

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Emma Kirkby, Soprano, Wins Gramophone Lifetime Achievement Award
Not many singers are revolutionaries; not many can be said to have radically changed the sound of music in our time. But that is the lifetime achievement of Emma Kirkby: through her totally distinctive voice, focused artistry and supremely intelligent music-making she has transformed our experience of a repertory of great music. She has been one of the most powerful forces in the early music revival across nearly 50 years, and thus a key part of one of the most important and influential movements in today's musical world.

To learn more about Emma Kirkby, visit

--Schwalbe and Partners

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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