Classical Music News of the Week, May 23, 2020

Heartbeat Opera Announces On-Line Extension of Lady M

Heartbeat Opera "is leading the charge in online opera" (Parterre, 5/12/20) and extends its Lady M soirées on Zoom after selling out the first eighteen. Fourteen more have been added from May 27-June 6.

Lady M is an online fantasia of Verdi's Macbeth through the eyes of Lady Macbeth, opera's, most thrilling anti-heroine. Watch the trailer here:

New dates:
Wednesday, May 27 at 2pm & 8pm
Thursday, May 28 at 7pm & 9pm
Friday, May 29 at 2pm & 8pm
Saturday, May 30 at 8pm
Wednesday, June 3 at 2pm & 8pm
Thursday, June 4 at 7pm & 9pm
Friday, June 5 at 2pm & 8pm
Saturday, June 6 at 8pm

Each intimate 60-minute soirée includes a welcome toast, live performances by two cast members (on a rotating schedule), screenings of a new behind-the-scenes documentary, a music video of Lady M's Sleepwalking Scene, and Q&A.

$30 per household; $10 for students
Comps for those experiencing financial hardship during this crisis

For complete information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Ling Ling Huang Plays Bach
This week features Ling Ling Huang playing a beautiful version of Bach's Sonata No. 3 in C Major on a rooftop in Brooklyn. We hope you enjoy:

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing "Meditations" by more than a dozen other EXO musicians. This allows us to do our own small part to keep musicians employed during this time of no live performances. And we want to invite you to help us create beauty for the world around us.  If you are interested in helping us commission music from these great performers, please visit our donate page. Partial underwriting for these recordings and video projects begins at $75.

If you can renew your support of EXO at your annual giving level for these and future projects, that will be very welcome:

--James Blachly, Music Director, Experiential Orchestra

Spotlight on British Composer Richard Blackford
As part of her COVID-19 Solo Sessions, the saxophonist Amy Dickson speaks to composer Richard Blackford and performs his new work, "A Season of Stillness," which reflects his feelings during lockdown and the global crisis. In a short interview before this premier performance, Richard reflects how some people have found the silence and stillness extraordinarily beautiful while others have found it lonely, threatening and unnerving.

"The first thing I noticed was when the planes stopped flying, the birds were singing in a different way and much louder. It has given us a new awareness of the natural world that we never normally hear. It has brought us a new awareness and an extraordinary stillness."

Nimbus hopes to publish and release a recording of A Season of Stillness later this year. Until we can get back in the studio you can enjoy this wonderful performance at YouTube:

--Nimbus Records

Saratoga Performing Arts Center Announces the Cancellation of 2020 Classical Season
Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) have announced the cancellation of its 2020 season, for the first time in its 53 year history. This includes SPAC's summer resident companies New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, as well as "Not Our First Goat Rodeo" featuring Yo-Yo Ma, and "SPAC on Stage." SPAC along with its board of directors made the decision to suspend its programming this summer in recognition of the continued threat to health and safety caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking to the future, SPAC also announces an initiative to donate 2021 performance tickets to first responders and health care workers for every ticketholder that converts a minimum of $25 of their 2020 ticket cost to a tax-deductible donation.


--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Sharon Isbin to Perform with the Santa Rosa Symphony on KRCB Radio
Multiple Grammy-Award winner Sharon Isbin will be featured performing Villa Lobos's Guitar Concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony on KRCB Radio Sunday, May 24 at 3 pm.

The November 2018 broadcast will also feature Kodály's Dances of Galánta, Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No. 1, and Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Show host Steve Mencher will discuss the program with Isbin and Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong.  Tune in to KRCB FM Radio 91, on their mobile app, and streaming via their website:

The music will be archived for a full month.

--Genevieve Spielberg Artists

David Hyde Pierce, Jamie Barton, and Anthony Roth Costanzo Headline "Opera Jukebox" Benefit
Audience will vote for their favorite selections to be streamed Saturday, May 30, at 7pm ET.

"The great mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade once observed that music is 'the art form closest to prayer,'" said Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor David Hyde Pierce. "Our world could use some good prayers right now and the Artist Relief Tree is helping ensure that those prayers keep getting sung."

On Saturday, May 30, Pierce will emcee an Artist Relief Tree (ART) benefit, joined by seven world-class opera singers for Opera Jukebox, an innovative and interactive concert streaming on Facebook:
And the ART website:

--Beth Stewart, Verismo Communications

Pianist Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart
Each Wednesday, Ms. Shaham brings you an exclusive: music from her forthcoming recording of Mozart sonatas. This week: Mozart's Sonata No. 16, K. 545, 1st movement.

Visit Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart here:

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

Naumburg Orchestral Concerts Honors Commitment to Summer 2020
Today, the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts announced that it would honor its financial commitments to all musicians scheduled to perform during the 2020 season, whether or not the concerts are canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The series is the oldest continuous, free, outdoor, Western classical music concert series in the world and has been held in New York's Central Park every summer since 1905.

"Our series is based on a foundation of deep respect and admiration for the skill and talent of professional musicians," said Christopher W. London, President of the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts. "At a time when the country's performing artists are experiencing unprecedented financial hardship, and thousands upon thousands of public performances have been canceled, our board felt strongly that we needed to show our genuine support for the musical community."

