Classical Music News of the Week, May 8, 2021

Juan Perez Floristan Wins the 2021 Rubinstein Piano Competition
Juan Perez Floristan from Spain is the winner of the Rubinstein Piano Competition, which culminated today (Monday, May 3) at the Tel Aviv Charles Bronfman Auditorium (home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which played in today's finals). A total of six competitors, from the initial 32, had made it through to the final rounds.

Second place went to Shiori Kuwahara from Japan, with third place going to Cunmo Yin from China.

With a thousand audience members in the hall and many more watching from around the world online, the finalists had each over the past few days played piano quintets, classical concertos with the Israel Camerata Jerusalem and, finally, romantic concertos with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The prize for first place was a gold medal with a portrait of Rubinstein illustrated by Picasso, a cash prize of $40,000, and many guaranteed engagements internationally. Second prize is a silver medal and $20,000; third place is a bronze medal and $10,000). All the other finalists win $6,000 each.

For details, visit

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

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. Tickets are on sale April 30 at

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.

The 2021 Pivot Arts Festival “Reimagining Utopia” takes place May 21–June 6 at multiple indoor and outdoor locations. Tickets at

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Josh Groban to Perform at YPC's Virtual Spring Gala
Monday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. EDT

What do Grammy, Tony, and Emmy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, and actor Josh Groban and famed pianist and Lang Lang have in common? They will be joining 600 YPC young artists at their Virtual Spring Gala, along with guest appearances by Emmy Award-winning actor, writer, and director Michael Imperioli, Broadway and film actor and singer Norm Lewis, Broadway actress, singer, and YPC alum Aneesa Folds, and a surprise special appearance by an Oscar, Golden Globe, and two-time Emmy Award-winning artist.

Join these celebrated performers in honoring and supporting YPC and our choristers by being a part of the event of the year!

For complete information, visit

--Young People’s Chorus of New York City

SF Girls Chorus Presents The Line Between
San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) concludes its 2020-2021 season with three drive-in showings of The Line Between on Saturday, May 29, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. and Thursday, June 3, 2021 at 6:30 p.m., at Fort Mason FLIX.

Reflecting on a year of adventurous collaborative projects across different art forms, SFGC brings together hundreds of choral singers from all levels of the SFGC Chorus School, as well as the Premier Ensemble, for a special film presentation that includes two world premieres: The Line Between by SFGC alum Cava Menzies, commissioned by SFGC and featuring Spring 2021 Virtual Artists-in-Residence Roomful of Teeth; and an excerpt from The Future is Bright by Chorus School Composer-in-Residence Susie Ibarra, which will receive its official premiere during the 2021-2022 season. Also featured on the program is an excerpt from Music for Hard Times by Danny Clay, in collaboration with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and The Living Earth Show.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

Soprano Laura Strickling Announces "The 40@40 Project"
In November 2019, Ms. Strickling made the realization that, while she’d been asked to premiere countless works over the course of her career, she’d never actively commissioned any. Since the collaborative relationship between singer and composer is one of her favorite aspects of the work, Laura decided to aim high -- to commission 40 new songs as a 40th birthday present to herself. The project aim quickly developed into, “40 songs by 40 composers,” and has since grown beyond its original scope to include performances, recordings, and a published anthology of all of the commissioned works. The resulting songs have been beyond exciting in their quality and variety.

“The 40@40 Project is the beginning of a personal mission to commission with intentionality and to encourage and help other performing musicians (or music lovers!) to do the same.”

For more information, please visit

--Schwalbe & Partners

Aizuri Quartet in Two Digital Concerts
Baryshnikov Arts Center and Tippet Rise Art Center co-present the Aizuri Quartet in two digital concerts premiering on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 3PM MT/5PM ET and Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 3PM MT/5PM ET at and The two-part program, “What’s Past is Prologue,” features music spanning 10 centuries, all by female composers. A film by director Tristan Cook with audio engineer Noriko Okabe artfully captures Aizuri Quartet performing these works on March 4, 2021 at the studio of sculptor Joel Shapiro in Long Island City, New York. Both concert films will be free and available on-demand for two weeks following the premiere date.

Each Concert Available to Stream for Free for Two Weeks at

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Chamber Music Society Returns to Alice Tully Hall
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) announces its long-awaited return to live concerts in Alice Tully Hall for the 2021-2022 season with 30 concerts, comprising more than 94 unique works, 14 of which have never before been presented by CMS on the Alice Tully Hall stage. A large part of the season is dedicated to reviving almost all of the concerts that would otherwise have been lost due to the pandemic. CMS made the commitment to both artists and audiences to bring those concerts to fruition in a later season, and is proud to be offering them over the coming months.

Learn the details here:

--Beverly Greenfield, Kirshbaum Associates

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Appoints Davone Tines first Creative Partner
On the heels of its Tarik O'Regan Composer-in-Residence announcement, which breaks new ground in the early music world, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) takes another bold step into the future with the appointment of bass-baritone Davone Tines as the organization’s first-ever Creative Partner.

Tines most recently starred in PBO’s critically acclaimed, sold-out run of Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo. The Los Angeles Times was ecstatic in its praise, using words such as extraordinary, gripping, overwhelming, and terrifying to describe him. His PBO residency will include appearances in Philharmonia's virtual and onstage productions; however what makes it unique goes way beyond performing. Tines will play a key role behind the scenes, working side-by-side with administrative staff; attending board, strategic planning, and governance meetings; and producing shows and curating new series. He will engage with PBO stakeholders at all levels of the organization to explore the role of a major historically-informed ensemble in the 21st century that not only performs and presents music from the Baroque, but older and new repertoire, including opera.

For more information, visit

--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.

Moab Music Festival 29th Live Season
Utah’s Moab Music Festival announces an inspiring and powerful 2021 slate of events, running from August 30 through September 16. Whether audiences need a retreat or a reboot after a complicated year, the fabled town filled with charming shops and restaurants, a 3-diamond spa, a top-notch winery, surrounded by Southeast Utah’s ruggedly stunning desert, and some of America’s best hiking, biking, and jeep trails, is the perfect place to safely spread out and enjoy MMF’s trademark world-class live music experiences. The 2020 Festival was one of the only events in the U.S. to welcome live audiences, and in 2021, it will again be live and continue to follow all local, state, and national health and safety guidelines, continuing its commitment to the health and safety of its patrons, artists, and staff as its top priority.

The centerpiece of the 29th season is the launch of its Commissioning Club with the World Premiere of a work by Kenji Bunch for narrator George Takei and chamber ensemble about Japanese American Confinement in America on Saturday, September 4th. Other programs bring patrons to an array of outdoor venues along the Colorado River, local ranches, on musical hikes, rafting adventures, and in intimate (outdoor) gatherings, where concert goers will hear world-class performances surrounded by the majestic sky and blazing red rock cliffs as the quintessential backdrop for the musical ride of a lifetime.

For complete information, visit

--Elizabeth Dworkin, Dworkin & Company

Young Concert Artists to Celebrate 60th Anniversary
Young Concert Artists (YCA) announces programming for their 60th Anniversary Gala, to be broadcast on May 20 from the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. The gala will feature an evening of performances in celebration of the organization's 60-year history of fostering and developing the next generation of talented young artists. Founded by Susan Wadsworth in 1961, who retired in 2019 and passed the leadership to alumnus and composer Daniel Kellogg, YCA has grown both its roster and its impact, providing artists with performance opportunities, promotional and marketing services, and extensive professional development tools.

Musical performers at the event include some of YCA’s most prominent alumni such as Emanuel Ax, Pinchas Zukerman, Anne-Marie McDermott, and Sasha Cooke, alongside the young stars of their present roster that include Zlatomir Fung, Anthony Trionfo, Albert Cano Smit, and more. Performances include works by Mendelssohn, Dvorák, and Chopin, as well as pieces by YCA composers Mason Bates, Andrew Norman, and Daniel Kellogg.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Berkeley Symphony Reschedules Episode Two of "REAL Berkeley"
Berkeley Symphony announced today that the second episode of REAL Berkeley, a new four-episode virtual film series that launched in March, has been rescheduled for release on Sunday, May 23 at 4:00 p.m. exactly one week after its previously planned release date. The upcoming episode, entitled “Edgy Art,” will showcase exhibits and artwork from the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) alongside chamber works by Jessie Montgomery, Florence Price, Michael Daugherty, and Olivier Messiaen.

