Classical Music News of the Week, November 28, 2020

 World Premiere of Nicole Mitchell’s Inescapable Spiral Remote
The International Contemporary Ensemble and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago present a free virtual concert featuring the world premiere of Nicole M. Mitchell’s Inescapable Spiral Remote (2020) on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 6pm CST/7pm EST. The program will stream on YouTube and is open to the public with advanced RSVP. An informal Q & A with the artists will follow the performance.
Inescapable Spiral, commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble with lead support from Oscar Gerardo and premiered at Ojai Music Festival 2017, is written for open instrumentation and a variable ensemble. Performers can range anywhere from 5 to 20 players. As Nicole mentions, “it’s like a choreography of these little miniature pieces, with the intent of collision.” The variable process in her work extends to a new remote edition of the piece, specifically reimagined for pre-recorded and live performances that are created remotely and mixed live online.
"There are a few possible ways that celestial bodies can orbit the Earth. One is called the ‘spiral impact’ orbit, in which it is inevitable for one celestial body to be pulled towards the greater object in an ‘inescapable spiral’ until they ultimately collide,” says Mitchell.
As the pandemic forced our programming, collaboration, and creation into the virtual sphere, we immediately thought of Nicole Mitchell and her extensive experience with remote Telematic performances. We commissioned her to make a new version of the 2017 Inescapable Spiral that could be workshopped in the context of our online “Ensemble Evolution” program in late June in partnership with the New School’s College of Performing Arts. Six months later, as the final event in our weekly streaming series, TUES@7, we’ll bring thirteen members of the Ensemble into collaboration with over a dozen members of Chicago Civic,” says International Contemporary Ensemble’s Artistic Director Ross Karre.
Nicole Mitchell’s Inescapable Spiral Remote
Tuesday, December 15, at 6:00pm CST/7:00pm EST
Tickets: Free with Advanced RSVP
Learn more at
--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media
People’s Symphony Concerts
Thanks for the great response to our opening concert of our 120th Anniversary Season on Sunday in the Salomon Series with some wonderful music-making from our first ever Resident Ensemble, the super Dover String Quartet, and from our new Resident Artist, the acclaimed pianist, Shai Wosner. From the Quartet, we received a shimmering Haydn Op. 76, No. 2, an autumnal Brahms Intermezzo from Shai, and an absolutely delightful Dvorak Piano Quintet from the five of them.
For those of you who haven't yet ordered your tickets, you can still get a subscription to any of our three great Anniversary Series for less than $10 a ticket (plus whatever you can contribute) - we will send you a link for each concert, even for those that have already taken place. The next concert in the Salomon Series is on December 13th with one of today's leading violinists Gil Shaham in a tribute to the Isaac Stern Centenary. We also will get a Schubertiade on the composer's birthday weekend in January with the great "Trout" Quintet, a concert from the terrific Calidore Quartet, and a recital from PSC favorite pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin.
The Arens and Mann series are equally exciting with pianists Emanuel Ax and Garrick Ohlsson, violinists Augustin Hadelich and Pinchas Zukerman, clarinetist Anthony McGill with pianist Anna Polonsky, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Dover Quartet in their Beethoven String Quartet Cycle and the Jack Quartet with Shai Wosner. Wonderful music and music-making in store for us.
You can order here:
Or for more information, click here:
--Frank Salomon, Frank Salomon Associates
FAYM Newsletter
With all the hardships and upheavals this year, the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians is proud to say that our kids are learning and thriving! Our teachers met the challenges, and our students are engaged and growing. Thank you everyone who has made this experience a success. Until we can all meet again, we will keep the music playing. Enjoy the videos below and see for yourself.
Our remote programming would not exist but for the dedication, imagination and determination of our teachers. They make it possible, and our kids are still thriving.
The 2020 Audrey Bush Memorial Scholarship, offered by FAYM,  is an opportunity for High School Senior Double Bass players in Southern Nevada to receive a scholarship for college tuition. This year’s Grand Prize winner of the $2,000 scholarship is bassist Sam Morgan who is attending UNLV pursuing a musical future. 2020 also had an honorable mention winner, Aidan Neuman who received $1,000.
Liam Mansfield performed for FAYM students from Munich, Germany. Liam is a recipient of FAYM’s 4 year collegiate scholarship. Stay tuned to the end to hear a special message. Liam performed: Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4, 1st Movement and Paganini Caprice #16.
Please join the Family of FAYM. You can donate by mailing your check to FAYM, PO Box 1993, Las Vegas, NV 89125-1993 or directly online:
Learn more about FAYM:
--Foundation to Assist Young Musicians
Celebrate Beethoven's 250th Birthday with the Northbrook Symphony and Susan Merdinger
The Northbrook Symphony Presents the second performance of the 2020-2021 season with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op.19, featuring Steinway Artist/ Pianist Susan Merdinger and Music Director Mina Zikri.
Friday, December 4, 2020 at 7:30pm CT
Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 7:30pm CT
Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 4pm CT
Price: $33.50, includes a service charge of $3.50
Visit or
--Susan Merdinger
Chanticleer Presents "A Chanticleer Christmas"
Chanticleer teams up with Stanford Live to celebrate the holidays with a special virtual screening of “A Chanticleer Christmas: From Darkness to Light” on Tuesday, December 15 at 12 p.m. PST.
