National Philharmonic Dedicating its 2018-19 Season To Leonard Bernstein

National Philharmonic Dedicating its 2018-19 Season To Leonard BernsteinThe centennial of renowned American composer Leonard Bernstein is celebrated throughout The National Philharmonic's 2018-2019 concert series at The Music Center at Strathmore. Performing compositions that influenced Bernstein, as well as some of his very own famous works, The National Philharmonic will be the only symphony orchestra dedicating most of its 2018-2019 season to the works surrounding the legendary composer.

In 1983, Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr 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 that young age 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.

The concert season will commence with a premiere screening of On the Waterfront, with live orchestra, held Saturday, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. Performed by The National Philharmonic, the 1954 Berstein Grammy award-winning film's score is hailed by the American Film Institute as "one of the best film scores of all time." Another highlight of the concert season is the "Bernstein Choral Celebration" Saturday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m. Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson will lead The National Philharmonic Chorale and the Strathmore Children's Chorus, as well as guest vocalists Danielle Talamantes, soprano, and Brian Cheney, tenor, in some of Bernstein's most famous compositions, including the 1957 Tony award-winning West Side Story and portions of Mass, commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy to memorialize John F. Kennedy in 1971.

Audiences are in for a treat during the centennial concert season again when the talented trumpeter Byron Stripling performs "Sounds of New Orleans: A Tribute to Louis Armstrong" Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 8 p.m. Heavily influenced by jazz during his younger years, Bernstein said "Jazz is the ultimate common denominator of the American musical style." All concerts are held at the Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. Subscriptions for the new season are now on sale. Tickets are free for young people age 7-17. Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301.581.5100.

"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."

The 2018-2019 concert season opener celebrates the Leonard Bernstein Centennial with a performance of the legendary American composer's iconic Academy-award nominated score for the 1954 film On the Waterfront, held Saturday, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. The film's score, hailed by the American Film Institute as "One of the best film scores of all time," will be conducted by Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski. The eight-time Oscar-winning re-mastered film, directed by Elia Kazan, screenplay by Budd Schulberg, starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, and Eva Marie Saint, will be shown in high-definition with the original dialogue intact.

The 2018-2019 season continues celebrating the Leonard Bernstein Centennial with "Lenny's Playlist," a specially curated "soundtrack" of some of Bernstein's favorite compositions, held 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 Fischer Career Grant. "Lenny's Playlist" will feature old and new compositions, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Overture to the Magic Flute, Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, and Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. Bernstein conducted Shostakovich's fifth symphony with the New York Philharmonic in October 1959. Hristova plays a 1655 Nicolò Amati violin, once owned by the violinist Louis Krasner. The concert will feature a members-only encore question-and-answer Saturday and Sunday, and an opportunity for kids to meet the musicians Sunday, from 2-2:30 p.m.

In continued celebration of the Leonard Bernstein Centennial, The National Philharmonic Chorale and the Strathmore Children's Chorus will perform "Bernstein Choral Celebration" Saturday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. The Chorale will perform alongside award-winning vocalists Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes and tenor Brian Cheney, under the baton of Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson. The concert will celebrate some of Bernstein's most famous and respected compositions, including selections from the 1957 Broadway hit West Side Story, which received two Tony awards; music from the operetta Candide, based on French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire's 1759 novella; and portions of Mass, composed by Bernstein for Jacqueline Kennedy to memorialize John F. Kennedy in 1971. Strathmore's Color the Music Exhibit will showcase artwork created by young people and displayed in the Strathmore lobby throughout the concert weekend. For more information on the project, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org/education/color-the-music-project.

Celebrate the holidays with Handel's celebrated masterpiece, The Messiah, during two special performances Saturday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 23, at 3 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. The epic musical will be performed by The National Philharmonic Chorale and conducted by Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson, who will be joined by internationally acclaimed soprano Suzanne Karpov, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Wór, tenor Matthew Smith, and bass Trevor Scheunemann. The Washington Post calls this performance "phenomenal," so purchase tickets early for what is sure to be a sell-out concert. The concert will also coincide with Chords of Kindness, a holiday toy drive hosted by the Community Ministries of Rockville and The National Philharmonic on Dec. 23.

The National Philharmonic celebrates the Leonard Bernstein Centennial with two of Bernstein's favorite composers in "Infamous Brahms" Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019 at 3 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. International pianist Haochen Zhang, who won the gold medal for the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition at the age of 19, will join Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski in performing Johannes Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. Both Zhang and Gajewski are former child prodigies. Zhang has captivated audiences in the United States, Europe, and Asia with a unique combination of deep musical sensitivity, fearless imagination, and spectacular virtuosity. That weekend, The National Philharmonic will celebrate Maestro Gajewsk's 60th birthday.

Acclaimed pianist Brian Ganz is back to perform "Chopin: Recollections of Home," a continued journey through the complete works of Frédéric Chopin Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. Acclaimed mezzo-soprano Magdalena Wór will join Ganz in a selection of songs in his ninth Chopin recital. The concert will also include Chopin's Polonaises; Mazurkas; Etude in E Major, Op. 10, No. 3; Allegro de Concert, Op. 46; and more. The Washington Post said of Wór in 2016, "She has that kind of velvety rich mezzo that makes you want to follow her anywhere." Ganz began his "Extreme Chopin" quest in January 2011 at a sold-out recital in partnership with The National Philharmonic at The Music Center at Strathmore. He has since maintained a brimming concert schedule, representing his unique niche as the only pianist to perform Chopin's entire oeuvre. "As far as I know, Brian is the first musician to attempt to perform all of Chopin's works," said Maestro Gajewski.

In continued celebration of the Leonard Bernstein Centennial, join The National Philharmonic for "The Debut," the musical program that catapulted the legendary composer into the spotlight on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. Three-time Grammy award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey and Grammy award-winning violist Roberto Díaz will join Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski in a performance featuring Robert Schumann's "Manfred" Overture; Miklós Rózsa's Theme, Variations and Finale; Richard Strauss' Don Quixote; and Richard Wagner's Prelude to "Die Meistersinger." Of this first set of performances, Bernstein said, "I strode out and I don't remember a thing from that moment-I don't even remember intermission-until the sound of people standing and cheering and clapping." Internationally renowned soloist Bailey is considered one of the premiere cellists in the world, and South Florida Classical Review says Díaz gives "a stunning performance, and one that deserved the enthusiastic ovations." The concert will feature a members-only encore question-and-answer.

American violinist and National Philharmonic Concertmaster Colin Sorgi will wow audiences in a performance titled "Sunday Serenades" on March 10, 2019 at 3 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. Under the direction of Maestro Gajewski, Sorgi and the Philharmonic will perform Bernstein's own composition, Serenade after Plato's Symposium, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings. Bernstein debuted Plato's Symposium with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Venice in September 1954. In 1970, Bernstein conducted a recorded production of Tchaikovsky's Serenade with the New York Philharmonic, which was originally composed by the famous classical musician in 1880. Hailed by The Baltimore Sun as "an extraordinary musical talent," Sorgi is a popular soloist, collaborating with some of the world's top musicians, including pianist Leon Fleisher. Strathmore's Color the Music Exhibit will showcase artwork created by young people and displayed in the Strathmore lobby throughout the concert weekend. For more information on the project, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org/education/color-the-music-project. The concert will feature a members-only encore question-and-answer.

Witness the unforgettable jazz musician Byron Stripling's electrifying performance in "Sounds of New Orleans: A Tribute to Louis Armstrong" Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. As a continued celebration of the Leonard Bernstein Centennial, Stripling will perform Armstrong's greatest hits, including his signature version of When the Saints Go Marchin' In. Bernstein himself was inspired by jazz at a young age, and assembled a jazz band as a teenager. The music ultimately influenced his compositions in the following years. "Jazz is the ultimate common denominator of the American musical style," said Bernstein. Stripling has performed as lead trumpeter and soloist with symphonies around the country, as well as at Carnegie Hall.

Internationally renowned vocalists will join The National Philharmonic Chorale in celebration of the Leonard Bernstein Centennial as they perform Giuseppe Verdi's epic Requiem on Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. Bernstein first conducted the famous composition himself in 1967 with the New York Philharmonic and a very young Plácido Domingo, who would go on to become the "King of Opera," and one of the greatest operatic performers of all time. Joining Maestro Gajewski is award-winning soprano Danielle Talamantes, who has received several first-prizes in prestigious opera competitions, including the Vocal Arts Society Discovery Series competition; mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore, nominated for a 2005 Grammy; tenor Zach Borichevsky, who won third prize at Plácido Domingo's 2013 Operalia Competition; and bass Kevin Deas, internationally renowned for his riveting portrayal of the title role in Porgy and Bess.

Prepare for "Bernstein Anxiety" on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore's Concert Hall. Joining Maestro Gajewski is pianist Michael Brown, winner of a 2018 Emerging Artist Award from the Lincoln Center and a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient. Brown will perform Bernstein's own composition, Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety," in a concert that also includes Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Bernstein first gained inspiration for the composition from W.H. Auden's poem, The Age of Anxiety: "I imagine that the conception of a symphony with piano solo emerges from the extremely personal identification of myself with the poem," said Bernstein. Both the poem and the symphony deal with themes of alienation, friendship, family, and faith. Similarly, Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 composition was, according to Bernstein's interpretation, full of "agonized changes" and "feverish scrawls," provoking similar sentiments of anxiety. The concert will feature a members-only encore question-and-answer, and an opportunity for kids to meet Philharmonic musicians from 7-7:30 p.m.

In celebration of the final performance in the Leonard Bernstein Centennial concert season, the Philharmonic, alongside star-studded vocalists, will perform "Beethoven Freedom" Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 8 p.m. at the Strathmore's Concert Hall. Joining Maestro Gajewski is soprano Esther Heideman, who won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Competition in 2000; mezzo-soprano Shirin Eskandani, who won first place at the Gerda Lissner Foundation Vocal Competition; tenor Colin Eaton, a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army who has performed on tours to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan; and baritone Kevin Short, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music Opera Center, who has toured extensively internationally. The vocalists will perform Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, which Bernstein conducted on Christmas Day 1989 in the "Ode to Freedom" concert to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall and to declare the power of freedom to unite humankind. Like the hopeful Symphony, Bernstein composed Psalms with accompanying Hebrew text and to be a hopeful and life-affirming piece.

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.

.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.

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, To purchase tickets for the performances and for a complete schedule, please visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore Ticket Office at 301.581.5100. Tickets for young people 7-17 are free through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program. ALL KIDS tickets can be purchased online, in person or by phone. Complimentary parking is available.

Photo: The National Philharmonic will be the only symphony orchestra dedicating most of its 2018-2019 season to the works surrounding Leonard Bernstein. In 1983, Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski (L) was mentored by Bernstein at the Tanglewood Music Festival.

Photo Credit: National Philharmonic




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