Classical Music News of the Week, February 27, 2021

Long Beach Opera Appoints James Darrah as Artistic Director and Chief Creative Officer

An exciting new era beckons for LA’s oldest opera company. Long Beach Opera announces the appointment of James Darrah as its new Artistic Director and Chief Creative Officer. His tenure will begin immediately, and he will remain with the company until at least 2024.

The 36-year-old Los Angeles-based director, designer, and filmmaker is one of the country's most sought-after opera directors, known for harnessing “the peculiar magic that can be conjured at the intersection of theater, opera and film" (The Los Angeles Times). This past year has seen Darrah forge ahead with a cinematic vision that has successfully shaped companies' responses to COVID-19 across the country, including two widely-hailed films for the new digital channels of Opera Philadelphia and Boston Lyric Opera. He also continues as the Creative Director of Digital Content for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, crafting their trailblazing Close Quarters episodic series. He now brings his bold ideas to the vital future of Long Beach Opera.

For more information, visit https://www.longbeachopera.org/artistic-director/

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

SOLI's Contemporary Open Mic Night
SOLI Chamber Ensemble’s Contemporary Classical Open Mic Night, in partnership with Texas Public Radio, is quickly becoming a mainstay of the concert calendar in San Antonio – and this year is no exception! Closet crooners, budding impresarios, and avid weekend-warrior performers have all polished their favorite contemporary classical work and will take the stage for a Livestream event this coming Sunday, February 28 at 7:30 pm.

Please visit us on Sunday for a link to the Livestream event and the roster of performers. We look forward to seeing you online on February 28 at 7:30pm CST for Open Mic!.

Watch here: https://www.solichamberensemble.com/open-mic/

--Anne Schellenge, SOLI

Decibel Magazine Streams "Chant III - Le Reflet"
Decibel Magazine is currently streaming "Chant III - Le Reflet" from French orchestral/operatic blackened gothic project, Les Chants du Hasard. The gripping hymn serves as the third track off Livre Troisième, Les Chants du Hasard’s stunning new full-length, set for release on April 9th.

An eight-movement, avant garde masterwork that seamlessly fuses neoclassical bombast, gothic opera, and a blackened metal spirit to manifest a sophisticated sonic grandiosity of extraordinary proportions, Livre Troisième is at once romantic, tragic, tortured, and triumphant. It's breathtaking in the most literal sense treading with the emotional weight and fervor of a thousand suns.

For more information, visit https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2021/02/22/track-premiere-les-chants-du-hasard-chant-iii-le-reflet/

--Liz Ciavarella-Brenner, Earsplit PR

Newport Music Festival
The Newport Music Festival has announced that it will present seventeen concerts this summer between July 4-20, 2021. All concerts will be held outdoors at historic mansions and venues in Newport, Rhode Island including The Breakers, Bellevue House, Castle Hill Inn, The Chanler at Cliff Walk, King Park, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, Norman Bird Sanctuary, and Rough Point. The concerts will have limited total capacity and appropriate social distancing between patrons; mask wearing will be required at all times and performances will be 60-75 minutes long without intermission.

This will be the first festival programmed by new Executive Director Gillian Friedman Fox, who came to Newport in January from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra where she was Director of Contemporary and SOLUNA Programs. Her genre-defying programming has received rave reviews for “bridging the gap between classical music and contemporary culture,” according to Forbes, and “admirably erasing borders between artistic disciplines as well as between notions of high and low culture,” as The Daily Beast noted.

In her programming for the 53rd season of the Newport Music Festival, Fox has renewed a commitment by the Festival to both preserving tradition and embracing artistic innovation. Repertoire this summer will include music by Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms alongside Jessie Montgomery, Joseph Bologne, and Teresa Carreño. Fox has also launched a new commissioning initiative – each year, the Festival will commission a new work by a Black, Indigenous, person of color, or woman composer as a commitment to the future of classical music. The first commissioned work will be premiered this summer.

Festival programming will be announced and tickets will go on sale to the public in April.
For complete information, visit https://www.newportmusic.org/

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of March 1-7)
Wednesday, March 3 at 6:00 p.m. ET:
Pianist Jonathan Biss joins violinist Mark Steinberg & cellist Marcy Rosen to play Schubert in recital live-streamed by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.
https://www.pcmsconcerts.org/concerts/steinberg-rosen-biss-2021/

Thursday, March 4:
San Francisco Performances “Front Row Premium” presents Jonathan Biss performing Beethoven Piano Sonatas.
https://sfperformances.org/

Before you watch:
Listen to Jonathan Biss’ UNQUIET: My Life with Beethoven on Audible.
https://www.audible.com/pd/Unquiet-Audiobook/B08NWBF1Z3

Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. CT:
Tulsa Opera LIVE with Gene Scheer.
https://tulsaopera.com/live/

Friday, March 5 at 8:00 p.m. CT:
The Minnesota Orchestra presents “Soaring Strings” concert conducted by Juraj Valcuha with violinist James Ehnes.
https://minnesotaorchestra.org/

Friday, March 5:
Lara Downes Releases “Phenomenal Women” on Rising Sun Music.
https://www.laradownes.com/rising-sun

--Shuman Associates

Neave Trio Performs Music by Clarke, Chaminade, and Piazzolla
On Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 7pm MST, the Neave Trio presents a free concert on Western New Mexico University’s Virtual President’s Chamber Music Series. The trio will perform live from the Longy School of Music of Bard College, where the ensemble has been a Faculty Ensemble-in-Residence since 2017. The stream will be free to watch, and will remain available for one week after the initial broadcast.

Neave Trio’s program includes Rebecca Clarke’s Piano Trio; Cécile Chaminade’s Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 11; and the “Fall” and “Spring” movements from Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. The Clarke and Chaminade are part of a collection of works by women composers, spanning the Romantic era through the modern day, that Neave Trio has been performing around the U.S and worldwide.

For details, visit https://wnmu.edu/events/virtual-presidents-chamber-music-series-neave-trio/

--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

Colburn School Announces New Dean Appointments
Colburn School announced today that dancer, educator, and choreographer Silas Farley, a recent New York City Ballet alumnus, will become Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute (TZDI), and Darleen Callaghan, former Director of Miami City Ballet School, will become Associate Dean of TZDI, effective July 1, 2021. Following seven highly successful years, current Dean and Associate Dean of TZDI, Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette, will conclude their tenures at the end of June 2021, after which they will be appointed visiting artists, continuing their relationship with the School.

Sel Kardan, Colburn school President and CEO stated: “Silas Farley’s brilliance as a dancer, educator, and choreographer, combined with his passion for the development of young dancers, make him an inspired choice to lead the Colburn School dance program.  Darleen Callaghan comes to the program with a distinguished background as a dancer and dance school administrator.  Together they will form an exceptional team who will continue and build upon the extraordinary work of Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette. We are delighted they will return to the School as visiting artists.”

For more information, visit https://www.colburnschool.edu/dance/welcoming-our-new-deans/

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

RBPonJSB: The Bach Masterclasses Launches
Leading classical violinist Rachel Barton Pine is building on the momentum of her current “24 in 24: Concertos from the Inside” weekly streaming show to celebrate emerging artists with “RBPonJSB: The Masterclasses.” In the bi-weekly educational series launching Friday, March 5, at 6:30 pm ET, Pine draws from her lifelong study of Bach’s music to work on all of Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin in a masterclass setting with rising star violinists.

Sphinx Laureates Esme Arias-Kim, Claire Arias-Kim, Sabrina Bradford, Brendon Elliott, Julimar Gonzalez, and Allison Lovera will join other up-and-coming violinists to appear in the bi-weekly series. Conservatories attended by participating young artists include the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the New England Conservatory, the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and the Yale University School of Music.

The six-part bi-weekly series is open to the public and targeted towards professional violinists, advanced violin students, violin teachers, and violin enthusiasts. The cost is $15 per show or $60 for the whole series. Each episode will begin at 6:30 pm ET and will be available on demand directly following.

More details are available at https://ourconcerts.live/rbp

--Allison Van Etten, Ravenscroft PR

Music Institute Chorale Welcomes International Guests
Looking ahead to its 35th anniversary later this year, the Music Institute of Chicago Chorale, conducted by Daniel Wallenberg, welcomes guest musicians from around the world for its free virtual performance, How Can I Keep from Singing, which takes place Sunday, March 14 at 2 p.m.

Joining the Chorale are nearly 40 international singers, including members of the Coro del Conservatorio de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia and members of the Coro EXAUDI of Monteria, Colombia, along with singers from Argentina, England, France, Israel, and the U.S. Soloists include Music Institute Voice Department Chair Barbara Ann Martin, alto; voice faculty Rae-Myra Hilliard, soprano, and Leo Radosavlijevic, bass; Musikgarten faculty and Senior Director of Academic Operations Guinevere Grimstad, soprano; Chorale members Jeff Collins, tenor, Jonathan Dunmore, bass, and Lynn Vogl, on flute; guest tenor Stuart Bard; and clarinet faculty Barbara Drapcho.

The Music Institute of Chicago Chorale performs its free virtual program “How Can I Keep from Singing” Sunday, March 14 at 2 p.m. CDT. RSVP at https://www.musicinst.org/march14-choraleby March 14 at 10 a.m. CDT.

For more information, visit https://www.musicinst.org/march14-chorale

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

PARMA Call for Live Streams
As we settle into 2021 and continue to navigate the challenges that the pandemic has brought to the music community, we’re all finding new and creative ways to keep forging on. Here at PARMA, we can’t wait for the day when in-person performances return in full. Until then live streaming has proven to be the best way to safely adapt to our current situation and keep the show on the road—well, the internet. The PARMA Live Stage and PARMA Music Festival aim to support the music community to this extent and help performers, ensembles, and composers continue to find an audience for their music.

To assist artists in this way, PARMA is now accepting planned live-stream concerts for consideration to be hosted on both platforms. Classical, contemporary classical, jazz, world, and fusion music concerts will be considered for this collaboration.

PARMA’s Live Stage and PARMA Music Festival concerts receive a custom event page and promotion by our Publicity Team leading up to the event. Our live streams are free for audiences to view and are accessible within our video archive after the premiere date.

There is no fee to submit. All costs for hosting and promoting the live streams are subsidized by PARMA. Artists must have access to streaming equipment and be able to broadcast the concert through a streaming platform like Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Concerts should ideally be between 30 and 70 minutes long, but exceptions will be considered.

Artists may encourage donations during the concert via their personal website, Venmo, or whichever service they prefer and can post this information within the video description itself.
THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS MARCH 15, 2021

For more information, visit https://www.parmarecordings.com/events/

--PARMA Recordings

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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

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa