Classical Music News of the Week, February 13, 2021

Robert Spano Appointed Music Director of Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra President and CEO Dr. Keith Cerny and Board Chair Mercedes T. Bass announced the appointment of conductor Robert Spano as the orchestra’s next Music Director. His initial three-year term will begin with the 2022–23 season. Having worked with the orchestra as Principal Guest Conductor since 2019, Robert Spano will become Music Director Designate on April 1, 2021, and will serve in this capacity until assuming the title of Music Director on August 1, 2022.

Robert Spano will be the tenth Music Director in the history of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, which was founded in 1912. In addition to conducting six out of the orchestra’s ten symphonic programs per season, he will be responsible for overseeing the orchestra and music staff; working closely with Dr. Cerny to shape the artistic direction of the orchestra and drive its continued growth; and serving as an ambassador for the orchestra and classical music in the Fort Worth community.

For more information, visit

--Shuman Associates News

"Bach with a View" International Young Artists Festival and Competition - March 5-7
Now open to both piano and string instruments (violin, viola, cello, bass) in separate divisions: At this time, the Competition and Festival will be virtual only.

Our Livestream Partner and Sponsor: IN.LIVE. Additional Sponsors: Performer's Music, Adiana Strings.

Application form and payment link follow. Regular deadline has been extended to February 15. Late deadline of Febrruary 25 requires $20 late fee.

For complete information, visit

--Sheridan Music Studio

ACO Appoints Melissa Ngan as President and CEO Effective February 16
American Composers Orchestra (ACO), praised for its “robust and diverse commissioning program” by The New York Times, announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed Melissa Ngan as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective February 16, 2021.

“Melissa’s depth and breadth of experience are a tremendous asset to ACO and its various stakeholders,” stated Sameera Troesch, Chair of ACO’s Board. “She has worked with large orchestras and small ensembles alike to achieve world-class performances, cultivate new audiences and communities, and design an ecosystem that efficiently meets the needs of talented composers, regardless of race, sex, gender, socio-economic or any other status. Troesch continued, “Melissa’s most compelling strengths go well beyond her impressive background and experience. She is an empathetic, inspiring and inclusive leader with a track record of delivering outcomes in challenging times. We are delighted to welcome Melissa, and look forward to supporting her leadership and the ACO team.”

For more information, visit

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Los Angeles Master Chorale Receives NEA Grant
The Los Angeles Master Chorale, led by Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, has been approved for a $50,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support the continued production of virtual content, including the upcoming premiere of composer Meredith Monk’s “Earth Seen from Above” from her opera Atlas, and the world premiere of composer Derrick Spiva, Jr’s “Ready, Bright,” a Los Angeles Master Chorale commission.

Both videos will be presented at the Master Chorale’s upcoming virtual gala on May 16, 2021, along with Reena Esmail’s “TaReKiTa,” as part of a triptych titled Shine Bright. The entire program will engage all 100 Master Chorale singers.

For more information about the Los Angeles Master Chorale, visit

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Join Eleonor Sandresky and Jack van Zandt for the “Snow Moon” on Feb 27
February 27th is the last full moon of Winter! Join my special guest, Jack van Zandt, and me at 9PM ET for some dreamtime in the last days of winter. I’ll be premiering a set of nocturnes for piano by Jack called, “Painted Night,” inspired by paintings of Hopper, Whistler, and Van Gogh. I’m loving how truly painterly these pieces feel, even with all the work they require - so worth it!

The program will include an arrangement of "Knee 4" from “Einstein on the Beach” that Philip made in the 1990s and a new “Strange Energy, Ice.” That’s two world premieres!

This month the cocktail/mocktail will be the Snowdrift, a frosty white drink that's perfect with a spicy snack. The recipe and snack come with your ticket. Get cozy and join us for an hour of music and conversation.

Tickets are available through my website, Eventbrite for single tickets, and Patreon for subscriptions. And as always, if you can't make it at that time, the stream will be up for 48 hours. We hope to see you for some evocative music on the 27th.

