Classical Music News of the Week, January 22, 2022

Premiere of Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra

Wu Man, “the world’s finest player of the pipa” (The New York Times), will make her San Francisco Symphony subscription series debut on Friday, February 11 and Saturday, February 12 at 7:30 p.m. PT as the soloist in Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra. It will be the first performance of the concerto by the San Francisco Symphony, one of five SF Symphony premieres on the program that includes works by Texu Kim, Younghi Pagh-Paan, Takashi Yoshimatsu, and Zhou Long.

Mr. Harrison (1917-2003) composed the concerto for Wu Man in 1997. It was the first concerto for the pipa--a lute-like instrument with a history of more than two thousand years--by a western composer and the last large-scale work Mr. Harrison composed before his death. It has been a core part of Ms. Wu’s repertoire since she premiered it with Dennis Russell Davies and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra at Lincoln Center. She most recently performed excerpts from the concerto’s lively second movement with The Knights and dancer Maile Okamura for a video titled "Bits & Pieces" that was filmed at Harrison House, the late composer’s desert home and artist retreat near the border of Joshua Tree National Park.

For details, visit https://www.sfsymphony.org/Buy-Tickets/2021-22/Perry-So-and-Wu-Man

--Jennifer Scott, Shuman Associates

Goodbye, Mr. Chips by Gordon Getty
A new opera by Gordon Getty, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, will receive its New York premiere--as an opera reimagined for film--on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at 7 p.m. The public screening, co-presented by New York City Opera (NYCO) and Festival Napa Valley, will take place at the Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center, 165 W. 65th Street, New York, NY 10023.

Getty’s fourth opera is based on the popular 1934 novella Goodbye, Mr. Chips and other stories by James Hilton. The film, directed by Brian Staufenbiel, was given its world premiere screening on November 14, 2021, in California, presented by Festival Napa Valley in partnership with the Mill Valley Film Festival.

For more information, visit https://www.sfcv.org/articles/review/goodbye-mr-chips-makes-winning-transition-opera-new-film

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

National Philharmonic Concerts
National Philharmonic presents four season concerts this February and March at The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD and the new Capital One Hall in Tysons, VA. Music Director Piotr Gajewski leads two of these programs--one featuring Gustav Holst’s epic suite The Planets, in partnership with NASA Goddard, on February 6 at Strathmore and February 13 at Capital One Hall; and another highlighting the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s oratorio, A Knee on the Neck, on March 26 at Strathmore and March 28 at Capital One Hall.

Grammy Award-winning vocalist Ms. Lisa Fischer joins the orchestra, led by Principal Pops Conductor Luke Frazier, to perform an eclectic set of popular songs on March 11 at Strathmore. In addition, pianist Brian Ganz continues his odyssey through the works of Frédéric Chopin with a solo recital on February 26 at Strathmore, presented as part of National Philharmonic’s 2021-22 season.

For more information, visit https://nationalphilharmonic.org/season/

--Camille Cintrón Devlin PR

EXO Grammy Celebration Postponed
Experiential Orchestra is committed to protecting the health and safety of our artists and audiences. Unfortunately, due to the continued risk from the highly transmissible Omicron variant, we have made the difficult decision to indefinitely postpone our Grammy Celebration concert, originally scheduled for January 29th.

We look forward to performing this special program at a future date. Meanwhile, to learn about Experiential Orchestra’s schedule of programs, visit https://experientialorchestra.com/

--Experiential Orchestra

Colorado Music Festival Announces 2022 Season
The Colorado Music Festival (CMF) in Boulder, Colorado, under the leadership of Music Director Peter Oundjian, returns to Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder this summer for 22 concerts between June 30 and August 7.

Since Oundjian’s arrival as Music Director in 2020, the Festival has been making a name for itself by offering a thoughtful and adventurous combination of music by living composers and favorites from the classical canon, including a week of Music of Today, co-curated by John Adams. The 2022 festival includes 13 guest artists, three internationally-acclaimed string quartets, and four guest conductors. The spectacular setting, at the base of Boulder’s dramatic Flatirons, is just an hour from Denver and was described as “an oasis” by Musical America.

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

--Beverly Greenfield, Kirshbaum Associates

Genre-Defying Time For Three Returns
The Music Institute of Chicago presents the boundary-shattering musical trio Time For Three, with its uncommon blend of instruments and vocals, Saturday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. The performance also will be available via livestream.

Time For Three--Charles Yang (violin/vocals), Nick Kendall (violin/vocals), and Ranaan Meyer (double bass/vocals)--stands at the busy intersection of Americana, modern pop, and classical music. A Time For Three performance combines various eras, styles, and traditions of Western music that fold in on themselves and emerge anew. Time for Three is renowned for its charismatic and energetic performances in venues including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and The Royal Albert Hall. They have collaborated with artists as diverse as Ben Folds, Branford Marsalis, and Joshua Bell and have premiered original works by composers Chris Brubeck and Pulitzer Prize winners Jennifer Higdon and William Bolcom. In 2020, the band partnered with cellist and composer Ben Sollee on the soundtrack to the new Focus Features film Land, directed by and starring Robin Wright, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 31, 2021.

For details, visit https://nichols-concert-hall.ticketleap.com/time-for-three/

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Backstage for Pachelbel in the Round
Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706) Canon & Gigue in D Major, featuring Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin; YuEun Gemma Kim, violin; Cynthia Keiko Black, violin; Steven Lehning, violone; Corey Jamason, harpsichord.

As we gathered together in the spring of 2021 to record films when we couldn't offer live concerts, we took a few minutes to put together this experiment of Pachelbel's beloved Canon & Gigue performed in the round, showing the passing along, down the line, of each one of Pachelbel's inventive variations on the ground bass line which is played 28 times. Then, all of that beautiful music, with the violins soaring in glorious harmony, is followed by a romping jig. We had lots of fun, and we hope that you'll enjoy it, too.

Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRrlJWOTV5U

--American Bach Soloists

A Few More Upcoming Events
Washington Performing Arts
Hayes Piano Artist Martin James Bartlett
Sunday, March 6, 2pm ET
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, Washington, DC
https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/2021-22-season/martin-james-bartlett-piano

In Memory of Isaac Stern, Celebrating His 101st Birthday
Emanuel Ax, piano; Leonidas Kavakos, violin; Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Monday, March 7, 8 pm ET
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington, DC
https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/2021-22-season/emanuel-ax-leonidas-kavakos-yo-yo-ma/

Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C.
“Brand New Day”
Saturday, March 12, 3pm and 8pm ET
Lincoln Theatre, Washington, DC
https://www.gmcw.org/brand-new-day/

Davóne Tines, bass-baritone; Lester Green, piano
Tuesday, March 15, 8pm ET
Sixth & I, Washington, DC
https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/2021-22-season/dav%C3%B3ne-tines-bass-baritone/

Lil Buck’s Memphis Jookin’: The Show
Friday, March 25, 8pm ET
Lincoln Theatre, Washington, DC
https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/2021-22-season/lil-buck/

The Washington Chorus
World premiere:  “America’s Requiem – A Knee on the Neck”
Pitor Gajewski, conductor; Eugene Rogers, chorus master; with National Philharmonic Chorale and members of The Washington Chorus and The Howard University Chorale
Aundi Marie Moore, soprano; J’Nai Bridges, mezzo soprano; Normal Shankle, tenor; Kenneth Overton, baritone
Saturday, March 26, 8:00 pm ET at The Music Center at Strathmore, North Bethesda, MD;
Monday, March 28, 7:30pm ET at Capital One Concert Hall (brand new concert hall in Tysons Corner, Virginia)
https://thewashingtonchorus.org/2021-22-season

Hilary Hahn, violin; Seth Parker Woods, cello; Andreas Haefliger, piano
Tuesday, March 29, 7:30pm ET
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, Washington, DC
https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/2021-22-season/hilary-hahn-violin/

“English with an Accent”
Music and Lyrics by Migguel Anggelo and Jaime Lozano
Migguel Anggelo, lead artist
Friday, April 1, 8pm, ET
GALA Hispanic Theatre, Washington, DC
https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/2021-22-season/english-with-an-accent/

“An Evening with Itzhak Perlman”
Itzhak Perlman, violin; Rohan De Silva, piano
Saturday, April 2, 8pm ET
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington, DC
https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/2021-22-season/itzhak-perlman-violin/

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet

Philharmonia Showcases a Jam-Packed February
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) presents JS Bach’s epic Mass in B Minor, with full orchestral and choral forces, led by Music Director Richard Egarr, February 2-5 at Herbst Theatre, San Francisco; Bing Concert Hall, Stanford; & First Congregational Church, Berkeley. Star soloists baritone Roderick Williams, soprano Mary Bevan, and tenor James Gilchrist, who were scheduled to perform together in PBO’s 2020/21 season finally take the stage together for this powerful triumph of Baroque composition. Joining them is acclaimed countertenor Iestyn Davies, making the first of his three appearances with PBO this season.

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

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

Tulsa Opera Postpones Emmeline
Ken McConnell, General Director of Tulsa Opera, and Tobias Picker, Artistic Director of Tulsa Opera, announced today that the company’s new production of Tobias Picker’s opera Emmeline to be performed Friday, February 25 and Sunday, February 27 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center has been postponed. The opera will be rescheduled for the 2022-23 season.

--Lisa Jaehnig, Shuman Associates

Graham Pauncefort Founder of CRD Has Passed Away
It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of Founding Director, and, most importantly, our father, Graham Pauncefort, who passed away on New Year’s Eve 2021, aged 81. As we look to fill industry-great boots and take CRD into its next chapter, we would like to take this opportunity to offer a personal take on a life’s work. (For a fuller write-up, we direct you to James Jolly’s obituary in Gramophone.)

Our dad was one of the few industry figures left that successfully navigated--pioneering at each step--the transition from vinyl, cassette, CD, and then finally to digital channels. His vision for CRD was clear from the outset: to record interesting and unjustly neglected works, to seek out outstanding young artists, and to record standard classics where he felt a new approach could be justified. He was the forerunner of independent classical labels and independent distribution, influencing much of the British musical landscape. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the classical canon, as well as a fervent interest for lesser-known and newly composed works. He could, as he would tell us, ‘hear the Malvern Hills’ in Elgar and relay with extraordinary detail the historical and recording information of every track released on his watch. He believed in his artists, and he believed in the power of impeccable recording quality over quantity.

--Tom and Emma Pauncefort and Nimbus Records

Featured Recording Opportunity with the BCO
PARMA Recordings and Brno Contemporary Orchestra (BCO) present a classical recording opportunity for production and release both in traditional stereo and in Dolby Atmos immersive audio.

Scores selected and approved will be recorded with the BCO, led by conductor Pavel Šnajdr, and produced by PARMA’s GRAMMY-winning team for release on the company’s Navona Records imprint. In addition, pieces included in this project will be performed live in concert by the BCO at Besední dum, Brno, Czech Republic.

We look forward to hearing your music! The deadline for submissions is February 11, 2022. If you are interested in submitting your music, visit our website for more information: https://www.parmarecordings.com/featured-recording-opportunities/brno-contemporary-orchestra-winter-2022/

--PARMA Recordings

SOLI Returns January 31
SOLI Chamber Ensemble returns to the San Antonio Botanical Garden on January 31 for Spectra. Works by Canadians Jocelyn Morlock and Malcolm Forsyth, Americans Carlos Simon and Brian Bondari, and Mexicans Arturo Marquez and Gabriela Ortiz shape this concert that considers the spectra of music and culture of our continent. From auroral and ethereal to lighthearted to earthy, every voice - no matter their position or heritage or point of origin - is an equally integral part of the experience for the listener. Spectra features the world premiere of Planetscape by San Antonio composer Brian Bondari.

For details, visit https://www.solichamberensemble.com/spectra/

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

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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 both its equipment and recordings 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 simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me — point out recordings that they 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 Marantz CD 6007 and Onkyo CD 7030 CD players, NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, 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 Writer

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. 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 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. Most recently I’ve moved to my “ultimate system” consisting of a BlueSound Node streamer, an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a CD transport, Legacy Wavelet DAC/preamp/crossover, Tandberg 2016A and Legacy PowerBloc2 amps, and Legacy Signature SE speakers (biamped), all connected with decently made, no-frills cables. With the arrival of CD and higher resolution streaming, that is now the source for most of my listening.

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