Classical Music News of the Week, April 11, 2020

Academy Students Reign at Crain-Maling Competition

Continuing its history of success at the prestigious Crain-Maling Foundation CSO Young Artists Competition, the Music Institute of Chicago's Academy for gifted pre-college musicians took three of the four finalist positions, with violinist Isabella Brown (17, Gurnee, Illinois) taking first place. Academy finalists also included violinist Esme Arias-Kim (14, Hoffman Estates, Illinois), who was the first alternate, and cellist Mia Wimbiscus (16, Wilmette, Illinois).

This is the second time Academy students have claimed three of the four finalist positions in this competition; in 2017, the three Academy students were violinist Maya Anjali Buchanan, who took first place; violinist Joshua Brown, who was first alternate; and violinist Thompson Wang. Academy students have consistently placed—and often won—this competition in each year of string and piano performers (alternate years feature percussion and wind instruments), placing first in 2018, 2017, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2009, and 2008.

Other recent Academy competition successes include:
Violinist Noelle Naito (17, Elkridge, Maryland) won the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition, an international competition that takes place at the Flint (Michigan) Institute of Music. Violinist Katya Moeller (15, Coralville, Iowa) took second place in the LaCrosse Rising Stars Competition. Esme Arias-Kim won the Fox Valley Youth Concerto Competition. At the MYA (Midwest Young Arts) National Chamber Music Competition, the Insieme Piano Trio—violinist/violist Sonya Jones (15, Chicago, Illinois), violinist/violist Abigail Park (16, Northbrook, Illinois), and pianist Ashley Kim (16, Wilmette, Illinois)—were the Overall and Open Strings Winners.

You can read more about Academy student achievements here:

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Post Memorial Tribute to Maestro Krzysztof Penderecki
JoAnn Falletta joins the Buffalo Philharmonic and the entire international music community in mourning the loss of Maestro Krzysztof Penderecki. JoAnn says "The extraordinary composer and conductor became an unforgettable part of my personal musical history when he came to conduct the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 2017 in works by Beethoven, Dvorak and the premiere performance of his Double Concerto for Violin and Cello. Maestro Penderecki welcomed me and the Buffalo Philharmonic to Poland in 2018 for a performance in Warsaw as part of his Beethoven Easter Festival, where we had the pleasure of marking his 85th birthday. Maestro Penderecki's influence on the music of our time and the music of the future is profound, and I will always cherish my personal relationship with him." --JoAnn Falletta

Maestro Falletta and the musicians of the BPO feel a profound loss at Maestro Penderecki's passing and wanted to share this personal memorial tribute to the Maestro, from the BPO's very recent performance of the Adagio from Mahler's Tenth Symphony:

--Genevieve Spielberg, Inc.

World-Renowned Maestro Joins UNO School of Music
The College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media at the University of Nebraska, Omaha (UNO) is pleased to announced the appointment of Miguel Harth-Bedoya as Director of Orchestral Studies, beginning in August, 2020.

Harth-Bedoya will be charged with expanding and directing the orchestra program in the School of Music at the Strauss Performing Arts Center. His vision includes the creation of a brand new Bachelor of Music program in orchestral conducting, which is currently lacking at the undergraduate level in the United States.

--Brandon Bartling, UNO Media Relations

New Century Announces Cancellation of May Performances
Following recommendations from the San Francisco Department of Public Health to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), New Century Chamber Orchestra announced today the cancellation of its May 13 through 17 "Music of the Spheres" performances. Cancellations include previously scheduled concerts at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford (May 13); First Congregational Church, Berkeley (May 14); Herbst Theatre, San Francisco (May 16); and Osher Marin JCC, San Rafael (May 17). These events will not be rescheduled.

The following options are available to all subscribers and single ticket holders that have already purchased tickets to these performances.

Donate your ticket(s) and receive a tax deduction for the total value.
Receive a full refund for the total value of your existing ticket(s).

Ticket holders can make alternative arrangements by visiting and submitting requests via the online form. For questions or concerns, please call (415) 357-1111 ext. 303 or email

--Brenden Guy Media

Andrea Bocelli "Music For Hope" Easter Sunday Concert
On Easter Sunday (April 12, 2020), Italian tenor and global music icon Andrea Bocelli will give a solo performance at the historic Duomo, the cathedral of Milan, Italy, by invitation of the City and of the cathedral, and thanks to the hospitality of the Archpriest and the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo.

"On the day on which we celebrate the trust in a life that triumphs, I'm honored and happy to answer 'Sì' to the invitation of the City and the Duomo of Milan." This is how Andrea Bocelli said 'yes' to the City of Milan in this dark time that has wounded all of Italy.

There will be no audience present, and strictly no access for the public (in compliance with government regulations on Covid-19), but the concert will be exclusively streamed live globally on the tenor's YouTube channel: from 6pm UK time, 10am PST, 1pm EST, uniting the world in the face of a global pandemic.

--Julia Casey, Universal Music

Richmond Symphony Names Valentina Peleggi as New Music Director
In the midst of this difficult time, the Richmond Symphony is pleased to share some very good news.

We are proud to announce the appointment of award-winning Italian conductor Valentina Peleggi as our next Music Director. Peleggi will begin her role on July 1, 2020, for an initial four-year period conducting at least ten weeks a season, making Peleggi our sixth Music Director, and first woman in that leadership role.

Peleggi's engagement comes after a two year search to replace former Music Director Steven Smith, who stepped down at the end of the 2018-19 season after a distinguished decade of service. The Search Committee, comprised of symphony musicians and board members, unanimously selected Peleggi after she spent two weeks with the Symphony in early March, garnering overwhelming support from the orchestra. Programmed repertoire included works by Respighi, Rossini, Clara Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and Joan Tower.

--Beverly Greenfield, Kirshbaum Associates

Looking to the Future with American Bach Soloists
ABS's May 2020 concert set, "Sweet Harmony," has been canceled in the interest and safety of our musicians and patrons, and in consideration of the uncertainty of the potential for our shelter-in-place being extended past our concert dates and the continued indefinite closures of some of our performance venues.

We are deeply grateful to our musicians for the preparations they have already made for the "Sweet Harmony" concerts, and we know that we will gather to make great music again soon, but for now, we must continue to make difficult but responsible decisions that best support the ABS community as we continue to endure the pandemic and its effect on the whole world.

If you hold tickets for this concert set, you should have already received an e-mail with your options; if not, please contact

Over the past many months, our staff and musicians have been planning one of the most exciting ABS Summer Festivals in ABS's history.

The 2020 Festival is scheduled to open on Sunday July 26th, and we—like everyone—hope that by then our daily lives will have been opened up again to the rich experiences that music can bring to us. There's definitely a lot to get excited about!

Be well and stay well, from all of us at ABS:

--American Bach Soloists

"Broadcast from Home": A New Participatory Musical Work from Lisa Bielawa
Composer, vocalist, and producer Lisa Bielawa announces "Broadcast from Home," her new musical work that creates community during the isolation of the coronavirus crisis. Bielawa is asking the public at large to submit testimonies about their own experience of this crisis. Testimonies can be submitted in writing or as recorded spoken word at her website, Throughout our period of isolation, Bielawa will be selecting testimonies to set to music which she will compose in response to the text. The public will also be invited to perform Bielawa's music, and the project will eventually culminate in a series of 20- to 30-minute participatory musical performances for an unlimited number of singers and instruments.

"Broadcast from Home" will be a significant musical work that memorializes the unique shared journey on which we find ourselves during this challenging time. The piece will be created through an energizing and participatory artistic process and will be consciously designed for performance under the varying degrees of social distancing that we may find ourselves in in coming months – virtually, in-person but socially distant outdoors or inside, or in large public gatherings once again.

"At the time of this writing (March 28, 2020) world events are at a particularly volatile point," Lisa Bielawa explains. "At this moment our communities share sudden uncertainty and vulnerability in the face of unprecedented challenges in public health, interconnectivity and community, and economic infrastructure. It is not clear to what extent and when people will be able to gather to share community through participatory events. It is also not clear to what degree and for how long various communities will be suffering from the isolation of lock-down, social distancing and quarantine. People's need for community is a constant, and the architecture of Broadcast from Home is designed to effect communal healing in changing circumstances."

Testimonies can be submitted now at

--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

Opera Maine Presents a New Web Series
Opera Maine has launched a virtual behind-the-scenes program, Opera in ME. Hosted by baritone Robert Mellon, this weekly online series posted every Tuesday at 5 p.m. introduces audiences to different aspects of opera from unique perspectives. This free series is designed to bring original, educational, and entertaining content to a diverse online audience and promote the mission of Maine's only professional opera company.

The first installment, released on April 7, recounted highlights from Mellon's decade-long career with Opera Maine. The second installment will explore how theatrical projections enhanced last season's The Magic Flute, and will feature Dona D. Vaughn, Artistic Director, and Alex Koch, projection designer. In future sessions, performers, theater professionals, and other special guests will offer insights into a variety of topics related to opera. Many episodes will include archival video clips from Opera Maine productions.

Join Opera Maine every Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Opera Maine's YouTube channel (, Opera Maine's Facebook page, Opera Maine's Twitter feed, or at

--Kristen Levesque, Public Relations

Heartbeat Opera Produces a Thrilling Communal Music Video
In the midst of this painful and confusing time, Heartbeat Opera has made something beautiful for the world and for its family of artists—a testament to how music can bring people together and spark joy. The Heartbeat family thought immediately of "Make Our Garden Grow," the stirring finale of Bernstein's Candide, which was also the song Heartbeat chose to conclude its 2019 Drag Extravaganza Hot Mama. The song is about making "sense of life." Richard Wilbur's timeless lyrics are:

"We're neither pure, nor wise, nor good;
We'll do the best we know.
We'll build our house, and chop our wood,
And make our garden grow."

More than 30 Heartbeat alumni—singers, dancers, instrumentalists, and a gardener—participated in this virtual performance.

"Making this video has been a wonderful way to reconnect with friends, and sharing it has been our modest way of responding to this crisis with love and resilience. We hope you enjoy watching it, and we hope you'll share it with your loved ones far and wide," says the Heartbeat team.

Watch "Make Our Garden Grow" here:

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

LA Master Chorale Cancels May Concert Due to Extended Stay-at-Home Order
In response to Los Angeles County's extension of the stay-at-home order through at least May 15, and out of an abundance of caution for the community, the Los Angeles Master Chorale has canceled its concert "Come Away to the Skies: A Celebration of Alice Parker," which was scheduled to take place on May 17 at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The Los Angeles Master Chorale puts the safety and health of its patrons, artists, staff, visitors, and supporters before anything else, and recognizes the responsibility we all have to socially distance ourselves and avoid public gatherings of any size. As a resident company of The Music Center, the Master Chorale looks forward to the re-opening of the campus, and coming together once again to share and enjoy the healing power of music.

In the absence of being able to experience live performances during the pandemic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale will soon launch two new digital series to keep the music alive while Angelenos observe the current quarantine. Please visit for news and updates.

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Salastina's Virtual Happy Hours and Performance Videos
Chamber ensemble Salastina's Artistic Directors Kevin Kumar and Maia Jasper White have created several musical offerings for virtual audiences to connect with each other and the ensemble during the COVID-19 pandemic. Salastina developed these initiatives after surveying their audience about what they would most like to experience. Like Salastina's regular season programming, each program takes an inquisitive approach towards beloved classics and new works.

Weekly on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. - 7 p.m., Salastina will host a virtual happy hour featuring the ensemble's resident artists and special guests.

Virtual Happy Hours:

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

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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