Classical Music News of the Week, March 14, 2020

USC Cancels Piatigorsky International Cello Festival

The University of Southern California has announced the cancellation of the 2020 Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, scheduled to take place March 13-22. The University made the decision as a precaution due to the uncertainty around the COVID-19 virus and its impact on large scale events and gatherings as well as the travel disruption our artists and participants may experience. 

We are heartbroken about the cancellation of this unique celebration of music, held every four years in Los Angeles.  The Festival's 42 meticulously planned events were to be the culmination of three years of planning, collaboration and visionary programming.

"We want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to create this extraordinary festival," said Ralph Kirshbaum, the Festival's artistic director."

--Kirshbaum Associates

Berkeley Symphony Announces Cancellation of March Events
Following recommendations from the Alameda County Public Health Department to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the closure of Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley Symphony announced today the cancellation of its March public events. Canceled appearances include a free community concert at the Downtown Berkeley Plaza (Sunday, March 22) and the Symphonic Series concert at Zellerbach Hall (Thursday, March 26). These events will not be rescheduled. The Berkeley Symphony and Friends Chamber Series concert at the Piedmont Center for the Arts (Sunday, March 15) will be rescheduled and announced at a later date.

The following options are available to all patrons who have already purchased tickets to canceled or rescheduled events: Make a tax deductible donation for the ticket value; or receive a full refund.

Ticket holders can make these arrangements by contacting Patron Services Manager, Tiffany Fajardo, at tfajardo@berkeleysymphony.org. Patrons are asked to include reservation name, number of tickets, preferred option, and the best method of contact.

--Brenden Guy PR

Los Angeles Master Chorale Cancels Presentations, Public Gatherings and Education Programs
Amidst rising concerns regarding the COVID-19 global outbreak, Governor Newsom's strong recommendation that all gatherings of 250 or more people across the entire state be canceled, and the County of Los Angeles's order that The Music Center close its theatres, The Los Angeles Master Chorale and the other resident companies of The Music Center (Center Theatre Group, LA Opera, and LA Phil), along with TMC Arts / Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, will close their theatres (Ahmanson Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum, and Walt Disney Concert Hall) effective today, March 12, 2020, and cancel all presentations, public gatherings, and education programs through at least March 31, 2020.

--Lisa Bellamore, LA Master Chorale

People's Symphony Concerts Cancellations Due to COVID-19
After the excellent turnout and wonderful concert on Sunday with Augustin Hadelich and Orion Weiss, we were really looking forward to The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio's final concert in their two-season survey of The Complete Beethoven Piano Trios on March 21st and we were also excited about presenting the New York debut of the Junction Trio (Tao, Jackiw and Campbell) on March 28.

Sadly, the Governor, Mayor, and health authorities feel that with the spread of the Coronavirus, it would be too risky to allow events with more than 500 people. While our audience on Sunday looked pretty healthy to us and there were no coughers, we all want to see this horrible pandemic closed down. Let's hope it won't be too long before we will be able to write and tell you that the music will be happening again. For the time being, because of the Governor's edict, the March 21st and 28th concerts at Washington Irving High School are cancelled. As soon as there is further news, we'll let you know about April and May.

Since this is one of those 'once in a lifetime' happenings,  thanks so much to those of you who have indicated that you really appreciate the gift of our concerts and intend to donate your tickets as a contribution to Peoples' Symphony Concerts.  Please let us know if you would like a receipt for tax purposes.  Given our extremely low ticket prices, even lower budget and part-time staff, we really appreciate your cooperation.

Please stay well and hopefully, it won't be too long until we can all share music together again. For tickets, programs, video: call 212-586-4680 or visit www.pscny.org

--Frank Salomon Associates

Colburn School Suspends All In-Person Instruction, Performances and Events Due
Given the fluid nature of the COVID-19 outbreak and the close-knit nature of the Colburn School campus community, Colburn School President & CEO Sel Kardan announced today that beginning Thursday, March 12, the School will suspend all in-person instruction, performances, and related social events associated with the Conservatory, Music Academy, Dance Academy, Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, Community School for Performing Arts, and Center for Innovation and Community Impact, until at least April 13. This includes Colburn events on-campus and off, external use of our facilities, and public use of the Café and Coffee Bar. The Campus will remain closed to the public until at least April 13.

Please visit https://www.colburnschool.edu/coronavirus/ for more information.

--Lisa Bellamore, Colburn School

All Public Events at the New World Center, March 13 Through April 12, 2020 are Cancelled
Out of an abundance of caution, and in an effort to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, New World Symphony (NWS) President Howard Herring announced the closure of the New World Center for all public events from March 13 through April 12.

Ticket holders should contact the New World Symphony Box Office to donate tickets, exchange tickets, or receive a refund.

The New World Symphony Box Office can be reached by emailing tickets@nws.edu.   

--Shuman Associates

Musica Camerata's 50th Season : Concerts Cancelled
Musica Camerata Montreal, hailed as one of Canada's foremost chamber music ensembles, unfortunately has to cancel the last two concerts of its 50th season because of the risks caused by coronavirus. The concerts on 4 April and 9 May will be postponed to a later date.

--France Gaignard

ABS Cancelation of "Faire is the Heaven" Concerts
American Bach Soloists are sorry to inform our patrons — to whom we are continually grateful for their support through contributions and ticket sales — that based on current information and the potential for more change in the short-term, we are canceling our performances of "Faire is the Heaven" on March 27-30, 2020 due to the outbreak and spread of Covid-19.

Some of our performance venues have already closed their doors to public events such as ours, and we expect any remaining venues to follow suit within the coming days.

--American Bach Soloists

Charles Wuorinen: June 9, 1938–March 11, 2020
It is with regret that we announce the death of Charles Wuorinen, composer of over 270 works, virtuosic pianist, and conductor. He died on Wednesday, March 11 from complications after sustaining a fall in September 2019.

Wuorinen's music of refinement, power, technical excellence and wide-ranging emotional pallet found a home in operas, ballets, symphonies, and chamber and vocal works of all combinations and instruments. Wuorinen's last completed work was his Second Percussion Symphony, premiered in Miami in September 2019.

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

International Contemporary Ensemble Announces New Executive Director
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) announces the appointment of Executive Director Jennifer Kessler, who joined the organization in January 2020. Kessler brings a breadth of experience in developing community, education, social justice, and artistic programs with arts organizations worldwide, including Orchestra of St. Luke's, Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, and Carnegie Hall, and joins the organization as it embarks on continued growth in the lead-up to its twentieth anniversary season.

"Jennifer's many years of experience within today's musical landscape, along with her nuanced understanding of our mission and vision, is invaluable," said Co-Artistic Director Rebekah Heller. "We are thrilled to be working side-by-side with her to shape the future of the International Contemporary Ensemble."

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Violinist Benjamin Beilman & Pianist Andrew Tyson Make Debut
Princeton University Concerts ventures into an April of debuts, starting on Thursday, April 2 at 8PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, Princeton, NJ. Violinist Benjamin Beilman and pianist Andrew Tyson will present a program that takes listeners from Beethoven's luminous "Spring" sonata to Frederic Rzewski's Demons, a musical reaction to the 2016 presidential election dedicated to author/political activist Angela Davis, and co-commissioned by Princeton University Concerts and fellow presenters around the country.

A 7PM pre-concert Warm Up, free to all ticket holders, will highlight Princeton University Concerts' new Neighborhood Project educational program, with a performance by the Trenton Youth Orchestra, an ensemble of high school students from Trenton's public schools, conducted by Lou Chen.

For more information, visit http://princetonuniversityconcerts.princeton.edu/concerts/concert/beilman-tyson

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Minnesota Orchestra and Creative Partner Jon Kimura Parker: Summer at Orchestra Hall
Minnesota Orchestra Creative Partner for Summer at Orchestra Hall Jon Kimura Parker and President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns announced plans today for Summer at Orchestra Hall, a new take on the Orchestra's summer festival that will run from Friday, July 17, through Sunday, August 9, celebrating the Orchestra's home in the city and its proximity to the revitalized Peavey Plaza.

Offered this summer with the theme "The Beethoven Influence," the four curated weeks of orchestral and chamber music explore both Beethoven's influences and the composers, artists and causes he influenced, and feature projects with Minneapolis artist collective Free Black Dirt, BRKST Dance Company—known for a synthesis of breakin', martial arts and contemporary dance—and The Moving Company to create new works around Beethoven's music.

