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 nationalphilharmonic.org 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 www.carnegiehall.org, 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 www.christchurchrockville.org or
by calling the church at 301-762-2191, ext. 3. For more information, please visit
nationalphilharmonic.org 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

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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.

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.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa