Classical Music News of the Week, December 19, 2020

Mozaic Moment: Bach Sonata for English Horn and Harpsichord

In this week's Mozaic Moment, Festival Mozaic looks back to the Bach English Horn Sonata, performed by Robert Walters of the Cleveland Orchestra and harpsichordist Noam Elkies at Mozaic’s 2015 Summer Festival. Originally composed for the viola da gamba, this sonata (like many of Bach's works) is performed frequently on other instruments. We hope you enjoy!

Watch here:

In this season of giving, on behalf of all of us at Festival Mozaic, thank you for your support and generosity. Consider any gift to Festival Mozaic today and help ensure our future of bringing music to San Luis Obispo County year after year:

--Festival Mozaic

Sphinx Organization Digitally Presents Two of Its Flagship Programs
The Sphinx Organization, dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, is presenting its fifth annual and first ever digital SphinxConnect convening, SphinxConnect 2021: UNITY!, from January 28 to 30, 2021. SphinxConnect is the annual epicenter where artists and leaders in diversity meet, and this year’s convening features over 70 speakers exploring topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts.

Conference highlights include an opening session with Elizabeth Alexander, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President, interviewed by American public radio host and journalist Jenn White, and a closing session with pianist and 2014 Sphinx Medalist Damien Sneed. Other panels include: Artful Resilience: How Musicians Innovate in Crisis, Socially Vocal: a Discussion on Race and Identity in the Arts, This is Everyone's Fight: How Philanthropic Institutions Stepped Forth to Support Artists and BIPOC Institutions, and The ABCs of DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and EDIB (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging): Best Practices in Implicit Bias and Anti-Racist Training with speakers including Jenny Bilfield, Clive Gillinson, and Deborah Rutter. The digital sessions are interactive and participants will have opportunities for one on one networking with panelists during the course of the three day conference.

Tickets for the conference are priced at $150 for the full series of events, as well as a “Pay What You Are Able” option to minimize attendance barriers. SphinxConnect Virtual Fellowships provide free access to the conference and $75 towards internet costs. An application for a SphinxConnect Fellowship is available here:

In conjunction with the convening, the Sphinx Organization also hosts its prestigious competition recognizing the outstanding achievements of young Black and Latinx classical string players, offering them the opportunity to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges, and receive mentorship from established professional musicians. The organization’s founding program, now in its 24th year, includes both a Senior Division (ages 18 to 30) and a Junior Division (ages 17 and under).

The Sphinx Competition Junior and Senior Division Finals will feature the three Finalists from both the Senior and Junior Divisions. Presented by DTE Energy Foundation, the concert will be available to watch on Saturday, January 30 at 7pm ET on Sphinx’s YouTube Channel and website:

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

MNM Festival: Our 10th Edition Goes “Beyond Borders”
With a few months to go before the start of its Montreal/New Musics festival (MNM), the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) announces the theme of its 10th edition, to be held from February 18 to 28, 2021. The MNM festival is reinventing itself to offer an unprecedented sound odyssey with the theme Au-delà des frontières (“Beyond Borders”). MNM 2021 will stand out for the global aspect that webcast now offers, and through its programming, tinged with openness and discovery.

Thus for 10 days musical and artistic frontiers will open up to reveal new and unprecedented sounds with universal accents. "I have always wanted to program music without limits and without concessions. We don't as yet know if we'll be able to go back to the concert hall, but we'll certainly be able to present concerts that will go over and above musical limits!” says Walter Boudreau, the festival's Artistic Director, known for his willingness to go beyond conventional rules.

For further information, visit

--France Gaignard, Publicist

Peoples’ Symphony Concerts
On Sunday, we had our fourth concert of our 120th Anniversary Season - dedicated to Isaac Stern on his centenary - with one of today's premier violinists Gil Shaham. We not only had some beautiful Bach and three delightful short pieces by living composers, we also had conductor Michael Stern join Gil for a fascinating post-concert chat about his father.

You can still buy a single ticket this week ($12 + a contribution, if you are able), or, even better,  buy a 5-concert series ticket (available through the end of January) for less than $10 per concert, per person + a contribution, if possible, and hear: Dover Qt. & Shai Wosner (Dvorak Piano Qnt.) - Gil Shaham (Bach) - Schubertiade (“Trout” Qnt.) - Calidore Qt  -  Marc-Andre Hamelin.

By purchasing a series ticket for yourself or for family and friends (anywhere in the country) and by contributing to Peoples' Symphony Concerts,  you are doing a mitzvah (good deed) bringing inspiring music to the recipient as well as contributing, in this critical time, to PSC, which has been bringing great and affordable concerts to New Yorkers on a limited budget since 1900.

For complete information, visit

--Frank Salomon Associates

Pianist Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart Celebrates Beethoven at 250
This week, music-lovers everywhere are celebrating the 250th anniversary of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s birth, and Orli Shaham couldn't resist joining the party. So, head over to Midweek Mozart to enjoy Ms. Shaham's recital presented by Kaufman Music Center at Merkin Hall this fall. In this program, Ms. Shaham reveals the connections between Mozart’s intense Sonata No. 14 in C minor and Beethoven’s moving “Pathétique."

Watch this performance at

Gail Wein, Classical Communications

New Century Announces Cancellation of Spring Performances
In accordance with directives from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, New Century Chamber Orchestra announces the cancellation of its February and April 2021 performances. Cancellations include Mozart Birthday Celebration concerts in Berkeley (February 5), San Francisco (February 6) and Belvedere Tiburon (February 7) as well as Call of Destiny concerts in Berkeley (April 22), San Francisco (April 24) and Belvedere Tiburon (April 25).

Please visit respective venue websites for updates on additional appearances presented by Stanford Live at Bing Concert Hall (April 20) and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (April 23).

--Brenden Guy Media

What's Streaming: Classical – Beethoven 250th Birthday Edition
Jonathan Biss’s all-Beethoven NPR Music Tiny Desk (home) concert:
And NPR Music’s YouTube channel:

Thursday, December 17:
Jonathan Biss’s audio memoir, UNQUIET: My Life with Beethoven, recorded for Audible.

Tuesday, December 22 at 10:00 a.m. PT:
Coffee with Conlon: Happy Birthday Beethoven & Puccini!

Saturday, December 26:
NPR Music’s AMPLIFY with Lara Downes features Jon Batiste.

Thursday, December 31 at 8:00 p.m. CT:
Vänskä Conducts a New Year's Celebration with Minnesota Orchestra.

Sunday, January 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET (available for 30 days):
The Gilmore presents Emmet Cohen Trio.

--Shuman Associates

American Baritone Quinn Kelsey's Opera Kanikapila Session
American baritone Quinn Kamakanalani Kelsey on January 29th returns to his Hawaiian roots in Hawai’i Opera Theatre's inaugural Opera Kanikapila session. In this series, HOT’s newest digital offering, opera singers are paired with a local musician from different cultures to let them explore ways to combine their art.

Quinn, who came up with HOT, is paired with the virtuoso ukulele player, Taimane Tauiliili Bobbie Gardner. These two artists seem destined to collaborate. Quinn has long been talking about undertaking a project of Hawaiian music, so this is a terrific entry into a genre that he certainly grew up with, but his career took him on a different journey. Taimane has already infused her music with classical repertoire, including opera.

Hawai'i Opera Theatre was forced to postpone their 20-21 season due to the pandemic.  All is not lost though as they have been developing HOT Digital to ‘opera different’ and appeal to a broader base. One such offering is a multi-year project called Hapa Opera, which houses, among other ‘programs’, Opera Kanikapila. Kanikapila is a style of Hawaiian music produced by an impromptu jam session. Usually it is folk-influenced, but for Opera Kanikapila, opera artists are brought together with local musicians combining their art. The series speaks to the aloha spirit that imbues HOT.

Pricing: $25
Purchase tickets:
Telephone: 1.808.596.7858

For more information, visit:

--Maria DiSalvo, Two Sheps That Pass...

Bang on a Can Offers Performances from All Four 2020 Online Marathons
Bang on a Can Announces performances from all four 2020 online Marathons available on-demand from December 24, 2020 - January 1, 2021 at

Each online Marathon in 2020 (May 3, June 14, August 16, and October 18) featured performances from musicians' homes around the country and across the world -  a total of 95 performances including 31 world premieres of new commissions and over 130 composers and performers. All Marathon performers and composers participating live have been compensated by Bang on a Can. In all, Bang on a Can signed more than 150 paychecks to working artists to create and play the music on these marathons. The online collection also includes dozens of artist conversations with Bang on a Can Co-Founders and Artistic Directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, who interviewed many of the composers throughout the 24 hours of Marathon concert streams.

All videos will be free to stream. But as the entire ecosystem of composers and performers still needs assistance, viewers are encouraged to consider purchasing a ticket as doing so will enable Bang on a Can to do more performances, pay more players, commission more composers, and share more music worldwide. Bang on a Can plans to continue presenting online performances as long as the closure of presenting venues continues, and perhaps beyond.

For more information, visit

--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Announces Winter Season
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) announces its Winter 2021 Digital Season, with 26 new digital offerings, available for free, from January 14 to March 26, 2021.  CMS introduces a new online schedule in January, with concerts premiering Thursday evenings and educational and conversational programs premiering on Monday evenings. The series of weekly family programming continues on Friday mornings.

On Thursdays, CMS presents new digital concerts: newly-curated concerts drawn from the vast CMS HD-video archive and newly-recorded performances created for CMS. On Monday evenings, CMS offers seminars and hybrid performance-and-discussion programs, live from (or recently taped in) the Rose Studio on the Lincoln Center campus. CMS’s online series for families, Inspector Pulse at Home, continues airing Friday mornings at 11 am. CMS continues to emphasize creativity and flexibility as it develops new approaches to programming, with the goal of bringing music, musicians, composers and audiences closer, even while the pandemic keeps concert halls from serving as a gathering place for musicians and music lovers.

For complete information, visit

--Beverly Greenfield, Kirshbaum Associates

New York String Orchestra Seminar
Every year, since I started the New York String Orchestra Seminar in 1969,  we've brought some of the country's most exceptional young musicians to New York for ten days of chamber music coaching, orchestral rehearsals and Carnegie Hall performances that, happily, have become a treasured holiday and professional training tradition.  The idea of the Seminar was to go beyond technical proficiency, open new musical worlds and emphasize expressivity and using chamber music tenets in orchestral performance.

Although Covid-19 isn’t allowing us to have concerts this year, we’re very excited about having over 30 of today’s most respected musicians (most drawn from our distinguished alumni)  join Jaime Laredo & Manny Ax to inspire our 2020 participating young artists in a five-day virtual Seminar starting  tomorrow, Saturday, December 19th.  The mastermind for this imaginative re-imaging of the SemInar is our wonderful Director Rohana Elias-Reyes, who has been an integral part of all of our activities at The New School's  Mannes School of Music for over twenty years.  She's reachable at or 646-221-5608 and happy to answer any questions that you might have.

You and the public will have a chance to sit on a few of the  50 + sessions that will be part of an immersive and stimulating learning experience for this year's 34 participating stuidents. Among the mentors will be vilonist Pamela Frank, the former concertmaster of the Boston Symphony, the concertmaster of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Principal players from the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics and Orpheus, members of the Emerson, Guarneri, Juilliard, and Orion String Quartets, The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, faculty members of such music schools as Curtis, Juilliard, Cleveland Institute, Colburn, U. of Indiana, Manhattan Scool of Music.  There will be sessions on orchestral repertoire, chamber music works with individuals assigned passages to play for their coaches, stretching exercise with a physical therapist and sessions to address important professional questions.

Whenever you have a chance, I hope you’ll have a look at some of what we’re doing to continue to open new musical worlds for our 2020 participants. Carnegie Hall will also stream a special program for our traditional Christmas Eve gathering.  All the sessions below will continue to be available on demand going forward, after their initial streaming over the next five days.

Have a good holiday, stay well and here's to a hopeful 2021,

Stream on YouTube:

Stream on Facebook:

--Frank Salomon, Frank Salomon Associates

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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