Commentary from the Conductor

Commentary from the Conductor

WMP to celebrate community collaborations in upcoming concerts.

The April 3 and April 17 concerts of Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic (WMP) are a celebration of the orchestra’s relationship with the northern Virginia/D.C. area. Every piece on the program represents a community collaboration, specifically: a new work for WMP and the preschool students of Hopkins House, a formidable concerto with a local high school student, an inspiring reunion with a world-class pianist, and the moving sounds of the NOVA Community Chorus.

As WMP music director and conductor, I have worked for more than a year with Hopkins House President Glen Hopkins to create a performance opportunity for the preschool students of Hopkins House.

“This project is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn music while on an exciting and unforgettable adventure,” Hopkins said.

More than a one-time public relations gimmick, the project was designed to have a substantial, long-term musical impact on the children and families of Hopkins House. To that end, myself and Hopkins, aided by a grant from the Philip L. Graham Fund and the Clark-Winchole Foundation, put together a program by which Hopkins House students would receive musical instruction twice a week from Ben Reigner, a general music teacher in the Fairfax County Public Schools.

“This project is an amazing opportunity for these children, and I feel nothing but pride and excitement in being involved. It is a musical experience they will never forget,” Hopkins said.

A grant from the City of Alexandria permitted the purchase of rugged, tonal, percussion instruments (called Orff instruments after their creator) for use by the preschoolers. Giving the students a performance goal, James Kazik, Composer in Residence of WMP, composed Apple Tree Fantasy for WMP and the students of Hopkins House. This concert will mark not only the world premiere of this piece, but also that of an ongoing and prosperous relationship between WMP and the families of Hopkins House.

A HEART ATTACK interrupted pianist Roman Lebedev’s 2004 performance with WMP of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Surviving that episode, the implantation of a pacemaker, and a subsequent severe illness, Lebedev will be back to finish what he began that warm and dangerous May evening. Lebedev, formerly on the faculty of St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music, has performed throughout Europe and currently is on the faculty of the Washington Conservatory of Music. I note that “to Roman Lebedev, life is nurtured by making music. I think that this concert has given him a reason to recover quickly — a reason to heal.”

THE WASHINGTON metropolitan area is home to a tremendous amount of young musical talent. Brendan Shea, one of the winners of WMP’s 2004 Concerto Competition, is clear evidence of the truth of that statement. Shea will perform the first movement of Sibelius’s only concerto. Shea’s performance promises to showcase the technical virtuosity of the violin, with an intensity sure to leave the audience on its feet.

DR. MARK WHITMIRE will lead WMP and the 80 voices of the NOVA Community Chorus in the dramatic conclusion of this concert with a performance of Mozart’s Coronation Mass, K. 317. This generally upbeat, vibrant work highlights the power of voice and man-made instrument to inspire.