NSO in the neighborhood, again


The soprano Jessye Norman (pictured at the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors) will be featured at the National Symphony Orchestra’s January performance at Howard University. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post) (Bill O'Leary/WASHINGTON POST)

Last year, the orchestra came to Columbia Heights with a new program called “NSO in your neighborhood.” On Tuesday afternoon at Ben’s Chili Bowl, the orchestra announced a second round of events in the program, now spreading through the area around U Street, Howard University, and Shaw. The events, all free, and presented in partnerships with more than 20 organizations, from the African American Civil War Museum to the Florida Avenue Baptist Church, will be held between January 8 and 14th, 2013.

The orchestra’s chamber ensembles and educational initiatives are along the lines established during more than 20 years of American Residencies, when the NSO went to states all over the country -- a program that the “NSO in your neighborhood” has effectively replaced. There will be one family-oriented performance at the Lincoln Theatre, and one full orchestra concert at Howard University on January 14, for which Christoph Eschenbach, the orchestra’s music director, and its principal pops conductor, Steven Reineke, will share conducting duties. That concert will feature the soprano Jessye Norman, a Howard graduate, as well as the premiere of the Sinfonia No. 4 by George Walker, a DC native who also studied in Howard’s music department.

Clearly, the “neighborhood” the NSO is targeting is predominantly African-American.. If the program returns in 2014, Anacostia seems the logical remaining site.

A gift from Irene Pollin has enabled the orchestra to offer all the events free of charge.

Anne Midgette came to the Washington Post in 2008, when she consolidated her various cultural interests under the single title of chief classical music critic. She blogs at The Classical Beat.

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