Classical Music News of the Week, August 22, 2020

Michael Tilson Thomas To Be Featured by IDAGIO

Coming soon to IDAGIO’s recently launched Global Concert Hall is Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony (NWS), conducting the orchestra in an NWS-commissioned elaboration of Berlioz’s Harold in Italy by composer Steven Mackey.

Featuring viola soloist Tabea Zimmermann, this performance was filmed in October 2019 as part of the grand finale of MTT and NWS’s Viola Visions festival at the New World Center in Miami Beach. The IDAGIO webcast will include an introduction from MTT, Mr. Mackey, and Ms. Zimmermann, followed by the performance and a live Virtual Green Room audience Q&A with the artists after the concert. This virtual event is scheduled for Friday, August 21 at 2:00 p.m. ET, after which time it will be available for on-demand viewing until Sunday, August 23 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Tickets priced €9.90 (approximately $12) are available via

--Shuman Associates

Google Play Music Is Going Away Soon
YouTube Music is replacing Google Play Music as your new destination for music listening and discovery. Between October and the end of this year, access to Google Play Music will be removed permanently. We know that you’ve spent time building your Google Play Music library, so we’ve made it easy to transfer your music library to YouTube Music with just one click, including playlists, uploads, and recommendations.

If you haven’t tried YouTube Music yet, you’ll notice that it looks a bit different from Google Play Music, but know that it was built by the same team with the same passion. It also offers more than 65 million official songs, albums, and playlists, as well as many features you love and expect from Google Play Music.

--Google Play

Nigel North Performs Francesco da Milano
With a planned re-opening in January 2021, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts are busy planning ahead, ensuring the safety of our audience members, performers, and front of house staff in the face of awesome challenges and dizzying changes to the classical music industry. We will need your help.

As a smaller presenter, we are ready to change our plans on a dime, poised to follow the guidelines of scientists, responsible figures in our government, and our respected public health officials.

Because a world without live performance is unthinkable, we are doing our research now in order to take every precaution for the day we can all enjoy concerts together again in a real venue.

Reconfiguring performance venues for optimal safety will require resources for which we never planned before. We are grateful for your support in these unfathomably challenging times, as we move forward into an uncertain but inevitably brighter future, where live concerts of historical performance continue to flourish.

In the meantime, enjoy these video highlights from Nigel North's concert, “A Decoration of Silence”:

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

It's Your Choice
Yes, it is your choice, and it’s between ‘memorize and practice’, and knowing exactly what you are doing every moment you are playing. The study of music theory, however, is study about theory, not music… by definition.

“Theory, as it is called, has always been upheld as the promised gateway to this broad understanding, but there are thousands upon thousands of eager young musicians as well as disappointed older ones who will testify to the seemingly unbridgeable gap between their theoretical studies and the living experience of music itself.” … from Dr Leopold Mannes’ “Preface” to Dr. Felix Salzer’s book, Structural Hearing.

The problem has been defined but not the solution, since any ‘solution’ is generally a re-hash with the same errors and omissions of the same ‘theory.’ It’s a merry-go-round that leads nowhere.

If I may make a direct comparison between the spoken language and the language of music, we find certain relationships. Have you noticed that the verb gets the emphasis when speaking, even slight? Yes, other parts of speech may be emphasized, but it’s the verb that normally gets the emphasis. Try a few sentences and see if you agree. The dominant is the verb in music. Whenever there is a ‘V-I,’ ‘V’ will be given emphasis normally since the leading-tone is the tone of resolution. ‘I’ is not normally emphasized, since it is the ‘object,’ so to speak.

‘Study’ is what one does to ascertain what is there in a piece of music. So, in order to ‘study’ a piece of music where does one start? Well, I don’t think it’s with a theory manual, nor with its theorems of types of cadences, secondary dominants, figured bass, etc. Indeed, I don’t think any pianist resorts to that, but maintains the ‘memorize and practice’ routine, insisting the piece has been ‘studied.’

Please follow me and understand that this is not for just me, but for what I am doing, and if you agree with what I am doing, support this with your comments, enthusiasm, and funds.

--Ralph Hedges, Chopin Piano Academy

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of August 24–30)
Wednesday, August 26 at 2:00 p.m. CT
Tulsa Opera’s Staying Alive continues with mezzo-soprano RenĂ©e Rapier.

Wednesday, August 26 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Friday, August 28 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Sunday, August 30 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Shai Wosner joins Christine Goerke and Tessa Lark, among other artists, in virtual Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival.

On-demand through end of August
James Conlon and LA Opera’s audio-streamed Ring cycle.

Minnesota Orchestra at Home

--Shuman Associates

SOLI’s “Moments of SOLIcitude”
We hope that you will tune in for the NEW Episode 6 of our summer video series, “Moments of SOLIcitude” on YouTube Premieres, featuring A Thousand Tongues by composer Missy Mazzolli, performed by SOLI cellist David Mollenauer and world-renowned mezzo-soprano and Assistant Professor of Music at Trinity University, Jacquelyn Matava.

Recorded on December 12, 2019, the performance of A Thousand Tongues is part of a longer concert the Ensemble presented at the McNay Art Museum's Music & Minimalism – Gallery Talk and Performance series. McNay Art Museum and SOLI collaborate regularly on creative projects highlighting and amplifying the connection of Music and Art.

The episode premiered on Wednesday, August, 19 @ 5:00 PM. Click the link to watch anytime:

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

American Composers Orchestra Announces 2020-2021 Season Updates
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces a slate of virtual and in-person programming for the 2020-2021 season in response to these challenging times for the performing arts. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Derek Bermel, Music Director George Manahan, and President Edward Yim, ACO confirms its commitment this season to the creation, performance, preservation, and promotion of music by American composers with programming that sparks curiosity and reflects geographic, stylistic, racial, and gender diversity.

“At this time of great uncertainty but unlimited potential, ACO continues to champion the music of our time,” says Edward Yim. “This season features premiere performances and readings that offer our audience a chance to share in the excitement, reflection, and catharsis of this modern age of anxiety and – hopefully – positive transformation.”

For complete information, visit

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

West Edge Opera Announces Aperture: A New Online Commissioning Residency
West Edge Opera announces the launch of Aperture, an ambitious online platform to create new opera and music theater in a world where artists are separated from their audiences. Following the postponement of their 2020 season, West Edge Opera took the opportunity to invent a program that brings the creative process of new opera directly to the people who are most invested in the art form. Aperture seeks to redefine the way operas are chosen for commission and will provide opportunities for both experienced composers/librettist teams as well as new talent from diverse backgrounds. Select teams will receive commissions of $60,000 and a live performance of the work when it is safe to gather again.

Subscribing members of Aperture will receive twice-weekly emails filled with video progress reports, analysis, and mini documentaries that discuss the work being made as well as candid glimpses into the artists’ lives. At certain subscription levels, there will be opportunities for interaction directly with the creative teams as well as a staff of eight curators who will provide perspective and context for the members as well as feedback and guidance for the artists. In addition, subscribing members will be able to provide their own feedback, opinions, and comments about the work unfolding in front of their eyes. Filtered by the curators, this feedback will be considered as the pieces develop and will ultimately impact which pieces receive further funding.

Aperture will be open for submissions in late August and selected artistic teams will start to be notified in late September. General Membership will be open to the public in late October and will range from $15-$90 per month with more access and interactivity offered at higher levels of membership.

For more information visit

--West End Opera

Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart - All Hell Breaks Loose
Pianist Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart continues this week with the third movement of Sonata No.18, K. 576 - available to stream for free beginning Wednesday, August 19.

"The third movement starts out really simply, but when the theme repeats, all hell breaks loose with the left hand running away from the right hand in furious 16th note triplets," says Ms. Shaham about Sonata No.18. "Mozart couldn't have known this was his last piano sonata but there’s no better sonata to end with."

You’ll find it here:

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

SummerMusic at Sheridan Music Studio
Join us for five nights of glorious music on the lovely shady lawn of Sheridan Music Studio, Highland Park at 1532 Sheridan Road. Advanced ticket purchases are necessary for attendance at the Live Outdoor Concerts. To purchase in-person tickets, which also include the live stream, visit

OR visit IN.LIVE/upcoming streams to watch the professionally recorded concert livestreams if you cannot join us in person.

Social distancing will be observed, but you can also enjoy the online Livestream event from the comfort of your home.

--Susan Merdinger, Sheridan Music Studio

Young People’s Chorus of New York City on WQXR
Young People’s Chorus of New York City opened Wednesday night’s edition of WQXR’s “Young Artists Showcase” with an overview of the many musical sides of the renowned chorus.

Hosted by Robert Sherman since 1978, “Young Artists Showcase” has sought out and showcased the exceptional talents of hundreds of emerging young artists over the past four decades.

YPC's performance is now streaming on, and will be archived indefinitely on the WQXR website. Listen here:

--Young People’s Chorus of NYC

Cantus Announces 20-21 Season
Though live in-person performances by Cantus have been suspended for the remainder of 2020, the men’s vocal ensemble today announces a series of new performances to be made available online and in-person for the 2020-21 Season. The ensemble’s popular COVID-19 Sessions recordings are also set for international release on Signum Classics starting this week.

Thanks to careful quarantine and creativity, Cantus has been able to continue making music during the pandemic and will present three new programs over the coming months to be made available online for audiences in the Twin Cities and around the world. The group’s small size has allowed its members to sing together under protocols developed with guidance from medical professionals. To safely create and capture these online concerts, the ensemble quarantined intensively for two weeks, underwent tests for COVID-19, and then rehearsed and recorded together in isolation in Decorah, Iowa at what the members of the ensemble dubbed “Camp Cantus.”

Listen here to “Making the Music”:

--Rebecca Davis PR

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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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa