Classical Music News of the Week, March 28, 2020

Vienna Premiere of Schoenberg in Hollywood Cancelled

The European premiere of Tod Machover's visionary opera Schoenberg in Hollywood at the Vienna Volksoper on April 4 has been cancelled and rescheduled for later in the year.

The opera was inspired by the life of Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg following his departure from Hitler's Europe to Los Angeles in the 1930s. It was commissioned and presented by Boston Lyric Opera and had its hugely successful world premiere in Boston in November 2018. Schoenberg in Hollywood was praised as "ingeniously original" by The Wall Street Journal; "dark and brilliant" by the Boston Classical Review; "emotionally engaging…Machover's lyrical gift was allowed to flow" by Musical America; and "a composer biography like no other" by The Boston Globe.

"Schoenberg is a towering figure in music, a great visionary who incorporated so many things into his work that we are just beginning to understand its full impact," Machover said. "I am intrigued with the idea of what happened when Schoenberg – the ultimate uncompromising futurist who was also a wonderful teacher and inventor – wound up in the center of L.A.'s film world. He struggled with how to combine art with entertainment, reflection with action, and tradition with revolution, and that's at the heart of the opera."

--Kirshbaum Associates

Music Community Launches "Love Record Stores" Initiative
The music community are launching a high-profile, global initiative on Thursday of this week (26th March), to help independent record stores during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

With many of these stores now experiencing a catastrophic drop-off in footfall or having already closed their doors there are fears that some may not survive if something is not done urgently to stimulate sales.

With that in mind many music companies have already pledged their support for this new campaign which has been named #loverecordstores.

Companies are coordinating ideas, resources and mobilizing the artists they represent to record messages of support for record stores that can be used across all forms of social media.

All music lovers are invited to participate. All they need to do is share a post on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #LoveRecordStores and say what independent record stores have meant to them.

The #loverecordstores campaign officially launched on Thursday, March 26th.

--Sarah Folger [PIAS America]

POSTPONED: Third Coast Baroque to Spotlight Vivaldi Opera Arias
These concerts have been postponed. Third Coast Baroque is currently exploring dates to reschedule.

Third Coast Baroque, Chicago's newest early music ensemble, will showcase selected arias from Antonio Vivaldi's 1727 Orlando furioso, RV 728, his rarely performed, three-act dramatic opera about romance, jealousy, and magic, in its April season-finale concerts, "Welcome Back, Vivaldi: Revisiting Forgotten Treasures."

The program features company mezzo-soprano and co-founder Angela Young Smucker, applauded for her "impassioned, virtuosic" singing (Chicago Classical Review), performing five arias from the Vivaldi opera, which received its U.S. premiere just 40 years ago.

She'll be accompanied by the TCB Chamber Ensemble, led by concertmaster and violinist Martin Davids.

For more information, visit

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

Princeton University Concerts: Event Cancelations
Princeton University Concerts wishes you and yours well in this difficult time. This is a very bittersweet announcement for us, both confirming the cancelation of the remaining events in our 2019-2020 season, and announcing what the 2020-2021 season, beginning in October, has in store.

Please visit this page for an online announcement of the 2020-2021 season:

Programs to look forward to include a special event performance the day after the 2020 Presidential Election, a new First Monday of the Month Listening Party series, a Performances Up Close series that focuses on a new generation of women at the helm of classical music, and more.

Respecting how difficult it is to currently commit to future events, Princeton University Concerts is delaying announcement of ticket sale policies at this time.

We also invite you to check out our evolving list of free streaming resources, and join our virtual concert hall on Spotify as part of our new Collaborative Listening Project. We hope both initiatives might help fill your social distancing with music!

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

A Message to Our Community from Young People's Chorus of NYC
Last week, all of our conductors and teachers had some great discussions about what we can do to continue to study, learn, and sing and dance together, and in the next few days you will be hearing from us with some new and exciting online learning and online musical activities that you can share all together, each of you from your own homes. Just some of the things you will be hearing from the conductors about are a series of master classes, coaching, choreography, YPConversations, writing opportunities, virtual meetings, and much more.

In the meantime, I want to thank you all for your complete support for our YPC programs and every last one of our incredible singers. Thank you also to our children's parents, each of you so devoted to their safety and positive life experiences. Thank you to the children who so lovingly support one another; and a huge thank-you to the YPC team, for all the love you put into reinforcing the spirit of YPC for our children.

In all we do, please remember that our love of music and the arts can lift us when we are feeling down or isolated. And yes we look forward to seeing each other online very soon, but in the meantime, we need to stay connected, to encourage each other, to continue to love life.

