The Borromeo String Quartet promises to put on quite a show when it opens the season for Candlelight Concert Society on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m., at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre, but the intermission also looks like it will be fun.

That's because a cake and refreshments will be served at intermission to celebrate Candlelight's 40th anniversary.


"The huge birthday cake will be the first of our anniversary year events," said Candlelight's artistic director, Holly Thomas.

She attributes the organization's longevity to the fact that "we provide the best in chamber music and musicians who have performed for us return to play again because we're good presenters."

A really good example of her point about major performers being loyal to this series is the highly regarded pianist Richard Goode, who will play a Jan. 19 all-Beethoven recital. His 11 previous Candlelight appearances go back to its earliest years. That makes it fitting that his upcoming recital is in memory of Norman and Nancy Winkler. Norman Winkler, who died in 1998, was the founder and longtime director of Candlelight Concert Society; his wife, Nancy, died in 1989.

Just as a 40th anniversary is a time to look back, it's also a time to look forward. That makes the Borromeo String Quartet's concert this weekend symbolically apt in its own way. Two of the pieces on the program are old, and the third piece is brand new.

The program includes 18th-century composer Johann Sebastian Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 for organ, arranged for string quartet by Nicholas Kitchen; and 19th-century composer Franz Schubert's String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, "Death and the Maiden."

Incidentally, one of the Borromeo String Quartet's high-tech attributes is that it will project slide images of the original autograph manuscripts by Bach and Schubert as these pieces are being played. That means the audience will be able to see how the handwritten scores look in the composers' own hands, including where they scratched in compositional changes as they went along.

Helping to explain that creative process will be the Borromeo's members, who like to talk to the audience about the pieces they're about to play.

The group's members are violinists Nicholas Kitchen and Kristopher Tong; violist Mai Motobuchi; and cellist Yeesun Kim.

Founded in 1989, the Boston-based Borromeo is ensemble in residence at New England Conservatory of Music, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Taos School of Music's summer program.

As for the brand-new piece that accompanies the Bach and Schubert, it's by a 26-year-old Arab-American composer named Mohammed Fairouz. His composition "The Named Angels" has only been performed twice, so the Columbia audience will be among the first to experience it. They'll also be able to hear about it from Fairouz himself, who speaks during a pre-concert meet-the-composer session at 7:15 p.m.

Yet another way to experience this young composer's work is to listen to a modern music-oriented CD by the Borromeo String Quartet featuring works by Bela Bartok, Gunther Schuller and Fairouz.

Thomas says that melding the old and the new is an important part of Candlelight's mission. She's especially proud of the organization's presentation of new music.

"I'm one of the few classical music presenters in the United States who is presenting new music," she says.

Definitely qualifying as new will be a Candlelight-commissioned work by composer Paul Salerni that celebrates the organization's 40th anniversary. It will be performed as part of the Philadelphia Brass Quintet's Nov. 24 concert.


And the anniversary festivities culminate in a nonsubscription gala concert on May 18 whose performers have yet to be announced. Looking back at Candlelight's history, there's definitely reason to look forward to that concert.

The Borromeo String Quartet performs Saturday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m., in Howard Community College's Smith Theatre, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy., in Columbia. Tickets are $30, $28 for seniors, $12 for students. For information about the entire subscription season, call 410-997-2324 or go to