For further information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet

Bang on a Can Marathon, June 14 - Live Online from 3pm-9pm ET
Bang on a Can will present its second Bang on a Can Marathon – Live Online – on Sunday, June 14, 2020 from 3-9pm ET. The first six-hour online Marathon on May 3, 2020 featured 25 live performances and was viewed by over 22,000 people around the world. The upcoming June 14 Marathon will expand the geography and include 25 live performances with musicians connecting from around the USA, Canada, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Scotland, Italy, Ireland, and Japan, plus ten world premieres of newly commissioned works. Bang on a Can plans to continue these Marathons periodically, streaming online at, until live performances can resume.

The concert begins with a performance by Rhiannon Giddens at 3pm, live from Ireland, and concludes with a performance by Terry Riley, live from Japan. Additional highlights include performances by Roscoe Mitchell, Nico Muhly, Conrad Tao, Pamela Z, and many more. Guest composers and performers will join for conversations in between performances with Bang on a Can Co-Founders and Artistic Directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe.

For complete information, visit

--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of May 25-31)
Monday, May 25 as of 12:00 p.m. ET:
Pop Up Pipa with Wu Man: Episode 4: Andrea Piccioni

Monday, May 25 at 2:00 p.m. CT:
Tulsa Opera's "Staying Alive" series continues with soprano Keely Futterer singing Richard Strauss's "Zueignung"

Tuesday, May 26 as of 1:00 p.m. PT:
James Conlon discusses Beaumarchais and The Ghosts of Versailles on LA Opera James Conlon at Home podcast

Wednesday, May 27 as of 12:00 p.m. ET:
Pop Up Pipa with Wu Man: Episode 5: Xuefei Yang

Wednesday, May 27 at 2:00 p.m. CT:
Tulsa Opera presents tenor Humberto Borboa performing Dvorák's "Als die alte Mutter sang"

Friday, May 29 at 12:00 p.m. ET:
Pop Up Pipa with Wu Man: Episode 6: Wu Wei

Friday, May 29 at 2:00 p.m. CT:
Tulsa Opera concludes its week with mezzo-soprano Kristee Haney in a selection from Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle

Friday, May 29 at 7:00 p.m. ET:
New World Symphony's NWS Fellows: Live from our Living Room

Saturday, May 30 at 7:00 p.m. ET:
Jennifer Koh's Alone Together series continues with new works by Du Yun, Shayna Dunkelman, George Lewis, and Lester St Louis

Minnesota Orchestra at Home

--Shuman Associates

Music Institute Launches "Indoor Voices"
In a salute to the legacy of Nichols Concert Hall (NCH), its highly regarded concert venue, the Music Institute of Chicago presents "Indoor Voices," a free series of weekly musical visits with musicians who have performed at NCH, including guest artists, faculty, and alumni.

Each "Indoor Voices" episode, hosted by the Music Institute's Director of Performance Activities Fiona Queen, will debut on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. and last about 30 minutes.

June 5: internationally acclaimed pianist Sergei Babayan, a Deutsche Grammophon exclusive artist who has performed at prestigious venues with the world's leading orchestras.
June 12: jazz vocalist and Music Institute Artist-in-Residence Tammy McCann and jazz vibraphonist, composer, and bandleader Joe Locke.
June 19: award-winning violist and Music Institute Academy alumnus Matthew Lipman.
June 26: pianist and Music Institute faculty member Abraham Stokman.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Los Angeles Master Chorale's High School Choir Festival Goes Virtual
For over 30 years, the Los Angeles Master Chorale has created a mega choir of 1,000 high school singers who, after a year of preparation, came together to perform at Walt Disney Concert Hall for its annual High School Choir Festival, one of the longest running continuous educations programs in Southern California. In the absence of being able to gather in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Master Chorale has created a special virtual version of the festival, to be held online on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at 1 p.m. at

The Virtual High School Choir Festival (VHSCF) will feature favorite moments of recent festivals, curated by Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, Associate Conductor Jenny Wong and Director of Education Lesili Beard. Highlights will include the "Purple Rain" tribute to Prince that blew the roof off Disney Hall in 2016; Bill Withers's "Lean on Me" from 2019; student interviews; testimonials of gratitude from high school seniors and shout outs from former festival guest conductors. The festival will culminate in a virtual performance of participants singing "The Promise of Light," by Georgia Stitt, lyrics by Len Schiff. Hundreds of voice and video recordings were submitted by festival participants to create a powerful moment of celebration that encourages hope amidst an environment of isolation and uncertainty.

For more information, visit

--Lisa Bellamore, Los Angeles Master Chorale

West Edge Festival: Postponed until 2021
General Director Mark Streshinsky and Music Director Jonathan Khuner have announced that West Edge Opera will postpone its annual summer festival until the 2021 season. Their productions of Katya Kabanova, Eliogabalo, and Elizabeth Cree, originally scheduled for July 25th through August 9th, 2020, will instead be presented starting July 24th of 2021.

"We are disappointed, but not devastated" reports Streshinsky. "New research has shown that it is nearly impossible to rehearse an opera with the level of safety and confidence we would need to feel comfortable. We had been holding out hope for a sharp reduction in cases or a medical breakthrough, but none of that seems to be happening in time."

For more information and a full statement issued to the public, visit the West Edge Website at:

--West Edge Opera

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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