Classical Music News of the Week, May 9, 2020

Wet Ink Ensemble Announces New Monthly Journal

The "sublimely exploratory" (The Chicago Reader) Wet Ink Ensemble released the first issue of its new, monthly online journal of adventurous music and conversation, the "Wet Ink Archive." The mission of "Wet Ink Archive" parallels that of the Ensemble: sharing the body of work generated within the group, celebrating the music of longtime collaborators, and providing a platform for emerging and underrepresented artists. Each issue will include three articles ranging from personal reflection to detailed musical analysis, accompanied by newly released music and archival documentation. Sign up to receive "The Wet Ink Archive" here: https://wetink.us6.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=a0734e8eb84cc535d33836200&id=0859da5a8b

Violinist and Executive Director Josh Modney says, "Initially conceived as a project to make Wet Ink's 20-plus years of concert documentation and studio recordings publicly available, the Wet Ink Archive has evolved into a platform for artists to share and write about their work without restrictions, and is also part of Wet Ink's response to the urgent questions currently being faced by all arts organizations: 'As live artists, how can we continue to present our programming amidst a national lockdown? And as community members, how can we continue to provide opportunities for freelance artists to work in their field?' Thanks for reading, and we look forward to continuing to share adventurous art with you in the coming months."

The first issue of "Wet Ink Archive" opens with "Topographies of Interaction," an in-depth discussion between Wet Ink Ensemble members and composers Alex Mincek and Sam Pluta about their works featured on Wet Ink's new album, "Glossolalia/Lines on Black," out on Carrier Records, and the relationship of this music to Wet Ink's practice. The release features two extended works: Mincek's "Glossolalia," inspired by the language concept of the same name but broadened to include modes of musical expression beyond linguistics, and Pluta's "Lines on Black," a love letter to the members of Wet Ink Ensemble which engages the musicianship and personality of individual members or small subsets of the group. All proceeds from album sales will be donated to Wet Ink's extended network of freelance musicians.

For more information, visit www.wetink.org

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of May 11–17)
Tuesday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m. MT (live only):
Sun Valley Music Festival presents Upbeat with Alasdair, featuring Music Director Alasdair Neale

Tuesday, May 12 as of 1:00 p.m. PT:
James Conlon continues discussion of Beaumarchais and The Marriage of Figaro on LA Opera James Conlon at Home podcast

Thursday, May 14 at 2:00 p.m. ET:
Michael Tilson Thomas and New World Symphony's Archive+:
Gershwin's Cuban Overture, Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnol, and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet suite

Friday, May 15 at 7:00 p.m. ET:
New World Symphony's NWS Fellows: Live from our Living Room

Saturday, May 16 at 7:00 p.m. ET:
Jennifer Koh's Alone Together series continues with Part VII

Minnesota Orchestra at Home:

Tulsa Opera's Staying Alive series:

--Shuman Associates

Carolina Wren Singing - Brad Balliett
This week's Morning Meditation, "Carolina Wren Singing," comes from EXO Artistic Advisor Brad Balliett. He created the composition, performance on numerous bassoons, and videography.

We hope you enjoy this brilliant and moving expression, which premiered on Sunday May 3rd; it will be available on an ongoing basis from then on.


--James Blachly, Experiential Orchestra

Naxos Among Winners of 2020 International Classical Music Awards
Naxos was among the winners of this year's International Classical Music Awards (ICMA), announced on 30 April. Ondine, one of Naxos' affiliated labels, was also the recipient of an award.

Of the nineteen citations in the audio and video categories, Naxos received two awards, both of which went to its box set of Beethoven's complete symphonies, featuring the Danish Chamber Orchestra under Adam Fischer. The collection won the Symphonic Music category and was also named ICMA Recording of the Year.

Ondine won the Choral Music category for its recording of Tchaikovsky's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and Nine Sacred Pieces, performed by the Latvian Chamber Choir under Sigvards Klava.

--Naxos Digital Services

Moto Virtuo: A New Music Solidarity Fund Benefit
A celebrated soloist, contemporary composers, and an artist-led charitable cause for musicians impacted by COVID-19 team up to present MOTO VIRTUO, an online concert with cellist Ovidiu Marinescu to benefit the New Music Solidarity Fund. The concert will be held on Saturday, May 9 at 2:00 PM EDT on the PARMA Live Stage: www.parmarecordings.com/event/moto-virtuo-live-stream-05-09-20

The New Music Solidarity Fund is an artist-led initiative administered by the 501(c)3 non-profit organization New Music USA providing emergency grants to musicians impacted by the current health crisis, and this concert is an extension of PARMA's ongoing MOTO series, which has been praised as "bold and expressive" (Gramophone magazine) and "tight, musical, technically virtuosic" (The Whole Note).

Since its launch in 2012, the MOTO series has premiered works by nearly three dozen composers through its pairing of the recording of full-length albums with live release concerts at Carnegie Hall.

This live online program presents works by Nora Morrow, Betty R. Wishart, L Peter Deutsch, Hilary Tann, Dave Williams, J.S. Bach, and a premiere of one of the cellist's own compositions.

This project and concert will be a slightly different affair than usual. "With the global challenges presented by the virus, we felt it was important to keep creating and performing in these times and hopefully do something positive for the community at the same time," says PARMA Recordings CEO Bob Lord. "So while it will take place from Ovidiu's home instead of the stage at Carnegie, I think this program is a wonderful way to come together to help New Music USA's very good cause."


--Sara Warner, PARMA Recordings

Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart Goes for the Laugh
Pianist Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart continues this week with the 3rd movement, Rondeau: Allegro, from Sonata No. 3, K. 281, available to stream for free beginning Wednesday, May 6.

"Mozart was definitely going for the laugh here," says Ms. Shaham. "Within the main theme Mozart interjects a grace-note motif that he changes just a little each time it appears. It's raucously funny at times, and he clearly means it that way."

Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart gives you exclusive access to a different movement of a Mozart piano sonata, available for a whole week, free! Get your weekly dose of Mozart each Wednesday, and enjoy it until the following Wednesday when it will be replaced by the next installment, at OrliShahamMozart.com.

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

Saratoga Performing Arts Center Unveils New Learning Library
Saratoga Performing Arts Center announced that it has unveiled its new Learning Library, created to bring free original arts educational content to students, families and educators at a time when previously scheduled in-school presentations and classes are not feasible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the Center's mission to provide meaningful educational programming to the community while also supporting local artists, the videos and exercises feature more than 25 professional musicians and dancers who have been affected by the pandemic such as Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, professional stepping company Soul Steps and Caroga Arts Collective, as well as former Broadway performers, composers and local storytellers.

"We have completely re-imagined how our educational programming can reach students, families and educators during these difficult times when in-person demonstrations and classes aren't possible. Last year our programs served more than 49,000 students, however, with this new virtual platform, we have the opportunity to bring enriching, unique arts education content to even more students in the region and beyond," said Elizabeth Sobol, SPAC's President and CEO.

Curated by SPAC with dedicated lessons for students of all ages, the video sessions include: "SPAC Breaks," a variety of introductory lessons to exercise the creative mind; "Stories that Move," featuring short stories with dance instruction by Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company;  "Kitchen Floor Dance Class," led by former Broadway performer and SPAC's Senior Director of Education, Dennis Moench, and the "Virtual Dance Lab," advanced choreography-teaching sessions in a variety of genres. In addition to the video lessons, SPAC has created "Printable SPAC-tivities," featuring exercises and coloring pages that teach fundamental music and dance concepts.

The SPAC Learning Library can be accessed at spaclearninglibrary.org.

--Rebecca Davis PR

Seraphic Fire Saturday Podcast
With Covid-19 impacting live performances, Seraphic Fire has responded to the outpouring of requests for ongoing classical entertainment from subscribers and other lovers of classical vocal performance by creating Seraphic Saturday Podcasts. Seraphic Fire Media ("SFM"), the publishing arm of the Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire, announces the launch of the new Seraphic Saturday Podcast. Each episode is a smart and frank discussion of classical music featuring the charming and witty cast of Seraphic Fire's artistic company as well as special guests. The first in the series, "Gamma ut," was released Saturday, May 2, 2020 on Seraphic Fire's blog (www.SeraphicFire.org/Blog) and in all apps where quality podcasts are found.

--Schwalbe and Partners

Embracing a New Frontier with Young People's Chorus
Over the past few weeks, it seems we have all been propelled into a new reality, and I sincerely hope you, your families, and those you love are well and safe.

Although we all have been physically distanced from each other, this has been a time of learning and reflection. It is changing us as a society, but as we face these challenges at Young People's Chorus, we have been able to amass the deep intellectual knowledge of our staff to take on the many technological challenges of this new age, which will eventually be transformed into a hybrid world of the virtual with the actual.

As members of this new frontier, we at YPC have created an innovative new program that will enable us to use technology for all YPC singers. This includes not only our current roster of singers in New York City, but also our many alumni, and the children who participate in YPC National choruses in New Jersey, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and the Dominican Republic.  

And so, today we are launching YPConnects, a digital network that will continue to respond to our ever-evolving ways of learning, performing, and gathering together.

For complete information, visit https://ypc.org/

--Young People's Chorus of NYC

Greetings from Festival Mozaic Music Director Scott Yoo
n these times of uncertainty, the board and staff of Festival Mozaic are hard at work navigating the ever-changing restrictions affecting the music and event industry. We look forward to bringing world-class live musical experiences to San Luis Obispo County audiences as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we look forward to announcing ways to bring you virtual music experiences until we can be together in person again.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an immediate financial effect on all nonprofit organizations, including performing arts organizations like the Festival. Please consider a tax-deductible donation of any amount during this time.

We hope you will take a minute to watch this brief video message from the Music Director of Festival Mozaic, Scott Yoo. Click here to watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz1k_SdNccc&feature=youtu.be

--Festival Mozaic

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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 John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simpleminded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@gmail.com

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa