In the Moment: The National Symphony Orchestra at The Hamilton Live This Thursday, January 4th, 2018

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Ready to un-compartmentalize your music tastes? Open to thinking differently about what some may call stodgy “High Art” for the well-fixed? Ready to have some new musical experiences that fuse classic and pop genres in a singular venue? Well, the opportunity is here.

With a healthy disregard for music category boundaries, including what may be the “proper” venue, this Thursday, January 4, 2018, musicians from The National Symphony Orchestra will be stepping out from their usual haunts at The Kennedy Center to the state-of-the-art intimate performance venue that is DC’s The Hamilton Live.

NSO Violin Nurit Bar-Josef. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

According to Warren Williams, Manager, NSO Community Relations, “This is a deliberate effort to expand our NSO offerings and reach a broader constituency and build deeper connections for music. It is an example of how a classical orchestra is very much alive, vibrant and for people of all ages and tastes. The evening will be fun and exciting; an engaging evening in an informal, intimate comfortable atmosphere.”

For the Hamilton, NSO musicians performing in its concert space is a terrific approach to add new musical styles to the venue’s already diverse rotating line-up of shows and music forms. “We want to turn people into music lovers of music they may not have known before or listen to regularly,” said Keith Berquist, Marketing Manager, The Hamilton. “It is an opportunity to connect our patrons who may not frequent classical music venues with a new range of music. And they will also be in for a remarkable evening listening to classically trained musician cross-over into contemporary tunes.” This event is free, but reservations are required

Featuring small ensembles, The NSO at The Hamilton will feature the Bass Quartet and the Last Stand Quartet. The quartets feature Nurit Bar-Josef and Joel Fuller, violins; Mahoko Eguchi, viola; Rachel Young, cello; and Alexander Jacobsen, Charles Nilles, William Wasson, and Jeffery Weisner, basses. (As an aside, it’s a delight that musicians who may be unseen as individuals performing in a large symphony orchestra in a sizable concert hall can become known by name and face.)

NSO Violinist Joel Fuller. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Over 75 minutes and two sets, 520 or so patrons at The Hamilton will hear the musicians play composers both classical and contemporary. The composers ranging from Coldplay (“Viva la Vida”) to George Gershwin (“Prelude #1”); Johann Sebatian Bach (Cello Suite No. 6 in D major) and Felix Mendelssohn (String Quartet in E Flat) to Astor Piazzolla (“Oblivion Libertango”); to David Anderson (Bass Quartet 1987) and A-Ha (“Take on Me”); to Mark O’Connor (“Appalachian Waltz”) and perhaps more.

“Aiming to share the beauty and power of music,” added Williams, “the NSO at The Hamilton is part of the larger, nearly week-long 2018 initiative, NSO In Your Neighborhood, bringing classical music beyond the concert hall and into DC neighborhoods.”

These are a wide range of 28 activities scheduled in collaboration with nearly two dozen DC community partners and schools. The events include two orchestral concerts, eight school visits and workshops, and 18 chamber ensemble appearances. Events are generally free; reservations can be required. This year’s In Your Neighborhood (IYN) events are generally located in the Downtown/Penn Quarter and Brookland/NoMa neighborhoods. Each year the IYN moves about DC community settings.

So, do venue and context matter to the enjoyment of music of any genre? Have we in the performing arts become too isolated and cut off from new experiences? Isn’t some disruption and smashing through iron-clad boundaries not a good thing to add to share the rich beauty of music with its many diverse genres in this every increasingly world-city that is DC? The IYN is a great way to learn.

While this “In the Moment” column is focused on the IYN kick-off concert at The Hamilton Live, below are some selective details for other programming of the 2018 IYN

FRIDAY, January 5, 2018
6 p.m. at Shakespeare Theatre Company, 610 F St., NW
This performance features NSO musicians in a program of music inspired by Shakespeare’s writings. The event takes place in the Forum at Sidney Harman Hall.

SATURDAY, January 6, 2018
11:00 a.m. National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW
NSO musicians participate in a program called “1968: Shaping the District.” This program kicks off a year of programming and exhibitions at the National Building Museum as part of the 50thanniversary of the events that took place in 1968.

2:00 p.m.: Kogod Courtyard, National Portrait Gallery, 8th St. NW and F St. NW, NSO, Emil de Cou, conductor. This NSO Family Concert, titled “Bernstein, Inside the Music,” is part of a year-long celebration of Leonard Bernstein. The program honors the creator of Young People’s Concerts by featuring his music and the idea that orchestral music can be accessible to everyone. Takes place in the Kogod Courtyard. A musical instrument “petting zoo” will take place before and after the performance in the McEvoy Auditorium.

4:00 p.m. National Portrait Gallery, 8th St. NW and F St. NW
An hour-long concert of chamber music by a quartet of NSO musicians and friends will be performed in the museum’s Great Hall.

5:30 p.m. National Portrait Gallery, 8th St. NW and F St. NW
An hour-long concert of chamber music will be performed by a quintet of NSO musicians

7:00 p.m.: Kogod Courtyard, National Portrait Gallery, 8th St. NW and F St. NW, NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, Edwin Outwater, conductor leads the full NSO in a concert located in the Kogod Courtyard. Repertoire for this concert is tied to works of art housed in the National Portrait Gallery.

SUNDAY, January 7, 2018
6:00 p.m.: Busboys and Poets, 625 Monroe St., NE
NSO musicians and friends will collaborate with local poets for this 2-hour performance.

6:30 p.m.: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Michigan Ave., NE An hour-long concert of chamber music by the NSO horn section performed in the Crypt Church.

7:00 p.m.: Dance Place, 3225 8th St., NE. An hour-long chamber music concert by an NSO string quartet performed in Dance Place’s Black Box Theatre. Free and open to the public, registration required.

The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) In Your Neighborhood Kick-Off, featuring two string quartets from the NSO, plays one-night-only on Thursday, January 4, 2018, at The Hamilton Live – 600 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. This event is free but reservations are required; ticket information is here.

Note: The two NSO string quartets performing at The Hamilton are:
NSO BASS QUARTET:
JEFFREY WEISNER, bass
CHARLES NILLES, bass
ALEXANDER JACOBSEN, bass
WILLIAM WASSON, bass

LAST STAND QUARTET:
NURIT BAR-JOSEF, violin
JOEL FULLER, violin
MAHOKO EGUCHI, viola
RACHEL YOUNG, cello