World premiere multimedia event to open NSO season

Roger Reynolds' Photo: NSO/Mt Vernon/Dean Norton

WASHINGTON, October 3, 2013 — The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) opens its 2013-2014 regular concert season this evening with an intriguing program dedicated to the memory of this Nation’s first President. Music Director Christoph Eschenbach will lead the NSO in world premiere performances of Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Roger Reynolds’ “george WASHINGTON,” which was co-commissioned by the NSO, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, and the University of California Washington Center.

Not your standard symphonic fare, Mr. Reynolds’ new work is billed as a multi-media work that he conceives of “as ‘not a history lesson, but about trying to enter into Washington’s world.’” In addition to a musical portrait of Washington, the new composition will also incorporate visual images, the spoken word, and the sounds of nature into an immersive panorama.

“george WASHINGTON” composer Roger Reynolds. (Courtesy NSO)

The ongoing narrative for “george” is derived from Washington’s actual written or spoken words. The spoken word will be delivered by three different actors portraying our first president at various milestones in his life.

A trio of giant, subdivided screens arrayed behind and to each side of the orchestra will provide a rolling series of images in and around Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, all of which were meticulously filmed for this production over the past two years by seasoned video crews.

Complementing the words, the music, and the imagery, a surround-sound audio system strategically placed around the Concert Hall will add depth to the entire, immersive experience by blending in the sounds of nature and the bustle of activity that Washington likely would have experienced in his own time.

SEE RELATED: National Symphony Orchestra, Kennedy Center fall season underway

Also on this weekend’s program will be performances of Haydn’s early and infrequently heard Symphony No. 21, an example of the kind of music very much in favor during Washington’s time.

The grand finale of each performance will be Camille Saint-Saëns’ enduring Symphony No. 3, aka “The Organ Symphony,” starring the Concert Hall’s brilliant new Rubenstein Family Organ with NSO organist William Neil as featured soloist. It’s a great opportunity to hear this wonderful instrument—a more than welcome replacement for the tired, worn out original organ—if you haven’t heard it before.

Concert dates are tonight, October 3, at 7 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday (October 4 and 5) at 8 p.m.

Collecting the sights and sounds of Mt. Vernon. (Courtesy NSO)

SEE RELATED: Rubenstein Family Organ’s fabulous Kennedy Center debut

In addition to the NSO’s multi-faceted, multi-media celebration of the Nation’s first president, the Kennedy Center will also be offering free Millennium Stage music programs highlighting the music of George Washington’s time by the Colonial Music Institute’s David Hildebrand (October 4) and the Ginger Hildebrand Trio (October 5).

In association with these musical events, a visual exhibit entitled “The Many Faces of George Washington” is currently on display in the Hall of Nations through Sunday, October 6.

Both the Millennium Stage performances, which traditionally begin at 6 p.m., and the Hall of Nations exhibit are free.

For tickets and information to any of the three NSO concerts this weekend, visit the Kennedy Center Box Office; call Instant Charge at 202-467-4600 or 1-800-444-1324; or visit the Kennedy Center website at Ticket prices range from $20-85.

VISITORS PLEASE NOTE: For the duration of the current Federal government shutdown, all ticketed Kennedy Center events will take place as scheduled. However, normal weekly visiting hours to the Center itself are curtailed, with the building being open to the public only after 5:00 p.m. weekdays until further notice. Please check the Kennedy Center website prior to arriving for details and updates as available as the situation may change.


Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.

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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  



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