THE MUSIC REVIEW IN YESTERDAY'S DISTRICT WEEKLY CONTAINED INCORRECT INFORMATION ABOUT THE NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA'S APPEARANCES AT CARTER BARRON AMPHITHEATER. THE NSO WILL PERFORM AT CARTER BARRON NEXT THURSDAY, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY (JULY 29, 30 AND 31), NOT THIS WEEKEND. THE CONCERTS ARE FREE.
This is the time of year, outside of the subscription season, when the popular NSO in Your Neighborhood program becomes most active. The National Symphony Orchestra or groups of NSO musicians leave their usual performance venue in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and go out into the city--to churches, school auditoriums, parks--wherever they can attract audiences--to play free programs.
Last Saturday, NSO in Your Neighborhood teamed up with another free concert series, the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage: Performing Arts for Everyone, which presents a free concert every day at 6 p.m. on its own stage in the Grand Foyer, just outside the Concert Hall. For this occasion, both the stage and the audience space were uncomfortably small, so the NSO played host to a large audience in its neighborhood, the Concert Hall, where the players feel better and sound at their best.
The conductor was the orchestra's associate conductor, Takao Kanayama, who was appointed and made his debut with the NSO last September but has become more publicly active with the orchestra in the last few weeks, beginning with two programs at Wolf Trap.
The theme of Saturday's concert was Eastern influences on Western music, a program especially appropriate for a conductor who has degrees from Sophia University in Tokyo, the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and the Juilliard School in New York.
A really thorough treatment of this theme might require a lengthy music festival with all kinds of music and performers. Eastern influence on Western music dates back at least to the time of the Crusades, when the warriors came home from the Middle East with the memory of a different kind of music in their ears and some unfamiliar instruments, notably strings and percussion, in their luggage.
In modern times, the East has influenced both popular and classical music--the Beatles and John Cage, among many others. Philip Glass modeled his style partly on music of India. Ravi Shankar has inspired more than one Western composer. And Western styles and forms have been used and adapted by many Eastern composers, whose example is fed back to Europeans and Americans--to name only a few: Toshiro Mayuzumi, Bright Sheng and Chou Wen-Chung.
Also becoming a major influence in our musical life, and prime candidates for participation in an East-West music festival, are the students from Japan, China and Korea who are graduating from our conservatories in growing numbers and joining such established artists as Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta, Mitsuko Uchida, the Tokyo and Shanghai String Quartets and dozens of others to enrich our concert life. The future of our musical tradition depends in large measure on Eastern composers, performers and audiences--and it is demonstrably in good hands.
Maestro Kanayama is an important and welcome new influence here. He addressed the audience before each number--a particularly vital function in a program calculated to attract new audiences, and he conducted the music as expertly as he had selected it.
The program included many examples of the first impact of Eastern music on European composers and audiences in the 19th century: the Chinese Dance from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker"; the overtures to Weber's "Turandot" and Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado"; Ketelbey's colorful "In a Chinese Temple Garden"; and Ravel's "Laideronnette, Empress of the Pagodas"--music whose popular and colorful style covered hidden depths.
The two concluding pieces showed a firmer grasp of the underlying principles of Eastern art: the Japanese Suite of Gustav Holst, a composer who was particularly fascinated by the East, and a movement from "La Mer" by Debussy--music influenced not by Japanese music but by the works of such painters as Hokusai, who opened new horizons of perception for the Impressionist painters.
Kanayama will conduct the NSO again tonight at 7 in a free program in the Carter Barron Amphitheatre featuring music of Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Dvorak and others. NSO in Your Neighborhood programs also will be offered at Carter Barron on Friday and Saturday evenings. Tomorrow night's Millennium Stage program at the Kennedy Center will present a children's chorus from Monaco.