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2015 Capitol Hill Chamber Music Festival
15th annual period instrument chamber music festival
Please check back for continuing programs in October.


JS Bach  Tuesday, July 28, 2014 at 7:30 PM
Jeffrey Cohan ~ baroque flute
      Joseph Gascho ~ harpsichord
NEW BACH TRIOS explores new possibilities for flute and obbligato harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach to open the 2015 Capitol Hill Chamber Music Festival

These adaptations for flute and the two hands of a harpsichordist of works in trio sonata format by Johann Sebastian Bach, with the three intertwining voices originally having emanated from the hands and feet of one or two or three players, reflect Bach's own practice and result in four exquisite new sonatas for flute and keyboard that number among the most moving of Bach's instrumental works.
One comes down to us as a work for solo organ, another for harpsichord and violin, one for either 2 flutes and harpsichord or viola da gamba and harpsichord, and one for flute, violin and harpsichord (the Musical Offering trio sonata).

Johann Sebastian Bach composed a Trio Sonata for Two Flutes and Continuo (BWV 1039), but later transferred the first flute part to the right hand of the harpsichord while giving the second flute part to a solo viola da gamba, resulting in his Sonata for Viola da gamba and obbligato, or fully written out, harpsichord in G Major (BWV 1027), performed here with flute assuming the viola da gamba, or second flute, role. Similar treatment will be applied to the most famous of all baroque trio sonatas, the Musical Offering Trio Sonata (BWV 1079) for flute, violin and continuo which Bach prepared for Frederick the Great in 1747, and also to the Organ Trio Sonata in Eb Major (BWV 525), with the right hand being given to the flute, and the organ left hand and pedals to the harpsichord. In Bach's Sonata for Obbligato Harpsichord and Violin in G Major (BWV 1019), the flute and keyboard right hand will alternately share the violin and keyboard right hand parts.

The sublime sentiments contained in Bach's largest well-known works for chorus, soloists and orchestra are crystallized in this chamber music by Bach for very few instruments. As the original scoring of these works is largely unknown, and was almost certainly not always as has been handed down to us, our interpretations for flutist and the two hands of a harpsichordist might well be what Bach originally had in mind.

Now in its 15th year, the Capitol Hill Chamber Music Festival has since 2000 presented chamber music by familiar as well as little-known composers from the Renaissance through the present on Capitol Hill in period instrument performances which intend to shed new light upon early performance practice as well as contemporary works. Unpublished works from the Library of Congress are given particular attention, and many have received their modern day premieres during these concerts, in addition to premieres of works by Slovenian composers. The Capitol Hill Chamber Music Festival is a nonprofit corporation in the District of Columbia.

The program will take place at 7:30 p.m., at St. Mark's Episcopal Church at 3rd & A Streets, SE in Washington, DC, just behind the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill.

The suggested donation (a free will offering) is $20 or $25. Students 18 years of age and under are free. Advance tickets are available at and at the door. For further information please call St. Mark's at (202) 543-0053 or email

Critical Acclaim for CHCMF

"A brilliant performance ... eloquently played ... close to the essence of chamber music." Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post, June 26, 2000

"A virtuoso at conveying myriad colors" ... "The audience clearly was entranced ... flutist Jeffrey Cohan captivated young and old.” Cecelia Porter, The Washington Post, July 14, 2001

"Baroque flutist Jeffrey Cohan and harpsichordist George Shangrow give new meaning to the intimacy implicit in the genre of chamber music... They have forged not only an exquisitely subtle collaboration but also a common scholarly interpretation of how Bach would have had the music performed.

"They responded intuitively to each other's rhythmic elasticity and echoed each other's elaborate ornamentations with what sounded like spontaneous inspiration... Almost as impressive was the silent attentiveness that their musicmaking commanded.

"Bach may have been composing for a soft instrument with a very limited dynamic range, but the music he produced was exuberant, joyous and lyrical. It was these qualities that Cohan and Shangrow communicated..." Joan Reinthaler, The Washington Post, July 16, 2002

"Jeffrey Cohan has made Slovenian music a focal point of this year's Capitol Hill Chamber Music Festival. The Capitol Hill Chamber Music Festival got off to an exhilarating start Wednesday night at St. Mark's Church. Marking the festival's sixth year, artistic director and flutist Jeffrey Cohan assembled a trio of concerts that brought to public attention some largely unknown works -- including two world premieres -- by active composers from Slovenia. From piece to piece, Cohan's artistry was evident as he breathed life into his instrument, seeming to find no limit to its sonic possibilities, ways of articulating phrases and modes of expressing composers' personal styles -- as in Brina Jez's beautifully moody "Three Little Pieces." Chappell gave a brilliant account of Kopac's Preludes for solo piano, and Cain's sweetness of timbre and vocal power suited compositions by Brina Jez and Kopac." Cecelia Porter, The Washington Post, August 5, 2005

Praise for CHCMF

For Frederick the Great, a Concert of the Same Quality WASHINGTON POST Monday, July 2012
The second of two concerts in this year’s Capitol Hill Chamber Music Festival, held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Sunday night, was devoted to music from the Prussian court of Frederick the Great. The theme is a timely one since Germany celebrates this year the 300th birthday of the Prussian king who, besides being a brilliant military strategist, was also a passionate musician. Fittingly, the festival’s artistic director, Jeffrey Cohan, played a baroque flute that is a replica of an instrument made for Frederick by his teacher, Johann Joachim Quantz, now in the collections of the Library of Congress.
Cohan is a wonderful player who exploits all the richly expressive potential of the baroque wooden flute with ease and subtlety. With his partners, harpsichordist Joseph Gascho and cellist Gozde Yasar, Cohan played sonatas by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Georg Benda and Quantz — all musicians employed by Frederick’s at his Potsdam palace, Sanssouci — as well as a sonata by the monarch himself.
Late in his life, Johann Sebastian Bach visited Emanuel, the most famous of his several composer sons, in Potsdam. “Old Bach” was given a warm welcome at court, and Frederick asked Bach if he could improvise on a theme he had composed. Bach complied, evidently to the king’s satisfaction. But later, Bach used Frederick’s theme as the basis for one of his late masterpieces, “The Musical Offering.” Selections from this sublime work, along with a Bach violin sonata adapted for flute, were the culmination of a thoughtfully conceived and most enjoyable evening. --
Patrick Rucker

At St. Mark's,Good Things Come in Trios
WASHINGTON POST Thursday, July 2, 2009
It's probably fanciful imagining a large audience turning up to hear obscure chamber music at the height of summer vacation season. But the mere 29 heads I counted at St. Mark's Episcopal Church for Tuesday's Capitol Hill Chamber Music Festival recital seemed an especially pathetic showing for such a stylishly played evening. St. Mark's, one of Washington's more strikingly beautiful and acoustically friendly churches, added just the right bloom to the gentle buzz of the festival's period instruments. Tuesday's program -- commemorating the 200th anniversary of the deaths of Haydn and his little-known contemporary, Carl Wilhelm Glösch, and the 250th birthday of François Devienne -- was predictable for a festival whose artistic director, Jeffrey Cohan, is a specialist in baroque and classical flute: All five pieces played were 18th-century trios for flute, violin and cello. If such flute, flute and more flute programming produced an inevitable sameness of tone, these lesser trios by the great Haydn, and great trios by the lesser Glösch, Devienne and their contemporary Franz Anton Hoffmeister met in a middle ground of high competence (the dark-hued Devienne D Minor Trio marginally more memorable than the other scores), and all were played with lived-in ease and affection. -- Joe Banno

  About the Performers

Artistic Director and flutist JEFFREY COHAN has performed as soloist in 25 countries, most recently Ukraine, Slovenia and Germany, on all transverse flutes from the Renaissance through the present, and has won the Erwin Bodky Award (Boston) and the top prize in the Flanders Festival International Concours Musica Antiqua (Brugge, Belgium), two of the most important prizes for period instrument performance in America and Europe. He has premiered many concerti and other works by Slovenian and American composers. He also directs the Black Hawk Chamber Music Festival in Illinois and Iowa and the Salish Sea Early Music Festival. He can “play many superstar flutists one might name under the table” according to the New York Times, and is “The Flute Master” according to the Boston Globe.

Conductor and harpsichordist JOSEPH GASCHO enjoys a multifaceted musical career as a solo and collaborative keyboardist, conductor, teacher and recording producer, and recently joined the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. As a student of Webb Wiggins and Arthur Haas, he earned masters and doctoral degrees in harpsichord from the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Maryland, where he also studied orchestral conducting with James Ross. In 2002, he won first prize in the Jurow International Harpsichord Competition. At the Oberlin Conservatory’s Baroque Performance Institute, he conducts the student orchestra, coaches chamber music, and teaches basso continuo. He has performed and coached chamber music and coordinated accompanying at the Amherst Early Music Festival, and has taught at the International Baroque Institute at Longy at George Washington University. Recent performing highlights include performing with the National Symphony at Carnegie Hall, the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra, and conducting Idomeneo for the Maryland Opera Studio. He has conducted numerous operas from Monteverdi to Mozart for Opera Vivente. A strong proponent of technology in the arts, he has used computer-assisted techniques in opera productions, in recent recordings, and in his basso continuo classes. His recent debut solo recording was praised by American Record Guide for “bristling with sparkling articulation, subtle but highly effective rubato and other kinds of musical timing, and an enviable understanding of the various national styles of 17th and 18th Century harpsichord music.”

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