Classical Music News of the Week, November 16, 2019

The Richardson Chamber Players Celebrate American Chamber Music: Dvorak & Harry T. Burleigh

On Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 3PM, the Richardson Chamber Players--an ensemble of Princeton University performance faculty, distinguished guest artists, and talented students--will pay tribute to American chamber music with a program of works by Antonin Dvorak and Harry T. Burleigh, one of Dvorak's most important students.

Performers: Sarah Pelletier, soprano; Kevin Deas, bass-baritone; Eric Wyrick and Haeun Jung '20, violins; Anna Lim and Katie Liu '20, violas; Alberto Parrini, cello; Francine Kay, piano.

Following on the heels of Princeton University Concerts' opening event featuring the music of African-American composer and singer Harry T. Burleigh played by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Richardson Chamber Players will continue to highlight the unique relationship between Dvorak and Burleigh. At age 26, Burleigh won a scholarship to the new National Conservatory in New York City where he became a student of Dvorák. Dvorak, who was then director of the school, was deeply influenced by his performance of spirituals and other traditional American songs. "I am convinced," Dvorák stated, "that they can be the foundation of a serious and original school of composition to be developed in the United States." Dvorak's "New World" Symphony shows their effect on his music. The unique program will be as follows:

Antonin Dvorak from Humoresques for Solo Piano, Op. 20
Dvorak from "Biblical Songs for Soprano & Piano," Op. 99
Harry T. Burleigh 6 Spirituals
Dvorak/William Arms Fisher "Goin' Home," arranged for Baritone & String Quartet
Dvorak Quintet No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97

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, Princeton, NJ.

--Kerry Heimann, Princeton University Concerts

Miller Theatre Presents a Composer Portrait of Bright Sheng
Bright Sheng is one of the foremost composers of our time. His emotionally-driven music ranges from dramatic to lyrical, with strong influences of the folk and classical music of Eastern and Central Asia. The MacArthur Fellow returns to Columbia—where he received his DMA in composition—for this Portrait of recent works. The program features the composer as pianist and conductor, as well as the marimba concerto Deep Red, performed by the talented Curtis 20/21 Ensemble.

Clearwater Rhapsody (2018)
Deep Red (2014)
Dance Capriccio (2011)
String Quartet No. 4 "Silent Temple" (2000)

Curtis 20/21 Ensemble
Bright Sheng, piano and conductor

Thursday, December 5, 2019, 8:00 P.M.
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, NYC

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

SF Choral Society Performs Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Magnificat
The San Francisco Choral Society concludes its historic 30th anniversary season with a liturgical telling of Christmas to the Feast of Epiphany as heard through J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 (Cantatas IV, V and VI) and Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243.

Led by Artistic Director Robert Geary, the program will be presented twice at St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco on Friday, December 6 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, December 7 at 8:00 p.m. An array of guests will join the chorus for these historically informed performances including the Jubilate Orchestra on period instruments as well as sopranos Michele Kennedy and Jessica House Steward, mezzo-soprano Leandra Ramm, tenor Michael Jankosky and baritone Nikolas Nackley.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Happy Hour Concerts - Body and Soul
Jeunesses Musicales Canada (JMC) invites music lovers to its Happy Hour Concerts, an opportunity to relax, sip a glass of wine after work and hear the best emerging artists in the classical world.

Starting at 6:15 p.m., JMC partner RéZin will offer a selection of wines. Then, at 7 p.m., the audience is in for a little over an hour of music, including commentary by the artists, in an intimate venue with impeccable acoustics. Don't miss this special occasion, taking place at Joseph Rouleau Hall, located at 305 Mont-Royal Avenue East, in Montréal, just a few steps from the Mont-Royal metro station.

Body and Soul, November 28, 2019
Teo Georghiu, piano

 A child prodigy turned citizen of the world, cyclist, and accomplished pianist, Teo Gheorghiu offers performances that are highly personal. Evocative works by Debussy, Ravel, Albéniz, Granados, Enescu, and Mussorgsky blend with his own story and memories of French and Spanish landscapes. Follow Teo during a tour that will also include some cycling, as he pedals from city to city and from piece to piece.

