On Wednesday, Washington saw the inauguration of the Overtures Summer Concert Series, which should rank high on the list of local summertime treats. The setting is Evermay, the privately owned 1801 mansion in Georgetown recently restored by two doctors, Sachiko Kuno and Ryuji Ueno, as a base for their S&R Foundation, devoted to supporting young artists and scientists. Just getting into the house will be worth the price of admission for a lot of people, and there will be plenty of opportunities. The foundation gave a maiden series this spring at the Kennedy Center, and Kuno says that this spring series, coinciding with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, will be an annual Evermay event as well.
Wednesday’s concert was the least classical of the summer’s seven. The Urban Tango Trio focused on the music of Argentina, with a particular emphasis on Astor Piazzolla. The trio represented an endearing blend of high-powered music-making and coltish enthusiasm, particularly on the part of the classically trained violinist Machiko Ozawa, whose love for the music overflowed into gushing statements like, “I am Japanese, but becoming every day almost Argentinian!” The other two artists, the pianist Octavio Brunetti and the bass player Pedro Giraudo, are already Argentinian, and powerful exponents of their country’s music; the intensity of Brunetti’s playing and the soft, smooth darkness of Giraudo’s panther-like bass were particularly evident in the small room, where the sound literally bounced off the walls.
The program, about the length of a generous CD, offered a cross-section of the so-called tango nuevo — tango music incorporating different musical styles, including jazz and classical — particularly as pioneered by Piazzolla, whose work, including his signature “Adios Nonino,” made up about half the program. The trio set up polarities between fast and slow (the taut syncopated chords of “Escualo” (“Shark”) yielding to the slow fever dream of “Oblivion”); highbrow and low (the classical-virtuoso echoes of Jacob Gade’s “Jealousy” against Horacio Salgan’s “La Llamo Silbando,” with flirtatious wolf-whistles in the violin); and contemporary and traditional (“Adios Nonino” followed by the more conventional “Canaro en Paris”), making for a feel-good introduction for a willing audience. Given the resonance of the space and the intensity of the performances, you were better off sitting in the back.
Kuno, addressing the audience after the program, mentioned a desire to open up classical music to younger people, both performers and audiences. Her new series shows that you don’t have to remove the sense of privilege from classical music to make it, literally, accessible.
Overtures Summer Concert Series
continues Friday night with a performance by the guitarist Soichi Muraji and runs until Aug. 22. Visit overturesseries.org for tickets; a $50 ticket includes valet parking and refreshments.