Classical Music News of the Week, November 30, 2019

Vilar Performing Arts Center Announces Winter 2020 Lineup

The 2020 winter lineup at the Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC) is jam packed with everything from national Broadway tours, Grammy Award-winners and family fun. The wide variety of entertainment options will provide something exciting for all to look forward to this winter. This lineup joins the previously announced classical, dance and holiday series. The VPAC winter season will run December 21, 2019--April 5, 2020.

Ticket prices vary and start at just $24 and will be available at the VPAC box office (970-845-8497; The VPAC is located under the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village (68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek, Colorado). This winter, the VPAC is the place to be to hear and see your favorite artists perform in a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

Here are a few of the opening concerts in the VPAC 2020 Winter Season:

"DSQ Electric"
Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 7:00 PM | $48 [$25 Student]
"Where Bach Meets Bon Jovi," a fusion of classical and contemporary music on both traditional and electric strings. 

"Cirque Mechanics 42FT"
Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 7:00 PM | $68 [$48 Child]
Inspired by modern circus, with a signature style.

An American in Paris
Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 7:00 PM | Starting at $88
A National Broadway Tour. Romance! Adventure! Gershwin! Who could ask for anything more!

For a complete lineup of events, click here:

Tickets are available at the VPAC box office (970-845-8497 or at

--Ruthie Hamrick, Vilar Performing Arts Center

NYFOS Unearths Rare Songs from Harlem's Gay Underground
New York Festival of Song--the long-running "engaging, ever-curious series" (The New York Times)--premieres a fascinating new show called "Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Songs from Gay Harlem," revealing the musical heart of a subculture within a subculture.

The program features exceedingly rare material by Bessie Smith, Billy Strayhorn, and Porter Grainger, as well as songs popularized by Albreta Hunter, Ethel Waters, and 'Ma' Rainey.

NYFOS will also introduce songs by Gladys Bentley, the most popular gay entertainer in 1920s Harlem. She is featured in this New York Times series about prominent people whose deaths were not reported by the newspaper, and there is a large banner with her photo on 125th Street, along with the ones of Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, and Claude McKay. Bentley's songs have not been performed in 90 years, and existed only as records until November 2019, when they were rediscovered by the early blues scholar Elliott Hurwitt (who provided programming assistance for this event).

NYFOS brings back the superb cast of last season's hit production W.C. Handy and the "Birth of the Blues" (with the exception of Shereen Pimentel, the NYFOS and Blier protégé who was cast as Maria in Broadway's upcoming revival of West Side Story): mezzo Lucia Bradford, British-American tenor Joshua Blue, and baritone Justin Austin. Broadway actress and soprano Bryonha Marie joins the cast as well. Steven Blier and Joseph Li share piano duties. The crack band includes winds and brass man Scott Robinson and bass/tuba player Brian Nalepka.

For complete information, visit

--Albeba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Los Angeles Master Chorale Celebrates the Holidays
From the Messiah Sing-Along to Eric Whitacre's world premiere of The Gift of the Magi, Los Angeles Master Chorale's Holiday Concerts have something for everyone.

The Los Angeles Master Chorale will light up this holiday season with four spectacular concerts that include a world premiere by Swan Family Artist-in-Residence Eric Whitacre, the now-classic O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen, and Handel's Messiah.

Eric Whitacre will conduct the venerable ensemble at "Festival of Carols" on December 7 at 8:00 PM and December 14 at 2:00 PM at Walt Disney Concert Hall, including his world premiere of The Gift of the Magi, a setting of O. Henry's charming tale of love and generosity.

On Sunday, December 15 at 7:00 PM, also at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Master Chorale will give the 25th-anniversary performance of Morten Lauridsen's celebrated choral piece O Magnum Mysterium alongside Victoria's 16th-century setting of the same text. Also on the program is the west coast premiere of The Faire Starre by Nico Muhly, and works by Jennifer Higdon, Dale Trumbore, Matthew Brown and more.

On Wednesday, December 18 at 7:30 PM at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Master Chorale will present the highly anticipated 39th annual sing-along performance of Handel's Messiah, where the audience becomes the chorus. A limited number of VIP tickets, which allow you to perform onstage, are available.

Finally, on Saturday, December 21 at 8:00 PM at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles audiences will have the chance to hear Handel's Messiah in its most refined light when the Los Angeles Master Chorale and orchestra, conducted by Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, perform the piece in its entirety.

Please visit for more information.

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Wet Ink Ensemble Presents "Collaborations: Huddersfield Composers"
On Friday, December 13, 2019 at 8:00 P.M. at St. Peters Church, Chelsea, NY the "sublimely exploratory" (The Chicago Reader) Wet Ink Ensemble presents a concert of collaborations from the 2019 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, featuring the US premieres of sextets written for Wet Ink by UK-based composers Kristina Wolfe, Bryn Harrison, and Pierre Alexandre Tremblay; NYC-based voice phenom Charmaine Lee; and Wet Ink's Eric Wubbels. Wet Ink debuted these works at hcmf// in November 2019 and recorded them for release on Huddersfield's HCR label. The program features the US premieres of Charmaine Lee's Smoke, Airs (2017 rev. 2019); Bryn Harrison's Dead Time (2019); Pierre Alexandre Tremblay's (un)weave (2019), Kristina Wolfe's A Mere Echo of Aristoxenus (2019), and Eric Wubbels's modules/relationships (2019); all written for Wet Ink.

Charmaine Lee will join the ensemble for her work, Smoke, Airs, which merges tightly structured improvisation with Lee's acrobatic vocal technique, at turns mysterious, playful, and brutal. Kristina Wolfe's A Mere Echo of Aristoxenus explores the structural, mathematical, and spiritual meanings of sound through the acoustic reconstruction of two lost Ancient Greek sites, as part of Wolfe's ongoing research in sound and music archaeology. Dead Time, Bryn Harrison's second chamber composition written for Wet Ink, weaves an intricate texture of micro-repetition with subtle and ever-changing timbral variation, juxtaposed with electronic interruptions that play with one's perception of time in fascinating and unexpected ways. Pierre Alexandre Tremblay's (un)weave features a rich palette of live electronics processing and fixed media in a brightly virtuosic ensemble work inspired by a crowded metropolis of independent yet interacting people. Of his new work, Eric Wubbels writes, "modules / relationships is an open-form work that explores continuums between freedom and determinacy, openness and specificity, concrete meaning and abstract expression in sound. The materials in the piece manifest musical relationships, social relationships, and explicitly personal relationships between the instruments and the members of the ensemble, drawing on many years of playing and being together. The piece takes advantage of the unique fluency of the Wet Ink Ensemble in embodying an extremely broad range of musical practices, including virtuosic notated music, electronics, theatrical performance, and improvisation."

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Happy Hour Concerts: "Resonances"
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.

"Resonances," December 12, 2019
Krystina Marcoux, marimba
Juan Sebastian Delgado, cello

The explosive energy of the marimba and the lyricism of the cello create an interesting and unusual combination that transcends musical eras and styles. From Bach to Radiohead to tango, the duo STICK&BOW contrast classical pieces with more recent ones in their performances to reveal how the great masters of yesterday laid the foundations for several current musical styles.

"The Truth About Love," February 6, 2020
Alexandra Smither, soprano
Rachael Kerr, piano

One is married, the other is resolutely single. Two musicians and friends explore all the facets of love in a fun and uninhibited musical conversation. From Schubert to Britten and from love to heartache, soprano Alexandra Smither and pianist Rachael Kerr combine personal anecdotes with pieces for voice and piano in their quest to demystify true love.

"Peace," March 26, 2020
Anna-Sophie Neher, soprano
Carl-Matthieu Neher, piano

Driven by a desire to relay a social message that goes beyond notes, this brother and sister duo present a collection of luminous pieces written in a spirit of peace. The repertoire will consist of music by Francis Poulenc, Ilse Weber, Walter Kent, and others, creating a unifying concert that, with a little hope, will inspire everyone to build a better world.

Jeunesses Musicales Canada
Jeunesses Musicales Canada (JMC) is a talent incubator that boosts the careers of the best emerging artists, while helping to bring classical music to audiences of all ages. Today, JMC seasons include over 1,200 musical activities presented across Canada, ranging from high-calibre concerts to exciting musical activities for young audiences.

--France Gaignard, Media liaison

Maisons sur rue / Les villes intérieures
As part of the Homage Series, Ensemble Mruta Mertsi and the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) present the concert Maisons sur rue / Les villes intérieures, on December 5 at 7:30 pm, at Église Sacré-Cœur-de-Jésus,1471, Ontario Est, Montréal.

This concert will gather one hundred voices, 9 musicians and an ensemble of soloists. Inspired in part by the work of composer Katia Makdissi-Warren, due to its relationship to world music, the program will also include new works by André Pappathomas and Rachel Burman.

Several of the soloists and instrumentalists involved in this project have already collaborated for works of the honoured composer; they were invited to spontaneously nourish the event's creation process. In addition to the Ensemble Mruta Mertsi, the Chœur Bref will bring together vocal ensembles consisting of small groups from several Montreal-based choirs from various cultural communities. Le Grand Chœur du Centre-Sud, made up of residents of the Centre-Sud neighbourhood, completes the picture by ensuring a great profoundness of tones to the vocal works.

Information: 514 843-9305 ext 301érieures

--France Gaignard, Relationniste de presse

Sheridan Music Studio- Chicago Opens in the Fine Arts Building
It is with great pleasure that we announce the opening of our new studio in the historic Fine Arts Building, at 410 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 908, Chicago, Illinois. You can read more about us at our newly expanded website: Sheridan Music Studio.

Our new space is a premier teaching and performance venue, which features two grand pianos, and magnificent views of Lake Michigan and the Buckingham Fountain.

In addition to the private piano lessons, performance/rep classes and chamber music coaching we provide, our offerings include a new concert series, "Music with a View," a new video-podcast series Steinway Sundays with Susan and Svetlana, and a Young Artist Festival Series, as well as recording and studio rentals.

We are partnering with a brand new company based in California, Immedia, to bring many of our events to the wider public around the globe via a proprietary live-streaming platform. More information on that coming soon.

In the meantime, please take a look at the Music with View concerts we already have lined up on our "Events" page and reserve your seats now, as seating will be limited to no more than 40 people per event at this time:

--Susan Merdinger and Svetlana Belsky, Artistic Directors

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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