January 26, 2023
(NORTH BETHESDA, MD)— The National Philharmonic (NatPhil) presents four new concerts between March and April, showcasing the orchestra’s breadth of musical prowess. The programming for these ranges from large-scale works by familiar composers, to chamber works by African American composers who deserve a wider audience, to a celebration of one of the 20th century’s most well-known American crooners.
Music Director Piotr Gajewski leads the NatPhil in two classical concerts at The Music Center at Strathmore. In March, the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s crowning achievement, Mass in B Minor, with vocal soloists Esther Heideman (soprano), Magdalena Wor (mezzo-soprano), Matthew Smith (tenor), and Trevor Scheunemann (baritone). The following month’s concert pairs Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 with a contemporary work by Carlos Simon directly inspired by that symphony; the program’s first half comprises works by Florence Price and Valerie Coleman, with violinist Melissa White as soloist in Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2.
NatPhil Chamber Series returns in March with a pay-what-you-can presentation in partnership with the Mexican Cultural Institute and curated by Concertmaster Laura Colgate; the program focuses on African American composers Margaret Bonds and Florence Price.
In April, Principal Pops Conductor Luke Frazier leads a program at Capital One Hall devoted to the hits of jazz and pop vocalist Nat King Cole. Joining the NatPhil for this show are vocalists Aisha Jackson and Christopher Jackson, and pianists Ray Wong and Steven Mann.
March and April 2023 Full Concert Schedule:
Saturday, March 18, 2023 at 8:00 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore
Bach’s Mass in B Minor
Piotr Gajewski, conductor
with the National Philharmonic Chorale
Esther Heideman, soprano
Magdalena Wor, mezzo-soprano
Matthew Smith, tenor
Trevor Scheunemann, baritone
National Philharmonic Chorale
Sublime and awe-inspiring, the Mass in B Minor is seen as one of the supreme achievements of classical music, and the most beautiful of Johann Sebastian Bach’s choral works. Maestro Piotr Gajewski and the National Philharmonic Chorale enliven a masterwork that is at times transcendent, and at others an intimate meditation. Bach’s Mass in B Minor is most inspiring when experienced in person and can spark an appreciation of classical in the most hesitant of music lovers.
Johann Sebastian Bach, Mass in B Minor
Sunday, March 26, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. at the Mexican Cultural Institute
NatPhil Chamber Series: Bonds & Price
Presented in Partnership with the Mexican Cultural Institute
Enjoy a concert of outstanding chamber music curated by Concertmaster Laura Colgate.
Florence Price, Sympathy (arr. for voice and string quartet)
Margaret Bonds, Three Dream Portraits
Florence Price, Hold Fast to Dreams
Florence Price, Summer Moon (arr. for string quartet)
Margaret Bonds, Four Songs on Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Margaret Bonds, Women Have Loved Before as I Love Now (Sonnet XXVI)
Florence Price, String Quartet in G Major (unfinished)
Margaret Bonds, Hyacinth
Florence Price, You Won’t Find a Man Like Jesus (arr. For string quartet and voice)
Saturday, April 15, 2023 at 8:00 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore
Piotr Gajewski, conductor
Melissa White, violin
Past and present collide in this performance of contemporary works and classical masterpieces. Valerie Coleman’s Umoja, Anthem for Unity for Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Piotr Gajewski brings the lushness of a full ensemble to Coleman’s original work composed for chamber ensemble. Violinist Melissa White, a NatPhil favorite, returns to perform Florence Price’s sweeping, melodic Violin Concerto No. 2.
The second half of the program unites Carlos Simon’s Fate Now Conquers with its inspiration. “Using the beautifully fluid harmonic structure of the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony,” Simon explained, “I have composed musical gestures that are representative of the unpredictable ways of fate. Jolting stabs, coupled with an agitated groove with every persona. Frenzied arpeggios in the strings that morph into an ambiguous cloud of free-flowing running passages depict the uncertainty of life that hovers over us.”
To contextualize Simon’s piece is Beethoven’s ebullient, optimistic Symphony No. 7, showing not only his, but the works of Coleman and Price, sit comfortably at home alongside one of the most famous and popular symphonies in the history of classical music.
Valerie Coleman, Umoja, Anthem of Unity
Florence Price, Violin Concerto No. 2
Carlos Simon, Fate Now Conquers
Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 7, Op. 92, A Major
Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. at Capital One Hall
When I Fall In Love: The Music of Nat King Cole
Luke Frazier, conductor
Aisha Jackson, vocalist
Christopher Jackson, vocalist
Ray Wong, piano
Steven Mann, piano
One of the greatest singers in pop and jazz history, Nat King Cole had a velvety voice that soothed and stirred the heart in equal measure, leaving an indelible mark on the American Songbook with iconic interpretations of countless hit songs. The smoothest of crooners, he made it look easy singing unforgettable songs that still feel as nostalgic as a drive down Route 66. Embrace the retro vibe and join NatPhil Principal Pops Conductor Luke Frazier as we welcome Tony Nominee, Grammy- and Emmy Award-winner Chris Jackson (In the Heights, Hamilton), Aisha Jackson (Frozen, Paradise Square), and duo piano team Steven Mann and Ray Wong, award-winning pianists and veteran performers based in Manhattan. Nat King Cole broke color barriers in music, but his smooth persona belied the challenges he faced. His long and storied career is a testament to his patience, grace and talent, and his songs are still mainstays on jazz radio. The program includes Cole’s greatest hits, like L-O-V-E, The Very Thought of You, Stardust, Mona Lisa, For Sentimental Reason, Sweet Lorraine, and many other timeless tunes to make you long for a dry martini and the perfect dance partner.
Tickets ($19–$99) are available online at nationalphilharmonic.org. Kids 17 and under can attend National Philharmonic performances for free through the All Kids. All Free. All the Time. initiative.
NatPhil Chamber Series is pay-what-you-can. Reserve your spot and contribute whatever amount makes you comfortable through the Eventbrite link.
Health and Safety Protocols
Patrons are no longer asked to show proof of vaccination to enter our venues, but we encourage everyone to stay up to date on their COVID vaccinations and boosters.
At this time, patrons are encouraged to wear masks in the venue and through the duration of NatPhil performances. The mask policy may vary by performance. For the safety of our NatPhil family, please stay home if you feel sick or present any of the symptoms of COVID-19.
For the latest safety protocols, please visit nationalphilharmonic.org/safety.
About the National Philharmonic
Celebrated for showcasing world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces, National Philharmonic continuously strives to create remarkable educational opportunities in the community while promoting diversity and representation in classical music.
National Philharmonic is an accessible, enriching component in the Greater Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area, believing that music has the power to spark imagination and shape the world around us. As the only organization with a united orchestra and chorus in the region, over the years National Philharmonic has expanded its footprint beyond its home at Strathmore, with year-round masterclasses along with Summer String and Summer Chorale Institutes for youth, armed services programs, and partnerships with community organizations. In addition to these programs, National Philharmonic fosters a love of music in young people across the region by offering free admission to all children between the ages 7 to 17 years old.
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Camille Cintrón Devlin
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