National Philharmonic Kicks Off New Season

The National Philharmonic's 2010-2011 season at the Music Center at Strathmore kicks off with Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony.

North Bethesda, MD, August 24, 2010 - Maestro Piotr Gajewski will lead the National Philharmonic in its first concert of the 2010-2011 season at the Music Center at Strathmore on Saturday, October 9, 2010, at 8 pm. The concert will feature one of Gustav Mahler's most renowned works, the Symphony No. 2 in C minor, known as the "Resurrection," and showcase soprano Iwona Sobotka, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Wór, and the National Philharmonic's nearly 200-voice, all-volunteer chorale.

Composed during the years 1888-1894, Mahler's Resurrection Symphony premiered in 1895 and went on to become one of the composer's most recognized and successful works during his lifetime. It is his first major work that expressed his lifelong view of the beauty of afterlife and resurrection. Mahler devised a narrative program for the work, in which the first movement represents a funeral and asks questions such as "Is there life after death?"; the second is a remembrance of happy times in the deceased's life; the third presents a view of life as meaningless; the fourth is a wish for release from life without meaning; and the fifth ends with hope for everlasting, transcendent renewal.

Soprano Iwona Sobotka achieved instant international acclaim as the Grand Prix winner of the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium in 2004. Other awards include first prizes at the East and West Artists International Auditions in New York, the Warsaw Polish Art Song Competition, and in the Bydgoszcz Paderewski Competition.

She has performed all over Europe, in the Americas and Japan, in such prestigious venues as the Wiener Konzerthaus, Carnegie Hall, the Palais de Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic.

Ms. Sobotka has worked with such distinguished conductors as Sir Colin Davis, Sir Simon Rattle, Sylvain Cambreling, Thomas Hengelbrock, Walter Proost, Jerzy Maksymiuk and Antoni Wit.  She has performed with the Orchestre de l'Opéra national de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Orchestra della Fondazione Arturo Toscanini, Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla, Staatskapelle Weimar, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and with all the major Polish orchestras.

Ms. Sobotka has performed at various music festivals, such as Musical Olympus in St. Petersburg, Kraków's Festival of Polish Music, the MDR Music Summer festival in Saxony and the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. She is also regularly invited to the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Music Festival where she was awarded the 2007 audience prize.

She graduated from the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw and continued her studies with renowned artist and pedagogue Tom Krause at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid.

Mezzo-soprano Magdalena Wór was the first-place winner of the Heinz Rehfuss Vocal Competition (2005), a Metropolitan Opera Competition national finalist (2002), a winner of the Mozart Society of Atlanta Competition, an alumna of the San Francisco Opera's Merola Summer Opera Program and Chautauqua Music Institution's Marlena Malas Voice Program, and St. Louis Opera Theatre's Gerdine Young Artist Program. Ms. Wór was a member of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at the Washington National Opera from 2006-2008. She has appeared with the Metropolita Opera, National Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, and New Trinity Baroque. A polish native, Wór has lived in the United States since 1991.  She received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in vocal performance from Georgia State University.

The program will also include Andreas Makris' Aegean Festival Overture, the composer's reflections on his Greek origins, and Mieczysaw Karowicz's A Sorrowful Tale, a symphonic tone poem.

A free pre-concert lecture will be offered at 7 p.m. in the Education Center at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to National Philharmonic's concert on October 9, 2010 at 8p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore, please visit, or call the Strathmore ticket office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets are $32-$79; kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette).

National Philharmonic PR

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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 John 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.

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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.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa