Mstislav Rostropovich will celebrate his 59th birthday Thursday by conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in a program of Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich. No special observances have been announced for the occasion -- which does not mean that they will not happen. Rostropovich will be the NSO's third conductor this week. Tomorrow night, Peter Schickele will conduct a benefit concert for the orchestra's pension fund, focusing on the music of P.D.Q. Bach. Among the guest artists will be Frank Herzog, Glenn Brenner and the Hogettes, who will lead the audience in a cheer for Beethoven ("Give me a 'B'; give me an 'E'.") Tuesday will be quieter, with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting Telemann and Mahler.

Other notable events today: ancient Chinese music tonight at Gaston Hall; pianist Andras Schiff, this afternoon at NIH; the Theater Chamber Players, this afternoon in the Terrace Theater; baritone Christopher Trakas, tonight in the Terrace Theater; soprano Joyce Andrews, today at the Phillips Collection; the winds of the National Gallery Orchestra, tonight at the National Gallery; pianist Coleman Blumfield, this afternoon and the George Mason University Symphony Orchestra, tonight at George Mason University; the Washington Chamber Society, tonight at Montgomery College.

Other notable events of the week will include the Smithson String Quartet, Tuesday and Wednesday in the Hall of Musical Instruments; pianist Carla Huebner, Wednesday night at the French Embassy, and the Juilliard Quartet, Friday night at the Library of Congress.

Today's choral music will include two relative rarities: Beethoven's "Christ on the Mount of Olives," performed by the Paul Hill Chorale at the Kennedy Center, and Durufle's Requiem at the First Baptist Church. Also on the choral agenda: Mozart's Requiem, performed by the Reston Chorale, Saturday night at South Lakes High School, Reston.


The Joffrey Ballet repeats two of its programs this afternoon and this evening in its final performances for the current engagement at the Kennedy Center Opera House. At the Baltimore Museum of Art this afternoon and evening, there'll be highly unusual performances of Oskar Schlemmer's Bauhaus dances of the '20s, as restaged by American scholar-choreographer Debra McCall, in conjunction with the museum's ongoing, much praised Schlemmer exhibition; the performances fuse movement, painting, sculpture and design. The "Footroots" dance-film series continues at the AFI Theater this afternoon with a program called "Images of the American Frontier," featuring Village Voice dance critic Deborah Jowitt showing and discussing the 1958 film version of Martha Graham's "Appalachian Spring," as well as documentary footage of cloggers, square dancers and revivalist ministers. Starting Tuesday evening at the Opera House, the Central Ballet of China presents a week of performances at the Kennedy Center in its debut American tour. The company's two programs feature classics and contemporary ballets of western repertory as well as works choreographed by Chinese choreographers, based on Chinese legend and folklore.


The Billy Wilder retrospective continues at the American Film Institute with, among others, "The Fortune Cookie," with an Oscar-winning performance by Walter Matthau. Call for details.

The Noir Landscapes series continues at the Library of Congress' Mary Pickford Theater with the rarely seen "Try and Get Me!" and Anthony Mann's noir western, "The Man From Laramie."

Thursday through Saturday at the Circle, "Lost in America," from one of the most fertile comic minds around, Albert Brooks.

Monday at the Carmichael Auditorium of the Museum of American History, the Smithsonian Resident Associates program will show Orson Welles' "The Trial." Call for details.

Among current releases, Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters"; Ken Burns' documentary, "Huey Long."


Had Gram Parsons lived this long, he'd either be enjoying the Long Ryders' update on the Byrds/Burrito Brothers tradition or be in the band itself. At the 9:30 club tonight.

Commitment, care, concern -- all three are part and parcel of the Appalachian-based, sociopolitical folk tradition championed by Si Kahn and John McCutcheon. With the superb singer, Susan Freundlich, they'll point out how much the times are still a-changin' at the Commerce Department's Hoover Auditorium on Sunday.

The Albion Band is credited with kicking off the English folk-dance revival but recently they've been working the folk-rock territory of Fairport Convention (Cathy Lesurf has been a sweet substitute for the late Sandy Denny at the annual reunion). At the Roxy tonight.

French jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani continues to develop into a lyrically imposing improviser. At Blues Alley, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Smooth, elegant, debonair -- those are almost inadequate descriptions of the particular charms of pianist Roy Kral and singer Jackie Cain. They open a two-week engagement at Cates on Tuesday.

Skip from spring to summer with a little Reggae Sunsplash on Saturday as Black Uhuru, Judy Mowatt, the Mighty Diamonds, Leroy Sibbles and the Syndicate bring the swirling sounds of Jamaica to the Washington Convention Center.

Woody Shaw, whose sly post-bop inventiveness and technical bravura place him in the line of significant trumpeters from Clifford Brown and Fats Navarro to Wynton Marsalis, is at the One Step Down Friday and Saturday.


"The Birthday Party" (at Studio Theatre) is Harold Pinter's first play. But the celebrated mystery and menace are already present and this production captures a lot of both.