Classical Music News of the Week, December 14, 2019

JACK Quartet Presents Inaugural JACK Frontiers Festival

On December 17 and 18, 2019, the JACK Quartet will kick off the inaugural season of JACK Frontiers at The New School's John L. Tishman Auditorium. Performances will feature recently-commissioned works from composer-collaborators Lester St. Louis, Clara Iannotta, Tyshawn Sorey, and Catherine Lamb.

JACK Frontiers is a vehicle for the JACK Quartet to bring distinctive voices, that challenge the norms of concert music, into conversation with audiences. Crafted through years of close collaborative relationships and designed to bring new perspectives into the spotlight, Frontiers introduces dynamic creators to the JACK community and expands the notion of what a string quartet can be.

JACK Frontiers is made possible with the generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Composers Forum, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Chamber Music America, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, and The New School, where the quartet is in residence at the Mannes School of Music.

John L. Tishman Auditorium
University Center, The New School
63 5th Ave, New York, NY 10003

For complete information, visit https://jackquartet.com/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Eun Sun Kim Appointed Music Director of San Francisco Opera
Eun Sun Kim has been appointed the Caroline H. Hume Music Director of San Francisco Opera (SFO), effective August 1, 2021. The appointment was announced by SFO General Director Matthew Shilvock at the War Memorial Opera House.

Ms. Kim will become the fourth music director in the history of San Francisco Opera, leading the orchestra, chorus, and music staff, and working with General Director Matthew Shilvock; Managing Director: Artistic Gregory Henkel; and other members of the Company on repertoire and casting. She will be a key member of the creative leadership, helping to shape the artistic direction of the Company's second century, working closely with the young artist programs, and bringing great opera to Bay Area audiences.

The announcement comes after an inclusive search process led by Mr. Shilvock and Mr. Henkel in which feedback was invited and shared from all parts of the organization.

Effective immediately, Ms. Kim is Music Director Designate, in which role she will participate in the planning of future seasons and in orchestral auditions. She will conduct the Company's new production of Beethoven's Fidelio that will be a part of the opening weekend of the 2020–21 season. Complete information about San Francisco Opera's 2020–21 season will be announced in January.

As Music Director, she will conduct up to four productions in each season of her initial five-year contract, in addition to conducting concerts, working with San Francisco Opera's resident artist Adler Fellows, and participating in the executive leadership of the organization.

For more information, visit sfopera.com

--Beth Stewart, Verismo Communications

Miller Theatre Announces the Winter 2020 Edition of Its Free Pop-Up Concerts
Whether it is one's first visit to Miller Theatre or fiftieth, the free and fun Pop-Up Concerts provide the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with today's most exciting new music. Sit onstage and enjoy a free drink during these hour-long weeknight concerts, and mingle with the musicians and fellow concertgoers after the show. Onstage seating is first-come, first-served. All concerts start at 6 p.m. and doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, January 21
Lauren Cauley, violin
The spellbinding violinist Lauren Cauley is no stranger to Miller audiences; she is a celebrated member of many ensembles, including the Mivos Quartet and Ensemble Signal. Here, she gets the spotlight, in an adventurous program of recent works for solo violin that shows the breadth of sonic potential of her instrument.

Tuesday, February 25
Austin Wulliman & Conrad Tao
Austin Wulliman, violin; Conrad Tao, piano
Austin Wulliman, violinist of the JACK Quartet, has been praised as both a chamber musician and soloist. The "gifted, adventuresome violinist" (Chicago Tribune) demonstrates his talents in both categories in this Pop-Up, collaborating with pianist Conrad Tao, called "one of the most compelling voices in classical music" (The Baltimore Sun). Don't miss this star-studded evening featuring recent works, including four world premieres.

Tuesday,  March 31
Brandee Younger & Dezron Douglas
Brandee Younger, harp; Dezron Douglas, bass
The duo of harp and bass may be an uncommon combination, but this particular duo makes one wish it was a regular occurrence. Genre-defying harpist Brandee Younger—who recently opened Miller's Jazz series—and the in-demand bassist Dezron Douglas come together for an incredible evening of inspired jazz works.

Tuesday, April 14
The Hands Free
James Moore, guitar & banjo; Caroline Shaw, violin
Eleonore Oppenheim, bass; Nathan Koci, accordion
The Hands Free is an acoustic quartet that creates "a beautifully eclectic mix of sounds that depict an immense variety of places and emotions—all while maintaining the warmth and spontaneity of an impromptu jam session" (Second Inversion). Making their Miller debut, the group features four unique and imaginative composer/performers.

Miller Theater
Columbia University, NYC

For more information, visit https://www.millertheatre.com/visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Tulsa Opera Announces 2020–21 Season
General Director Ken McConnell and Artistic Director Tobias Picker today announced Tulsa Opera's 73rd season comprising Verdi's Rigoletto; Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice in a new production with dance; and Mr. Picker and librettist Aryeh Lev Stollman's new opera Awakenings, based on the book by Oliver Sacks and directed by Tulsa native James Robinson.

Mr. McConnell said:
"We are very much looking forward to the coming season, which includes operas spanning nearly three centuries. From an 18th-century adaptation of opera's oldest tale, to Verdi's first masterpiece, to a brand-new opera by Tulsa Opera's Artistic Director Tobias Picker, there is truly something for everyone. We hope that through this variety of programming and the formidable talents of our guest artists, we are able to strengthen even further the community's great love for opera."

For complete information, visit tulsaopera.com

--Shuman Associates PR

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Presents Vadim Gluzman at Carnegie Hall
On Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 7:00pm, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra returns to Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall to present a program celebrating the changing of the seasons. Artistic Partner Jessie Montgomery and composer Jannina Norpoth's brand new reimagining of Tchaikovsky's endearing collection of piano miniatures, The Seasons, adds to the slim collection of Romantic repertoire for small orchestra. Frequent Orpheus collaborator, violinist Vadim Gluzman, returns to perform Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Of the performance, Gluzman says "What challenges and excites me the most today about performing Vivaldi's Seasons, is combining the vast knowledge and understanding of the baroque period performance practice with the energy and excitement of the modern world. Using baroque bow for clarity of phrasing, elegance and crispness of sound, yet at the same time projecting emotions that speak to all of us today. Vivaldi is timeless and universal in his appeal and it is an incredible inspiration and privilege to be bringing his music to life at Carnegie Hall!"

Single tickets start at $25 and can be purchased now at carnegiehall.org, by calling CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800, or visiting the Carnegie Hall Box Office located at 57th Street and 7th Avenue in NYC. Orpheus subscriptions start at $59 and are available at orpheusnyc.org or by calling (212) 896-1704.

For more information, visit https://www.carnegiehall.org/en/calendar/2020/01/25/orpheus-chamber-orchestra-0700pm

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

The Moment a Child Finds a Home at YPC, She Becomes a Young Artist
Our children come to sing, they stay for artistry and friendship, and they go on to create a better tomorrow. At the heart of Young People's Chorus are young people from all over New York City who come together to create beautiful music and meaningful connections. Together they feel the magic and joy of singing. YPC encourages each and every child to flourish, supporting them in finding their voices as artists and human beings.

Please make a gift to YPC this holiday season. Whether you can give $10 or $10,000, you are changing a life. And, between now and December 31, a generous donor is matching all new and increased gifts!

Donate Now:
We are already half way to our goal of $50,000 by December 31: https://ypc.org/support/donate/

Text-to-Give:
Text the code "HEARYPC" to 44-321 to donate anytime between now and December 31 to help us impact the lives of even more young people.

Surround Sound:
Spreading the word to friends and family and encouraging them to donate can go a long way! Share YPC's story through videos of our amazing choristers. Working together, we can surround our world with beautiful voices.

Watch and hear "Heart of Tomorrow": https://ypc.org/heartomorrow/

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Michael Tilson Thomas Celebrated at Kennedy Center
This past Sunday, newly awarded Kennedy Center Honoree Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) was celebrated in a special tribute presentation at the 42nd annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala. The tribute included a performance by more than 40 alumni of the New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy (NWS), which MTT co-founded 32 years ago as a training ground for the next generation of classical musicians.

Conducted by NWS alumnus and Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams, the alumni musicians paid tribute to MTT's wide-ranging artistry, performing a program that celebrated his acclaimed interpretations of modern masters, his advocacy for American music, and his own work as a composer. Joining the orchestra in performance were MTT's longtime friends and collaborators Audra McDonald and Yuja Wang, as well as Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, who recently collaborated with MTT as part of Metallica and San Francisco Symphony's S&M2 concert. Spoken tributes were also given by Mr. Ulrich and actress Debra Winger.

The gala will be televised on CBS on Sunday, December 15, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

--John Hamby, Shuman Associates

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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 John 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

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@gmail.com

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa