Classical Music News of the Week, February 22, 2020

15th Biennial Gilmore International Keyboard Festival

The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, which is presented biennially in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is the largest gathering of keyboard artists in North America, this year including nearly 40 pianists in more than 100 concerts and events from Wednesday, April 22 to Sunday, May 10.

Staging the festival for the 15th time, The Gilmore continues its commitment to showcasing the keyboard through a wide variety of programming—from solo and concerto performances by most recently named Gilmore Artist Igor Levit; to chamber jazz by "Late Show" bandleader Jon Batiste; to the inspiring educational work of pianist Maria João Pires, which she brings to the U.S. for the first time. The festival's diverse performance schedule is complemented by an extensive series of master classes, pre-concert talks, film screenings, and lectures, as well as an interactive, public art installation. Among those leading master classes are Igor Levit, Yefim Bronfman, and Beatrice Rana. The festival experience is further enriched by its unique setting in West Michigan, characterized by rolling countryside filled with orchards, wineries, art galleries and farmers markets, as well as the natural beauty of nearby Lake Michigan.

Tickets may be purchased online at thegilmore.org, by phone at (269) 359-7311, or in person at the Gilmore box office, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall.

For a full list of festival concerts and performances, visit https://www.thegilmore.org/2020-festival/

--John Hamby, Shuman Associates

Violinist Sean Lee and Pianist Peter Dugan in Paganini's Complete Caprices
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents award-winning violinist Sean Lee in a recital with pianist Peter Dugan on Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 7:30pm at the Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Studio. The performance features Lee and Dugan in Schumann's arrangement of Paganini's Complete Caprices for Violin and Piano, Op. 1 (c. 1805).

A top prizewinner at the "Premio Paganini" International Violin Competition, Lee embraces the legacy of his late mentor, violinist Ruggiero Ricci, as one of few violinists who dare to perform the complete 24 Caprices of Niccolò Paganini in recital. This is the first time that all 24 of Paganini's Caprices have been performed at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in the organization's 50 year history.

Of Paganini's Caprices, Lee says "The 24 Caprices of Niccolò Paganini are like the Mount Everest of the violin repertoire. But beyond the technical challenges, each Caprice is a compelling character piece--and even more colorful with the addition of Robert Schumann's piano arrangements, which keep the original violin score completely intact, unchanged. Having studied in my high school years with violinist Ruggiero Ricci (who made the first solo violin recording in 1947), I'm thrilled to perform the complete set, something I didn't even dream of when I initially studied them!"

Tickets: $68. Link: https://www.chambermusicsociety.org/nyc/events/upcoming/the-art-of-the-recital-march-26-2020/

Livestream will be available here: https://www.chambermusicsociety.org/watch-and-listen/live/art-of-the-recital-sean-lee-and-peter-dugan-march-26-2020/

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

YPC: ACDA Eastern Region Conference and Annual Gala Benefit Concert
Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez and singers from Young People's Chorus will travel to Rochester, NY to participate in a major regional conference for choral directors. YPC is honored to be chosen as one of the choruses to perform in individual concert sessions, which will take place at the historic Hochstein School of Music on Friday, March 6.

Then, on March 10, 2020, 7:00 p.m., at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall, under the baton of Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez, YPC is set to hit the stage for the Annual Gala Benefit Concert. The event will be hosted by Grammy Award-winning superstar Jason Mraz, whose passion for inclusive arts education deeply aligns with YPC's mission of diversity, education and artistic excellence. Over 400 young artists will be joined by YPC alumna Aneesa Folds from Broadway's "Freestyle Love Supreme" and acclaimed soprano Lisa Delan. Get ready for a show-stopping performance full of dazzling choreography and music ranging from Gordon Getty and Karl Jenkins to Prince and Hall and Oates.

For more information, visit https://ypc.org/

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Katia Makdissi-Warren: A Record of New Creations
The SMCQ is continuing its series "Tribute to Composer Katia Makdissi-Warren." The Homage Series, originated by the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) honouring composer Katia Makdissi-Warren, begins the second part of its season with a multitude of events celebrating her music. This movement sparked an unprecedented rally around the composer, who has accumulated some twenty new creations this year, as much for soloists, small groups, dance and theater, as for large orchestras. A record to which are added numerous interpretations of other pieces from her repertoire, including some performed internationally, and an enthusiastic influence with young people in schools.

Autumn illustrated the musical and cultural mix which inspire her work. From the opening of the Arab World Festival of Montreal (nominated for the Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal) to Inuit throat singing, as well as the SMCQ's major concerts … This broad spectrum, demonstrating her ability to transcend musical boundaries, was recently awarded the Prix Opus "Inclusion et diversité" for her Oktoécho ensemble.

To stay informed on all SMCQ projects, subscribe to our infolettre: http://www.smcq.qc.ca/smcq/fr/apropos/liste/

--France Gaignard, Relationniste de presse

The Art of Pleasure at Merkin Hall
New York Festival of Song brings its Emerging Artists to the Mainstage with The Art of Pleasure. The beauties of the seaside, romance, and the spirit--along with some guilty pleasures too. Music by Montsalvatge, Rachmaninoff, Piazzolla, Bernstein, Jonathan Dove, Tom Lehrer, Gabriel Kahane, Michael John LaChiusa, The Kinks, and more.

From artistic director/co-founder/pianist/host Steven Blier:
"The world seems to be going through a very rough patch, so I thought that people needed to take a deep breath and take stock of life's pleasures—the delight of the seaside in August, the wish-fulfillment of dreams, the intoxication of a new love affair. The Art of Pleasure brings all of them to musical life, in music ranging from Rachmaninoff and Montsalvatge to Lehár and Musto. But we also dip into a range of guilty pleasures—private compulsions and obsessions that we usually try to keep under wraps. For those, we have songs by Jonathan Dove, Leonard Bernstein, Gabriel Kahane, and the Kinks. The playlist takes us through a series of supersaturated fantasies, recharging us for the challenges ahead."

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 8:00 p.m.
Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
129 West 67th Street, NYC

For complete information and tickets, visit https://www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/mch/event/new-york-festival-of-song-the-art-of-pleasure/

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Family Concert - Orli Shaham's Bach Yard
Princeton University Concerts' annual concert for kids ages 3-6 and their families is one of the most heart-warming events of our season. On Saturday, March 14 at 1PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ, internationally renowned pianist Orli Shaham will join wind players from Carnegie Hall's "Ensemble Connect" for "Orli Shaham's Bach Yard: Welcome the Winds!," a program introducing youngsters to wind instruments and the joy of live chamber music.

Tickets are just $5 kids/$10 adults: http://princetonuniversityconcerts.princeton.edu/concerts/concert/orli-shahams-bach-yard

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Lara Downes Teaching the Importance of Spirituals and Freedom
Throughout 2020 pianist Lara Downes will host workshops and performances nationwide with at-risk youth and local youth choirs. She will use selections featured on Some Of These Days - "We Shall Overcome," "Down By The Riverside," "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child," "Steal Away" and others - to teach younger generations about the powerful legacy and lineage of these freedom songs.

Lara and the students will talk about the history of these songs together, then rehearse and perform them as a way to foster a deeper connection to the lessons of the past while illuminating the potential of the future. Exploring the texts and melodies, Lara will lead students in reflection of the nature of progress, and ask them to recognize and articulate their own potential to act as agents of change in their communities. Workshops are scheduled in New York City, Los Angeles, Sacramento, St. Louis, Eugene, Louisville and Chicago.

For more information and play dates, visit https://americansongwriter.com/lara-downes-releases-steal-away-first-single-from-forthcoming-album/ryan-baltz-2/

--Natalie Maher, Shore Fire Media

Michael Tilson Thomas To Receive Honorary Doctorate
The Cleveland Institute of Music announced yesterday that acclaimed conductor, composer and educator Michael Tilson Thomas will be awarded an honorary doctorate at the school's 95th Commencement Ceremony in Kulas Hall on Saturday, May 16 at 10am EDT. Attendance is by invitation only, but a live stream will be available via cim.edu. Yesterday's announcement was given at a special MTT-led rehearsal of the CIM Orchestra at Severance Hall, home of The Cleveland Orchestra, which MTT also conducts February 20-23.

Michael Tilson Thomas – Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra and a 2019 Kennedy Center Honoree – is recognized globally as an innovator on and off the podium. His wide-ranging projects encompass a broad repertoire – from the classical canon to 20th-century masterpieces to contemporary works, particularly those by leading American composers. He shares this music with audiences in person in the concert hall; in televised performances and radio broadcasts; through recordings and online streaming; and even via "wallcast" simulcasts at the New World Center in Miami, Florida.

For more information, visit michaeltilsonthomas.com

--Shuman Associates

MetLiveArts Presents Portrait of Composer Mary Kouyoumdjian
On Friday, March 27, 2020 at 7:00pm, "They Will Take My Island," a multimedia portrait concert featuring the works of Armenian-American composer Mary Kouyoumdjian, will be performed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the MetLiveArts series.

Unreleased scenes and highly personal short films by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) are given original new scores by Kouyoumdjian in the world premiere of MetLiveArts commission, "They Will Take My Island" (2020). The JACK Quartet and newly formed Silvana Quartet join forces to form the ensemble. Kouyoumdjian's string quartets "Bombs of Beirut," performed by the Silvana Quartet, and "Silent Cranes," performed by the JACK Quartet, explore her family's history with the Lebanese Civil War and Armenian Genocide through survivor testimonies and documentary with projections by multimedia designer, painter, photographer, and textile designer Laurie Olinder.

In the world premiere of Mary Kouyoumdjian's MetLiveArts commission "They Will Take My Island (2020)," Atom Egoyan's highly personal films and excerpts showing the life of abstract painter Arshile Gorky are infused with themes of family and immigration. Recorded interviewees include Saskia Spender, granddaughter of Arshile Gorky and President of the Arshile Gorky Foundation; Parker Field, Managing Director of the Arshile Gorky Foundation; and Michael Taylor, Chief Curator of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Friday, March 27, 2020 at 7:00pm
The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Ave., New York, NY. Tickets: $65. Bring the Kids for $1 (ages 6–16). Tickets include same-day Museum admission.

Tickets and information: https://rsecure.metmuseum.org/event/ticket/575319

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Violinist Alana Youssefian Returns to Philharmonia for "Romantic Reflections"
This March, violinist Alana Youssefian returns for her third appearance with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, this time as soloist for Mendelssohn's lushly virtuosic Violin Concerto in E minor, which she will perform on a 1924 Léon Victor Mougenot violin. The program, "Romantic Reflections," also includes Cherubini's Overture to Démophoon and Schubert's Symphony No. 9 in C major, "The Great," all conducted by Music Director Nicholas McGegan. Nic, Alana, and the 48-piece orchestra will bring a keen knowledge of historically informed performance to these staples of the Romantic repertoire.

Wednesday, March 11 at 7:30 pm | Bing Concert Hall, Palo Alto, CA
Friday, March 13 at 8 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Saturday, March 14 at 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday, March 15 at 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

For more information, visit https://philharmonia.org/2019-2020-season/romantic-reflections/

--Stephanie Li, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale

Los Angeles Master Chorale Announces 2020-21 Season
The Los Angeles Master Chorale, led by Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, today announced its 2020-21 season that showcases the immense power of voices united in song, including monumental testaments to the power of music by Bach, Haydn, and Handel; an exploration of American music; and a program that features newly appointed Swan Family Artist-in-Residence Reena Esmail's inspiring "I Rise: Women in Song." This is a season that opens hearts to the glory of singing and celebrates the expression of spirituality through music.

"From our earliest days to modern times, our single greatest unifying force has been the power of our collective voices," says Gershon. "The Los Angeles Master Chorale's 2020-21 season showcases the breadth and impact of the choral repertoire, from the most famous classics to essential contemporary works by today's composers, including our new Swan Family Artist-in-Residence, Reena Esmail. This season offers the opportunity for everyone, whether a first time concert-goer or seasoned patron, to enjoy the versatility of the Master Chorale, and to share our universal connectedness through music."

For complete information, visit https://lamasterchorale.org/

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Sarah Coit Named 2020 Jeffrey Thomas Award Recipient
 The American Bach Soloists are pleased to announce the recipient of the 2020 Jeffrey Thomas Award. Granted annually at the Artistic Director's discretion to honor, recognize, and encourage exceptionally gifted emerging professionals in the field of early music who show extraordinary promise and accomplishment, Maestro Thomas has selected mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit to receive this year's award.

Ms. Coit was heard with ABS earlier this season in "A Baroque New Year's Eve at the Opera" at Herbst Theatre. Her performances of arias from Handel's Riccardo I, ré d'Inghilterra, Giulio Cesare, and Ariodante dazzled audience members and brought standing ovations. She will return to ABS in December 2020 for performances of Handel's Messiah in Grace Cathedral and Sonoma's Green Music Center.

--Amerian Bach Soloists

PARMA Winter 2020 Call for Scores
Based on several requests, we have decided to extend the deadline for submissions to PARMA's Winter 2020 Call for Scores by one week to February 28.

On a related note, this means you have one more week to submit your music to record with the same orchestra, which can be heard performing on "Wild Symphony," a project announced this week by best-selling author Dan Brown, as featured Thursday morning in the New York Times and Associated Press.

Yesterday, we also shared a new audio interview with featured Call for Scores artist Megan Ihnen, which can be found through the following link: www.parmarecordings.com/conversations-with-megan-ihnen/

For more information on these opportunities or to submit your music, please see below, follow the link to our Project Submission Form, or write to submissions@parmarecordings.com with any questions.

More information: https://www.parmarecordings.com/call-for-scores/

--PARMA Recordings

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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

Contact Information

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa