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DCist: NSO @ maximum INDIA

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See my review of the National Symphony Orchestra's latest concerts, published at DCist:

National Symphony Orchestra @ maximum INDIA (DCist, March 7):

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Roussel, Padmâvatî (MP3)
The symphony orchestra has been dying for at least a decade. To reach new audiences, the theory goes, orchestras must innovate, explore new repertoire, come outside the concert hall. This weekend's concerts from the National Symphony Orchestra are one example of how to do just that. The program was part of the Kennedy Center's maximum INDIA festival, which we previewed earlier this week. For the occasion, the NSO commissioned a new piece from tabla player Zakir Hussain, called Concerto for Four Soloists. The chance to hear Hussain, as well as Bollywood singers Shankar Mahadevan and Hariharan, certainly brought out a large contingent of Indian listeners. Whether any first-time symphony-goers will return for other NSO concerts remains to be seen.

Music director Christoph Eschenbach is revitalizing the NSO in ways that are beginning to draw national attention to the ensemble. His adventurous programming for the Indian festival showed again why Washington listeners, and not just the regular core of subscribers, are turning out in large numbers. He paired the new work -- Indian music more or less directly from the source -- with a European work inspired by Indian music, excerpts from Albert Roussel's opera-ballet Padmâvatî. It is a work known well enough to have received a couple of recordings, but live performances are considerably rare, surprisingly so, given how lush and gorgeous the score is. The story takes place around the year 1300, when the Queen of Chittor (modern-day Chittaurgarh) chose to kill her wounded husband and immolate herself on his funeral pyre, rather than submit to an invading Mongol sultan. [Continue reading]
National Symphony Orchestra
Excerpts of Roussel, Padmâvatî
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Other articles:
Anne Midgette, Tabla meets West as NSO's "India" concert seeks crossover convergence (Washington Post, March 4)

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