National Philharmonic Kicks Off 2017-18 Season

National Philharmonic Kicks Off 2017-18 SeasonThe National Philharmonic's 2017-2018 season at The Music Center at Strathmore commences with star-studded performances by some of today's most famous classical musicians.

The concert on Saturday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m., will feature the famous former child prodigy Sarah Chang (violin) and Grammy winning Zuill Bailey (cello), conducted by Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski.

On Sunday, Oct. 15, at 3 p.m., Chang will play alongside pianist Santiago Rodriguez, who will be making his return-debut to the Washington area.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is conducting the Star-Spangled Banner on Saturday.

An instrument "petting zoo" will take place in the lobby on Sunday from 2-2:30 p.m., allowing children a chance to experiment with instruments from different families (string, wood, brass, and percussion).

In both concerts, musicians will play Beethoven's Egmont Overture and Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor. The Saturday concert will also feature Antonín Dvo?ák's Cello Concerto in B Minor, and Sunday's concert will feature Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor.

The concerts are performed in Strathmore's Concert Hall. Ticket prices are $25-$82 and are free for young people age 7-17. Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. For information or to purchase tickets, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301.581.5100.

Chang, a former child prodigy, was accepted at Julliard as a five-year-old, debuted with the New York Philharmonic at the age of eight, recorded her first album at 10 and has performed violin professionally for more than two decades since. Among others, she has performed nationally with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Toronto Symphony, and Vancouver Symphony. Internationally, she has performed throughout Europe and Asia including North Korea. As an accomplished recital and chamber musician, Chang performs with such artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Isaac Stern, and members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Chang's most recent recording for EMI Classics-her 20th for the label-received excellent critical and popular acclaim. In 2012, she received the Harvard University Leadership Award. In 2011, Chang was named an official Artistic Ambassador by the U.S. Department of State.

Cuban-American Rodriguez came to the US at the age of 8 and studied piano while living in an orphanage in New Orleans. He is hailed by The New York Times as a "phenomenal pianist," and his international career was launched in 1981 when he won the Silver Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; he also received a special prize for the best performance of Leonard Bernstein's Touches, a work commissioned for the competition. Since this time, Rodriguez has played nationally and internationally with the London Symphony, Yomiuri-Nippon Symphony Orchestra of Japan and Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, among others.

From 1980- 2009, Rodriguez was a member of the Piano Division at the University of Maryland where he was a professor and artist-in-residence. He is currently professor of keyboard performance and chair of the Department of Keyboard Performance at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. Rodriguez has a master's degree from the Juilliard School.

Bailey won a Grammy in 2016, had a recurring role in the HBO TV series Oz, and is a distinguished soloist, recitalist, artistic director, and teacher. He has played with symphony orchestras worldwide. He has collaborated with such conductors as Itzhak Perlman, Krzysztof Urbanski, Jacques Lacombe, and Stanislav Skrowaczewski, and has been featured with musical luminaries Leon Fleisher, the Juilliard String Quartet, and Lynn Harrell, among others. Bailey has appeared at the Kennedy Center, the United Nations, and Carnegie Hall, where he made his concerto debut performing the U.S. premiere of Miklos Theodorakis' Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra. He made his New York recital debut performing the complete Beethoven Cello Sonatas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bailey was named the 2014 Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Alumni and was awarded the Classical Recording Foundation Award for 2006 and 2007 for Beethoven's complete works for cello and piano.

The nearly 200-member National Philharmonic Chorale is showcased each year at four or more concerts at the Music Center at Strathmore. The Chorale is under the direction of Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson. Dr. Theodore M. Guerrant serves as the Chorale's rehearsal accompanist.

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."

The concerts classical selections hail from all corners of Europe-the East, the West, and northern Scandinavia. Bruch (1838-1920) was a famous German Romantic composer and violinist. His entire oeuvre is predicated on the cultivation of the forms, genres, and compositional techniques inherited from the Austro-German instrumental music that came from the height of the Viennese Classicism. In many ways, Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 was a highly successful refinement of these techniques, enriched by quintessentially Romantic elements. Beethoven (1770-1827), one of the most famous German pianists and composers, was best known for linking the Classical and Romantic periods. Beethoven's Egmont is based on the German author Goethe's book of the same name, which recounts the tale of a Flemish hero standing up for justice. The overture is known for its incredible beauty and, through the years, has come to stand on its own. Dvo?ák (1841-1904), a famous Czech composer, known for his nationalist style based on the folk music of Monrovia and Bohemia. His Cello Concerto in B minor has been called the "king" of all cello concertos and the "supreme" work of this genre. Norwegian-born Grieg (1843-1907) was a leading composer and pianist from the Romantic era, and his music encapsulates the musical traditions of Scandinavia. Such is the case with the Piano Concerto in A minor, a work that breathes the influence of Mendelssohn and Schumann but which is, nevertheless, permeated by a patina of Norwegian sensibility

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 a complete schedule, please visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore Ticket Office at 301.581.5100. Tickets are $19-$66; 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.

Photo Credit: Cliff Watts


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