Classical Music News of the Week, November 20, 2011

National Philharmonic Chorale to Perform Handel's Messiah at the Music Center at Strathmore

North Bethesda, MD, November 1, 2011 – In celebration of the holidays, National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson will conduct the National Philharmonic in Handel's Messiah on Saturday, December 10 at 8 pm and Sunday, December 11 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. The concert will feature the National Philharmonic's nearly 200 voice all-volunteer Chorale, as well as soloists Jennifer Casey Cabot (soprano); Kendall Gladen (mezzo-soprano); Matthew Smith (tenor); and Kevin Deas (bass).

Handel's Messiah, among the most popular works in Western choral literature, was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The composer's most famous work is divided into three parts that address specific events in the life of Christ. Part one is primarily concerned with the Advent and Christmas stories; part two chronicles Christ's passion, resurrection, ascension and commitment to spreading the Christian message; and part three is based primarily upon the events chronicled in the Revelation of St. John. The National Philharmonic and Chorale, in addition to a stellar cast of soloists, will perform the complete work, which includes such favorites as "The Trumpet Shall Sound," "And the Glory of the Lord," and, of course, the famous "Hallelujah Chorus."

A free pre-concert lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on December 10; at 1:45 on December 11 in the concert hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to National Philharmonic's concerts on December 10 and 11, please visit or call the box 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).  ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone. Photo credit for National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson is Jerry Fernandez.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Cleveland International Piano Competition Presents 2011 First-Prize Winner Alexander Schimpf at Zankel Hall, December 5, 2011
NEW YORK, NY – First-Prize Winner of the 2011 Cleveland International Piano Competition, German-born pianist Alexander Schimpf makes his New York debut at 7:30pm on December 5, 2011 in Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. Selected from a field of 28 pianists from 11 countries, Mr. Schimpf received a cash award of $50,000 and more than 50 worldwide engagements, including a December 5, 2011 Zankel Hall recital. Mr. Schimpf's largely German program includes works by Bach, Brahms and Schubert as well as two works - one a world premiere - from young German composer Adrian Sieber.

Mr. Schimpf's Zankel Hall program displays a great affinity for his Germanic musical heritage beginning with Bach's English Suite No. 3 in G Minor followed by Brahms's Ballade No. 4 in B Major, Op. 10 and two works by Adrian Sieber, Fantasie II, a work Mr. Schimpf performed during the 2011 Competition, and the world premiere of Sieber's …und schon verglüht (…and already in embers) written for the pianist.  Schubert's Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960 concludes the program.

Born in Gottingen, Germany in 1981, Alexander Schimpf initially studied piano with Wolfgang Manz in Hannover, and subsequently attended the Musikhochschule Dresden with Winfried Apel and the Musikhochschule Wurzburg with Bernd Glemser.  Pianists Ceclile Ousset and Janina Fialkowska also played an important role in his artistic development.

In addition to the Cleveland Competition, Mr. Schimpf won First Prize at the 2008 German Music Competition in the solo piano category, as well as the 2009 Beethoven Competition in Vienna.  He was awarded the Audience Prize by vote of those in attendance at the final round of the Cleveland Competition.

Alexander Schimpf, piano
Cleveland International Piano Competition First-Prize Winner
Monday, December 5, 2011 at 7:30 PM
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall

Bach:  English Suite No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 808
Brahms: Ballade No. 4 in B Major, Op. 10
Adrian Sieber: Fantasie II
Adrain Sieber: ...und schon verglüht  (World Premiere)
Schubert: Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960

Admission: $15, $10 for students and seniors.
Tickets on sale at, CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 and at the Carnegie Hall Box Office.

--Kirschbaum Demler & Associates

National Philharmonic Singers & Washington Symphonic Brass Quintet Present Holiday Concert
North Bethesda, MD, November 2, 2011 – The National Philharmonic Singers and
Washington Symphonic Brass Quintet, under the direction of conductors Stan
Engebretson, Victoria Gau and Phil Snedecor, will present a free holiday concert on
Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 8 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 107 South
Washington Street, Rockville, Maryland.

The concert will feature music from the great cathedrals of Europe with antiphonal works
by Gabrieli, as well as holiday favorites in exciting new arrangements. In addition, music
by Lauridsen, Whitacre will be highlighted. The concert concludes with famous carols,
including the "Hallelujah Chorus."

The National Philharmonic Singers, led by Stan Engebretson and Victoria Gau, is a
chamber choir and one of several performing ensembles of the National Philharmonic.
The group promotes works suited for smaller ensembles, whether with accompaniment or
a cappella. Its repertoire ranges from the 15th to 21st centuries, and it often premieres new
compositions by local composers.

The Washington Symphonic Brass, led by Phil Snedecor, is composed of professional
musicians in the Washington/Baltimore area who have assembled to play some of the
great literature written for large brass ensemble and percussion. Members of the WSB
have performed with many of the nation's best orchestras, such as the National
Symphony. The group performs throughout the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan
area and its repertoire covers five centuries.

The December 17 holiday concert at the Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville is free
but donations in support of the Community Ministries of Rockville will be gratefully
accepted. Christ Episcopal Church is located at 107 South Washington Street in
Rockville, MD. Directions to the church may be found at or
by calling the church at 301-762-2191, ext. 3. For more information, please visit for call 301-493-9283, ext. 116.

--Deborah Birnbaum

Music Institute of Chicago Presents Acclaimed Vamos Family
Acclaimed Musician-Teachers Perform December 17 at Nichols Concert Hall

Assembling a family of noteworthy musicians and teachers, The Music Institute of Chicago presents a Vamos Family Concert Saturday, December 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

Playing a program of Chopin's Cello Sonata in G Minor, Poulenc's Violin Sonata, and Bach's Concerto for Three Violins in D Major, Vamos family members are recipients of numerous honors and have performed widely to great critical acclaim.

Wife and husband Almita (violin) and Roland Vamos (conductor), both members of the Music Institute's violin faculty (Roland also serves on the viola and chamber music faculties and conducts the Music Institute's Senior Academy Orchestra), have received multiple Presidential Excellence in Teaching Awards and launched the careers of numerous individual musicians and renowned chamber groups, including Rachel Barton Pine, Jennifer Koh and several members of the Grammy Award-winning Pacifica Quartet, including their son Brandon Vamos, cello, and his wife Simin Ganatra, violin, who join them on this program. Also performing are Almita and Roland's son Rami Vamos, guitar, and his wife Nurit Pacht, violin, as well as Almita's sister Eugenia Monacelli, piano.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

No comments:

Post a Comment

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

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa