Classical Music News of the Week, September 19, 2020

Organist Christopher Houlihan Performs at "Vierne at 150" Festival


On October 8th, Organist Christopher Houlihan celebrates the music and life of Louis Vierne on the French composer's 150th birthday.Vierne at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. The concert, web-streamed to a global audience from Christopher Houlihan's website, is the pinnacle of the free “Vierne at 150" festival, presented online October 5-8, 2020 in celebration of Louis Vierne’s 150th birthday.

"Louis Vierne’s organ music reflects the human condition, perhaps because his own life was full of surprising successes and disappointments," shares Mr. Houlihan. "Throughout the symphonies, soaring romantic melodies are juxtaposed with piercing chromaticism. There’s sillyness one moment, followed by languorous angst the next. To me, he makes the organ—perhaps the most inhuman of instruments—come to life."

‘Vierne at 150’ is presented by Trinity College Chapel Music and the Department of Music. It is also an offering of Trinity College’s Academy of Lifelong Learning, a series of non-credit-bearing short courses on diverse and stimulating topics.

All events are free and are available at http://www.christopherhoulihan.com/.

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of September 21–27)
Monday, September 21 – Sunday, September 27
Shai Wosner's Daily Diabelli continues

Monday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Jennifer Koh performs at Concert Artists Guild’s virtual gala and is honored with 2020 CAG Virtuoso Award

Wednesday, September 23 at 2:00 p.m. CT
Tulsa Opera’s Staying Alive continues with Laura McHugh

Minnesota Orchestra at Home

--Shuman Associates

Announcing Voters’ Broadcast by Lisa Bielawa, Director & Composer
Lisa Bielawa’s Voters’ Broadcast is a broadly participatory musical performance for an unlimited number of voices and instruments made up of choral and instrumental ensembles. The work is directed, conceived and composed by Rome Prize and American Academy of Arts & Letters Award-winning composer Lisa Bielawa, with text excerpted from celebrated artist Sheryl Oring’s “I Wish to Say.”

Voters’ Broadcast will be premiered in three virtual events hosted by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Kaufman Music Center in New York on September 30, October 14, and October 28, and one day of outdoor performances presented by Kaufman Music Center and Brooklyn Public Library at BPL’s Central Library on Grand Army Plaza on October 24 at 11am, 12:30pm, and 2pm, as part of the Library’s crowd-sourced 28th Amendment Project.

All events are free and open to the public. For updates, visit www.lisabielawa.net/voters-broadcast.

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Announces Fall Outdoor Concerts                                            Orpheus Chamber Orchestra announces five outdoor concerts in New York and New Jersey in September and October 2020. Small chamber groups composed of Orpheus members will perform live for limited audiences using marked seating to ensure social distancing with masks required.

Executive Director Alexander Scheirle says, “It’s been such a long spring and summer not being able to do what we love and do best: making music! We are so grateful to have this opportunity to present our musicians in these outdoor chamber music settings. We will be able to perform for you live, keeping musicians and audience socially distanced in a safe and scenic environment.”

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

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Death of Classical announces Season 3 of The Angel’s Share
Death of Classical announces season three of its acclaimed series The Angel’s Share, in partnership with The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. The series, curated by Andrew Ousley, will offer both in-person and virtual programs, including a cemetery-wide immersive event entitled To America on October 22-24, free performances by a string quartet on the Hill of Graves on September 19 & 26, and six free streamed video concerts from the Catacombs.

For information, visit https://www.deathofclassical.com/angelshare

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Orion Performs All-Beethoven Program
The Orion Ensemble returns to the stage with a one-night-only all-Beethoven program for a limited in-person audience and livestreamed on Tuesday, October 6 at 7 p.m. at PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Joining Orion musicians Kathryne Pirtle (clarinet), Florentina Ramniceanu (violin) and Judy Stone (cello) is guest pianist Kuang-Hao Huang, a sought-after chamber artist, soloist and member of Fulcrum Point New Music Project and Picosa.

The program includes Beethoven's Trio in B-flat Major for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 11, and his Trio in B-flat Major for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 97 "Archduke."

A maximum of 20 people may attend in person at PianoForte Studios; audience members must wear masks at all times, and, while family groups may sit together, different audience members/groups will be seated at least six feet apart. Extra masks and hand sanitizer will be available. The livestream will be available on Orion's YouTube channel, which will also host a recording of the performance for a limited time.

Limited in-person tickets are $25 available for advance purchase only at 630-628-9591 or info@orionensemble.org. Virtual access is free; donations are welcome. The livestream will be available on Orion's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4yVkS6Pp0wzG6HxxXGe1SA

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

American Youth Symphony to Give One-on-One Concerts
After months of patrons experiencing music and art at home, American Youth Symphony (AYS) and ESMoA have partnered to bring back the live music experience with intimate one-on-one concerts on September 26th between 5:00-7:00pm.

Held on the rooftop of ESMoA in Downtown El Segundo, one musician will perform for one audience member. There will be a succession of four 1:1 performances, each 15 minutes long played by AYS Principal Cellist, Alex Mansour and AYS violinist, Ani Sinanyan. Please visit https://www.aysymphony.org/1on1/ for more information.

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

SOLI Ensemble’s Moments of SOLIcitude Ep. 10
Soli Ensemble’s Episode 10 of their Moments of SOLIcitute premiered Septerber 16 and continues on their YouTube channel. Episode 10 features the QUAD Concerto by Texas composer Peter Lieuwen.

This is what Peter says about the origins of the piece "The idea for the QUAD Concerto was hatched in 2011 at an after-concert dinner with the SOLI Chamber Ensemble in San Antonio. SOLI had just performed my composition Overland Dream which was written for the ensemble. As many of my compositions are orchestral, I couldn’t help but envision a new concerto for their colorful instrumental combination."

To see and hear SOLI’s Moments of SOLIcitude, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjltW4tusB8&feature=youtu.be
 
--Anne Schellenge, SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Composer Lisa Bielawa Premieres New Musical Work
The North Carolina State University Department of Music, with additional support from the Raleigh Civic Symphony Association and the Concert Singers of Cary, has commissioned acclaimed composer Lisa Bielawa to create Brickyard Broadcast, a spatialized work for hundreds of musicians that will have its world premiere in a Virtual Reality (VR) environment designed by the digital media teams at the NC State University Libraries, in two events on November 12, 2020 at 6pm ET and November 13, 2020 at 2pm ET. The Brickyard Broadcast VR environment will remain online, accessible to the public for free. Details about the November premiere events will be announced in early October.

Brickyard Broadcast uses technology and interactivity to reinterpret the North Carolina State University Brickyard, the university’s beloved and iconic gathering area outside of D.H. Hill Jr. Library, as a virtual space in which the musical performance will unfold. Hundreds of audio recordings will be integrated, created over the course of the fall 2020 semester by individual student and community musicians playing and singing in isolation under the guidance of Lisa Bielawa; Dr. Peter Askim, Director of Orchestral Studies, NC State Department of Music; and Dr. Nathan Leaf, Director of Choral Activities, NC State Department of Music. Musicians from NC State University choirs, NC State’s Raleigh Civic orchestras, and the Concert Singers of Cary will be participating. Jason Evans Groth, Digital Media Librarian; Colin Keenan, University Libraries Specialist; and Kyle Langdon, University Library Specialist and Audio Engineer, will lead the creation of the VR environment and the online premiere performances.

For more information, visit http://www.lisabielawa.net/brickyard-broadcast

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Orli Shaham’s MidWeek Mozart
Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart continues this week with the third movement from Sonata No.9, K. 310 - available to stream for free beginning Wednesday, September 16 at https://orlishahammozart.com/.

"This breathless, restless movement continues the turbulence established in the previous movements," says Ms. Shaham. "None of Mozart's usual charm and witticisms, typical of his third movement rondos, are in this whirlpool. So rare for Mozart to mark a tempo “Presto”! Some of my absolute favorite chord progressions in all of Mozart are in this movement."

In addition, Orli Shaham appears in "What Makes it Great" September 21, 7PM. Ms. Shaham performs Beethoven's 'Appassionata' Sonata, and joins NPR & PBS music commentator, conductor, composer, author and pianist Rob Kapilow for a deep-dive into Beethoven's iconic work for piano. Presented by Kaufman Music Center and filmed at Merkin Hall, this online performance is available to view for 48-hours after the performance. Tickets are $15. More details and ticketing here: https://www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/mch/event/what-makes-it-great-beethovens-appassionata-sonata/

Also at Merkin Hall, on November 10, 7PM: Piano Dialogues: Orli Shaham performs Mozart and Beethoven. Ms. Shaham reveals the connections between Mozart’s intense Sonata No. 14 in c minor and Beethoven’s moving “Pathétique,” which shows the influence of that particular Mozart work. Presented by Kaufman Music Center and streamed online from Merkin Hall in New York: https://www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/mch/event/orli-shaham-piano/

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

Apollo Takes the PARMA Live Stage
Join Apollo Chamber Players for Episode 7 of Virtual Festival 20×2020, featuring ‘Imagenes de Cuba’ by Rice University faculty composer Arthur Gottschalk and guest percussionist Jesús Pacheco. The episode includes a behind-the-scenes look at Apollo’s historic tour to Cuba, as the first American chamber ensemble to record and perform in Cuba in over 50 years.

"Imagénes de Cuba is the product of Professor Gottschalk’s two decades of musical research in Cuba. The composer’s aim was to incorporate Cuban folk music through various rhythms, styles, and popular songs. Fragments from the famous peanut vendor ‘protest’ song and the well-known Guantanamera color the first and second movements; the third movement, ‘Timba,’ is based on the Cuban music form of the same name, a combination of salsa, funk, rumba, and other popular dance styles." --Matt Detrick, Apollo Chamber Players. Excerpt from: New Project: Apollo Chamber Players in Cuba: https://www.parmarecordings.com/new-project-apollo-chamber-players-in-cuba/?vgo_ee=7b257vUuPkFZfqRpcMiMCIvy7T5YEJ8ohjC9vauJg30%3D

Virtual Festival 20×2020 celebrates the conclusion of Apollo’s expansive initiative to commission 20 new multicultural works by 2020. The Festival has been reimagined in the time of COVID, featuring digital world premieres, new studio performances, and innovative dance collaborations with Houston Ballet artists. St.John Flynn hosts new episodes every Thursday and Sunday from August 27 through Nov. 1.

--Sara Warner, PARMA Recordings

Copland House-CUNY Graduate Center Launch New Series
American composers, past and present, are placed center-screen in UNDERSCORED, a provocative new virtual series of musical performances and conversations The Graduate Center of The City University of New York and Copland House are launching this fall. Featuring the internationally-acclaimed Music from Copland House ensemble, and joined by selected rising-star Graduate Center Doctoral candidates as Guest Artists, the series offers premieres, revivals, and classics by musical dreamers, explorers, and innovators reflecting America's immense breadth and diversity.

Each UNDERSCORED program is built around the performance of one important American work, preceded by an introductory conversation with or about the composer, and followed by a live Q&A between viewers and artists.

Access is free, but reserve in advance here: for September 21, for October 13, and October 26. All UNDERSCORED programs will also be streamed free and without reservations on Copland House's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/coplandhouse

--Elizabeth Dworkin, Dworkin & Company

Princeton University Concerts Launches Virtual Season
Princeton University Concerts is excited to open its 2020-2021 season with an opening concert unlike any other in its 127 year history: a virtual Watch Party featuring the beloved Takács String Quartet, in a performance live from Colorado. Free of charge and open to all, this Watch Party will feature music by Mozart, Debussy, Bartók, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and will conclude with a live Q&A in which listeners can directly interact with members of the Takács Quartet. The Watch Party will take place on Thursday, October 15, 2020 from 8-9PM. The stream will then be available for on-demand viewing through Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 11:59PM.

While this free virtual event is non-ticketed, attendees are encouraged to RSVP in advance at princetonuniversityconcerts.org for access to special related content leading up to the stream, including a brief video introduction to the evening’s program given by Princeton University Professor Emeritus Scott Burnham who will include the fascinating history of Coleridge-Taylor’s background as a 20th-century English composer and activist of European and African descent.

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Bach Week Festival - October 18 Virtual Bachanalia Benefit
Evanston, Illinois-based Bach Week Festival's 2020 Bachanalia, its fourth annual fall fundraiser featuring pairings of classical music with wines selected for the occasion by an advanced sommelier, will take place this season as a free, prerecorded online video presentation premiering at 3 p.m. (CDT) on Sunday, October 18, via Facebook and YouTube. Links will be posted on the festival’s website, bachweek.org.

Performers will include festival favorites of international stature from the Chicago area, including string trio Black Oak Ensemble, cellist David Cunliffe, soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg with harpsichordist Stephen Alltop, plus Boston-based organist and choirmaster Richard Webster, Bach Week’s longtime music director.

Carl Grapentine, veteran WFMT Chicago radio personality and J. S. Bach aficionado, will host the program.

The event title combines the last name of German Baroque composer J. S. Bach, the festival’s namesake, and “bacchanalia,” the ancient Roman festival of entertainment and revelry named for Bacchus, Roman god of wine.

Bach Week Festival is one of the Midwest’s premiere Baroque music festivals. The event enlists musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, and other top-tier ensembles, while featuring some of the Chicago area’s finest instrumental and vocal soloists and distinguished guest artists from out of town.

For more information, visit bachweek.org

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

ESO Goes Global!
Pandemic times prompt imperative measures. AVIE Records is excited to support Kenneth Woods and the English Symphony Orchestra, who have launched a new global digital platform. ESO Digital's professionally filmed and recorded, socially-distanced virtual concerts feature world-class artists including a soloist giving her first performance since recovering from coronavirus.

What is ESO Digital?
By donating monthly to English Symphony Orchestra, you will get free access to ESO Digital which contains:

24/7 access to previously ‘limited-time’ content, as well as archival material.

Exclusive content for donors such as additional music, interviews, digital receptions, meet-and-greets and behind-the-scenes access.

Opportunities to watch ESO rehearsing or recording live.

Copies of electronic concert programmes.

Discounted tickets for ESO concerts.

Regular newsletters highlighting new ESO Digital content, concert activity and community events.

For complete information, visit https://www.eso.co.uk/digital/

--Melanne Mueller, AVIE Records

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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

Contact Information

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa