National Symphony Orchestra: Christoph Eschenbach, conductor / Saint-Saëns's "Organ Symphony," plus the world premiere of Roger Reynolds's george WASHINGTON

Thursday, October 03, 2013 - Saturday, October 05, 2013

Music Director Christoph Eschenbach leads a fascinating program that includes Saint-Saëns's "Organ Symphony" featuring NSO organist William Neil, as well as george WASHINGTON, a world premiere by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Roger Reynolds.


$10.00 - $85.00

Run Time:

Approx. 97 minutes

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Music Director Christoph Eschenbach opens the NSO's new classical season with a fascinating program that shines a spotlight on the Concert Hall's new Rubenstein Family Organ with Camille Saint-Saëns's majestic third symphony--the composer's grand tribute to Liszt featuring NSO organist William Neil.
The program also includes the world premiere of george WASHINGTON, an inspired new multimedia work by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Roger Reynolds that features actors portraying the nation's first President at different ages. Reynolds was assisted in creating the work by computer musician Jaime Oliver, performance audio controller Josef Kucera, and visual designer Ross Karre.

Completing the program is Symphony No. 21 by Joseph Haydn--almost an exact contemporary of George Washington's. The work features an unusual structure and unpredictable contrasts, ranging from regal and pensive to a bright and bustling finale.

"Eschenbach puts his whole heart out onstage, every time."--The Washington Post
"Neil's skill and musicianship… is beyond question."--The Washington Times

AfterWords: Thu., Oct. 3 performance followed by a free discussion with the artists and NSO Director of Artistic Planning Nigel Boon.

Performance Timing: Part One - 37 min.; Intermission - 15 min.; Part Two - 36 min.

More on the world premiere of george WASHINGTON:

A co-commission by the NSO, The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, and the University of California Washington Center, george WASHINGTON is described by composer Roger Reynolds as "not a history lesson, but about trying to enter into Washington's world--what he saw on his morning rides at Mount Vernon, what he heard, what he wrote in his diaries and to friends in letters. george WASHINGTON is not a narrative of those momentous times, rather a door through which we can pass, if briefly, into his space."

The Words of Washington: The text for the new work is drawn from letters, journals, and more, with the entire narration consisting of words Washington himself is known to have written or spoken. Three actors portray Washington in different phases of his life: as a youth (Clark Young), middle-aged (Thomas Keegan), and in his mid-60s (Philip Larson). 

The Sounds of Mount Vernon: The singing of birds, the wind in the trees, the turning of the gristmill--these and other sounds Washington would have known are incorporated into the fabric of the work. Surround-sound will be placed throughout the Concert Hall to immerse the audience more fully into the "sound world" of Mount Vernon.

The Sights of Mount Vernon: The orchestra will be performing in front of three massive screens covering sides and back of the stage to the chorister seats. These screens are subdivided into smaller panels in the configuration of the windows in the cupola that surmounts the estate house, thus revealing images as Washington himself would have seen from that vantage. Video crews visited Mount Vernon over two years, capturing these images through the seasons, reflecting the life of the estate.

Roger Reynolds has well earned his reputation as one of the most adventurous composers working today. He first earned a degree in engineering physics, and worked in the rocketry industry, before turning his attention to composition. 

The premiere of george WASHINGTON coincides with an important milestone for Mount Vernon: the September 27 opening of The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. In addition to safeguarding original Washington volumes, the Library will serve as a center for research, educator programs, and leadership training.

Related events
The Kennedy Center will also host a nine-panel exhibit focusing on different facets of Washington's life, which will be on display in the Hall of Nations between Monday, September 30 and Sunday, October 6. "The Many Faces of George Washington" is devoted to the many roles in Washington's life and includes facsimiles of paintings, and images of items owned by Washington, and of Mount Vernon. Explanatory texts accompany the images on the nine-panel exhibit. Two panels are devoted to the making of the Reynolds composition, including the sounds and views Washington himself would have known.

Additionally, the Millennium Stage will host related free performances made possible by Mount Vernon. Enjoy two nights of 18th-century period music with a performance by Colonial Music Institute's David Hildebrand on Friday, October 4, and the Ginger Hildebrand Trio on Saturday, October 5, featuring special appearances by Mount Vernon's own "George and Martha Washington." 


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All events and artists subject to change without prior notice.