Classical Music News of the Week, April 17, 2021

Pivot Arts Festival Safely Returns to In-Person Events

Pivot Arts, a hub for adventurous, multidisciplinary performance, announces “Reimagining Utopia,” the ninth annual Pivot Arts Festival featuring almost entirely world premieres, May 21–June 6, 2021 at several indoor and outdoor performance spaces. Following the all-virtual 2020 Festival, Pivot Arts this year plans to bring together audiences and artists safely and in observance of public health protocols.

Pivot Arts selected 12 artists and companies to create small, live works of theatre, dance and/or music, as well as video installations, inspired by this year’s theme, “Reimagining Utopia.” Pivot asked the artists to think about a better world post-pandemic and respond to the global health crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020. Audience members will also have the opportunity to respond with their visions of a brighter future and more just and equitable society.

To observe safety precautions due to the pandemic, most in-person festival works are video installations, and live performers and audience members must wear masks. Audiences engage in events by proceeding through a space featuring video and small live works, similar to a walking tour through a gallery, rather than sitting and watching longer performances. There are also outdoor events and videos on the Pivot Arts website.

Details and tickets are on sale April 30 at https://pivotarts.org/festival/.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Orion Performs Mozart, Rabl
Concluding a four-concert season of limited in-person and virtual performances, The Orion Ensemble returns to perform at PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago, on Saturday, May 22 at 3 p.m.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his Trio in C Major for Violin, Cello and Piano, K. 548, which Orion performs, in 1788, the year he also wrote his last and best-known symphonies and his final three piano trios. Some have compared this Trio to the “Jupiter” Symphony, written in the same key near the same time. Musicologist Alfred Einstein referred to this work as “classic in its mastery.” This Trio displays Mozart’s consummate artistry in handling a genre that began as a keyboard sonata accompanied by violin and cello and became in his hands so mature and balanced that it flows in elegant simplicity as a lively conversation between the three instruments.

Also on Orion’s program is Walter Rabl’s (1873–1940) Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 1, which won the 23-year-old Austrian composer and pianist first prize in an important Viennese composition competition.

The Orion Ensemble performs Saturday, May 22 at 3 p.m. at PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago. Limited in-person tickets are $25 available for advance purchase only at 630-628-9591 or info@orionensemble.org. Virtual access is free; donations are welcome.

The livestream will be available on Orion's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4yVkS6Pp0wzG6HxxXGe1SA

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Colburn School Presents the World Premiere of the Film The Way Forward
The Colburn School presents the online and in-person world premieres of The Way Forward, a 54-minute film which reimagines the concert-going experience for the digital age on Thursday, April 29, 2021 a 12 p.m. PDT.

Tickets for the online premiere are free and registration is required at. The screening will be followed by a Q&A at 1 p.m. PDT with director Hamid Shams and artists featured in the film, hosted by Chris Lee, Senior Reporter, Vulture/New York Magazine.

Limited capacity in-person screenings will be held on Friday, April 30, 2021 and Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 5 p.m. at Thayer Hall, and 8 p.m. at Zipper Hall. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at https://www.colburnschool.edu/calendar/events/online-film-premiere-the-way-forward/. Following guidelines from the LA County Department of Health, screenings will be at 25% capacity and temperature checks, face coverings, and physical distancing are required for all visitors, in addition to other safety protocols.

Please visit https://www.colburnschool.edu/calendar/events/online-film-premiere-the-way-forward to watch the trailer.

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of April 19-25)
Monday, April 19 at 8:00 p.m. ET:
Davóne Tines interviewed by Kenneth Overton on “Black Opera Live!”
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAvuh5XgELmr1jNlPgL3OHw?view_as=subscriber

Wednesday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m. PT:
Pianist Shai Wosner performs a live-streamed recital with violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth.
https://www.thebarclay.org/buy-tickets/2020-2021-season-events/pinchas-zukerman-amanda-forsyth-shai-wosner.html

Thursday, April 22 & Friday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET:
James Conlon and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra perform works by Shostakovich, Mozart, and Saint-Georges.
https://www.dso.org/watch/1260255

Friday, April 23 at 7:00 p.m. ET:
Jennifer Koh and Davóne Tines present the world premiere of music film Strange Fruit for Carnegie Hall's "Voices of Hope" virtual festival.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoU7xxMfMAZmB7THNylLZ4g

Friday, April 23 at 2:00 p.m. PT:
Pianist and advocate Lara Downes launches University of Oregon virtual residency with "Uncovering Lost Treasures" seminar.
https://music.uoregon.edu/breaking-news/lara-downes-virtual-residency

Friday, April 23 at 7:00 p.m. CET / 1:00 p.m. ET:
Jonathan Biss performs Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto & Salvatore Sciarrino's Il sogno di Stradella with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
https://www.berwaldhallen.se/en/play/

Saturday, April 24:
AMPLIFY with Lara Downes features chef, writer, and opera singer Alexander Smalls*.
https://www.npr.org/series/922438111/amplify-with-lara-downes

--Shuman Associates

Newport Music Festival Announces Schedule
The Newport Music Festival has announced the complete seventeen-concert schedule for its 53rd season, from 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 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, Norman Bird Sanctuary, and Rough Point. The full schedule is available at https://www.newportmusic.org/. Tickets will go on sale to the public on April 19.

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Los Angeles Master Chorale Announces GALA 2021
The Los Angeles Master Chorale, the country’s preeminent professional choir, led by Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, will honor its singers and the philanthropic leadership of Laney Techentin at GALA 2021: “Shine Bright,” on Sunday, May 16, 2021 at 5 p.m. PDT. This special online experience, hosted by Broadway legend Patti LuPone, will feature performances by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, including a virtual “surround sing,” and the world premiere of “Shine Bright,” a triptych of videos featuring Reena Esmail’s “TaReKiTa,” Meredith Monk’s “Earth Seen From Above” from her landmark opera Atlas, and Derrick Spiva, Jr.’s “Ready, Bright” (Los Angeles Master Chorale commission). “TaReKiTa” was released in November 2020, and “Earth Seen from Above” and “Ready, Bright” will premiere at GALA 2021.

Sunday, May 16, 2021: 5 p.m. PDT, reception; 6 p.m. PDT, show.
Tickets for GALA 2021 start at $25

For information about ticket packages and benefits, visit https://lamasterchorale.org/gala-2021.

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

SOLI’s “Stories from the Voices Within”
SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents “Stories from the Voices Within,” April 25 and 26, 7:30 p.m., at the Betty Kelso Center and Greehey Lawn, San Antonio Botanical Garden, San Antonio, Texas.

SOLI continues its season at the San Antonio Botanical Garden with :Stories from the Voices Within – featuring two world premieres and special guest appearances by San Antonio Poet Laureate Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson and Flamenco artist Tamara Adira.

“Stories from the Voices Within” features world premieres of Aaron Jay Kernis’ “Elegy for those we lost” and San Antonio-native Darian Donovan Thomas’s “((HERE)),” an extended work for SOLI, electronics, vocalist (singing, rapping, and narrating), and androgynous dancer.

Tickets start at $15. Seating is limited at the Betty Kelso Center and Greehey Lawn and advance purchase is strongly recommended. To reserve a seat, click here: https://www.solichamberensemble.com/concerts/

Unable to attend in person...but still want to help SOLI bring new music to life? Please consider clicking here: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/here2

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Colburn School Appoints Violist Geraldine Walther as Interim Director of Chamber Music
The Colburn School is pleased to announce that violist Geraldine Walther will join the Colburn School faculty as Interim Director of Chamber Music for the Colburn Conservatory of Music, beginning August 2021. Walther will oversee strings and piano chamber music, and will also be featured on the Colburn Chamber Music Society series in the 2021-22 season.

An international search for a permanent director of chamber music will begin immediately for a fall 2022 start date.

Walther succeeds current Director of Chamber Music and violinist Scott St. John, who has led the chamber music program for the Conservatory of Music and pre-college Music Academy since 2018. During his tenure, St. John developed and led the Beethoven 250 Celebration, a six-day festival built around the composer’s beloved string quartets, in collaboration with fellow Colburn faculty member and violinist Arnold Steinhardt, and mentored the Viano Quartet, the Colburn School’s first Ensemble-in-Residence, who recently joined the illustrious Opus 3 roster.

Learn more: https://www.colburnschool.edu/

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

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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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa