Classical Music News of the Week, December 21, 2019

George Crumb Festival Features Concerts, Exhibition, Panel

The Music Institue of Chicago presents George Crumb Festival, January 31-February 1 at Nichols Concerto Hall. Concerts, score exhibit, and panel with George Crumb.

The Music Institute of Chicago celebrates Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Crumb, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, with a festival of music, discussion, and exhibition January 31 and February 1 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois.

Both programs feature Music Institute faculty and special guests. A reception of champagne and chocolates takes place during each performance.

The January 31 program includes Sun and Shadow with mezzo soprano Barbara Ann Martin and pianist Marie Alatalo; Makrokosmos I with pianist Marie Alatalo; Makrokosmos IV for four hands with pianists Louise Chan and Susan Tang; and Makrokosmos III with pianists Louise Chan and Fiona Queen and percussionists John Corkill and Joshua Graham.

The February 1 program includes Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale) with flutist Melissa Ngan, cellist Herine Coetzee Koschak, and pianist Katherine Petersen, all members of Fifth House Ensemble, performing on a stage filled with blue lighting; Eine Kleine Mitternacht Musik with pianist Katherine Petersen; Makrokosmos II with pianist Jeffrey Jacob; and Night of the Four Moons with mezzo soprano Barbara Ann Martin, flutist Caroline Pittman, percussionist Joshua Graham, and other musicians to be confirmed, conducted by James Setapen.

Panel discussion:
On February 1 at 5 p.m., a panel discussion on Crumb's life and work—with Crumb himself joining the conversation remotely by video call—will include composer William Neil, Barbara Ann Martin and others  to be announced.

A multimedia exhibit, including Crumb's artistic and meticulously notated and autographed scores and a multimedia presentation including photos of the composer and video, will be on display at Nichols Concert Hall throughout the festival. Providing materials are Bridge Records, which is issuing an ongoing series of "Complete Crumb" recordings; Barbara Ann Martin; and others.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

January on PBS: Vienna Philharmonic and The Metropolitan Opera
Great Performances - From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2020 and Great Performances at the Met: Manon.

Hosted by Hugh Bonneville and conducted by three-time GRAMMY Award-winner Andris Nelsons, "Great Performances – From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2020" premieres Wednesday, January 1, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. with an encore performance at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The broadcast will be available to stream the following day on and the PBS Video app.

Season 14 of "Great Performances at the Met" premieres Sunday, January 5 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) with Massenet's French tale Manon. Soprano Lisette Oropesa stars as Manon, alongside tenor Michael Fabiano as Chevalier des Grieux, and Artur Rucinski (Lescaut), Brett Polegato (de Brétigny), Kwangchul Youn (Comte des Grieux) and Carlo Bosi (Guillot de Morfontaine) round out the cast. Maurizio Benini conducts.

--Elizabeth Boone, WNET

Los Angeles Master Chorale Announces New Board Members
The Los Angeles Master Chorale announced today the appointment of three new members to its Board of Directors: Alex G. Romain, Laura Smolowe and Andrea Williams.

The Board, chaired by Philip A. Swan, provides leadership in carrying out the Master Chorale's mission to share the spectrum of choral music with the widest possible audience. "We are very fortunate to add Alex G. Romain, Laura Smolowe and Andrea Williams to the Master Chorale's Board of Directors," said Swan. "Their extensive backgrounds and areas of expertise will bring indispensable value to the Board, and will help us realize the Master Chorale's vision as we look towards the future."

"We are thrilled to announce the first phase of our leadership expansion with the election of Alex, Andrea and Laura," said Jean Davidson, President & CEO. "These three new board members will bring their unique perspectives on the community that we serve here in LA, and around the world."

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Death of Classical Announces The Crypt Sessions Winter 2020 Performances
Death of Classical is excited to announce a trio of Winter performances of The Crypt Sessions, its acclaimed concert series of chamber music at the Crypt Chapel under the Church of the Intercession in Harlem.

The season begins on January 13 with self-proclaimed "classically trained garage band" string trio Time for Three performing a program entitled "Mavericks." On February 14, harpist Bridget Kibbey will be joined by mandolinist Avi Avital in a special Valentine's Day program - because nothing says "I Love You" like a gothic Crypt Chapel. And then on March 6, the historically-informed performance experts of the Diderot String Quartet, accompanied by the inimitable Harry Bicket on harpsichord, will perform "Journeys," a baroque program of lesser-known gems.

Each performance will begin with a pre-concert reception of wine and cheese, before guests descend to the crypt for the concert. Pianos for The Crypt Sessions are generously provided by Yamaha.

For further information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Giancarlo Guerrero Brings the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic to U.S.
This winter, the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic embarks on a twelve-city US tour with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, Music Director of the Polish orchestra since 2017. This tour is the first time the orchestra has toured the United States since 2012. Throughout the tour, the orchestra will perform works of Polish composers from across generations, including Frederic Chopin, Karol Szymanowski and Witold Lutoslawski, an original patron of the National Forum of Music (NFM) in Wroclaw. Johannes Brahms, a composer with close ties to Wroclaw will also be represented on tour along with other Central European composers Antonin Dvorák and Béla Bartók.

The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic begins the tour on January 10 in Ft. Myers, FL and goes on to Gainesville (January 11), Daytona Beach (Jan 12) and West Palm Beach, FL (Jan 13-14) performing a Szymanowski Concert Overture or Lutoslawski Symphonic Variations; Dvorák's "New World" Symphony or Brahms's Symphony No. 1 and Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 with pianist David Fray, described by Die Welt as the "perfect example of a thinking musician." Polish violinist Janusz Wawrowski joins the tour for the Szymanowski Violin Concerto in a second concert in West Palm Beach also including Lutoslawski Symphonic Variations and Brahms Symphony No. 1. The orchestra performs an all- orchestral program of Lutoslawski, Szymanowski and Dvorák in Greenville, SC on January 19.

In Nashville, Chicago and Carmel, IN, outside Indianapolis (Jan 21-25), Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski joins the Wroclaw Philharmonic for Bartók's Concerto No. 3 in performances that include Szymanowski's Concert Overture, Lutoslawski's Symphonic Variations and Brahms's Symphony No. 1. A key figure in Wroclaw's musical history, Brahms was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Wroclaw (then Breslau) in 1879. In response to the composer's note of thanks, the city urged him to come to the University to compose for a year. He accepted the invitation and went on to write his Academic Festival Overture for the city of Breslau as a gesture of thanks.

The final leg of the tour will bring the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic west to Wickenburg near Phoenix, AZ (Jan 29), Orange (Jan 30), Palo Alto (Jan 31) and Rohnert Park, CA (Feb 1) where they perform the Szymanowski concerto with violinist Bomsori Kim, along with the orchestral works of Lutoslawski, Dvorák and Brahms. Bomsori  is a prize-winner of Poland's International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition and is presented on tour with the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic as part of the country's continued support of this "fierce" (New York Times) talent described by the Violin Channel as "One of the eminent young, rising stars of the international concert stage."

For tour dates and cities, visit

--Rebecca Davis PR

"YPC is my happy place..."
"YPC is my happy place. It's a place to be creative...a place to come together." --Olivia, YPC Chorister

When you donate to Young People's Chorus of NYC, you give the gifts of music, community and joy to children who rely on your support to sing with us. This year, YPC impacted a record number of young people through its life-changing program of music education. With your help, even more singers will connect through the power of music in 2020. Please help us reach our fundraising goal of $50,000 before December 31!

Donate now:

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. 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.

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Pianist Benjamin Hochman Performs at New York's 92Y Jan 24
The internationally acclaimed pianist and conductor Benjamin Hochman will be joined by a stellar group of musicians and vocalists at 92nd Street Y's Buttenwieser Hall on Friday January 24, at  8:00 p.m. for two great works of musical storytelling: Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and Janácek's Diary of One Who Disappeared.  This is the second of two concerts Hochman is performing this season - as part of 92Y's "Inflection" Series - that explore the relationship of words and music.

The sublime mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano and distinguished tenor William Ferguson will join Hochman in a performance of Leoš Janácek's Diary of One Who Disappeared. (This is the first time Hochman and Cano have performed together.) For Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, Hochman will be joined by a true living legend, soprano Lucy Shelton, with an instrumental ensemble featuring Tara Helen O'Connor, flute; Romie de Guise-Langlois, clarinet; Jennifer Frautschi, violin; and Raman Ramakrishnan, cello.

For complete information, visit

--Kirshbaum Associates Inc.

The Venice Concerts
We are honored and delighted to inaugurate a new partnership with the Scuola di Musica Antica Venezia at Palazzo Grimani in the winter of 2019-2020, in collaboration with the Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo and the Polo Museale del Veneto.

As the 400th anniversary year of the great Venetian Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) draws to a close, we commence our Venetian residency with a mini-series in her honor, performed by members of our newly formed ensemble, The Camerata Grimani.

If you find yourself in Venice in the coming weeks, please join us. To find out more about our international collaborations and inquire into the possibility of bespoke early music and art history patron tours, please click here and get in touch:

--Salon/Sanctuary 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