Classical Music News of the Week, January 25, 2020

Young People's Chorus of NYC Annual Gala March 10

Please join us for a Gala Evening at Jazz at Lincoln Center, featuring over 400 members of the award-winning Young People's Chorus of New York City.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Concert begins at 7:00 p.m.
Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall, NYC.
Dinner immediately following.

For complete information, visit

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Pianist Gabriela Montero Improvises at Princeton University Concerts
Princeton University Concerts' popular "Performances Up Close" series, with the audience seated onstage in Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University, in hour-long programs, continues on Tuesday, February 11 with Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero.

Two programs, one at 6PM (sold out) and one at 9PM, will showcase her extraordinary skills as both pianist and improviser. While this will be her Princeton debut, audiences might recognize her from her performance at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Tickets are just $30 General/$10 Students.

Ms. Montero will also participate in our new Neighborhood Project, visiting students at the Trenton Central High School during her visit to Princeton. And in tribute to her improvising a score to Charlie Chaplin's The Immigrant during one of her programs, the Princeton Garden Theatre will also screen Chaplin's Modern Times on Monday, February 10 at 7:30PM.

For more information, visit

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Daily Lineups Announced for Bang on a Can's New Festival
Bang on a Can announces the daily lineups today for LONG PLAY, a new, three-day destination music festival, presented for the first time from Friday, May 1 through Sunday, May 3, 2020 in Brooklyn, NY.

Featuring dozens of concerts, LONG PLAY also showcases a dense network of pioneering music venues in Brooklyn – with performances at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, Roulette, Public Records, ShapeShifter Lab, Littlefield, Brooklyn Music School, BAM Lepercq Space, outdoor events at The Plaza at 300 Ashland, and more. Festival passes and special early bird offers are available now at Additional scheduling information, venue assignments, and artists to be announced.

Bang on a Can's Co-Founders and Artistic Directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, say of the new festival: "For over 30 years, Bang on a Can has dedicated itself to working the frontier – bringing together the most innovative voices in music and building new audiences for new work. Right now – this minute – is an amazing time to be a musician. Musicians from every corner of the music world are pushing beyond their boundaries, questioning their roots, searching and stretching for the new. There has never been a time when music contained so much innovation and diversity, so much audacity and so much courage. And we want to show you all of it. With the creation of LONG PLAY we are presenting more kinds of musicians, playing more kinds of music, bending more kinds of minds. LONG PLAY expands and enlarges our scope and our reach, and puts more new faces on stages than ever before. It's a lot of music!"

For details, visit

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Evgeny Kissin, Helen Zell Honored at Music Institute Gala
The Music Institute of Chicago hosts its 2020 Anniversary Gala on Monday, April 20 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, 120 E. Delaware Street, celebrating its history as one of the largest and most respected community music schools in the nation. Highlights of this festive evening include presentations of the Dushkin Award to acclaimed pianist Evgeny Kissin and the 11th annual Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago to Helen Zell.

The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception, followed by an elegant dinner and awards presentation. Musical performances throughout the evening include talented students from the Music Institute's Community School and award-winning students from its renowned Academy for gifted pre-college musicians.

The prestigious Dushkin Award, established more than 30 years ago and named for the Music Institute's visionary founders Dorothy and David Dushkin, recognizes international luminaries in the world of music for their contributions to the art form, as well as to the education of youth. Past recipients include Wynton Marsalis, Pinchas Zukerman, Rachel Barton Pine, Joshua Bell, Lang Lang, Stephen Sondheim, Riccardo Muti, and Yo-Yo Ma, among others.

The Music Institute of Chicago's 2020 Anniversary Gala takes place Monday, April 20 at 6 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, 120 E. Delaware Street in Chicago. Individual tickets are $550; table sponsorships are $5,500–50,000.

For event information, please call 312.553.2000 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Piatigorsky International Cello Festival Updates
The 2020 Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, listed by The New York Times as a classical season highlight, comes to Los Angeles March 13 -22, presented by the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with support from The Strad and classical music radio KUSC.

This truly unparalleled, 10-day, 42-event Festival, brings together masters of the cello and young cellists from around the world, in a remarkable quadrennial celebration of the cello (the last iteration was in 2016). More than 30 renowned international artists representing 15 countries and four continents will participate in dozens of concerts, workshops and master classes.

The Festival and its Artistic Director, Ralph Kirshbaum, have recently announced a few changes and additions, including the appearance of 2019 Tchaikovsky Competition Winner Zlatomir Fung; an update on Julia Adolphe's newly commissioned work for Ralph Kirshbaum and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and an expansion of the Exhibition Hall, an on-site mini-expo for lovers and players of fine stringed instruments. Tickets to all 42 events of this truly unique international celebration of the cello are now on sale.

