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Free Concerts in Washington

Juilliard Quartet in 1997The Library of Congress, one of my favorite places in the world and a true national treasure, hosts a series of free concerts each year. They have just announced the schedule of performers for the 2003-2004 season, which features as expected well-known classical performers and some unusual choices that keep things varied. The concert series Web site has also been updated for the upcoming year, and it includes information on the jazz and outdoor (mostly band) concerts they host. I will be posting reviews here of as many of the LOC concerts as I can attend. Some of the events I thought notable: Dave Brubeck and company (October 1), French Baroque period instrument ensemble Les Talens Lyriques (April 21), and a number of string quartet performances including the Chilingirian Quartet, the Kodály Quartet, the Brodsky Quartet, and of course, in its 41st year of residence at the Library of Congress and performing on the Library's matched set of Stradivari instruments (donated by Mrs. Whittall in 1934), the Juilliard Quartet. Most of the concerts take place in the Coolidge Auditorium, renovated in 1997. It is named for one of the greatest patrons of the arts in the United States, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, and it has superb acoustics for chamber music. The space has hosted numerous premieres, the most famous surely being Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, choreographed (and danced) by Martha Graham and performed in 1944 by a 13-piece orchestra. You can find out more about Mrs. Coolidge in the excellent biography published by my former professor at Catholic University, Cyrilla Barr: Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge: American Patron of Music.

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