National Philharmonic Celebrates Leonard Bernstein Centennial With 'Lenny's Playlist'

National Philharmonic Celebrates Leonard Bernstein Centennial With 'Lenny's Playlist'The National Philharmonic 2018-2019 season continues celebrating Leonard Bernstein's Centennial with "Lenny's Playlist," a specially curated "soundtrack" of some of Bernstein's favorite compositions on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 14, at 3 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. The concert, performed by The National Philharmonic and conducted by Maestro Piotr Gajewski, features internationally acclaimed Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova, winner of the Avery Fisher Career Grant. "Lenny's Playlist" will feature Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's timeless Overture to the Magic Flute, Samuel Barber's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, and Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D minor. Bernstein debuted each of these masterpieces, but it may be Shostakovich's Symphony that is one of his most memorable: Early in 1959, Bernstein conducted Symphony No. 5 in Moscow in the presence of Shostakovich himself, who was reportedly very happy with Bernstein's fiercely energetic finale. This performance led to Bernstein's iconic recording of the symphony with the New York Philharmonic in October 1959. There will be a members-only encore question-and-answer after the concerts on Saturday and Sunday, and a musician meet-and-greet, during which young people and their families can explore orchestral instruments, on Sunday from 2-2:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $34-$84 and are free for young people age 7-17. Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. For more information or to purchase tickets, or call 301.581.5100.

Bernstein (1918-1990), was an American conductor, composer, and pianist, most famous for his film and Broadway compositions. Playing piano from age 10, Bernstein received musical training at Harvard University, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. In 1943, he was appointed assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and led the orchestra from 1945-1947, later serving as musical director from 1958-1969 and touring internationally with the orchestra. Among numerous other works, Bernstein is the musical genius behind iconic scores including West Side Story and concert performances celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Bulgarian-born Hristova is known for her passionate, powerful performances and renowned international career. The Washington Post wrote that the musician is "a player of impressive power and control." Hristova plays a 1655 Nicolò Amati violin, once owned by renowned Ukrainian violinist Louis Krasner. She performs recitals and chamber music throughout the United States, appearing with the Chautauqua, Austin, and Milwaukee symphonies, among others. Hristova has performed recitals at the Kennedy Center, the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston, the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Shanghai International Music Festival, and Seoul National University, among others. Her recording, Bella Unaccompanied (A.W. Tonegold Records), features works for solo violin by John Corigliano, Kevin Puts, Astor Piazzolla, Silvina Milstein, and Johann Sebastian Bach. Hristova's 2017-2018 season features her characteristically rich and wide-ranging musical style, including a performance and recording of Beethoven's 10 sonatas for piano and violin in a nation-wide recital tour presented by Chamber Music New Zealand.

The famous Austrian composer Mozart (1756-1791) is recognized as one of the greatest composers of Western music, with his career culminating in the Classical music genre. His music's timelessness can be seen in The Magic Flute, which he debuted in 1791 to sold-out audiences and is still performed today-notably, with Bernstein in 1966. American composer Barber (1910-1981) is considered one of the leading artists for Romantic music in the twentieth century, and his masterpiece, Violin Concerto, Op. 14, is considered one of the greatest musical works from this time. Barber was skilled in concerto solo compositions, creating music specifically for the violin, cello, and piano. Bernstein recorded this concerto with Isaac Stern and the New York Philharmonic in 1964. Russian composer Shostakovich (1906-1975) created 15 symphonies and various chamber works and concerti during the Soviet era. Symphony No. 5 was composed in 1937, and presents an emotional, complex piece using several musical techniques with political undertones, aiming to secure Shostakovich's position as an officially sanctioned composer in Russia.

In 1983, Maestro Gajewski was selected from more than 150 applicants as a Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellow at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, along with only two other young conductors. Maestro Gajewski had the opportunity at 24 to spend the summer studying alongside the world's most famed conductors, including Bernstein who, himself, had studied at Tanglewood decades earlier under the prominent conductor Serge Koussevitzky.

"Tanglewood provided many unforgettable experiences, but none more poignant than a program where each of the three Fellows conducted a work on the first half and Bernstein conducted the second half," reminisced Maestro Gajewski. "The venue was the legendary outdoor Tanglewood Music Shed (now Koussevitzky Music Shed), packed to its 5,000-seat capacity, with thousands more sitting on the lawn. For this 24-year-old, it was quite an evening," he said.

Maestro Gajewski is one of a select group of American conductors equally at home in nearly all musical genres. He is the music director and conductor of The National Philharmonic at the Music Center at Strathmore, and a sought-after guest conductor. He was a student and disciple of the late Leonard Bernstein, and is described by The Washington Post as an "immensely talented and insightful conductor, whose standards, taste and sensitivity are impeccable." With one foot in the United States and the other in Europe, as Principal Guest Conductor of the Silesian Philharmonic (Katowice, Poland) and frequent guest at other orchestras, the jet-set maestro's seemingly limitless repertoire, most conducted without a score, amazes critics and audiences alike.

Led by Maestro Gajewski, The National Philharmonic is known for performances that are "powerful," "impeccable," and "thrilling" (The Washington Post). In July 2003, the National Chamber Orchestra and Masterworks Chorus merged to create The National Philharmonic, an ensemble with more than 50 years of combined history, bringing high caliber musical performances to the Washington area. The National Philharmonic took up residence at the state-of-the-art Music Center at Strathmore upon its opening in February 2005. Now, more than 250 performances later, and with far-reaching educational programming, The National Philharmonic is the largest and most active professional orchestra based in Montgomery County.

The National Philharmonic boasts a long-standing tradition of reasonably priced tickets and free admission to all young people age 7-17, assuring its place as an accessible and enriching component in Montgomery County and the greater Washington, D.C., area.

As the Music Center at Strathmore's orchestra-in-residence, The National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Gajewski, with additional conducting by Associate Conductor Victoria Gau, and monumental choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson.

To purchase tickets for the performances and for information about the Philharmonic's 2018-19 season, please visit or call the Strathmore Ticket Office at 301.581.5100. Tickets are $34-$84; young people 7-17 are free through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program. ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone. Complimentary parking is available.

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