For complete information, visit

--Beverly Greenfield, Kirshbaum Associates

ICE Performs Dai Fujikura "Composer Portrait"
As one of the leading voices of his generation, composer Dai Fujikura's signature "high octane instrumental writing" (The Guardian) will be exhibited in a Miller Theatre "Composer Portrait" on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 8:00pm, performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), longtime champions of and collaborators with Fujikura.

ICE will be joined by soprano Alice Teyssier, guitarist Daniel Lippel, and conductor Daniela Candillari in an all-Fujikura program of chamber works. As a part of the New York Public Library and ICE series Collecting Composers, the Ensemble joins Dai Fujikura in a free, open conversation and workshop in advance of the performance on Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 7:00pm at the New York Public Library.

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Sun Valley Music Festival Announces 2020 Summer Season
Festival Music Director Alasdair Neale and Executive Director Derek Dean today announced the summer programming for the 36th annual Sun Valley Music Festival, which takes place from July 27 to August 19 in the scenic, Rocky Mountain resort city of Sun Valley, Idaho.

Since 1985, the Festival has brought together world-class musicians from distinguished orchestras across North America to perform three weeks of free chamber and orchestral concerts each summer. This season's lineup includes a special Beethoven @ 250 series; concerts featuring guest artists Leila Josefowicz, Daniil Trifonov, Orion Weiss, and string trio Time for Three; and—performed by the latter—a triple concerto by Kevin Puts, a Festival co-commission with the Florida Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony.

All Festival performances take place at the state-of-the-art Sun Valley Pavilion amphitheater at 6:30 p.m., except where specified otherwise.

For complete information, visit

--Shuman Associates PR

Watch Composer/Performer Max Richter's NPR Tiny Desk Concert
Composer and performer Max Richter and members of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) performed at NPR's offices for a Tiny Desk concert, which was published earlier this week.

Watch here:

Richter performed some of his most well-known works for the mini-concert, including "Vladimir's Blues" and "On The Nature of Daylight" from his critically acclaimed album The Blue Notebooks, as well as "Infra 5" from his record Infra.

Max was joined by the renowned American Contemporary Music Ensemble, with whom he has performed and toured throughout the United States, including for his epic 8-hour masterpiece SLEEP, which made its United States premiere in 2018 at SXSW in Austin, TX, in New York City, and Los Angeles.

For more information about Mr. Richter, visit

--Julia Casey, Universal Music

Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 Announces Competitors
The Menuhin Competition Trust and the Richmond Symphony today announced the 44 competitors selected from a pool of 321 applicants to participate in the biennial Menuhin Competition, the world's leading international competition for young violinists, to be held May 14-24.

The Competition, which is held every two years in a different location, is hosted this year in Richmond, Virginia, by a consortium of local institutions headed by the Richmond Symphony together with the City of Richmond, VPM, Virginia's home for public media, the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University.

The selected competitors – 22 Juniors (ages 15 and under) and 22 Seniors (ages 21 and under) – reflect the incredible diversity and prodigious global talent that distinguishes the Menuhin Competition as "the Olympics of the Violin." These extraordinary young musicians – representing 18 nationalities in 16 countries of residence across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and 13 states within the U.S. – will gather in Richmond in May 2020 not only to participate in Competition events, but to be immersed in music among peers, mentors and audiences, with masterclasses, panel discussions, workshops, concerts and engagement activities.

For the full list of events and to purchase tickets, please visit:

--Beverly Greenfield, Kirshbaum Associates

Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC) News
The Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC) will continue to bring a diverse group of world renowned classical musicians to Colorado's Vail Valley this Sunday with the Australian guitar duo, the Grigoryan Brothers.

Upcoming VPAC Winter Classical performances include:
Sunday, January 26 – Grigoryan Brothers  Famed Australian guitar duo playing on Australia Day

Although regarded as Australia's finest guitar duo performing much of the instrument's standard classical repertoire, the Grigoryan Brothers' passion is to expand their horizons through new arrangements, their own compositions and commissions.

Wednesday, January 29 – Joshua Bell & Alessio Bax:  Powerhouse matchup with world renowned violinist and pianist. With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era.

Thursday, January 30 – Classical Salon Series: Alessio Bax  Curated to provide a deeper connection with classical music: Taking place at a spectacular private home in Vail, Alessio Bax combines exceptional lyricism and insight with consummate technique, he is without a doubt "among the most remarkable young pianists now before the public" (Gramophone).

For more information, visit

--Ruthie Hamrick, Vail Valley Foundation

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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