NSO to Newport News

The National Symphony Orchestra is riding the outreach bandwagon. Today, it announced that it is beginning a five-year partnership with the Christopher Newport University’s Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, Virginia, involving an annual concert with full orchestra and various educational and outreach programs.

Last week, the orchestra announced a new program in tandem with the National Institutes of Health, called “Sound Health Initiative,” that includes performances in the atrium of the NIH’s clinical center for the benefit of patients.

The Newport News residency comes at the invitation of the university and the performing arts center, designed by I.M. Pei, one of the regular performing venues of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, which opens their season with Midori on Friday night. The NSO’s first concert there, to be led by the orchestra’s music director, Christoph Eschenbach, will take place in the fall of 2014.

The NSO is hardly alone; around the country, orchestras are exploring new performance venues in an effort to broaden their ties to their regional communities and, in some cases, their fund-raising capabilities (as in the case of the Cleveland Orchestra’s annual season in Miami).

“Every performing arts group in our country is seeking to broaden its audiences,” said the NSO’s executive director, Rita Shapiro, in a press statement. “We are delighted by the enthusiasm the Ferguson Center has demonstrated in inviting us to have a presence at Christopher Newport University.”

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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