Classical Compositions by Wagner, Schumann, and More
Featuring Grammy Winning Cellist Zuill Bailey and
Grammy Nominated Violinist Roberto Díaz
In continued celebration of the Leonard Bernstein Centennial, join the National Philharmonic for “The Debut,” a recreation of the musical program that catapulted the legendary composer into the spotlight on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore’s Concert Hall. Three-time Grammy award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey and Grammy award-nominated violist Roberto Díaz will join Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski in performing Robert Schumann’s Manfred Overture; Miklós Rózsa’s Theme, Variations and Finale, Op. 13; Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote; and Richard Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger. Almost 50 years later, in what was to be one of his last interviews, Bernstein recalled the event: “I strode out and I don’t remember a thing from that moment—I don’t even remember intermission—until the sound of people standing and cheering and clapping.” Internationally renowned soloist Bailey is considered one of the premiere cellists in the world, and Classical Net describes him as “One of the finest cellists alive today.” South Florida Classical Review wrote that Díaz gives “a stunning performance, and one that deserved the enthusiastic ovations.” The concert will feature a members-only encore question-and-answer. Ticket prices are $32-$84 and are free for young people age 7-17. Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301.581.5100. On November 14, 1943, the 25-year-old Leonard Bernstein, assistant conductor at the New York Philharmonic, walked on the stage of Carnegie Hall to lead the orchestra in an ambitious program, without having had time for any rehearsal. He stepped in at the last moment to replace his mentor, Bruno Walter, who was ill with the flu. It was a momentous event in the musical life of the country, and the enthusiastic response from the audience and critics made Bernstein an immediate celebrity. This program recreates that eventful evening
Bernstein (1918-1990), was an American conductor, composer, and pianist, most famous for his film and Broadway compositions. Playing piano from age 10, Bernstein received musical training at Harvard University, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. In 1943, he was appointed assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and led the orchestra from 1945-1947, later serving as musical director from 1958-1969 and touring internationally with the orchestra. Among numerous other works, Bernstein is the musical genius behind iconic scores including West Side Story, On the Waterfront,and concert performances celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Bailey is a distinguished soloist, recitalist, artistic director, and teacher. He has played with symphony orchestras worldwide, including Los Angeles, Nashville, Toronto, Israel, Cape Town, and the Bruchner Orchestra in Linz, Austria. He has collaborated with such conductors as Itzhak Perlman, Krzysztof Urbanski, Jacques Lacombe, and Stanislav Skrowaczewski, and has been featured with musical luminaries Leon Fleisher, the Juilliard String Quartet, and Lynn Harrell, among others. Bailey has appeared at the Kennedy Center, the United Nations, and Carnegie Hall, where he made his concerto debut performing the U.S. premiere of Miklos Theodorakis’ Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra. He made his New York recital debut performing the complete Beethoven Cello Sonatas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. World premieres include works by composers such as Lowell Lieberman, Phillip Lasser, Roberto Sierra, and Michael Daugherty. Bailey was named the 2014 Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Alumni and was awarded the Classical Recording Foundation Award for 2006 and 2007 for Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano. He received his bachelor’s and masters from the Peabody Conservatory and the Juilliard School.
Díaz is president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music. As a teacher of viola at Curtis and former principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Díaz has had a significant impact on American musical life and continues to do so in his dual roles as performer and educator. He has appeared as an orchestral soloist and recitalist in major cities around the world and has worked with many of the leading conductors and composers of our time. A celebrated chamber artist and recitalist, Díaz is a member of the Díaz Trio with violinist Andrés Cárdenes and cellist Andrés Díaz, and performs frequently on tour in programs featuring Curtis students. His recording of transcriptions by William Primrose with pianist Robert Koenig (Naxos) was nominated for a 2006 Grammy. Díaz is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where his teacher was his predecessor at the Philadelphia Orchestra, Joseph de Pasquale. Schumann (1810-1856) was a German Romantic composer whose composition masterpieces were often inspired by poetic and literary works. His Manfred Overture was written for poet Lord Byron’s play, Manfred, and his considered one of Schumann’s most accomplished orchestral pieces. Hungarian-American composer Rózsa (1907-1995) is best known for his television and film scores, with nearly 100 film scores, alone, to his name. Although not a film score, Theme, Variations and Finale, Op. 13 is one of Rózsa’s most celebrated works, as it was inspired by the departure from his native Budapest, after bidding farewell to family and friends and embarking on an unknown future. Strauss (1864-1949) is arguably the most famous German Romantic composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Musically and technically, Strauss’ Don Quixote is a tour de force for the cello, covering the instrument’s entire expressive range.
Famed German opera composer Wagner (1813-1883) debuted Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in 1868, but the opera’s Prelude was first performed much earlier, in 1862. It serves as a perfect miniaturization of the entire opera.
In 1983, Maestro Gajewski was selected from more than 150 applicants as a Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellow at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, along with only two other young conductors. Maestro Gajewski had the opportunity at 24 to spend the summer studying alongside the world’s most famed conductors, including Bernstein who, himself, had studied at Tanglewood decades earlier under the prominent conductor Serge Koussevitzky.
“Tanglewood provided many unforgettable experiences, but none more poignant than a program where each of the three Fellows conducted a work on the first half and Bernstein conducted the second half,” reminisced Maestro Gajewski. “The venue was the legendary outdoor Tanglewood Music Shed (now Koussevitzky Music Shed), packed to its 5,000-seat capacity, with thousands more sitting on the lawn. For this 24-year-old, it was quite an evening,” he said.
Maestro Gajewski is one of a select group of American conductors equally at home in nearly all musical genres. He is the music director and conductor of the National Philharmonic at the Music Center at Strathmore, and a sought-after guest conductor. He was a student and disciple of the late Leonard Bernstein, and is described by The Washington Post as an “immensely talented and insightful conductor, whose standards, taste and sensitivity are impeccable.” With one foot in the United States and the other in Europe, as Principal Guest Conductor of the Silesian Philharmonic (Katowice, Poland) and frequent guest at other orchestras, the jet-set maestro’s seemingly limitless repertoire, most conducted without a score, amazes critics and audiences alike.
Led by Maestro Gajewski, the National Philharmonic is known for performances that are “powerful,” “impeccable,” and “thrilling” (The Washington Post). In July 2003, the National Chamber Orchestra and Masterworks Chorus merged to create the National Philharmonic, an ensemble with more than 50 years of combined history, bringing high caliber musical performances to the Washington area. The National Philharmonic took up residence at the state-of-the-art Music Center at Strathmore upon its opening in February 2005. Now, more than 250 performances later, and with far-reaching educational programming, the National Philharmonic is the largest and most active professional orchestra based in Montgomery County.
The National Philharmonic boasts a long-standing tradition of reasonably priced tickets and free admission to all young people age 7-17, assuring its place as an accessible and enriching component in Montgomery County and the greater Washington, D.C., area.
As the Music Center at Strathmore’s orchestra-in-residence, the National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Gajewski, and monumental choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson. To purchase tickets for the performances and for information about the Philharmonic’s 2018-19 season, please visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore Ticket Office at 301.581.5100. Tickets are $32-$84; young people 7-17 are free through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program. ALL KIDS tickets can be purchased on line, in person or by phone. Complimentary parking is available. Concert is Saturday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m.