Category Archives: C. Hasselbring News

“Tooting my own horn”

I rarely receive mentions in reviews for concerts I play, so had to share this (see below). I IMG_0628have been playing Handel’s Messiah with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago for many years at Symphony Center and Harris Theater. It is truly an honor to play with such a fine chorus and orchestra. Next performance is at Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph Drive) on December 20, 2014 at 3:00pm. Here is a picture of me with my friend and colleague, John Burson at last Saturday’s performance at Symphony Center.  Happy Holidays!


Chicago Music Review: HANDEL’S MESSIAH (Apollo Chorus of Chicago at Orchestra Hall & Harris Theater)
Talk about a 135-year labor of love! This all-volunteer choir—founded in 1872 after the Great Chicago Fire and performing at the opening of the Auditorium Theatre in 1899 and the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition—must sing. Since 1879 they’ve devoted untold hours of rehearsals and performances to their signature rendition of Handel’s masterpiece, performing mostly at Orchestra Hall in Symphony Center. Now, along with last night’s sterling presentation, The Apollo Chorus will offerMessiah on December 20 at the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance in Millennium Park.
It’s a princely and beloved tradition. And in many ways this incarnation harks back even longer—to the first charity performance in 1741. With a 28-member chamber orchestra (including a vintage harpsichord) as intimate as the original, and the 110+ chorus (the mixed voices, interestingly, not separated into sections), the performance on December 6 was as faithful as forceful. With 16 poinsettias flanking the stage, and glorious wreaths and garlands hanging above, Orchestra Hall was a festival in itself. Add to that music director Stephen Alltop’s masterly conducting and four spirited soloists, and a great work found fulfillment.
Alltop brings a disciplined, confident brio with a brisk but never hurried pace to the 160-minute work—so many good tidings from 273 years ago. Dressed in black but as colorful as four voices can range, the chorus proved flawless in attack, diction, blend, precision, dynamics, and range, achieving hushed reverence and remorse in “Behold the Lamb of God” and full-throated glory in the “Hallelujah Chorus.” As for the unimprovable orchestra, the “Pastoral Symphony” never sounded so tender or “The Trumpet Shall Sound” more triumphant in its Handelian magnificence. Wonderful turns by concertmaster Jeri-Lou Zike and principal trumpet Chris Hassselbring were manna for the master.
Radiant in red, Elizabeth Marshall brought a bell-like purity to her soprano solos, none more endearing than “He Shall Feed His Flock.” Beautiful in beige, J’nai Bridge’s mezzo-soprano brought out all the original excitement in “O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion.” A tenor with an unforced and constant smile, Samuel Levine was well-contrasted with David Govertsen’s magisterial bass, the voice of God by proxy.
Utterly accessible, Messiah belongs to everyone with ears. But it seems strange that, since two-thirds of the text chronicles the Passion and Resurrection, that it’s not more often performed at Easter than Christmas (but, of course, not to be done in installments).  In any case it’s an oratorio for all seasons and, displaying Handel’s skill at taking the best from Italy, at times it’s also an opera. Last night, the accolades of a grateful audience proved a very public payment for services rendered, a grateful acknowledgement, and—after 135 seasons—a promissory note.

photos of previous concerts courtesy of Apollo Chorus
Handel’s Messiah Apollo Chorus of Chicago reviewed December 6, 2014 at Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center then plays Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 3:00 Harris Theater for Music & Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive.

Brian Shaw

One of the greatest pleasures of being a musician is the inspiration that comes from performing with gifted musicians. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to perform with Brian Shaw for concerts in November, including Schutz’ Christmas Story with Rockefeller Chapel Choir at the University of Chicago, and for Messiah Performances with Bella Voce at St. Clements in Chicago and St. Luke’s in Evanston. These concerts were performed by period orchestras, using authentic replica’s of historical instruments. In our case, we played on natural trumpets, and Brian was brought to play the solo parts for both concerts. Brian is the Associate Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Studies at Louisiana State University and is known to be equally accomplished as a classical, jazz, and baroque trumpet soloist. Brian happened to be with me at MIC when Jack Fay was having a lesson, and offered to spend a little time working with him (see below). He is very enthusiastic about what we are doing with natural trumpets, both in ensembles and with the Brass for Beginners™ program, and I am hopeful that he will come back to collaborate with us at MIC in the near future. Brian has recorded a solo CD of Virtuosic Baroque Concertos that I HIGHLY recommend. You can find it here. I sincerely hope you will have the opportunity to hear Brian play – a truly fantastic musician!



“Tooting my own horn”

Dear MIC trumpet families,

I am really looking forward to getting back to work at MIC! This year is going to be an exciting one, as we now have 6 ensembles and several new students in the studio. Just a reminder that private lessons start Tuesday Sept 3rd, and ensembles start the week of Sept 9th.

On Sept 7th and 8th, I will be playing Principal Trumpet with the Lake Forest Symphony under the direction of Ralph Votapek. Program includes Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. Click here for more information.

Also, some of you know that I have been playing for many years as a member of the Peninsula Music Festival (PMF) in Door County, WI. This is a three week festival (featuring nine different programs) held every August at the Door Auditorium in Fish Creek under the direction of Victor Yampolsky, the director of orchestras at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. It is a fantastic orchestra which I am very proud to be a member of, and I was pleased to see that music critic, John von Rhein, wrote an article about PMF that appeared today in the Chicago Tribune. Click here if you would like to read it. For more information about PMF’s 2014 season, visit the website at Maybe see you there next summer!

Looking forward to seeing you all soon!


“Tooting my own horn”

I sometimes share my performance schedule with students in case there is an opportunity to see a live concert. Here is a list of some of the performances I was involved with over the fall and winter and a list of upcoming engagements. I feel very fortunate to have so many opportunities to perform with such wonderful ensembles and musicians in the Chicago area. These experiences enhance my ability to convey musical relevance to my many wonderful students at the Music Institute of Chicago.

Fall/Winter performances:

  • Camerata Chicago performing Beethoven Sym. 7  Live From WFMT
  • Chicagoland Pops Orchestra at Chicago Theater playing the Legend of Zelda
  • “Deck The Hall” Holiday Concerts at Old St. Pats Church
  • Featured performer with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago performing Handel’s Messiah at Skokie Center for The Performing Arts and Harris Theater in Chicago (click here to see a review by Chicago Tribune music critic John von Rhein- I am mentioned near the end of the article)
  • Featured performer for Handel’s Messiah performances at St. Clement Church in Chicago and with the the Bach Institute at Valparaiso University
  • Chicagoland Pops Orchestra with Andrea Bocelli at the All State Arena
  • Mannheim Steamroller at the Rialto Theater in Joliet
  • Featured performer for “Too Hot To Handel” at the Auditorium Theater
  • Chicagoland Pops Orchestra with Jackie Evancho at Symphony Center in Chicago
  • Warner Brothers Symphony performing Bugs Bunny at the Symphony at Symphony Center in Chicago

Upcoming Performances:

  • Feb 15th through 24th – Joffrey Ballet performing American Legends at Auditorium Theater with the Chicago Philharmonic (click here for info)
  • March 2nd, 7:30pm – Apollo Chorus performing Charpentier’s Te Deum and Haydn’s Theresienmesse (click here for info)
  • March 3rd, 3:00pm – Handel Week in Oak Park featuring Handel’s Oratorio Theodora (click here for info)
  • March 9th and 10th – Mozart Journey VI with St. Charles Singers at St. Vincent DePaul in Chicago and College Church in Wheaton (click here for info)
  • March 11th, 7:30pm – Siamsa Na Ngael at Symphony Center in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day (click here for info)
  • March 15th and 16th, 8:00pm – Lake Forest Symphony Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 and the Tempest (click here for info)
  • March 23rd, 7:00pm – Bach Institute at Valparaiso University performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor (click here for info)
  • March 27th, 8:00pm – “Chicago Bach Project” performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor at St. Vincent DePaul in Chicago (click here for info)
  • April 10th through April 13th – Sweeny Todd at NEIU (click here for info)
  • April 20th 7:30pm – Rockefellor Chapel Choir performing Mozart’s Requiem (click here for info)
  • April 24th through May 5th – Joffrey Ballet performing Othello at Auditorium Theater with the Chicago Philharmonic (click here for info)
  • May 17th and 18th, 8:00pm – Lake Forest Symphony performing Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, the Resurrection Symphony (click here for info)