Richmond Symphony Chorus auditions

The Richmond Symphony, led by Erin Freeman, will hold auditions for tenors and basses from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at Epiphany Lutheran Church, Horsepen Road at Monument Avenue.

In the coming season, the chorus will sing in Brahms’ “A German Requiem,” Handel’s “Messiah,” the “Let it Snow!” holiday pops program, Bizet’s “Carmen,” and, in a concert in conjunction with the University of Richmond’s Tucker-Boatwright Festival, works by Debussy and Reena Esmail.

For more information, visit

Letter V Classical Radio Aug. 1

1-5 p.m. EDT
1700-2100 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Rossini: “La gazza ladra” (“The Thieving Magpie”) Overture
Filarmonica della Scala, Milan/Riccardo Chailly

Rodrigo: “Fantasia para un gentilhombre”
(arrangement by James Galway)
James Galway, flute
Philharmonia Orchestra/Eduardo Mata
(RCA Red Seal)

Richard Strauss: “Der Rosenkavalier” Suite
(arrangement by Artur Rodzinski)
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck
(Reference Recordings)

Dukas: “Villanelle”
David Jolley, French horn
Samuel Sanders, piano

Schubert: Quartet in D minor, D. 810 (“Death and the Maiden”)
Alban Berg Quartet
(EMI Classics)

Janáček: Violin Concerto (“The Wandering of a Little Soul”)
Josef Špaček, violin
Czech Philharmonic/Jiří Bělohlávek

Past Masters:
Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G major
Joan Carlyle, soprano
London Symphony Orchestra/Benjamin Britten
(BBC Music)
(recorded 1961)

Past Masters:
Ravel: “Menuet antique”
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa
(Deutsche Grammophon)
(recorded 1974)

Nielsen: Symphony No. 3 (“Sinfonia espansiva”)
Danish National Orchestra/Sixten Ehrling

Beethoven: Sonata in A flat major, Op. 110
Menahem Pressler, piano

‘A profession rife with harassment’

Charges of sexual harassment by high-profile figures in classical music that have come to light over the past year are not isolated cases, judging from an extensive examination by The Washington Post’s music critic, Anne Midgette, and arts reporter Peggy McGlone, of powerful musicians, administrators and teachers accused of demanding sexual favors from young instrumentalists and singers.

Among the alleged perpetrators named in the article are Daniele Gatti, chief conductor of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, who denies charges of harassment, and the Cleveland Orchestra’s concertmaster, William Preucil, who has not responded:

UPDATE (July 27): The Cleveland Orchestra has placed Preucil on paid suspension while it investigates the allegations, and the Cleveland Institute of Music, where the violinist teaches, “is reviewing the situation internally,” Zachary Lewis of the The Plain Dealer reports:

UPDATE (July 29): Preucil has resigned from his faculty position at the Cleveland Institute, Norman Lebrecht reports on his Slipped Disc website:

Letter V Classical Radio July 25

1-5 p.m. EDT
1700-2100 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

François-Joseph Gossec: Symphony in D major, Op. 5, No. 3 (“Pastorella”)
London Mozart Players/Matthias Bamert

Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor
Bella Davidovich, piano
Seattle Symphony/Gerard Schwarz

Ysaÿe: Sonata in D minor, Op. 27, No. 3 (“Ballade”)
Leonidas Kavakos, violin

Brahms: “Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel,” Op. 24
Shai Wosner, piano

J.S. Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538 (“Dorian”)
George Ritchie, organ
(Raven Recordings)

Rachmaninoff: “Variations on a Theme of Corelli,” Op. 42
Paolo Giacometti, piano
(Brilliant Classics)

Olli Mustonen: “Petite Suite”
Tapiola Sinfonietta/Olli Mustonen

Saint-Saëns: “The Muse and the Poet”
Noah Geller, violin
Mark Gibbs, cello
Kansas City Symphony Orchestra/Michael Stern
(Reference Recordings)

Arensky: Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 35
Philippe Quint, violin
Lily Francis, viola
Claudio Bohórquez & Nicolas Altstaedt, cellos

Bizet: “L’Arlesienne” Suite
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra/Christopher Hogwood

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1 in F minor
WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne/Rudolf Barshai
(Brilliant Classics)

Smetana: “The Bartered Bride” – “Dance of the Comedians”
BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda

Letter V Classical Radio July 18

1-5 p.m. EDT
1700-2100 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Martinů: “La revue de cuisine”
The Dartington Ensemble

Copland: “Music for the Theatre”
Harmonie Ensemble, New York/Steven Richman

Gilad Cohen: “Three Goat Blues”
Apollo Chamber Players

Nielsen: “Helios” Overture
Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Past Masters:
Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor
Pierre Fournier, cello
Berlin Philharmonic/George Szell
(Deutsche Grammophon)
(recorded 1962)

Brahms: “Hungarian Dance” No. 4 in F minor
(arrangement by Marc-Olivier Dupin after Joseph Joachim)
Patrice Fontanarosa, violin
Jan Talich Chamber Orchestra
(EMI Classics)

J.S. Bach: “English Suite” No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808
Christophe Rousset, harpsichord

Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major
Isabelle Faust, violin
Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado
(Harmonia Mundi)

Tchaikovsky: Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11
Escher String Quartet

Haydn: Symphony No. 82 in C major (“The Bear”)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam/Colin Davis

Review: Richmond Symphony Summer Series

Jason McComb, cello
Joanne Kong, piano
July 12, Dominion Energy Center

This year’s Richmond Symphony Summer Series, staged by the orchestra in league with the music departments of the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, is titled “Stories in Music” and focuses on works by Robert Schumann and his extended circle of family, friends and those influenced by them.

That influence was peripheral in the case of the most explicit musical storyteller of the series’ opening concert, given by Jason McComb, assistant principal cellist of the symphony, and UR-based pianist Joanne Kong.

The work at the center of their program was “A Life” by Ernst Bacon, a 20th-century American composer best-known for his art-songs. Bacon borrowed from those songs in “A Life,” a two-installment musical biography of his son, Paul. The first three sections were written shortly after Paul’s birth in 1941, the last two after his sudden death in 1968. The work was introduced in 1986 by Joel Krosnick, the longtime cellist of the Juilliard String Quartet and McComb’s teacher.

“A Life” is lyrical in a mid-20th century American neo-romantic dialect (think Samuel Barber or the later Amy Beach), unsurprisingly somber in its final two movements but not much more upbeat in the first three, in which celebration of a new life seems to be outweighed by a gently, wistfully expressed love of the parents for their child and for each other.

This tone plays to the dusky hued, long-lined expressive strengths of the cello, which McComb emphasized, and to subtly atmospheric piano accompaniment, which Kong handled masterfully. Their more emphatic treatment of the turbulent fourth movement, “Young Manhood,” was a welcome contrast.

The cellist also exploited long musical lines and soulful expressiveness in “Prayer,” the first section of Ernst Bloch’s suite “From Jewish Life.”

Schumann, the central figure in this series of early evening chamber programs, provided musical bookends in this concert, which opened and closed with sections from his “Fünf Stücke im Volkston” (“Five Pieces in the Popular Style”), Op. 102, and the third section from his Fantasie in C major, Op. 17.

Kong’s interpretation of the latter, sweeping in expression yet full of classically inflected detail, resonated with reminders of the Fantasie’s genesis – a work to support the erection of a monument to Beethoven – and of the musician to whom the piece was dedicated, Franz Liszt.

The Richmond Symphony Summer Series, “Stories in Music: the World of Robert Schumann,” continues with chamber mini-concerts at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 16 at Gottwald Playhouse of Dominion Energy Center, Sixth and Grace streets. Tickets: $20 (limited availability). Details: (804) 788-1212;

Letter V Classical Radio July 11

A sampler of the season’s new classical recordings, including a new orchestration of Brahms’ String Quintet No. 2, a rediscovered flute concerto by Mozart contemporary Josef Mysliveček, a new piano concerto by British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage, and works by Gershwin, Bach, Vaughan Williams, Dvořák and Kodály.

1-5 p.m. EDT
1700-2100 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Gershwin: “Rhapsody in Blue”
(jazz-band orchestration by Ferde Grofé)
Kirill Gerstein, piano
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra/David Robertson
(Myrios Classics)

Stravinsky: “L’oiseau de feu” (excerpts)
Ilya Gringolts, violin
Peter Laul, piano

Poulenc: Cello Sonata
Edgar Moreau, cello
David Kadouch, piano

Brahms: String Quintet No. 2 in G major, Op. 111
(string-orchestra arrangement)
Amsterdam Sinfonietta/Candida Thompson
(Channel Classics)

Vaughan Williams: Oboe Concerto in A minor
Sarah Jeffrey, oboe
Toronto Symphony Orchestra/Peter Oundjian

Philipp Jakob Rittler: Ciaccona
Concerto Stella Matutina/Rolf Lislevand
(Sony Classical)

J.S. Bach: Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major, BWV 1042
Daniel Lozakovich, violin
Bavarian Radio Symphony Chamber Orchestra/Radoslaw Szulc
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Mark-Anthony Turnage: Piano Concerto
Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Rotterdam Philharmonic/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Josef Mysliveček: Flute Concerto in D major
Ana de la Vega, flute
English Chamber Orchestra/Stephanie Gonley

Dvořák: Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81
Evgeny Kissin, piano
Vadim Repin & Laurent Korcia, violins
Yuri Bashmet, viola
Alexander Kniazev, cello
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Kodály: “Dances of Galanta”
Buffalo Philharmonic/JoAnn Falletta

Chamber Music Society 2018-19

The Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia has announced its 2018-19 season, with seven ticketed and three free concerts. The society’s artistic director, cellist James Wilson, has assembled the season’s programs on the theme of “War and Peace.”

Among the works to be performed are the Third and Eighth string quartets and Piano Trio in E minor of Dmitri Shostakovich, Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” Osvaldo Golijov’s “Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind,” Heinrich Biber’s “Mysteries of the Rosary,” Johann Sebastian Bach’s sonatas for violin and harpsichord, and six works by Johannes Brahms: the Clarinet Quintet, piano quartets Nos. 1 and 3 and the three sonatas for violin and piano.

Featured artists include Johnny Gandelsman, a noted solo violinist and member of The Knights chamber orchestra; Aisslin Nosky, concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston; Brendon Elliott, the Virginia-born violinist who recently earned his master’s degree from the Juilliard School; clarinetist and composer Bryan Crumpler; and the internationally lauded pianist Roman Rabinovich.

Season tickets are $198, $180 for seniors. Single-ticket prices are listed below. Service fees apply on all ticket purchases.

For more information, call the Chamber Music Society at (804) 304-6312 or visit its website,

Dates, locations, artists and programs for the coming season:

Sept. 29 (2 p.m., Gellman Room, Richmond Public Library, First and Franklin streets) – Bryan Crumpler, clarinet & composer; Brendon Elliott & Nurit Pacht, violins; Max Mandel, viola; James Wilson, cello. “Shostakovich and War 1,” discussion and performance of Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 3 and work TBA by Crumpler. (free)

Sept. 30 (4 p.m., Perkinson Recital Hall, University of Richmond) – Bryan Crumpler, clarinet; Brendon Elliott & Nurit Pacht, violins; Max Mandel, viola; James Wilson, cello. Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115; Osvaldo Golijov: “Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind.” (Pre-concert talk by Wilson at 3:30 p.m.) ($28; $24 for seniors)

Nov. 12 (7:30 p.m., Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, Monument and Allen avenues) – Asslin Nosky, violin; Carsten Schmidt, harpsichord. J.S. Bach: sonatas TBA. ($40)

Dec. 15 (2 p.m., Gellman Room, Richmond Public Library, First and Franklin streets) – Johnny Gandelsman & Christina Day Martinson, violins; James Wilson, cello; Adam Cockerham, lute; Angela Lehman, reader. Biber: “Mysteries of the Rosary.” (free)

Dec. 16 (4 and 7:30 p.m., Wilton House Museum, 215 S. Wilton Road) – Mary Boodell, flute; Johnny Gandelsman & Christina Day Martinson, violins; James Wilson, cello; Adam Cockerham, lute; Carsten Schmidt, harpsichord. Works TBA by J.S. Bach, Darius Castello, others. ($40)

Dec. 18 (7:30 p.m., Holy Comforter Episciopal Church, Monument Avenue at Staples Mill Road) – Johnny Gandelsman & Christina Day Martinson, violins; Celia Hutton, viola; James Wilson, cello; Jessica Powell Eig, double-bass; Mary Boodell & Brandon Patrick George, traverse flutes; Adam Cockerham, lute; Carsten Schmidt, harpsichord. Corelli: Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 (“Christmas Concerto”); Telemann: “Tafelmusik” (selections). ($28; $24 for seniors)

Jan. 20 (4 p.m., First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1000 Blanton Ave. at the Carillon) – Bryan Crumpler, clarinet; Grace Park, violin; James Wilson, cello; Terrence Wilson, piano. Shostakovich: Piano Trio in E minor; Messiaen: “Quartet for the End of Time.” ($28; $24 for seniors)

March 2 (2 p.m. Gellman Room, Richmond Public Library, First and Franklin streets) – Diana Cohen & Meredith Riley, violins; Michael Casimir, viola; James Wilson, cello; Angela Lehman, reader. “Shostakovich and War 2,” with performance of Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 8 and meditations on war and peace. (free)

March 3 (4 p.m., Perkinson Recital Hall, University of Richmond) – Diana Cohen, violin; Michael Casimir, viola; James Wilson, cello; Roman Rabinovich, piano. Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25; Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor, Op. 60. ($28; $24 for seniors)

April 28 (4 p.m., Perkinson Recital Hall, University of Richmond) – Diane Pascal, violin; Carsten Schmidt, piano. Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major, Op. 78; Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 100; Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108. ($28; $24 for seniors)

Oliver Knussen (1952-2018)

Oliver Knussen, composer, conductor and mentor to a generation of younger British composers, has died at 66.

Best-known for “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Higglety Piggelty Pop!” operas based on Maurice Sendak’s children’s stories, Knussen also produced a limited but potent range of concert works and was a mainstay of contemporary music ensembles in Britain and elsewhere.

Born in Glasgow, son of Stuart Knussen, the principal double-bassist and onetime chairman of the London Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen began composing as a young child. He conducted the LSO in his First Symphony in 1968, when he was 16. (He subsequently withdrew the work.)

In maturity, Knussen was co-artistic director at Aldeburgh, the music festival founded by Benjamin Britten, from 1983 to 1998, and led the contemporary music program at Tanglewood from 1986 to 1993.

On July 6, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Royal Academy of Music in London.

An obituary by Imogen Tilden for The Guardian:

Lang Lang returns

“Everyone needs Lang Lang to come back and do what he does in such a unique fashion,” Mark Volpe, managing director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, tells The New York Times’ Michael Cooper. “I don’t just mean playing the piano; I mean the bigger picture. There are other great pianists, but he has a personality, he’s got a presence.”

So everyone – or, at least, everyone vested in selling concert tickets and preserving star power in classical music – has been waiting anxiously for the 36-year-old Chinese pianist’s return to the stage after more than a year’s absence because of an inflammation of his left arm.

Among the anxious parties, the Richmond Symphony, which has engaged him for its 2018-19 opening-night gala on Sept. 21. (A second booking after he was forced to cancel the orchestra’s opening concert this past season.)

This weekend Lang Lang made his post-recovery return with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, the summer music festival in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. He played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491, the same work he is scheduled to play in Richmond this fall.

The first reviews of the July 6 Tanglewood concert are in, and it appears that the pianist’s trademark visual flamboyance hasn’t diminished, but doesn’t drive the most profound of Mozart’s concertos off course.

David Noel Edwards reviews the concert for The Berkshire Edge:

Priscilla McLean’s review for the Albany Times-Union:

UPDATE (July 9): More reviews have come in.

Jeremy Eichler’s review for The Boston Globe (scroll down for coverage of the July 6 program):

And Joshua Barone, writing for The New York Times:

In addition to the Tanglewood and Richmond performances, Lang Lang is scheduled to play the Mozart concerto on Aug. 17 and 19 at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, on Sept. 13 with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, on Sept. 26 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, on Sept. 29 with the Cleveland Orchestra, and on Oct. 4 with the San Diego Symphony.