The Kennedy Center

Ton Koopman

National Symphony Orchestra: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 / Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks

Thursday, May 18, 2017 - Saturday, May 20, 2017

Select dates for the concerts below feature ForeWords and/or AfterWords discussions! National Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Ton Koopman makes his NSO subscription concert debut on a program of Baroque favorites including J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 and Orchestral Suite No. 3 as well as Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks and Concerto a due cori No. 3.

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Imagine candle-lit dinner parties, dancing in the dim light, and laughing with friends who have just returned from a hunting expedition. On an evening such as this, you might hear Bach’s First Brandenburg Concerto playing in the background. Bach, an incredibly gifted musician who never had issues finding work, felt his time expiring with his current patron, Prince Leopold. The prince was a lover of fashionable music, but his wife was not, and Bach knew he had to find another way to support his family. Luckily, the esteemed Margrave of Brandenburg commissioned Bach to compose six concertos just in time to save the composer from his impending unemployment. Grammy®-nominated conductor Ton Koopman, a champion of Baroque music, leads the NSO in the first Brandenburg Concerto as part of an all-Baroque program.

The concerts also feature Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, a sophisticated work commissioned for a grand celebration commemorating the end of a lengthy war between many European powers. Handel was one of England’s busiest composers, but he worked diligently on a piece that would fit the occasion. The event itself was plagued by disasters—the weather was poor, the crowd of over 12,000 people caused historic traffic on London Bridge, and part of the massive wooden structure built to launch the impressive fireworks display caught fire. In spite of this, Handel’s music was an explosive success, and ultimately proved one of the composer’s most famous works.

The program also includes Bach’s Third Orchestral Suite, known for its second movement (an arrangement of which became famous as the “Air on the G String”), and Handel’s Concerto a due cori No. 3, the last in the composer’s set of works for two “choirs” of instruments.

Our wildly popular late-morning Coffee Concerts at 11:30 a.m. on select Fridays return for a second season! These concerts are perfectly timed so that you don't need to worry about rush hour traffic, both arriving and leaving.

Preceding each Coffee Concert, a la carte breakfast items will be available for purchase in the KC Café from 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. The menu will consist of:
- Assorted muffins, scones, and croissants 
- Bagels, cream cheese, butter, and jam
- Freshly cut fruit
- Coffee, tea, and juice

Performance Timing: Part One - 41 min.; Intermission - 15 min.; Part Two - 37 min.

Beginning at 6:45 p.m. before the following performance:
Saturday, May 20
Moderated by Classical WETA's Deborah Lamberton

Take a journey into the fascinating stories behind the music led by knowledgeable and engaging artists and scholars! Look for even more of these offerings throughout the season; each ForeWords begins at 6:45 p.m. (the Concert Hall doors open 15 minutes prior), lasts 30 minutes, and is free and open to the public.

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