Music, Music, Music and More Music
THE KENNEDY CENTER
THE NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA The season starts officially in grand style for the 82nd year with the Season Opening Ball, as the charismatic NSO and Kennedy Center music director Christoph Eschenbach conducts and world-class star violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter performs Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, headlining a varied program on Sept. 30 in the Concert Hall.
The initial non-gala event for the NSO will come Oct. 4 to 6, when Eschenbach conducts mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor singing Lieberson’s “Neruda Songs” as part of a romantic program that includes works by Wagner and Tchaikovsky.
NSO Pops Hometown lady Roberta Flack is back in her home town with the NSO Pops Orchestra in “Roberta’s Back in Town” featuring many of her famous songs as well as songs from her new Beatles-keyed album, Oct. 25 to 27. Steven Reineke conducts the NSO Pops Orchestra with Flack, who’s famous for such hits as “Killing Me Softly” and “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.”
Kennedy Center’s Own Jazz Club With the passing of the legendary Billy Taylor, the KC Jazz Club now has a new artistic advisor in Jason Moran, a young innovator who will add a new spirit to the expanding KC jazz scene. The center also has a new performance space in the center’s atrium, the Supersized Jazz Club.
Performance-wise, vocalist Kurt Elling comes to the Terrace Theater on Oct. 27, while at the KC Jazz Club, now in its second decade, Mulgrew Miller and his trio, who opened the club in 2002, returns Oct. 5. Pianist and organist Dr. Lonnie Smith appears Oct. 6, and the vibrant Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen comes to the center Oct. 19. The legendary Heath Brothers Jimmy and Albert “Tootie” appear Oct. 20. Moran and his group, The Bandwagon, appear Oct. 26.
History Comes Calling Two very special concerts which showcase how music can bear witness and drive and interact with social change will be hosted by the Kennedy Center. On Oct. 14, there’s “This Land Is Your Land,” an all-star concert that pays tribute to the folk singer and troubadour Woodie Guthrie, who celebrated and sang of about working people, drifters and a nation in the midst of the Great Depression. In the process, he influenced and continues to influence generations of folk and blues singers, including Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and his own son Arlo Guthrie. Gathering together for this “Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration” include such top musicians as John Cougar Mellenkamp, Arlo Guthrie, the Old Crow Medicine Show, Tom Morello, Rosanne Cash, Judy Collins, Ry Cooder, Jackson Browne, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and others.
Coming Oct. 17 to 20, “Songs of Migration” is a musical salute to the great songs of migrants of the African continent created by trumpeter and composer Hugh Masekela, singer Sibongile Khumato and James Ngcobo.
The Barbara Cook Spotlight cabaret season opens Oct. 12 at the Terrace Theater with Maureen McGovern, who transformed herself from a pop singer to a great Broadway and cabaret performer. And let’s not forget who’s getting the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Award for American Humor: Here’s Ellen, that is, Ellen DeGeneres, will get the prize Oct. 22 in the Concert Hall.
WASHINGTON PERFORMING ARTS SOCIETY The Washington Performing Arts Society has been the top presenter of performing arts talent, both established and rising for over 40 years, connecting with venues large and small, from the Kennedy Center to the Music Center at Strathmore to the Harman Center to the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. Highlights for the next month or so include:
Israeli-born pianist Inon Barnatan kicks off the Hayes Piano Series, named after WPAS founder Patrick Hayes and his wife and with a mission to feature rising piano stars. Barnatan will be performing works by Debussy, Ades, RaVel, Britten and Schubert at the Terrace Theater Oct. 13. Also on the immediate schedule are pianist Richard Goode (Terrace Theater, Oct. 11); Rob Kaplow’s series “What Makes it Good?” with pianist Brian Ganz focusing on Chopin (Oct. 14 at Baird Auditorium); violinist Paul Huang (Terrace Theater, Oct. 25); pianist Andras Schiff (Strathmore, Oct. 30) and superstar violinist Joshua Bell (Strathmore, Nov. 1).
THE MUSIC CENTER AT STRATHMORE The Music Center at Strathmore, now in its seventh season, continues to supply performance seasons characterized by eclecticism and diversity, mixing the offerings of partners like WPAS, the National Philharmonic and the Baltimore Symphony with its own programming.
The center kicks off the season with Virginia’s own and America’s own rock-out pop star Pat McGee, as in the Pat McGee band which will feature a lineup that includes members of McGee’s very own high school band (Sept. 28).
Meanwhile, the torchy, iconic and always one-of-a-kind Patti LuPone continues the center’s American songbook series with “Matters of the Heart” (Oct. 5 and 6) in a concert of love songs featuring the works of a wide range of composers from Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim to Randy Newman, Jimmy Webb, Brian Wilson, Judy Collins, Dan Fogelberg, Joni Mitchell and Cyndi Lauper.
On Oct. 20, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, described as “anarchic” and mind-bogglingly versatile brings the great, re-discovered ukulele to bear on music by the likes of the Who, Beethoven and Isaac Hayes.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop, brings a season prevue performance to Strathmore, with excerpts from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, “West Side Story” and Christopher Rouse’s Ku-Ka-Ilimoku” among others, with Alsop presiding and offering commentary Sept. 13. The National Philharmonic Orchestra will opens its season at the center with “Beethoven: The Power of Three” with Orli Shaham on piano and NPO director Piotr Gajewski conducting.
THE EMBASSY SERIES Since 1994, Embassy Series founder Jerome Barry has been practicing his own form of cultural and musical diplomacy, and in the course of things, managing to create a unique and lasting Washington cultural institution. By doing what he and the Embassy Series did—a series of concerts by established and rising American and international musicians and artists performed in many of this city’s well-situated embassies, international cultural centers and residences of ambassadors—they managed to introduce an accumulatively large audience over time to the international community in our midst and vice versa.
In the process, he also built bridges by producing concerts in such places as the Iraqi Cultural Center, the Cuban Interest Section and the Middle Eastern community reflecting their music and culture as well as receiving strong support from the European community and its traditionally Western classical music and performers.
This year’s season begins at the Embassy of Latvia with the popular violinist Lorenzo Gatto, with Robert Giordano on piano on Oct. 4, followed by an Oct. 10 concert at the Embassy of Hungary, with mezzo-soprano Veronika Dobi-Kiss and George Peachey on Piano. On Oct. 19, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Christopher Zimmerman and with Edvinas Minkstimas on piano will perform at the Embassy of Austria. And on Oct. 31, Andre Goricare, the silent film pianist, will perform at the Embassy of Slovenia.
THE FOLGER CONSORT The Folger Consort adds another aspect of Londonmania to our all-London summer consciousness with a return to its roots and opening its season with “London: Music from the City of Shakespeare,” Sept. 28 to 30 at the Folger Elizabethan Theatre.
THE CHORAL ARTS SOCIETY Choral Arts opens its season Oct. 21 with “La Musica Latina,” a program of Latin American music from ballads to swinging salsa and rumba music, under the baton of new director Joseph Holt, with the Choral Arts Chamber Choir at Lisner Auditorium.
THE WASHINGTON BACH CONCERT Washington Bach Concert celebrates its 35th season with a six-concert season, beginning with “Kings and Commoners,” a selection of music commissioned for state occasions, including works by Handel and Bach on Sept. 23 at the National Presbyterian Church.
THE IN SERIES The beyond-category institution begins its 30th anniversary season “Prelude: Songs We Love” on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 with a program of opera, cabaret, dance and zarzuela, no less.
DUMBARTON CONCERTS Dumbarton begins with the Vida Guitar Quartet, comprised of some of England’s finest guitarists: Bizet’s “Carmen Suite,” Turina’s “Prayer of the Bullfighter” and de Falla’s “Love, the Magician” at the Dumbarton Methodist Church in Georgetown Oct. 20.