Richmond Symphony Chorus auditions

The Richmond Symphony Chorus will hold auditions for prospective members from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Epiphany Lutheran Church, Monument Avenue at Horsepen Road.

The chorus, led by Erin Freeman, rehearses on Tuesday evenings at Dominion Arts Center, with additional rehearsals during performance weeks.

In coming months, performances include participation in a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial program, “Remembering 1968: a Tribute to MLK,” on Feb. 3 and 4, and the premiere of a work by Richmond-bred composer Mason Bates on May 12.

For information on preparations and to schedule an audition, go to

China National Symphony date canceled

The China National Symphony Orchestra, citing concern for the security of its musicians following the mass shooting in October at a Las Vegas music festival, has canceled its North American tour, which was to have included a Feb. 14 performance at Richmond’s Dominion Arts Center.

That date’s presenter, the University of Richmond’s Modlin Arts Center, will give refunds on tickets at the point of purchase.

For more information, call the Modlin Center box office at (804) 289-8980.

Letter V Classical Radio Nov. 29

noon-3 p.m. EST
1500-1900 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Sibelius: “Karelia” Suite
Lahti Symphony Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä

Past Masters:
Smetana: Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 15
Jan Panenka, piano
Josef Suk, violin
Josef Chuchro, cello
(recorded 1956)

Michael Daugherty: “Dead Elvis”
Charles Ullery, bassoon
London Sinfonietta/David Zinman

Ferdinand Ries: Symphony No. 4 in F major
Zurich Chamber Orchestra/Howard Griffiths

Britten: Violin Concerto in D minor
Frank Peter Zimmermann, violin
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck
(Sony Classical)

Haydn: Quartet in D major, Op. 20, No. 4
Doric String Quartet

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9 in E flat major
WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne/Rudolf Barshai
(Brilliant Classics)

Letter V Classical Radio Nov. 22

For Thanksgiving, an all-American program spanning four centuries.

noon-3 p.m. EST
1500-1900 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

George Frederick Bristow: “Rip van Winkle” Overture
Royal Northern Sinfonia/Rebecca Miller
(New World)

Ives: Symphony No. 2
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam/Michael Tilson Thomas
(Sony Classical)

Charles Tomlinson Griffes: “Roman Sketches,” Op. 7, No. 1 –
“The White Peacock”
Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Litton
(Sono Luminus)

John Antes: Trio No. 1 in E flat major
Anthony Martin & Joseph Edelberg, violins
Paul Hale, cello
(New World)

Dvořák: Quintet in E flat major, Op. 97
Pavel Haas Quartet
Pavel Nikl, viola

Harry Thacker Burleigh: “Southland Sketches”
Arnold Steinhardt, violin
Victor Steinhardt, piano

John Powell: “Rhapsodie nègre”
Zita Carno, piano
Los Angeles Philharmonic/Calvin Simmons
(New World)

Bryce Dessner: “Murder Ballades”
eighth blackbird

Past Masters:
Copland: “The Tender Land” Suite
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Aaron Copland
(RCA Red Seal)
(recorded 1959)

Louis Roney (1921-2017)

Louis Roney, a onetime Richmonder who sang tenor roles at the Metropolitan Opera was active in other opera houses and on concert stages throughout North America and Europe, has died at 96 in Florida, where he lived in retirement.

An obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Letter V Classical Radio Nov. 15

noon-3 p.m. EST
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Nielsen: Wind Quintet
Emmanuel Pahud, flute
Jonathan Kelly, oboe & English horn
Sabine Meyer, clarinet
Stefan Schweigert, bassoon
Radek Baborák, French horn
(EMI Classics)

Prokofiev: Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 119
Matt Haimovitz, cello
Christopher O’Riley, piano
(Pentatone Oxingale)

Granados: “La Maja de Goya”
Stephen Marchionda, guitar

J.S. Bach: Sonata No. 3 in C major, BWV 1005 for solo violin
Johnny Gandelsman, violin
(In a Circle)

Peteris Vasks: Concerto for violin and string orchestra
Renaud Capuçon, violin & director
Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Sibelius: “Valse triste”
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
(Sony Classical)

Debussy: Nocturnes
Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
Cleveland Orchestra/Pierre Boulez
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1
Anne Akiko Meyers, violin
Philharmonia Orchestra/Kristjan Järvi

André Caplet: Divertissements
Elizabeth Hainen, harp

Review: Johnny Gandelsman

Nov. 12, Perkinson Recital Hall, University of Richmond

Among violinists, the solo sonatas and partitas of Johann Sebastian Bach are closely akin to sacred texts. Learning to play them is a rite of passage, and returning to them regularly – for some, daily – is both technical exercise and an act of fealty to the instrument and to music.

So it’s not surprising that many performances of these pieces (and many listeners’ responses to them) have an air of the devotional, even the ritual.

Johnny Gandelsman, a Russian-born violinist known for his work with Brooklyn Rider, The Knights, the Silk Road Ensemble and other present- and future-tense musical enterprises, might be expected to treat the Bach sonatas and partitas less conventionally than the usual classical soloist. His departure from conventionality, though, was directed to this music’s past.

Performing in a Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia-sponsored recital, Gandelsman approached these pieces as what they are: suites composed mostly of dance music. Some of the dances – sarabandes, sicilianas, correntes – are gentle or stately; others, like gigues and bourrées, are more earthy and high-stepping. Even the great Chaconne of the Second Partita, the holy of holies of the set, is a dance.

So he danced – mostly, but not entirely, with his fiddle bow – through the last three pieces of the set, the partitas No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004, and No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006, and the Sonata No. 3 in C minor, BWV 1005.

Gandelsman’s tempos were brisk, even ferocious in the faster dances; his articulation was crisp and his accenting sharp. In the most complex or elaborate music, such as the fugue of the sonata and the central summit of the chaconne, his playing recalled the most intense improvising of a bebop jazz musician.

He never robbed the old dances of their period gracefulness, but he conveyed a playful physicality and almost fevered immediacy that one too rarely hears in this music.

Like many touring artists, Gandelsman came packing recordings – a newly issued set of the Bach six – but with a humane and selfless twist. Proceeds from the sales at concerts will go to the Hispanic Foundation’s UNIDOS campaign assisting hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.

Those who didn’t attend the concert and buy the discs can still contribute by visiting

Violinist Johnny Gandelsman, joined by narrator Chioke l’Anson, will perform in “One to One,” a free program, written and curated by Angela Lehman, at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Gellman Room of the Richmond Public Library, First and Franklin streets. Details: (804) 304-6312;

Richmond Symphony & Chorus reviewed

My review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch of the Richmond Symphony’s third Masterworks series concert, with the Richmond Symphony Chorus and guest soloists, in a program of Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Mozart at Dominion Arts Center:

Breaking a sound barrier at the Met

Soprano Audrey Luna hits A above high C, believed to be the highest note ever sung onstage at the Metropolitan Opera, in Thomas Adès’ “The Exterminating Angel.”

“It lasts just a split second. It’s over too quickly to summon the dogs of the Upper West Side or to break any nearby windows,” The New York Times’ Zachary Woolfe writes of Luna cracking a “stave-ceiling”:

Following the link, you can hear (or perhaps feel in the fillings of your teeth) Luna hitting the new high, as well as several other singers aloft in the coloratura stratosphere.