Classical Music News of the Week, February 1, 2020

Miller Theatre Presents a Composer Portrait of Caroline Shaw

Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts continues its 20th season of Composer Portraits with "Caroline Shaw." Attacca Quartet and So Percussion perform the Pulitzer-winning
star composer's chamber music from the last decade.

Thursday, February 6, 2020, 8:00 P.M.
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, NYC

Tickets start at $20; students with valid ID start at $7.

Miller Theatre Executive Director Melissa Smey writes, "A wonderful facet of our Composer Portraits is that we reflect the breadth of creative practice embraced by composers today, and Caroline Shaw does it all: she composes, produces, sings, and plays violin. Here her multiplicity is on display, with a focus on her string quartets, her writing for So Percussion, as well as performing as a singer. Another highlight for me is welcoming back So Percussion to the Miller stage; they were deeply involved in the Composer Portraits series in its formative years, and it will be a welcome homecoming."

Composer, violinist, and singer Caroline Shaw became the youngest recipient ever of the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2013, and she's since taken both the pop and classical music worlds by storm. A "breakout star of New York's contemporary classical scene" (The Guardian), Shaw is a unique creative voice whose music paints luscious soundscapes with moments of discord and unexpected resolutions. The Attacca Quartet and So Percussion, both close collaborators of the composer, perform a program of her works from the last decade.

selected songs (2019)
Narrow Sea (2017)
Blueprint (2016)
Entr'acte (2011/2014)
Punctum (2009/2013)

Attacca Quartet
So Percussion
Caroline Shaw, voice

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Peter Serkin, 72, Dies; Pianist with Pedigree Who Forged a New Path
Peter Serkin, a pianist admired for his insightful interpretations, technically pristine performances and tenacious commitment to contemporary music, died on Saturday morning at his home in Red Hook, N.Y., in Dutchess County, near the campus of Bard University, where he was on the faculty. He was 72.

His death, from pancreatic cancer, was announced by his family.

Mr. Serkin was descended from storied musical lineages on both sides of his family. His father was the eminent pianist Rudolf Serkin; his maternal grandfather was the influential conductor and violinist Adolf Busch, whose musical forebears went back generations. whose musical forebears went back generations.

--New York Times

So Percussion and Caroline Shaw Join Forces in Free Concert
So Percussion, Princeton University Concerts' Edward T. Cone Performers-in-Residence, are gearing up for their final free performance on the Department of Music's 2019-2020 season. Free tickets will be released at 10AM on Friday, February 7 for their performance on Saturday, February 15 at 7:30PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton University, NJ.

The program will feature guest artists percussionist Ji Hye Jung and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, including a recent  collaboration between Shaw and So -- a new song cycle touching on influences from James Joyce to pop group ABBA.

For complete information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Miller Theatre Presents a Composer Portrait of Oscar Bettison
With an affinity for inventing instruments from found material and for reimagining the roles of existing instruments, Oscar Bettison's music explores the boundaries of pitch and noise, classical and rock, convention and invention. His work has been described as possessing "an unconventional lyricism and a menacing beauty" (WNYC). Two chamber concertos comprise this Portrait, which features the exciting return of Alarm Will Sound to the Miller stage.

Thursday, February 20, 2020, 8:00 P.M.
Columbia University's Miller Theatre, located north of the Main Campus Gate at 116th St. & Broadway on the ground floor of Dodge Hall.

Pale Icons of Night (2018) New York premiere
Livre des Sauvages (2012)

Courtney Orlando, violin
Alarm Will Sound, Alan Pierson, conductor

Directions and information are available via the Miller Theatre Box Office at 212.854.7799 or online at

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Concerts at St. Ignatius Presents Unaccompanied Choral Music of Verdi, Rossini, and Others
Concerts at St. Ignatius continues its Choral Classics series with a deep dive into a cappella Italian choral music from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Italy "Unplugged" takes place on February 25, 2020 at 8pm at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola (980 Park Ave) and will feature the unaccompanied Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola under the direction of K. Scott Warren, Robert Reuter, and Michael Sheetz. Tickets are $25-$80; purchase at or call 212-288-2520.

Rossini and Verdi, anchors of Concerts at St. Ignatius's 2019/20 season, are represented on this program by a set of sumptuous motets. Although the bulk of their compositional output was opera, they remained conscious of the great choral tradition of their musical ancestors: Palestrina, Monteverdi, and Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli. In Rossini's Cantemus Domino and O salutaris hostia and Verdi's Ave Maria and Lauda alla vergine Maria, these two masters of the stage return to the church, the cradle of the choral tradition.

The program pays homage to Palestrina's influence on Italian choral music with his Missa sine nomine, one of his many large-scale Mass settings. Scored for six voice parts, J. S. Bach was so impressed with this Mass that he copied it by hand. The evening concludes with 20th-century composer Ildebrando Pizzetti's Requiem from 1922. Like Rossini and Verdi, Pizzetti was also predominantly an opera composer, but made some forays into the world of church music. His Requiem is woven from Gregorian and other chant-like motifs, creating a radiant, multi-textured soundscape that recalls 16th-century polyphony. Pizzetti represents the ultimate synthesis of the wide array of choral styles that came out of Italy over many centuries.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 8 p.m.
Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, Main Sanctuary, NYC
Tickets: $25-$80
For more information, visit

--Caroline Heaney, Bucklesweet

Calidore Quartet Gives World Premiere of New Anna Clyne Work
Princeton University Concerts ("PUC") is thrilled to welcome back the Calidore String Quartet at 8PM on Thursday, February 20 to Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey for a world premiere performance of Anna Clyne's Breathing Statues, co-commissioned by PUC and other presenters across the country. Last on our series in 2015 when they were still on the cusp of their career, the Quartet now returns as one of the most decorated and well-respected young string quartets internationally. Tickets are $25-$55 General/$10 Students.

Annual chamber jam: following their concert, the Calidore Quartet invites string players of all levels and ages to read through a Beethoven string quartet with them on the stage of Richardson Auditorium. This is a free opportunity for amateur musicians to play with some of the world's greatest professionals.

Registration is open at and 609-258-2800.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

The Annenberg Center Presents The Crossing in New Production
The Annenberg Center presents Grammy-winning new-music choir The Crossing in the premiere of a newly staged theatrical production, Knee Plays, on Friday, February 21, 2020 at 8pm and Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 8pm at the Harold Prince Theatre. The program, part of the Center's #GLASSFEST celebration, features a rare opportunity to hear Knee Plays from Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach and David Byrne's New Orleans-inspired contribution to Robert Wilson's large scale project, the CIVIL warS. The premiere will be narrated by popular Philadelphia actor Dito van Reigersberg.

The production, conceived and led by Donald Nally, explores the Knee Plays' spirit of connection and transformation, and plays with the contrast between the objectivity of Byrne's Knee Plays and the subjectivity of those of Glass. The costumed singers of The Crossing move into roles that stretch their identities, performing on instruments from their past and connecting that past to their present roles among the world's leading choral musicians. Arrangements by The Crossing's assistant conductor Kevin Vondrak echo David Byrne's original orchestrations for Les Miserable Brass Band and are especially adapted – at times virtuosically and at other times with humor – to this eclectic tribe which, all the while, retains the sung word at the center of their art.

Knee Plays
Friday, February 21, 2020 at 8pm
Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 8pm
Presented by the Annenberg Center
Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Music Institute Students & Alum Win Competitions
Current students and an alumnus of the Music Institute of Chicago  won important competitions recently.

Aurora Piano Quartet was the 1st place winner at the Rembrandt Chamber Musicians 25th Annual High School Chamber Music Competition. The competition took place Sunday, January 26 at North Park College. Founded in 1995, the Rembrandt Chamber Musicians Annual High School Chamber Music competition is highly regarded as one of the premier competitions of its kind in the Midwest. The Rembrandt Young Artists will perform at the Winds of Spring Concerts in March. Aurora Piano Quartet comprise Sidney Lee, violin (Arlington Heights); Elinor Detmer, violin (Chicago); Colin Song, piano (Glenview); Amelia Zitoun, cello (Shorewood, Wisconsin)—coached by Music Institute faculty Elaine Felder and Sang Yee Lee

Honorable Mention: Dasani String Quartet – Isabella Brown (Gurnee), Katya Moeller (Coralville, Iowa), Zechariah Mo (Rolling Meadows), Brandon Cheng (Chicago)—coached by Music Institute faculty Mathias Tacke.

2nd Triennial Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition: Academy alumnus Julian Rhee, 19 (Brookfield, Wisconsin), has been awarded 1st prize at the 2020 The Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition in Boca Raton, Florida, United States. Julian, who studied with Almita Vamos,  is a current undergraduate student of Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory. Julian is a former major prize winner at the Johansen and Klein International String Competitions.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Salon/Sanctuary Concerts Partners with Three Prestigious Venetian Institutions
Salon/Sanctuary Concerts enters a new partnership with three prestigious Venetian institutions to present concerts of Venetian baroque music in the historic Palazzo Grimani.

As the 400th anniversary year of the great Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi (1619–1677) drew to a close, Salon/Sanctuary offered three original programs dedicated to "la virtuossissima cantatrice" in the stunning Renaissance edifice of Palazzo Grimani, the only Roman mannerist-inspired house in Venice.

Jessica Gould, the Founder and Artistic Director of Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, was honored with the invitation to conceive and perform a series of original programs of Venetian music by Marco Rosa Salva, the Director of the Scuola di Musica Antica Venezia, the early music school in residence at Palazzo Grimani. The invitation provided not only the opportunity for some characteristically inventive programming from Salon/Sanctuary, but also for the creation of a new resident ensemble, The Camerata Grimani.

"Barbara Strozzi e la sua eredità," the first concert on December 28th, explored Strozzi's artistic heritage, with works by her, her teacher Francesco Cavalli (1602 – 1676) and his teacher, the great Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643). In the second concert on January 3rd (postponed from earlier in December on account of the flooding) Gould was joined by French mezzo-soprano Lila Hajosi to perform selections from Strozzi's only volume of sacred music. The third concert, on January 5th, featured Gould and Cantalupi in "Ave Regina," a recital of seicento Venetian works that explored the idea of the regal feminine, sacred and secular, pagan and christian, through the lens of characters both exaulted and denigrated, in music composed entirely by men.

Future programming plans include interdisciplinary projects that interweave historical dance and baroque music, with the guidance and participation of historical dancer, stage director, musicologist and SMAV faculty member Ilaria Sainato.

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Claudia Acuña Brings Bilingual Concert to Jazz at Princeton
Jazz at Princeton University resumes its 2019-2020 season on Saturday, February 22nd at 8PM with beloved Chilean singer/songwriter/arranger Claudia Acuña joining students in the Vocal Collective for a program titled "Historias" ("Stories").

The concert, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ will bridge cultures and traditions, featuring songs performed in both Spanish and English. Tickets are $15 General/$5 Students.

For more information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

From Radio to Livestream - "Relevant Tones" Finds a New Audience
"Relevant Tones" is a new Livestreamed broadcast series that features conversations with leading thinkers on important current topics paired with performances of music by living composers inspired by the topic.

Hosted by composer Seth Boustead, "Relevant Tones" is dedicated to presenting a plurality of voices, engaging with the world, and presenting classical music, in all its various guises, as a living art form.

Art doesn't happen in a vacuum. Current events, trends and personal histories have an enormous impact on the direction of music history and "Relevant Tones" covers these events in real time.

"Relevant Tones" was an award-winning nationally syndicated radio program about contemporary classical music but Boustead has reformatted it for the digital age and for a younger audience than is typical for classical radio. The show seeks to engage in its topics with seriousness yet keep a light touch throughout.

For more information, visit

--Seth Boustead, Access Contemporary Music

WinterMezzo II: Bach Cello Suites
WinterMezzo II: Bach Cello Suites, with Jonah Kim, cellist; maartje Lawrence-Hermans and Ryan Lawrence, choreographers.

Only 50 tickets left!
Cellist Jonah Kim is joined by dancers from the Movement Arts Collective for a collaborative performance of three of J. S. Bach's famous suites for solo cello.
Suite No. 1 in G major for solo cello, BWV 1007
Suite No. 3 in C major for solo cello BWV 1009
Suite No. 5 in C minor for solo cello BWV 1011

Call (805) 781-3009 or click the link:

--Festival Mosaic

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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