The Kennedy Center

Alisa Weilerstein

National Symphony Orchestra: Weilerstein plays Shostakovich / Schubert's Ninth Symphony - part of A Salute to Slava

Thursday, March 9, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

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

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein returns in Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto, a work written for late former NSO Music Director Mstislav Rostropovich. Led by NSO Music Director Christoph Eschenbach, the program also includes Schubert's Ninth Symphony and Tobias Picker's Old and Lost Rivers.

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Schubert's Ninth Symphony is his final and most ambitious, but his genius was only truly discovered posthumously. Largely misunderstood and underestimated during Schubert's lifetime, the work is punctuated by thundering musical repetition offset by gentle lulls and full of dramatic fanfare. Although his stature earned him the nickname of  "chubby little mushroom" among his friends, Schubert worked ceaselessly to compose symphonies that would leave his mark on music and rival the work of his idol, Beethoven. Schubert's Ninth in particular reveals the towering nature of his creative ambition. Music Director Christoph Eschenbach leads the National Symphony Orchestra in this once-unsung masterwork that was composed for a modern audience.

The program also includes Tobias Picker's Long and Lost Rivers, originally composed for Texas's 150-year celebration, plus Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto featuring the return of cellist Alisa Weilerstein, whose talent makes "whatever she plays sound custom composed for her" (New York Magazine). Written specially for late cellist and former NSO Music Director Mstislav Rostopovich, the relentless and fast-paced piece makes a wonderful addition to this season's A Salute to Slava celebration. Combined with artful musical ciphers and covert political statements, the work's blend of classical and romantic elements has cemented its place as one of the most popular cello concertos of the 20th century. From hidden threads of Stalin's favorite song in the finale--an acknowledgement of darker political times--to Shostakovich's immortal musical initials, it is not surprising that both this work, and its late creator, continue to resonate with and electrify audiences today.

Performance Timing: Part One - 35 min.; Intermission - 15 min.; Part Two - 50 min.

Beginning at 6:45 p.m. before the following performance:
Saturday, March 11
Moderated by 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.

Note: Alisa Weilerstein will sign CDs following the concerts on Thursday, Mar. 9 and Saturday, Mar. 11, in the Grand Foyer outside of the Concert Hall.

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Watch and Listen

A Salute to Slava: Jane Bowyer Stewart

A Salute to Slava: Glenn Garlick

A Salute to Slava: Gianandrea Noseda

A Salute to Slava: Trombonist Matt Guilford Plays and Shares Fond Memories

A Salute to Slava: Christoph Eschenbach

A Salute to Slava: Lambert Orkis