For more information and tickets, visit

--Eleonor Sandresky

ROCO’s March Concerts Include a Diverse Program
River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) will continue their 16th season, “Color & Light,” in March with the conclusions of their Unchambered and Connections series.

ROCO’s first concert in March, “Blackbird,” will be streamed live from The Alta Arts on March 6, and will feature a performance from ROCO’s Brass Quintet. The performance will close out ROCO’s Unchambered series with a selection of contemporary works, ranging from Joan Tower’s “Copperwave” and Jonathan Bailey Howard’s “Introit,” to Robert Dennis’s "Blackbird Variations," a work based on the poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens, and an arrangement of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” by Seb Skelly.

For the full lineupof ROCO March concerts, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Powerful New Songs by Margaret Atwood and Jake Heggie
On the morning of September 22, 2015, in Renfrew County, Ontario, a single man went on a killing spree, brutally murdering three ex-partners in their separate homes. They were victims in a crime now recognized as one of the worst cases of domestic violence in Canadian history. The murders devastated the rural Ottawa Valley community where baritone Joshua Hopkins grew up – his sister, Nathalie Warmerdam, was one of these women.

Hopkins has since set out on a journey to use his voice to wake people up to the global epidemic of gender-based violence--and their part in it. His call to action was answered by two exceptional creators. Jake Heggie, hailed by the Wall Street Journal as “the world’s most popular 21st-century opera and art song composer,” agreed to write the music, and Margaret Atwood, the Booker Prize-winning author of more than 50 books of fiction and poetry, including The Handmaid’s Tale, wrote the searing words.

The powerful new song cycle by Margaret Atwood and Jake Heggie is called Songs for Murdered Sisters premieres on film February 19:

--Beth Stewart, Verismo Communications

Baritone Jonathon Adams Joins Schwalbe Roster
Born in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Canada), Jonathon Adams is a Two-Spirit, nêhiyaw michif (Cree-Métis) baritone. In concert, they have appeared as a soloist with Philippe Herreweghe, Sigiswald Kuijken, Hans-Christoph Rademann, Helmut Rilling, Václav Luks, Ensemble BachPlus, Vox Luminis, il Gardellino, and B’Rock Orchestra at Opera-Ballet Flanders.

Future solo engagements include concerts with il Gardellino, Les Voix Humaines, Pro Coro Canada, Studio de Musique Ancient de Montréal, L’Harmonie des Saisons, and a world premiere of Adams’ performance piece nipahimiw / the plaint with Susie Napper and Catalina Vicens at the Art Gallery of Ontario (June 2021).

--Schwalbe & Partners

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of February 15–21)
Wednesday, February 17 at 8:00 p.m. ET (available through June 2021):
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra presents Recovered Voices program, curated and hosted by BSO Artistic Advisor James Conlon.

Friday, February 19 at 7:00 p.m. ET (available for 30 days):
The Gilmore’s annual KeysFest commences with solo recital by Edward Callahan.

Sunday, February 21 at 1:00 p.m. ET (fourth performance on program):
Lara Downes premieres new work by Eve Belgarian as part of “Bang on a Can Live Online.”

Sunday, February 21 at 4:00 p.m. ET (available for 30 days):
The Gilmore presents Rachel Naomi Kudo performing world premiere of Marc-André Hamelin’s Suite à l'ancienne; Zsolt Bognár joins artists in pre- and post-concert events.

--Shuman Associates News

New Video: “Love Everywhere” from YPC Alumnus Blaize Adam
The Young People's Chorus of New York City would like to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day, filled with joy, love -- and music! No matter where you are in the world, what language you speak, or what you believe in, music has the power to bring us all together.

Watch the video here:

In a year when many of us have had to be far away from those we love, YPC alumnus Blaize Adam’s soulful single “Love Everywhere” is a beautiful anthem of connection that comes at exactly the right time. If you are looking to feel the love, watching Blaize sing, “I miss the smile underneath your mask,” and “I’m holding my heart, sending love everywhere” will wrap you in a blanket of hope and happiness.

Watch the video here:

For more information about Young People’s Chorus, visit

--Young People’s Chorus of New York City

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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