Violinist Nurit Bar-Josef is not the Kennedy Center’s biggest fan. As concertmaster of the National Symphony Orchestra, Bar-Josef sits closest to the conductor; it’s her job to convey his directions to the back of the orchestra through the sheer strength of her playing. The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall is not ideal for this purpose.
“The hall has its challenges,” she says. “It’s difficult for people in the back of the section to see and hear the front.”
When Bar-Josef plays Mozart’s Fifth Violin Concerto with the National Philharmonic this weekend as part of the “Sounds of Central Europe” concert, she won’t have to struggle to be heard. Strathmore’s modern acoustics will support Mozart’s every note, from the first movement’s dainty arpeggios to the finale’s surprisingly strident, moody passages, she says.
“I like playing Mozart because it’s simple and it’s delicate, but I don’t hold back as much as some violinists think you have to. I go all out,” she says.
While Strathmore is solid, Bar-Josef says her favorite concert hall is in her hometown. “The Symphony Hall in Boston is one of the greatest halls in the country, and probably one of the best in the world,” she says.
That’s coming from a born-and-raised Bostonian, but Bar-Josef has lived in the D.C. area for a dozen years now and swears she is not Beantown-biased. So we put her to the test:
Half smoke or clam roll?
I haven’t had either, so I can’t really tell you.
Great Falls or the Charles River?
Great Falls. I love to go running there. You really feel like you are out in the woods, away from the city, but it’s only 20 minutes away. There is nothing like that in Boston.
D.C. summers or Boston winters?
I’m an avid cyclist, so I am going to have to go with D.C. summers. No matter how hot it is, I am still able to stand it and go cycling. Cold and icy is not good biking weather.
Which city has the worse drivers?
They are both pretty bad. I will say that drivers are more aware of cyclists here, but both cities are filled with traffic and aggressive drivers.
Nats or Red Sox?
Red Sox. Sorry, I gotta go with the home team.
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda; Sat., 8 p.m. & Sun., 3 p.m., $28-$84, free for children ages 7 to 17; 301-581-5100. (Grosvenor-Strathmore)