Classical Music News of the Week, May 15, 2021

American Youth Symphony 56th Annual Gala

American Youth Symphony (AYS) will celebrate the end of its 2020-21 innovative season and the perseverance of its musicians with the 56th Annual Gala on Thursday, June 3rd, at 5:00 p.m. PST. The virtual program will feature 31 AYS musicians performing Copland’s Three Latin-American Sketches, Clyne’s Within her Arms, St. George’s Symphony No. 1, and Mozart’s Serenata Notturna.

Following safety protocol guidelines, American Youth Symphony Music Director Carlos Izcaray will lead AYS musicians at UCLA’s Royce Hall for a recorded performance that will be presented virtually for the gala.  AYS is excited to showcase the exceptional playing of its orchestra musicians, who are on the cusp of launching their professional careers. Throughout the pandemic period, AYS has been dedicated in continuing the training of its musicians and offering dynamic performance opportunities, including the 2021 Gala.

“American Youth Symphony’s 56th Annual Gala is a time to not only reflect on the successes and hardship from the past year, but also to celebrate our artistic future with a hopeful return to the concert hall next season” said Izcaray. “I am proud of our musicians who were forced to rehearse and perform mostly in isolation at home, and yet, were still able to premiere three new pieces and play great symphonic works with AYS this season. I am grateful that we can safely enjoy the power of music together in person at Royce Hall, tand continue to share the gift of music virtually with our dedicated supporters.”

For more information, visit the AYS’s website,

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Orion Performs Mozart, Rabl May 22
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's Quartet in E-flat Major for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, K. 493 (which replaces the composer's previously announced Trio in C Major, K. 548) is a jubilant piece, with subtle humor hidden within great beauty. Mozart wrote this second of his two piano quartets in 1786, shortly after his comic opera The Marriage of Figaro. Because his publisher, Hoffmeister, had recently released Mozart from a contract to write multiple piano quartets, Mozart wrote this one just for the “fun” of it. Joining Orion for this work is frequent guest violist Stephen Boe.

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.

For a limited time The livestream will be available on Orion’s YouTube channel:

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Washington Chorus Honors “Resilience of the Arts”
The Washington Chorus (TWC) announces a creative digital choral experience to honor the strength and resilience of musicians, artists, creators, and audiences who continued to come together during the pandemic to share powerful artistic experiences and vibrant stories. “Resilience” is a digital, cross disciplinary concert using choral music, filmmaking, and poetry to explore the power of music and the human spirit.

“Resilience” premieres at 8pm ET on Friday, June 11, 2021 and is available on-demand through Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 11:59pm ET. Tickets are $15 and available here:

--Amy Killion, Bucklesweet

Festival Mozaic
The Summer Festival will take place in venues throughout San Luis Obispo County. This year we will explore all the experiences you expect from Festival Mozaic: chamber music, crossover artists, Notable Encounters, and more.

While there are still some details to be worked out, we look forward to welcoming you back to live performances and events produced safely with your health and well-being in mind.

Mark your calendars. Details here:

--Festival Mozaic

Teatro Nuovo Announces Full In-Person Performances of The Barber of Seville
Teatro Nuovo today announced the first full opera performances in New York City in over a year, offering Rossini’s The Barber of Seville on July 27 and 28 on the summer stage at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park.

Artistic Director Will Crutchfield said in announcing the production that The Barber was chosen because “it is the longest-lasting and most beloved opera in the whole repertory of Bel Canto.” Verdi called it “the most beautiful comic opera in existence.”

Details here:

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Five Boroughs Music Festival Presents Oracle Hysterical and Hub New Music
Five Boroughs Music Festival, Brooklyn Public Library, and the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor present the New York and digital premieres of Terra Nova, a new concert-length song cycle created by the members of composer-collective Oracle Hysterical and performed in collaboration with the contemporary mixed-instrument quartet Hub New Music.

Commissioned by Hub New Music and Five Boroughs Music Festival, Terra Nova is inspired by a range of ambitious, gritty (and sometimes naïve, cruel, and myopic) explorers, comprising songs that are by turns darkly ironic, heartrending, and straight-up fun (and occasionally a confounding mix of all three), coalescing into a powerful experience of both text and music.

The New York premiere takes place outdoors on Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 4:00pm at Brooklyn Public Library on Grand Army Plaza and the ensemble will record the cycle the next day at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor in Staten Island for digital world premiere co-produced by the Newhouse Center on Thursday, June 17, 2021 at 7:30pm ET.

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

What's Streaming: Classical (May 17-23)
Wednesday, May 19 at 10:00 a.m. ET:
Stephen Hough performs the Brahms First Piano Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Lionel Bringuier.

Wednesday, May 19 & Friday, May 21 at 10:00 a.m. PT:
Lara Downes presents master classes on music by female BIPOC composers to conclude her University of Oregon virtual residency.

Sunday, May 23 at 10:00 a.m. ET:
Pipa virtuoso Wu Man to receive honorary Doctor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music.

--Shuman Associates

Duo Piano Fest Returns July 9–18
The Music Institute of Chicago announces that its 33rd annual Chicago Duo Piano Festival will take place July 9–18, featuring a combination of in-person and online coaching and performances by renowned piano duos. The concerts, which will be livestreamed, take place Friday, July 9 and 16 at 7:30 p.m., and a student recital takes place Sunday, July 18 at 2 p.m. Registration for the educational component is available at; registration deadline is June 5.

Directed by Festival Co-Founders and Artistic Directors Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem and Music Institute piano faculty Katherine Lee, the Festival will observe all pandemic protocols related to masking and physical distancing for in-person coaching and rehearsals, which will be combined with online coaching.

Chicago Duo Piano Festival concerts take place Friday, July 9 and 16 at 7:30 p.m.; the student recital takes place Sunday, July 18 at 2 p.m. All performances are free and will be livestreamed from Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois. To register for educational programs or the concert streams, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Violinist Yevgeny Kutik Makes Solo Debut with Boston Civic Orchestra
On Sunday, June 13, 2021 at 3pm ET, Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik, known for his “dark-hued tone and razor-sharp technique” (The New York Times), makes his debut as soloist with the Boston Civic Symphony, performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Led by Music Director Francisco Noya, the program will be free to watch, broadcast live from the First Church in Cambridge. The program also includes Respighi’s The Birds and Walker’s Lyric for Strings.

More information here:

--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

Baritone Jonathon Adams: Summer News Announcement
For the first time, Early Music Vancouver (EMV) will have a dedicated artist-in-residence for the summer. EMV’s newest Artistic & Executive Director, Suzie LeBlanc, selected Cree-Métis Two-Spirit baritone Jonathon Adams, signalling a more diverse future for the organization. Over the course of the summer, Jonathon will be writing a series of essays, produce and participate in a panel talk, and perform in three events for this year’s Vancouver Bach Festival which will take place from July 26 to August 6.

“I am deeply honoured and incredibly excited to be EMV's first official artist-in-residence,” said Adams.

For more information, visit

--Schwalbe and Partners

What Makes Music Universal?
Some thoughts on how music brings us together to show us how different we are:
--Keven Berger

For the End of Time: A New Beginning
SOLI Chamber Ensemble wraps up its season with “For the End of Time: A New Beginning” – a live broadcast from the Malú and Carlos Alvarez Theater at Texas Public Radio’s new studio.

The broadcast performance is anchored by Olivier Messian’s iconic Quartet for the End of Time. Messiaen wrote the work for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano while imprisoned during World War II and this broadcast commemorates the 80th anniversary of its premiere in 1941 in Stalag VIII-A, a prisoner-of-war camp in Görlitz, Germany (now Zgorzelec, Poland). The performance will also include Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis’s Elegy for those we lost. Originally written as a solo piano work in collaboration with filmmaker Esther Shubinski and released on YouTube as a memorial to victims of COVID-19, Kernis arranged the work for violin and piano for SOLI musicians Ertan Torgul and Carolyn True.

Tune in on Sunday, May 16 at 3:00 pm to KPAC 88.3 FM or online at

--Anne Schellenge, SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Winners Announced in CMIM Piano Edition
Concours Musical International de Montréal (CMIM) has unveiled the winners of its 2021 Piano Edition.

First Prize was awarded to South Korean Pianist Su Yeon Kim, who will collect awards and scholarships valued at over $180,000, an unprecedented total sum for the CMIM. The prize also includes a concerto performance with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and a solo album recording on the Steinway & Sons label. The undeniable talent of this young pianist’s technique and musicality, combined with a balanced and daring program, transcended the screen and convinced the international jury.

The Second Prize, the Pierre Péladeau and Raymonde Chopin Prize, and the Third Prize offered by Stingray Classica were won respectively by Yoichiro Chiba of Japan and Dimitri Malignan of France. A complete listing of prizes and awards can be found below.

From among 225 applicants, 26 semi-finalists and eight finalists representing eleven countries were chosen to participate in the 2021 virtual Piano Edition. Throughout the competition, the CMIM worked in close collaboration with 16 technical teams in as many major cities around the world to ensure all competitors were granted fair and equitable conditions, while maintaining the highest-quality performance standards.

For complete information, visit

--Bucklesweet/Rebecca Davis 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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa