News and Press

NMF Orchestra Travels to Philadelphia


This year the National Music Festival at Washington College is performing one the most unique requiems known in classical music: the “German Requiem” of Johannes Brahms. What makes it unique is that it is one of the few requiems that have been written and sung in German. At the time the traditional Roman Catholic requiem was in Latin, whereas Brahms’ is derived from the German Lutheran Bible. Another fact that makes his requiem so unique is that most others begin with prayers for the dead, but the “German Requiem” instead focuses on the living at the opening of the piece.

The “German Requiem” was sung during the Festival on June 7, 2015 and will be performed again on June 14, 2015 in Elkins Park, PA (near Philadelphia). The second performance will be held by Singing City but will include the same forces that performed on June 7: the NMF Symphony Orchestra, the Chester River Chorale, Fredrick Chorale, Singing City, and Annapolis Chorale. NMF Artistic Director Richard Rosenberg will conduct.

A great deal of time goes into preparing for a work as large and demanding as the “German Requiem.” According to Douglas D. Cox, director of the Chester River and Frederick Chorales, he rehearsed twice weekly for two months with the Chester River Chorale and rehearsed five times with the Frederick Chorale. “Thankfully the two choirs I direct have very competent German speakers…we all benefitted from that expertise in our ranks,” said Cox. This helped to cut down the number of hours spent rehearsing and practicing the diction. Cox also serves as NMF Choral Coordinator.

This piece was first performed during the Festival on June 7 to a sold-out crowd at the Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Company’s Chesapeake Room. “There is a sense of reassurance and expectation that the next performance will have the legs that were established in the first,” Cox said.

The June 14 performance, which is a Sing-In, will take place at 3pm at the Keneseth Israel Synagogue, 8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA. Tickets for those interested in listening or singing along are available at and at the door.

For more information about the National Music Festival, visit or call (410) 778-2064. The Festival runs through June 13 in Chestertown. The 2016 National Music Festival will be June 5-18, 2016.

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