In collaboration with Director and Independent Spirit Award-nominee Frazer Bradshaw, this brand-new film was created as a way to capture the magic of one of the Bay Area’s most beloved holiday traditions while concert halls remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Works by Antoine Brumel and Josquin des Prez feature alongside longtime audience favorites and traditional carols, as well as a selection of Armenian liturgical pieces.
Tickets are priced at $25 for individuals and $42 for households and the event will remain available for unlimited viewing beginning December 15 through January 1, 2021.
For complete information, visit
--Breden Guy Media
What's Streaming: Classical (Week of November 30 – December 6)
Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 p.m. GMT
Stephen Hough in “Night Under the Stars 2020.”
Sunday, December 6 at 2:00 p.m. ET (available for 7 days)
The Gilmore presents Yefim Bronfman.
Sunday, December 6 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Mutual Mentorship for Musicians (M³): World Premieres--Part 1.
Sunday, December 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET (available for 23 hours)
James Conlon conducts Puccini’s Tosca in The Met: Live in HD encore broadcast.
Minnesota Orchestra at Home
--Shuman Associates News
Oratorio Society of New York Presents Its Annual Messiah
The Oratorio Society of New York, led by Music Director Kent Tritle, continues its tradition of presenting an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah--a yearly occurrence since 1874--with a special, reimagined digital offering. Available to stream at beginning on Monday, December 21 at 8pm ET, the virtual concert features 24 members of the Oratorio Society, performing alongside 12 instrumentalists, and joined by soloists soprano Susanna Phillips, mezzo-soprano Heather Petrie, tenor Joshua Blue, and baritone Sidney Outlaw. The joyful “Hallelujah Chorus” features additional video appearances from across the Oratorio Society’s wider membership, filmed separately.
The concert was filmed outdoors this fall, adhering to CDC guidelines regarding social distancing and masking. In addition, participants produced negative Covid tests prior to arriving for the filming and received temperature checks on-site.
Concert Information:
Selections from Handel’s Messiah
Presented by Oratorio Society of New York
Premieres Monday, December 21 at 8pm ET
Free to access at:
--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media
2020 Copland House Residency Awards Announced
Copland House is excited to announce that five outstanding composers have been selected to receive its 2020 Residency Awards, a year curtailed by the COVID pandemic. Ranging in age from 28 to 74 and coming from four states and varied artistic and personal backgrounds, these gifted composers have pursued diverse creative interests and idioms, ranging from concert music to jazz, acoustic to electronic, and socially-engaged to abstract.
The awards go to Theo Chandler, 28 (Houston, TX); Flannery Cunningham, 28 (Philadelphia, PA); Tamar Diesendruck, 74 (Arlington, MA); Meg Okura, 47 (New York, NY); and Keane Southard, 33 (Rochester, NY). Chandler and Cunningham were Fellows in CULTIVATE, Copland House’s acclaimed emerging composers institute, and Diesendruck was a 2007 Resident.
For more information, visit
--Elizabeth Dworkin, Dworkin & Company
The Washington Chorus Goes Virtual with Candelight Christmas Concert
For the first time in its 60-year history, The Washington Chorus (TWC) will present its annual holiday concert “A Candlelight Christmas” as a virtual event. Recorded without an audience at the Music Center at Strathmore and streamed from December 18-20 via Vimeo through the TicketSpice platform. Tickets are $15 and are on sale here:
In addition to the streamed “A Candlelight Christmas” concert, The Washington Chorus is offering “Carols on Demand,” a program that includes a personalized video message and carol performance from a Chorus member. Details are available at The Washington Chorus’ website:
--Amy Killion, Bucklesweet
“Juxtapositions: Old and New Music for Baroque Instruments”
Five Boroughs Music Festival, in partnership with Portland Baroque Orchestra and Great Arts. Period., presents the world premiere of “Juxtapositions: Old and New Music for Baroque Instruments,” a two-part pre-recorded concert video available starting Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 7:00pm ET on YouTube Live: and
5BMF’s original 2020-21 season included a late-fall presentation of the complete sonatas for violin and harpsichord by J.S. Bach, performed by violinist Monica Huggett and keyboardist Elliot Figg. Forced to switch gears due to the pandemic, 5BMF is now proud to present a double-feature of short programs led by Huggett and Figg respectively, recorded on the west and east coasts.
For complete information, visit
--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media
Third Angle New Music Premieres John Luther Adams's Noctilucent
Third Angle New Music will present the world premiere performance of John Luther Adams’s (JLA) Noctilucent (2020) during a portrait concert of JLA’s works for string instruments.
The evening will also include Adams’s the place we began (2008), Three High Places (2007), and the third movement, “Sky with Nameless Colors,” from Canticles of the Sky (2015), performed in the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, considered one of the finest examples of Byzantine Revival architecture. The concert is produced by OurConcerts.Live with Third Angle New Music, in partnership with Congregation Beth Israel.
When: Thursday, December 3, 10pm ET / 9pm CT / 7pm CT
Tickets: $25 household / $15 individual / $5 student
For more information, visit
--Allison van Etten, Ravenscroft 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 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