Friday, November 14, 2008

Millennium Stage - Bach, Walton, Mozart & Dvorak - 11/13/08

Bach: Suite No 3 in C Major – Julia Henderson
Walton: Viola Concerto – Lee Fan
Mozart: Concerto No 2 in E-flat Major, K. 417 – Emily Wilson
Dvorak: Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104 – Erin Snedecor

Regardless of what one thinks of Fannie Mae, its name will forever be associated in my mind to the Kennedy Center’s daily Millennium Stage, which it has sponsored for many years along with Target. The party is pretty much over now for the badly hurting enterprise, but the stage at either end of the Kennedy Center hall still presents one hour or so of free entertainment every single day of the year at 6:00 p.m. Its offerings vary widely, but are often worth checking out.

Yesterday, the program had scheduled some members of the National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellowship Program, which is a training project to provide scholarships to high school musicians so that they can study privately with NSO members and learn all there is to know about the orchestra business as well. The four students performed short but challenging musical works, and although they obviously hadn't reached a level a maturity that would allow them to perform professionally yet, their combination of enthusiasm and apprehension was quite endearing.
The young woman who had the formidable privilege of starting the festivities played the Bach suite a bit stiff, but gradually grew more comfortable and even ended up smiling. Next was a young man who handled the andante comodo of Walton' viola concerto with enough dexterity to make it flow fairly well. I have to admit I am not a big fan of wind instruments, therefore, the young horn player’s interpretation of Mozart's Concerto No 2 did not do much for me, but she certainly gave it her all. The best was saved for last, and despite an often pained look on her face, the final cellist successfully tackled the allegro of Dvorak’s melodic Cello Concerto with a lot of skills and energy.
All in all, this was a welcome prelude to the actual NSO concert I was going to attend a few minutes later, and a strong reminder of the paramount importance of practice, practice, practice.

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