In performance: NSO summer institute
NSO institute gathers young talent from around the country
by Joe Banno
This year’s National Symphony Orchestra National Trustees’ Summer Music Institute has brought together seventy musicians, ages 15 to 20, from 31 US states (as well as Australia, China and Sri Lanka), for a series of master classes and private coaching from NSO members, and for a series of chamber and orchestral concerts. Yet, despite the fact that many of these players are still in high school, their technical skills – and, more important, their musical sensibilities – have clearly reached a professional level.
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At Sunday’s free Millennium Stage performance, held in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, by the Institute Orchestra (an ensemble of teenagers who’d never met before, with barely a week of rehearsals), the tender phrasing of the winds in Wagner’s “Meistersinger” Prelude, the tight string ensemble in Britten’s Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell, and their confident navigation of conductor Elizabeth Schulze’s expressively molded tempos in Brahms’ First Symphony, were things to wonder at.
To be expected, there were occasional tentative passages and over-exuberant fortissimos to be heard. But the handsome tone and spirited attacks these musicians produced in such demanding music would have done any ensemble proud. And Schulze deserves praise for her crystal-clear baton work, for a refusal to dumb down her perceptive interpretations of these scores, and for getting her young players to breathe and make music as a single entity.
Upcoming free performances by these fine, young musicians (all starting at 6pm) include a soloists’ program on the Millennium Stage on Tuesday; chamber music at the Family Theater on Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and a final orchestral performance at the Concert Hall on Sunday, July 25th.
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