A collaboration between Berkeley Symphony and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), “Edgy Art” will combine a selection of artwork and exhibits currently on display at BAMPFA with chamber music performed by Berkeley Symphony musicians. BAMPFA Director Julie Rodrigues Widholm will guest curate the episode, taking audiences on a virtual tour of both Rosie Lee Tomkins: A Retrospective, one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of Tomkins’s work to date, and Edie Fake’s Affordable Housing for Trans Elders, BAMPFA’s most recent commission for its Art Wall. Filmed on location, musicians from Berkeley Symphony will perform a selection of chamber works including the second movement from Florence Price’s String Quartet in G Major, Messiaen’s Appel Interstellaire for solo horn, Michael Daugherty’s Diamond in the Rough for violin, viola, and percussion, and Jessie Montgomery’s Strum for string quartet.

All episodes of REAL Berkeley will be streamed free of charge on the Berkeley Symphony YouTube channel and will remain available for viewing after the initial release date. Full details for episodes three and four will be announced later this month.

For more information, please visit

--Brenden Guy PR

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of May 10-16)
Friday, May 14 at 8:00 p.m. CT:
Minnesota Orchestra and Music Director Osmo Vänskä perform music to honor victims of gun violence.

Sunday, May 16 at 4:00 p.m. ET:
The Gilmore's Virtual Rising Stars series presents Avery Gagliano performing works by Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, and Dett.

--Shuman Associates

Minnesota Orchestra to Present Concerts of Remembrance and Reflection
Minnesota Orchestra and Music Director Osmo Vänskä will perform two concerts on Friday, May 14 and Friday, May 28 that have been programmed in response to the turbulence in Minneapolis and the world over the past year, particularly with regard to issues of racial equity and police violence against Black Americans. Both concerts will be televised live on Twin Cities PBS (TPT); broadcast live on YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio; and streamed live online for free at at 8:00 p.m. CT.

--Shuman Associates

PARMA Announces 2021 Live Stage Line Up
Since its launch in March 2020, the PARMA Live Stage has streamed nearly 50 concerts for artists to present their craft in an age of social distancing. A myriad of piano concertos, symphonies, string quartets, and other music ensembles have been showcased, and will continue through 2021.

Learn more:

PARMA Recordings

Robert Trevino Named Principal Guest Conductor of RAI National Symphony Orchestra
The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai - the RAI National Symphony Orchestra, popularly known as 'RAI Torino' or simply 'the RAI' - has announced the appointment of Robert Trevino as their new Principal Guest Conductor, for an initial period of three years, starting in the 2021/22 season. One of Italy's leading orchestras, RAI Torino has regularly invited the young American conductor as a guest artist during recent seasons, in a close and deepening relationship.

The admiration is mutual. Says Trevino, "Since the first moment I made music with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai, in Strauss’s Alpine Symphony, it was evident that we had a mutual understanding of our purpose as artists, to communicate and give expression to the greatest of emotions we all feel. Since then I have looked forward to every visit to make music with them in beautiful Turin, and every time it has been just as wonderful an experience. It feels like a natural and beautiful continuation of a deepening relationship, and therefore I am honored to accept this position of Principal Guest Conductor with the RAI."

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Award-Winning iSing Silicon Valley Girlchoir Spring Concert
iSing Silicon Valley is pleased to announce its eighth annual Spring Concert, which will premiere on Saturday, May 22, at 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET on YouTube (free). “Choosing Harmony” features 250 iSing girls joined by the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Amaranth Quartet, and other guest artists.

“Choosing Harmony” follows the huge success of iSing’s first virtual concert, Holidays@Home, which expanded its audience by a factor of seven, with nearly 7,000 views to date from around the world. iSing is among the many choral organizations that have been pressed into a new relationship with technology by the pandemic. iSing has maximized the advantages of the digital platform for this final virtual concert of the season, offering new commissions and innovative performances by iSing’s young singers.

Saturday, May 22, at 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET
How to watch: iSing’s YouTube channel
Tickets: Free; Please RSVP at to receive viewing link

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet

Semi-Finalists in Menuhin Competition Announced
The first-ever virtual Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading international competition for young violinists, begins on May 14, with a live concert by the Richmond Symphony in the 2021 Competition’s host city, Richmond VA.

A complete list of Junior and Senior Semi-Finalists is on the Menuhin Competition website:
Junior Semi-Finalists:
Senior Semi-Finalists:

--Beverly Greenfield, Kirshbaum Associates

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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