Classical Music News of the Week, March 27, 2021

“Beethoven in Beijing” on PBS

Did you know that after moving from China to study at the Curtis Institute, Lang Lang’s first return to China was to perform as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra?

Narrated by American and Chinese musicians and historians, “Great Performances: Beethoven in Beijing” premieres Friday, April 16 at 9 p.m. on the PBS Video app and on PBS: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/.

This special documentary explores the impact of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s historic 1973 tour of China both then and now, highlighting the resurgence of classical music through its legacy. Renowned musicians including Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun, Philadelphia-trained famed classical pianist Lang Lang, Philadelphia Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and more share their stories of how Beethoven’s music shaped their careers as China’s classical music scene boomed.

--Elizabeth Boone, WNET

YPC's 2020 ACDA Conference Performance
March 14, 2021 marked one year since the first reported COVID-19 death in New York City. On New York City’s official day of remembrance, Young People’s Chorus of New York City joined Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for a powerful collaboration in memory of all those we have lost to this pandemic. Since the release of this video tribute, we have been overwhelmed by the incredible responses from our families, friends, and supporters from around the world. We are filled with gratitude for everyone who participated in creating this hope-filled rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” 

"I am so encouraged by today's young people, they are all from different backgrounds and races. I see possibilities of change and growth for their tomorrows. Really beautiful. In every way."

Watch now: https://ypc.org/ypc-and-lincoln-center-to-honor-those-lost-to-covid-19/

--Young People’s Chorus of NYC

BFH Radio: Broadcast from Here
Composer and producer Lisa Bielawa has launched BFH Radio – Broadcast from Here, a continuous and evolving soundscape incorporating words, voices, and found audio from participants all over the world, one year after many communities went into pandemic lockdown. BFH Radio is streaming online and open for public participation – anyone may call the BFH Radio Hotline at 1-707-722-BFHR (2347) or visit the online portal at http://www.bfhradio.com/ to contribute found audio, spoken messages, or musical phrases.

BFH Radio asks, “What are the sounds of our world today? What thoughts preoccupy and guide us through this time of transition, uncertainty, and new hope?”

Now that the vaccine is being rolled out, and with the promise of our re-entry into the world, there still loom uncertainties regarding how our lives will be reconstituted in the various phases of that re-entry. BFH Radio will morph as contributions are made by the public, integrated and combined – spoken voices, sung phrases composed from testimonies, instrumental phrases, and field recordings. BFH Radio gathers the sounds of people’s first experiments with narrowing social distance or re-engaging with formerly familiar activities, as well as their encounters with new lockdowns or new challenges, and weaves these together with musical materials.

Tune in & participate: https://www.lisabielawa.net/bfh-radio-broadcast-from-here

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of March 29-April 4)
Thursday, April 1 at 6:00 p.m. ET & Friday, April 2 at 5:00 p.m. ET:
Jennifer Koh presents two discussions as part of a Fredonia virtual residency.
https://www.fredonia.edu/news/articles/acclaimed-violinist-koh-give-virtual-residency

Friday, April 2 at 8:00 p.m. CT:
Minnesota Orchestra and Sarah Hicks present travel-themed program with introduction by travel writer and TV host Rick Steves.
https://minnesotaorchestra.org/tickets/calendar/eventdetail/1785/-/a-musical-passport

--Shuman Associates

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Returns to Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Saratoga Performing Arts Center announces that it has partnered with Pitney Meadows Community Farm to bring back the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for its annual Saratoga Springs residency.

Kicking off on Sunday, June 13, the new "CMS at the Meadows" series marks the first live performances that SPAC has presented since the 2020 season was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The performances, limited to 200 attendees per show, will be held in Pitney Meadows Community Farm's beautiful open-air High Tunnel greenhouse, adhering to carefully mapped out, socially-distanced seating and rigorous COVID-19 protocols.

For additional details, visit https://spac.org/calendar/calendar-of-events/

--Rebecca Davis PR

Bang on a Can Marathon - All Commissions, All World Premieres
Bang on a Can announces its next Bang on a Can Marathon – Live Online – on Sunday, April 18, 2021 from 1-5pm ET. All 15 pieces on the program will be world premiere performances of newly commissioned works, streamed from musicians' homes around the country and across the world. Over its first six live online Marathons in 2020-2021 (May 3, June 14, August 1, October 18, February 21, and March 21) Bang on a Can has presented more than 125 performances, including 47 world premieres of new commissions and over 150 composers and performers. Bang on a Can plans to continue these Marathons, streaming online at live.bangonacan.org, as long as the closure of presenting venues continues, and perhaps beyond. The four-hour live Marathon will be hosted by Bang on a Can Co-Founders and Artistic Directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, who say:

New Commissions! On April 18, Bang on a Can presents its 2nd entire marathon of PREMIERES! 15 brand new works by 15 pioneering composers. Tune in to hear 4 hours of nonconformist, noncommercial, mind-blowing music.  Andy Akiho! Carman Moore! Joan LaBarbara! Matana Roberts! Kelly Moran! Rudresh Mahanthappa! and many many more.

This concert is FREE!  But please do consider purchasing a ticket. That helps us pay more players, commission more composers, and make more music.

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

--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

Opera Maine Presents a New Production of The Elixir of Love
Opera Maine is pleased to announce it will present live opera again this summer at Merrill Auditorium, with two performances July 28 and 30. Under the direction of Artistic Director Dona D. Vaughn, the company will stage an original production of Gaetano Donizetti's endearing comic opera, L'elisir d'amore (“The Elixir of Love”). Because of covid safety considerations, the opera will be modified and presented without intermission. Maestro Israel Gursky will conduct a superb cast of singers and an Opera Maine orchestra of 16 select musicians. Nicolás Alberto Dosman will be chorus master. The Elixir of Love combines Donizetti's exuberant music with a joyful story in which true love is revealed--with a little help from a mysterious merchant of magic potions.

On July 16 and 18, Opera Maine's Studio Artists will present the contemporary opera, As One. Composed in 2014 by Laura Kaminsky with a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, the opera tells a poignant story about a journey towards true identity and self-love. As One is directed by Studio Artist Director Richard Gammon. It features two voices accompanied by The Palaver String Quartet. Jackson McKinnon will conduct.

For latest updates and information about both productions, visit https://www.operamaine.org/

--Kristen Levesque 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

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