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Classical Beat
Posted at 02:27 PM ET, 10/19/2011

Young performers take it “From The Top” at National Gallery of Art

Cellist Noah Lee performs during the dress rehearsal performance for NPR's "From The Top," at the National Gallery of Art Oct. 16. (Photo by Eleanor Dowling)
“From The Top,” a peripatetic weekly radio program showcasing pre-college classical musicians, came to the National Gallery’s East Building last Sunday evening. Co-sponsored by the Gallery and by the Washington Performing Arts Society, the episode featured impressive four soloists and a piano trio.

Each show seeks some sort of tie-in with its venue, and here the young performers were asked to select a work from the Gallery’s collection that somehow resonated with the piece they would play. A little hokey, but those in the auditorium were shown a large projection of the work in question, and some of them did seem apropos.

Host Christopher O’Riley also joined in, offering a Liszt arrangement of Schumann’s “Fruhlingsnacht,” in homage to a Warhol painting in a special exhibit in the East Building, mentioning that he had been a friend of the artist.

From left: Saxophonist Steven Banks, violinist Jehshua Karunakaran, cellist Hannah Moses, cellist Noah Lee, violinist Haruno Sato, pianist Arianna Korting, host Christoper O'Reilly, and pianist Dong Won Lee were the musicians who were featured in NPR's "From The Top," at the National Gallery of Art Oct. 16. (Photo by Eleanor Dowling)
As for the featured youngsters, the capacity crowd was particularly wowed by 11-year-old Noah Lee, who burned up his small cello on David Popper’s “Hungarian Rhapsody.” Pianist Dong Won Lee (no relation) showed musical maturity beyond his 17 years in a Prelude by Olivier Messiaen.

The program may be heard over WETA-FM on December 18th at 6:00 p.m. (with the selected paintings displayed on the program’s website). The aims of the program and the foundations that support it could not be more laudatory, and the enthusiastic turnout was an encouraging sign for the future of classical music.

By Robert Battey  |  02:27 PM ET, 10/19/2011

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