--France Gaignard, Media liaison

ASPECT Chamber Music Series Presents "Russian Elegy"
The ASPECT Chamber Music Series continues its fourth New York City season of illuminating performances with "Russian Elegy" on Thursday, December 4, 2019 at 7:30pm at Bohemian National Hall. The program features violinist Misha Keylin, cellist Zlatomir Fung, and pianist Pavel Nersessian in Anatoly Lyadov's Three Pieces, Op. 57; Glinka's Trio Pathétique; and Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in a minor, Op. 50.

Veteran BBC radio host and musicologist Stephen Johnson leads an illustrated lecture on the three Russian composers on the bill, exploring the theme of the Russian elegy. Johnson is a writer, broadcaster and lecturer on music. A popular and acclaimed BBC Radio presenter, he won a Sony Gold Award for his documentary Vaughan Williams: Valiant for Truth. He is the author of Bruckner Remembered (Faber 1998), Discover Music of the Classical Era (Naxos 2008) and studies of Mahler and Wagner (Naxos 2006/2007), and is a contributor to The Cambridge Companion to Conducting (CUP 2004). He is also a composer, and his orchestral work Behemoth Dances received its world premiere in Moscow in April 2016, the UK premiere taking place in London a month later.

"Russian Elegy"
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 7:30PM
Bohemian National Hall | 321 E 73rd St | New York, NY 10021
Tickets: $45 includes wine and refreshments

To find out more, please visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

SOLI's Third Annual Contemporary Music Open Mic
Monday, December 2: 7:30 PM | JAZZ TX

If you've been toiling away at your instrument and have been waiting for your moment to shine, here's your opportunity. Ten to twelve amateur musicians will be joining us to perform their favorite contemporary pieces for SOLI's highly enthusiastic and friendly audience. Wouldn't you want to be one of the lucky ones?

Click here for more information:

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Benjamin Hochman Explores Interrelation of Words and Music
Pianist Benjamin Hochman will perform at 92Y's Buttenwieser Hall, NYC on Nov. 22, 2019 at 8 PM for an intimate recital exploring the interrelation of words and music.

The recital features Brahms's Four Ballades, a touching farewell to Schumann, Brahms' mentor whose troubled life was coming to a tragic end when the Ballades were composed; Schumann's Kreisleriana, a musical response to ETA Hoffman's phantasmagorical The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr (1822): an autobiography of a well-read cat, written on wastepaper and containing the musings of the eccentric musician Kreisler; Chopin's Fourth Ballade that is based on Adam Mickiewicz's "The Three Budrys," a poem about three brothers sent away by their father to seek treasure, and their return with three Polish wives instead; and Thomas Adès's Darknesse Visible, an "explosion" of John Dowland's song "In Darkness Let Me Dwell" (1610). The melancholy of the Renaissance text is mirrored in Dowland's music, while Adés reworks the musical material into a modern version that both amplifies and masks the original.

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

ROCO Celebrates the Holiday Season
ROCO's 2019-20 season "Coming of Age" continues in December with the start of their Connections series in Houston. On December 9 at 10 am, ROCO (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra) will celebrate the holiday season at the Czech Center Museum Houston with "Yuletide Brunch and Brass."

The event will include a Czech-inspired menu and holiday music from the ROCO Brass Quintet--in a program of traditional Czech works, Hanukkah tunes, and jazzy arrangements by ROCO's own Jason Adams, including Duke Ellington's rendition of the Nutcracker Suite, and Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas, infused with the engaging wit and humor the ROCO Brass Quintet is beloved for.

Post-concert, Czech Center docents will be on hand for an optional guided tour of the Museum's collections, spanning Czech and Slovakian art and culture and featuring a temporary exhibition of Greek art from the Charalampous Art Collection.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

SFCM Announces Center for Innovative Leadership
As The New York Times writes, San Francisco Conservatory of Music has "emphasized risk-taking and an expansive view of the field." Deeply committed to cultivating a sense of entrepreneurial spirit among its student body, SFCM will now expand its culture of exploration with rapid-fire programs designed to empower arts professionals. The SFCM Center for Innovative Leadership will welcome its first cohort in January 2021 to the new Ute and William K. Bowes, Jr. Center for Performing Arts, a comprehensive arts hub created through a transformative $46.4 million gift in 2018.

"SFCM is built on an expansive and inclusive vision for the future," said President David H. Stull. "To make that vision a reality, the industry needs committed and energetic arts leaders with the tools to lead their institutions toward artistic and fiscal growth. The Center for Innovative Leadership will contribute major resources and top-tier faculty and mentors to enhance the talent pipeline for arts administration."

The Center for Innovative Leadership will be nestled among the concert halls, classrooms, conference facilities, and guest suites of the Bowes Center, which opens in fall 2020. Curricular models will be designed to address the needs of multiple administrative constituencies. In June 2021, aspiring arts managers will enroll in the center's flagship offering: Project ADAM (Audience Development and Advancement of Music) Seminar for Early Career Professionals, which will inform and empower rising leaders at the entry point to the talent pipeline. A series of alternating Level-Up Workshops will take place each January, with a cohort of first-time executive directors convening in January 2021, and a group of revenue-generating professionals in fundraising and marketing roles meeting the following year. In September 2021, orchestra and opera board leaders will have the opportunity to learn from distinguished board heads--and each other--in the Board Chair Forum.

For more information about SFCM, visit

--Beth Stewart, Verismo Communications

American Bach Soloists (ABS) present "Handel's Messiah in Grace Cathedral"
This holiday season, the 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, totaling 72 musicians.

Now beginning their fourth decade of celebrated Bay Area performances, and well into the third decade of annual presentations of Handel's Messiah in Grace Cathedral, American Bach Soloists have established a singular holiday tradition with these concerts. Noted especially for their adept mastery of complex and technically difficult choruses that call upon each singer to demonstrate control over Baroque coloratura, the American Bach Choir under Thomas's direction have established themselves as experts particularly in the music of Handel and Bach.

For more information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Savannah Music Festival 2020 Season Announced
From March 26 through April 11, 2020, the Savannah Music Festival (SMF) celebrates its 31st season with artist residencies, thrilling debuts, unique co-bills and special projects in myriad genres. Over 17 days, Savannah's Historic District becomes home to visionaries and creative voices from across the United States, as well as from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, France, India, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad, Venezuela and the United Kingdom.

Noteworthy performances include: orchestral and chamber concerts commemorating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth (March 28, April 3, April 5); a dance program with Georgia ties by Troy Schumacher's innovative company BalletCollective (March 31); a first-time trio showcase of fiddlers Martin Hayes and Jeremy Kittel with guitarist Roger Tallroth (April 9); a bluegrass concert honoring Doc Watson with acclaimed flatpickers Bryan Sutton and Jack Lawrence and bassist T. Michael Coleman (April 6); a celebration of fado, flamenco, and their offshoots featuring guitarist Marta Pereira da Costa and Canary Island timple virtuoso Germán López (March 28); and an evening of Afro-Cuban sounds with jazz pianist Harold López-Nussa and the astonishing piano/percussion duo of Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez (April 11).

This spring, Marcus Roberts and Mike Marshall return as leaders of SMF's two workshop programs for aspiring young musicians – Swing Central Jazz and the Acoustic Music Seminar. Roberts also heads the Swing Central Jazz Finale, New Orleans Swing Time (April 3), while Marshall directs a special presentation of the Ger Mandolin Orchestra Project (April 2). In his new role as Artistic Advisor, Chamber Music, festival veteran and violist Philip Dukes joins returning and new musicians for an eight-concert chamber series.

"Our organization continues to elaborate upon a programming model that is artist driven," says Artistic Director Ryan McMaken. "In late March and early April, Savannah hosts artists and music lovers from all over to experience creative collaborations, unique co-bills and residencies involving performance and education."

Tickets to the 2020 Savannah Music Festival are available online at, by phone at 912.525.5050, and in person at the Savannah Box Office (216 E. Broughton Street, Savannah, Georgia).

--Amanda Sweet, 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 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