We are not sure when we will be able to sing together in person in our cherished YPC home, but whenever that is, we will be ready: our spirits higher and our voices stronger than ever. I dream every second of that moment!

Stay healthy, stay strong and keep on singing.

--Francisco J. Núñez, Founder and Artistic Director, YPC

Colburn School Transitions to Online Learning for Remainder of Semester
In response to Governor Gavin Newsom's mandatory order requiring California residents to restrict their travel to essential locations, Colburn School President & CEO Sel Kardan recently announced that the Colburn School will suspend all in-person instruction for the remainder of the semester and transition entirely to online learning for all academic units.

The Conservatory, Music Academy, and Dance Academy will continue their plans to begin online learning on March 23, extending through the end of the semester. Over the next few weeks, the Community School of Performing Arts, the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, and the Center for Innovation and Community Impact will also transition to online learning, with private lessons to begin by April 2, and group instruction to follow.

In light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent recommendation to avoid gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, all Colburn performances and rentals on campus are also suspended through at least May 17 and the Colburn campus is closed until further notice.

Please visit for more information.

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 Postponed to May 2021
In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and in accordance with international and U.S. public health recommendations and restrictions, the Menuhin Competition Trust and the Richmond Symphony today announced that the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020, scheduled to take place May 14-24, has been postponed one year to May 13-23, 2021. The consortium of local institutions that came together to host this international cultural event in Richmond has enthusiastically recommitted to hosting the postponed Competition in 2021. Led by the Richmond Symphony, the continuing hosts are the City of Richmond, VPM (Virginia's home for public media), University of Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

For more information about how to donate, exchange, or receive a refund for tickets, please visit:

--Beverly Greenfield, Kirshbaum Associates

New Recordings Added to SFS Media Digital Concert Series
Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) launched SFS Media's new Digital Concert Series on Apple Music and all major streaming and download platforms on January 10, 2020. In celebration of MTT's 25th and final season as Music Director, the series includes live concert recordings from 2019–20 season concerts featuring composers that MTT and the SFS have championed throughout their decades together. This major new addition to the SFS Media catalog launched with the initial release of five San Francisco Symphony performances conducted by MTT and recorded in 96/24-bit quality in September 2019: Mahler's Symphony No. 6; Stravinsky's Canticum sacrum with tenor Nicholas Phan, baritone Tyler Duncan, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus; Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus; Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 2 with Oliver Herbert; and Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements.

Since the January 10 launch, the Digital Concert Series has added performances conducted by MTT in January 2020: Berlioz's Overture to Benvenuto Cellini; selections from Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke; Ravel's La Valse; Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major with Emanuel Ax; and Wagner's Siegfried Idyll.

The San Francisco Symphony also launched an ongoing season playlist named "Join the Season" that is available exclusively on Apple Music. The playlist allows global audiences to participate in the ongoing celebration of MTT's final season as Music Director throughout the 2019–20 Season.

For more information, visit

--San Francisco Symphony Public Relations

Series Packages Are Now on Sale! Chamber • Orchestra • Mozaic
With any of our Series Packages, you can experience the best orchestral, chamber, and popular/crossover performances that Festival Mozaic has to offer at a 15% discount from single ticket prices. Subscribers always get the lowest prices and access to the best seats before individual events go on sale.

Please note that the Festival office is temporarily closed due to the shelter in place order, so in-person orders are unavailable at this time. Click the link below to buy your package online. If you prefer to make your purchase over the phone or have additional questions, please call the Festival Mozaic office at (805) 781-3009, leave a message, and a staff member will return your call at a time that is convenient for you.

To explore Festival Mozaic series packages, visit

--Festival Mozaic

West Edge Festival: Full Steam Ahead
"In this difficult time, West Edge Opera is focused on a hopeful future, a hope that this summer will bring a return to normalcy. We want to be ready for much needed performance to heal us and bring us back together. We as a company have been working to be ready for all possibilities, but we are pleased to announce series tickets going on sale April 1 for Festival 2020." --General Director Mark Streshinsky

Under the artistic leadership of General Director Mark Streshinsky and Music Director Jonathan Khuner, West Edge Opera will present its annual summer festival from July 25th through August 9th, 2020. The season will continue the company's tradition of presenting a new opera, a classic opera from within the canon, and an early opera on period instruments. The three offerings will be performed in repertory with the modernist sensibilities and unconventional settings that characterize West Edge productions.

For complete information, visit

--West Edge Opera

ROCO Announces Partnership with MyMusicRx
River Oaks Chamber Orchestra is excited to announce their new partnership with MyMusicRx, the flagship program of the Children's Cancer Association designed to help engage seriously ill children and teenagers with tailored one-on-one music experiences to help relieve stress, anxiety, and perception of pain.

Through this partnership, ROCO will provide MyMusicRx with a collection of previous performances featuring both classic works and contemporary commissions, composed by Kevin Lau, Jim Stephenson, Erberk Eryilmaz, and others, which patients can select from according to how they'd like to feel - such as strong, excited, or adventurous. ROCO's performances will mark the first inclusion of classical music into the MyMusicRx program.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Czech Philharmonic - 125th Season Announcement
At this time we cannot play, but we can dream. These dreams will come true in the coming season, during which we shall be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Czech Philharmonic, its noble tradition flowing into its vibrant future.  We are impatiently looking forward to welcoming you back to our Rudolfinum and every other venue in which we (will) perform. From the Czech Republic to European capitals to China. However devastating the crisis of the moment is, it is also an opportunity for all of us to assess how we live and how we can start living better. For us musicians, it means making even better music than ever before." --Semyon Bychkov

The Czech Philharmonic will mark its 125th year with the launch of a new annual concert on 17 November commemorating 1989's Velvet Revolution. In his third year at the helm of the Czech Philharmonic, Chief Conductor and Music Director Semyon Bychkov will conduct the inaugural Velvet Revolution concert featuring Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony and Miloslav Kabelác's Mystery of Time.

For the 2020-21 season, Bychkov will conduct world premières of works commissioned from Bryce Dessner, Detlev Glanert and Thomas Larcher; all three of the Czech Philharmonic's concerts at the Wiener Konzerthaus; concerts in Slovakia and Spain, including two at Madrid's Auditorio Nacional; and a major European capitals tour with concerts in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and London. Beginning the season at home in Prague, Bychkov will conduct the opening concerts of the Dvorák Prague International Festival, before opening the Czech Philharmonic's season with a programme featuring music by Shostakovich and Mahler.

Watch the 125th season announcement video here:

--Moë Faulkner, Macbeth Media Relations

A Message from American Bach Soloists Executive Director Don Scott Carpenter
We are all in this together. It has been ten days since most of us were ordered to shelter-in-place and our lives were greatly altered. While in the short-term we may not know when sheltering will end, I believe that we will once again be able to gather to hear and experience great music.

At ABS, our administrative functions are continuing, but remotely, as our staff are all working from home so that they and the others around them remain safe. I hope that you are able to do the same! We have been overwhelmed with "social distancing," but I read last night something that I very much prefer: "physical distancing." We all need social interactions, especially right now. For example, just this past Saturday, many of our musicians, board, and staff had a "Bach Birthday Bash" party via Zoom simply to check in and celebrate Bach's 335th birthday. We are looking into other ways to continue our social interactions, and we will notify you when the next opportunity arises.

Because we are confident that the end to this pandemic will come, Jeffrey and I are continuing to work on the Summer Festival (July 26 – August 9) and the 2020-2021 performance season. But for now, we simply want you to know we are thinking about you, and that we are excited to be together again soon.

--Don Scott, American Bach Soloists

Savannah Music Festival Presents SMF
The first concert of the 2020 Savannah Music Festival was scheduled for this Thursday, March 26 at 12:30 p.m. At a time when SMF artists and audiences would have begun a 17-day gathering in historic venues and theaters, SMF is launching an online alternative to broadcast the spirit of the festival entitled SMF at Noon30. Every day at 12:30 p.m. Eastern from March 26 through April 11, at-home and in-studio video performances by 2020 festival artists will be posted to the SMF YouTube channel, Facebook, and Instagram.

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet

New York Youth Symphony Performs Mahler from Home
The New York City-based New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) Orchestra, led by Music Director Michael Repper, is made up of young musicians ages 12-22 from throughout the New York region. The orchestra had to cancel its spring concert at Carnegie Hall due to the coronavirus crisis, but in a moving display of hope, community and resilience, 71 members came together virtually from home isolation to perform this uplifting movement from Mahler's Symphony No. 1, "Titan." The video, which was edited by NYYS violinist Raina Tung, is now available to watch and share:

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Minnesota Orchestra Announces Cancellation of Tour to South Korea and Vietnam
The Minnesota Orchestra's summer 2020 tour to South Korea and Vietnam has been cancelled due to the health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä, the tour—scheduled for June 21 through July 3, 2020—was intended to celebrate the 25th anniversary of restored diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam, as well as to foster connections with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, where Mr. Vänskä was recently appointed music director.

-- Lisa Jaehnig, Shuman 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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa