Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"84 Percent Say The Nation [And Its Culture] Is Now Seriously On The Wrong Track" ... Nation's Capital Continues To Lack Music Conservatory

N. and I enjoyed last night's National Symphony Orchestra performance, under Leonard Slatkin, of a concert version of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, a work based upon the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (who shares with today's Barack Obama some African ancestry). The world premiere of the work took place in Moscow, Russia, in 1879; three years after the premiere, in 1876, of Edvard Grieg's musical treatment of Henrik Ibsen's similarly existential, though more expressionistic, Peer Gynt. [Musorgsky's Boris Godunov took place in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in early 1874.)

The NSO will soon be offering a concert performance of Leonard Bernstein's operetta Candide, based upon the magnum opus by Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire, and Washington's fine Summer Opera Theater Company, based at Catholic University of America but now also staging productions at the new Sidney and Jane Harman Shakespeare, chamber opera, music, and dance hall at historic Gallery Place, is offering a staged production of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's The Dead City (Die tote Stadt), based upon the symbolist work of Georges Rodenbach. [Washington's Post-Classical Ensemble will also be offering two of its five highly interesting and unusual productions next season at the new downtown arts center.]

Here is the program for Leonard Slatkin's final concert as music director, June 26-28, 2008, with the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C.) and cello soloist Sol Gabetta:

BEETHOVEN - Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72a

SHOSTAKOVICH - Cello Concerto No. 2, Op. 126


COPLAND - Symphony No. 3

Washington, D.C.-area musicologist Richard Freed's expert program notes to the works are available here. The Shostakovich is a welcome substitute for the earlier announced Tchaikovsky Roccoco Variations (which I will believe that the beloved Mstislav Rostropovich led at one of his last performances as music director of the NSO).


In the absence of a Music Conservatory in the Nation's Capital, Professor J. Reilly Lewis will be leading his Washington Bach Consort in an interesting FREE program entitled "The Development of the Motet by J.S. Bach and Others" at the National Gallery of Art, on June 22, at 6:30 PM. [Program notes here.] It is part of the Washington Early Music Festival 2008: From Hildegard von Bingen to Bach. [Prior to Sharon Percy Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM being taken over by WGMS, the now American classical music-less station used to program Western Classical music from King David and Hildegard von Bingen to Britten, Copland, Carter, Birtwistle, Penderecki, Part, Glass, Reich, Adams, Kellogg, Sofia Gubaidulina and Meredith Monk.]

Stephen DeStaebler "Two Women Walking", bronze, 75 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 31", 1992.

Photo credit: (c) Stephen DeStaebler and artscenecal.com. All rights reserved. With thanks.

[Leading American renaissance sculptor Stephen DeStaebler was an honors Religion major at Princeton University, having already extensively studied fine arts as a teenager. The Smithsonian American Art Museum, next to the new Harman Arts Center, owns his 'Seated Figure with Yellow Flame', while the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., unfortunately, does not yet own a DeStaebler bronze sculpture.]


*Dan Balz and Jon Cohen "Poll Finds Independent Voters Split Between McCain, Obama" Washington Post June 17, 2008


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