For more information, call 612-371-5656  or 800-292-4141 or visit minnesotaorchestra.org/summer.

--Lisa Jaehnig, Shuman Associates

2021 American Pianists Awards Finalists Announced
The American Pianists Association's President/CEO and Artistic Director, Joel Harrison, announces the five pianists who will be finalists for the 2021 American Pianists Awards. Dominic Cheli, Kenny Broberg, Mackenzie Melemed, Michael Davidman and Sahun Sam Hong will participate in the organization's unique 13-month long competition for the coveted award, given every four years to a classical pianist. Every two years the American Pianists Awards alternates between classical and jazz.

Valued at more than $100,000, the American Pianists Awards winner receives the Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship, which includes a $50,000 cash award and career assistance for two years, including publicity, performance engagements, an Artist-in-Residence post at the University of Indianapolis, and a recording contract with Steinway & Sons record label.

For more information on the American Pianists Association visit www.americanpianists.org/.

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet

New York Philharmonic String Quartet Headed to Beaver Creek
Hear classical repertoire by Mozart, Ravel and Dvorak brought to life when the New York Philharmonic String Quartet performs at the Vilar Performing Arts Center this month.

The New York Philharmonic String Quartet performs at the Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC) on Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $68 for adults or $10 for students. For a limited time, buy three tickets to this show and get the fourth one for free. This show is also part of the Pay Your Age ticket program for ages 18-30.

The evening's program includes Mozart's Quartet in G Major, K. 387; Ravel's String Quartet in F Major; and Dvorak's String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96, nicknamed the "American."

The New York Philharmonic String Quartet comprises four principal musicians from the Orchestra: Concertmaster Frank Huang; Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples; Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps; and Principal Cello Carter Brey. The group was formed in January 2017, during the Philharmonic's 175th anniversary season.

Ruthie Hamrick, Vail Valley Foundation

ASPECT Chamber Music Series
The ASPECT Chamber Music Series concludes its spring 2020 season with three concerts: "Personal Diaries in A Major" on Thursday, April 16, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. at Bohemian National Hall; "Sensibility: Gainsborough, Abel & Bach" on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. at the Italian Academy at Columbia University; and "Alma Mahler: Muse or Monster?" on Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. at Bohemian National Hall. ASPECT's concerts feature expertly curated chamber music by the world's top performers, alongside illustrated talks by leading musicologists and industry experts that reveal fascinating details about the program's composers, works, and the cultural history of the period.

For more information, visit www.aspectmusic.net.

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Cantata Profana 3-Day Fest
The audacious stars of New York's Cantata Profana—as comfortable on period instruments as they are on modern ones—bring their newest show, "Fables," to the Irondale Center, in repertory with Michael Hersch's "searing" (The New York Times) monodrama "On the Threshold of Winter." A landmark work of contemporary modernism, Hersch's two-hour monodrama for soprano and eight instruments is part symphony, part herculean mad scene. The work is a harrowing portrait of a battle with cancer and a tour-de-force for the soprano soloist, Ah Young Hong, who premiered the work in 2014. Hong now directs this stark new production in its New York premiere with Cantata Profana.

For more information, visit thresholdopera.com

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Emerson String Quartet Performs Three-Concert Series at Lincoln Center
The world-renowned Emerson String Quartet embarks on a three-concert series pairing Beethoven's "Razumovsky" Quartets with the complete Bartók Cycle at Lincoln Center's Great Performers on March 31, April 21 and May 5.

The nine-time Grammy Award-winning Quartet has firmly established its authority in interpreting the works of Beethoven and Bartók. In 1981, Emerson String Quartet was the first group ever to perform a "Bartok Marathon," in which they boldly played all six Bartok quartets in a single evening. Winner of the 1990 Grammy for Best Classical and Chamber Music Performance, the Quartet's Deutsche Grammophon recording of the composer's cycle was met with critical acclaim. The cycle is not new to the Quartet, but its pairing with Beethoven's "Razumovsky" Quartets offers a unique mirroring look at both composers' works. Over the course of three concerts, they present a chronological progression through Bartok's life.

--Kirshbaum Associates

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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