"I'm thrilled, I've always admired him," says Hiro, a Washington area painter, of Mstislav Rostropovich. "He's a favorite of mine." And now she'll get to meet the maestro in person Tuesday night, after his performance with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. Rostropovich, whose birthday is today, invited Hiro to attend the Tuesday night concert when he learned the Japanese-American artist wished to present him with a birthday offering.

The gift is a brush painting on richly textured Japanese rice paper conveying the name Rostropovich in Hiragana, Japanese calligraphy. Hiro says that because Hiragana is based on phonetics it can "lend itself to any language." She has attached the painting to a cloth, making it into a kakemono, or hanging scroll.

How did Hiro choose Rostropovich's name as her subject? Full Circle, an Alexandria gallery that specializes in Far Eastern art, took an informal survey of its clients' choice as Washington's most admired talent. Rostropovich won.

As a result of the survey Hiro was inspired to execute the artwork. She plans to demonstrate the process of creating Hiragana next Saturday at Full Circle. She says Hiragana "has a very lyrical quality, a rhythm like music which you can accentuate, punctuate." She stops to catch her breath. "It's like beating a rhythm with your brush, you can make crescendos, diminuendos."