Classical Music News of the Week, February 29, 2020

Songs of Hope - March 6 & 7

In honor of International Women's Day, The Chelsea Symphony's March 6 and 7, 2020 concert series, "Songs of Hope," features compositions by contemporary American female composers whose work captures the American experience.

On the program each night are Missy Mazzoli's River Rouge Transfiguration, which draws inspiration from the dynamic landscape of Detroit, Gabriela Lena Frank's Elegía Andina, which explores the composer's multicultural (Lithuanian-Jewish-Chinese-Peruvian-Spanish) identity, and Joan Tower's Made in America, an uplifting meditation on how we can keep our country beautiful, even in times of uncertainty and turmoil.

Both evenings open with two World Premieres by TCS resident composers. Truth unto the People, by Tim Kiah, is inspired by Sojourner Truth featuring text from her 1851 Woman's Rights Convention speech in Akron, OH, and a new concerto for two horns by Mike Boyman, features TCS hornists Jessica Santiago and Emily Wong.

Friday - March 6 at 8:00 PM
Saturday - March 7 at 8:00 PM
St. Paul's Church, 315 West 22nd Street, NYC

For more information, visit https://chelseasymphony.org/concerts/2019-2020/songs-hope/

--Elizabeth Holub, Chelsea, Symphony

François Bédard Retires as 30th Season Ramps Up
Lanaudiere Festival Director Francois Bedard said recently "The Festival is doing very well, the music is in good hands with Renaud Loranger as Artistic Director, the team is well established, and the Festival is in excellent financial shape. Therefore, I can retire with both mind and heart at ease."

With these words, François Bédard, Executive Director of Canada's most prominent classical music festival, announced his retirement—effective in May—to the Festival's Board of Directors. Bédard began his tenure in May 1991, a pivotal time when the Festival faced many challenges. A passionate administrator and high-ranking manager, he significantly improved the finances of this institution dedicated to classical music. As a discerning music lover, he also vigorously supported the Festival's mission, promoting it within local, national and international circles, successfully implementing its projects as well as securing its long-term stability and sustainability.

François Bédard's accomplishments, both great and small, are numerous. He is credited with setting up the Festival's Foundation, which today plays an important role in financing its programming and activities. The Chair of the Board of Directors has stated that the Festival de Lanaudière will soon issue a call for applications to the position of Executive Director.

--France Gaignard for CN2 Communication

Peoples' Symphony Concerts Presents "March Lion & Lamb"
Peoples' Symphony Concerts' proverbial "March Lion," ushering in the new month, is a dynamic duo of two of today's most acclaimed instrumentalists - violinist Augustin Hadelich and pianist Orion Weiss in their only New York recital. Their Sunday, March 8, 2 PM concert at historic Town Hall offers solo works for violin by Coll and Ysaye and a beloved piano work - the Debussy 'L'isle Joyeuse.' There will also be violin and piano sonatas by Beethoven, Debussy, Brahms, and John Adams.

While the series is sold out, returned tickets, which are always available, will go on sale at 1 pm on the day of the concert.

More information and tickets for remaining concerts at pscny.org.

--Frank Salomon Associates

Was the Story of Esther Written By a Woman?
The 1682 murder of the 43-year old Alessandro Stradella cut short the turbulent life of one of the greatest composers of his generation. Most probably ordered by a jealous husband or paramour of one of his lovers, his life ended as lurid as it was prolific, leaving a legacy illuminated by genius and saturated by scandal.

In 1673 Stradella writes an oratorio called Ester Liberatrice del Popolo Ebreo (Esther, Liberator of the Jewish People). The libretto by Leilo Orsini sets the one story from the Old Testament (or simply the Bible, as it is referred to by Jews) in which God is never mentioned. It is a story in which banquets, sexual revelry, court intrigue, gossip, plots and strategy wind their way to the triumph of a clever Jewish queen over a murderous court minister. The Book of Esther is also the first mention of genocide in the Bible and in Jewish history.

Much ink has been spilled over the centuries, asking why it ever became part of the bible in the first place, while more recent scholarship suggests the radical possibility that the Book of Esther may have actually been written by a woman.

Stradella's finely etched characterizations give us a specificity of emotion that is worthy of the greatest art of the Counter-Reformation period, rendering him a musical Caravaggio. His music brims with exquisite but mysterious compositional choices, and the identity of his murderer remains as much a question as why a story about the liberation of the Jewish people was set to music at the time of proliferating ghettos.

Alessandro Stradella: Ester
Thursday, March 5
Brotherhood Synagogue
28 Gramercy Park South, NYC

For more information, visit https://www.showclix.com/event/stradella-ester

--Jessica Gould, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Music Is a Language and Must Be Approached As Such
My research in regards the theory of music has resulted in the almost total rejection of the subject due to its lack of any ability to understand what music is made up of. Much of it is for the specialist only, viz. the 'figured bass'. This was developed during the Baroque period approx. 1650-1750 for a keyboardist (organ or harpsichord) to accompany a Baroque orchestra according to the performers' own liking and ability. It has no use for 'you and me' unless we are Baroque specialists. There are many other areas that have utterly no use exept for the theorist, or the PhD. For example, a PhD in medicine obtains his PhD with research into cell strcture, for example, but it has no use for the general public. However, a PhD may contribute to a more 'popular' site that gives information on symptoms and what to do about them for 'you and me'.

Music theory as it is taught in all universities, music studios, etc., is academic, i.e. for the specialist and not for the piano student. There are only a few areas that are vital in understanding the language of music, just as there are in learning and understanding a foreign language; syntax, function, and identity, plus some details along the way. It's not easy, but it has a beneficial end result that traditional theory doesn't have.

For more info from the Piano Professor, visit https://thepianoprofessor.com/2020/02/23/chopin-waltz-op-64-nr-2-in-c-minor-an-analysis/

--Ralph Carroll Hedges, the Piano Professor

Berkeley Symphony Features Trumpeter Sean Jones in Two Bay Area Premieres
Music Director Joseph Young and Berkeley Symphony continue the 2019-2020 season on Thursday, March 26 at 8:00 p.m. with two Bay Area premieres by Bernd Alois Zimmermann and Gunther Schuller in an evening of jazz-inspired works. Making his debut appearance, legendary jazz trumpeter Sean Jones performs as soloist in Zimmermann's Trumpet Concerto "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" and shares the stage with the Berkeley High Jazz Combo for Schuller's Journey Into Jazz. Written for narrator, orchestra and jazz quintet, this work will also feature Artistic Director of the African-American Shakespeare Company L. Peter Callender as narrator. Rounding out the program is Darius Milhaud's La création du monde and Gershwin's iconic An American in Paris.

A busy schedule of March appearances also includes Berkeley Symphony's third Chamber Series concert this season on Sunday, March 15 at 4:00 p.m. at the Piedmont Center for the Arts, featuring works by Gershwin, John Adams and Emily Onderdonk. On Sunday, March 22 at 3:00 p.m., the Orchestra will present Sean Jones and the Berkeley High Jazz Combo at a free community concert at the Downtown Berkeley Plaza as part of the "Berkeley Symphony Live! On the Plaza" series.

For more information, call (510) 841-2800 x1 or visit www.berkeleysymphony.org.

--Brenden Guy PR

New World Symphony Welcomes IDAGIO as Official Audio Streaming Partner
New World Symphony President & CEO Howard Herring today announced that IDAGIO, the first global streaming service for classical music, is now The Official Audio Streaming Partner of the New World Symphony.

As part of this partnership, IDAGIO will regularly feature new NWS concert recordings, including performances led by NWS Co-Founder and Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), as well as additional content including playlists curated by NWS, and artist profiles featuring music by individual Fellows. NWS, its Fellows, and its patrons will also receive special discounts on IDAGIO subscriptions. The first recording to be released as part of this partnership—MTT conducting Stravinsky's Variations: Aldous Huxley in Memoriam, Symphony in Three Movements, Pétrouchka (1947 revision), and Scherzo à la russe (symphonic version)—is now available exclusively on IDAGIO.

MTT said:
"The New World Symphony envisions a strong and secure future for classical music and is thrilled to share our young musicians' artistry with as many people as possible through this new partnership with IDAGIO. This collaboration will allow NWS to reach new global audiences and continue our exploration of classical music in the digital realm."

For more information, visit www.IDAGIO.com or download IDAGIO for your mobile device from the App Store or Google Play Store.

--John Hamby, Shuman Associates

Young People's Chorus of New York City to Honor Gordon Getty
Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC), led by Founder and Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez, returns to Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall on Tuesday, March 10 at 7:00 p.m. for the chorus' 32nd annual Gala Concert, this year in honor of composer and philanthropist Gordon Getty. Hosted by multiple Grammy Award-winning artist Jason Mraz, the event recognizes Mr. Getty as a YPC Legacy Honoree for his shared commitment to and efforts on behalf of making music education accessible to young people of all backgrounds.

Mr. Núñez said:"When we honor Gordon Getty at this year's Gala, we honor someone who fully believes in the power of music to transform lives from an early age."

For information about concert-only sponsorship tickets and dinner reservations, contact YPC at (212) 289-7779 or visit ypcgala@ypc.org.

--Shuman Associates

The Crossing Premieres Michael Gordon's "Travel Guide to Nicaragua"
Grammy-winning new-music choir The Crossing, led by Donald Nally, gives the world premiere performances of Michael Gordon's "Travel Guide to Nicaragua" with cellist Maya Beiser in presentations by co-commissioners, the Annenberg Center on Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 7:00pm in Philadelphia and Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 7:30pm in New York City. Before the Carnegie Hall performance on March 25, Donald Nally and Michael Gordon will have a 6:30pm pre-concert conversation with John Schaefer, host of WNYC's New Sounds and Soundcheck.

"Travel Guide to Nicaragua" is inspired by Gordon's hazy memory of his first eight years of life living on the outskirts of Managua, Nicaragua. Gordon's third substantial work written for The Crossing, it reaches beyond his childhood, pondering the world of the Maya and Aztecs and drawing on the words of poet Rube´n Dari´o.

Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 7:00pm
Zellerbach Theatre, Annenberg Center | 3680 Walnut St. | Philadelphia, PA
Link: https://annenbergcenter.org/event/the-crossing-808

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 7:30pm
(6:30pm Pre-Concert Talk with Donald Nally, Michael Gordon, and John Schaefer)
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall | Seventh Avenue between 56th and 57th | New York, NY
Link: https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2020/03/25/The-Crossing-0730PM

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Enhanced eBook Enchants with Chopin
Author Roland Colton has created a unique and novel reading experience with the release of the eBook, "Forever Gentleman." The central character of this fictional romance set in Victorian London is Nathan Sinclair, a concert pianist. Embedded links to streaming audio of over ten hours of classical music integrated in the eBook immerse the reader into Sinclair's world of love and intrigue with musical selections by Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, and more.

The music inside the novel includes three original pieces, ostensibly composed by characters in the book. To create this music, Mr. Colton launched an international composition contest, offering cash prizes for the winners. Several hundred entries were received from nearly every country in the world, and the world premiere recordings of the winners' music is featured in "Forever Gentleman." Hear these new works and get to know the composers here: http://rolandcolton.com/composition-contest-winners/

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

Northbrook Symphony Orchestra Performs Brahms and Beethoven
Tickets on sale now for Sunday, April 5, 2020, 4pm. Northbrook Symphony performs Beethoven and Brahms. Mina Zikri, Music Director. Susan Merdinger, Guest Soloist. Please visit: www.northbrooksymphony.org or Call: 847-272-0755

To download the track "Schubert - Sonata In B - IV" for free, go to https://susanmerdingerpianist.com/dl and enter the code yksp-7igq

--Susan Merdinger, American Concert Pianist

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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

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