Festival Musicians Delight with Historical Concerts


Staunton, Virginia (April 18, 2016) – Classical music lovers know that Beethoven and Schubert are hugely important in the history of Romantic-era music. What’s less commonly recognized is how different their works sound when performed on instruments from the time—roughly 1820—when Beethoven and Schubert actually lived and worked.

40-SMF 10 Early Keyboard-9753 (1280x904)Enter the Staunton Music Festival, which has earned a national reputation for its historical performances of Baroque and Classical music. Festival musicians James Wilson (cello) and Carsten Schmidt (piano) will present two concerts this weekend that demonstrate how delightful and engaging 19th-century chamber music can be when heard up close on period instruments. The duo has selected the all-wood, acoustically vibrant setting of Trinity Episcopal Church’s McCracken Hall, which seats only about 140 people and allows every listener to be within just feet of the musicians. And Schmidt will perform on a stunning 1830 Graf piano loaned by a private collector from Norfolk.

“It’s an ideal setting for this kind of music,” says Schmidt, the Staunton Music Festival’s artistic director. “Early pianos like the one I will be using don’t project loudly enough in many of today’s large concert halls. The same is true for Jim’s [James Wilson’s] cello, which will use lower tension gut strings. But in intimate spaces like McCracken Hall, the beautiful tone such instruments can create easily reaches everyone. They hear every detail, and even feel them, when it’s so close.”

On Friday evening at 7:00 pm, Wilson and Schmidt will present three Sonatas for Cello and Piano by Beethoven. Then on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm, Schmidt offers a solo recital of Schubert’s Final Piano Sonatas. Schubert’s last two sonatas are recognized as being among the most powerful and poignant ever written for the piano.

Tickets are available in advance online (here) and at Black Swan Books (1 East Beverley St.) and will be on sale at the door.

wilsonCellist James Wilson has performed throughout the world on Baroque and modern cello, appearing at famous venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and Vienna’s Musikverein. Mr. Wilson is a principal cellist with both Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Dividing his time between New York City and Staunton, he is the Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia and teaches cello and chamber music at Columbia University.

schmidtCarsten Schmidt enjoys a flourishing career as a pianist, harpsichordist, and conductor, and has performed widely throughout Europe, North America, and Asia. He has been heard in performance from Carnegie Hall to the Moscow Conservatory. His repertoire ranges from the early Baroque to new works, of which he has premiered more than 100. Schmidt teaches at Sarah Lawrence College in New York and is the artistic director of the Staunton Music Festival, which presents over 20 chamber music concerts every August.

WHEN: Beethoven’s Cello Sonatas (Friday, April 22 at 7:00 pm)
Schubert’s Final Piano Sonatas (Sunday, April 24 at 4:00 pm)
WHERE: Trinity Episcopal Church, 214 West Beverley Street, Staunton, VA
WHAT: Concerts of chamber music by Beethoven and Schubert on period instruments
COST: Adult $22; senior $20; college $8; ages 18 and under free

Staunton Music Festival
Established in 1998, the Staunton Music Festival (SMF) aims to engage and enrich audiences with a diverse selection of chamber music, performed by an exceptional group of international and American artists. Programs are consistently innovative, spanning music from the Middle Ages to world premieres of new music commissioned specifically for the Festival. For more information, visit stauntonmusicfestival.org.