Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic
Source: The Washington Post, Tuesday, December 4, 2007; Page C05
"There were winners aplenty at the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic's concert at Schlesinger Hall in Alexandria on Sunday. The first was Steven Gerber, the orchestra's composition winner for 2007; audiences last season voted him the composer whose works they would like to hear more often, so three will be performed this season. Sunday's was the Washington-born composer's Serenade for String Orchestra (1989-90), a subtle and rhythmically complex piece that calls for a multiplicity of string techniques. For example, the second movement, a theme and variations, at one point features the violins being strummed like banjos while the cellos play legato. As conducted by Music Director Ulysses S. James, the work flowed smoothly and effectively throughout.
The next winner was Wonkak Kim. He was first in the orchestra's concerto competition and performed Carl Nielsen's fascinating Clarinet Concerto (1928 -- but it sounds much more modern). Like the composer's Fifth Symphony of six years earlier, the concerto features a prominent snare drum, which often seems at war with the soloist. Kim evinced excellent breath control and fine command of his instrument's full range, with not a hint of screechiness.
Soprano Tiffany Bostic and the NOVA Community Chorus concluded the concert with Poulenc's odd and curiously affecting Gloria (1959). Conductor Mark Whitmire brought out both the surprisingly playful, almost trivial tunes and the more serious sections, in which Bostic's sweet and lovely voice floated ethereally above chorus and orchestra.
Those who heard this unusual program of 20th-century works turned out to be the biggest winners of all. The concert will be repeated Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Church of the Epiphany." —Mark J. Estren