Washington Performing Arts Concert at Kennedy Center to Feature Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
Choir members from The Catholic University of America will join several prestigious Washington, D.C., choral groups on April 26, 2018, in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the world-class Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by internationally-renowned music director, Gustavo Dudamel, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music represents the only university that is participating in the concert, presented by Washington Performing Arts (WPA), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The concert, which also includes a new work by Finnish orchestral conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, marks the first-ever collaboration of the School of Music and WPA, notes Grayson Wagstaff, dean of music.
“Washington Performing Arts has been and is the premiere and elite presenter of concerts and guest artists in the Washington, D.C., area,” adds Wagstaff. “Its founder, Patrick Hayes, was a longtime friend of the University who attended many performances on campus. The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music is honored to be included in this historic event at the Kennedy Center. I’m grateful to Jenny Bilfield, president and CEO of Washington Performing Arts, for inviting our students to participate.”
For this unique concert, Catholic University students will join a chorus that brings together singers from the Washington Chorus, Choral Arts Society of Washington, and members of the Washington Performing Arts Men and Women of the Gospel Choir.
In his Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Beethoven revolutionized the symphonic form by including a choir in the fourth and final movement and adding sung text from the poem “Ode to Joy” written in 1785 by Friedrich Schiller. The chorus will perform the fourth movement.
New York Times music critic Zachary Woolfe recently described the Los Angeles Philharmonic as “the most important orchestra in America. Period.” The online San Francisco Classical Voice says that together Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic create music “at a level that could only be described as sublime.”
“Having our students perform under Gustavo Dudamel with the Los Angeles Philharmonic is one of the major highlights of the School of Music in the last 50 years,” says Timothy McDonnell, director of choral activities and of the Institute of Sacred Music. “It’s the equivalent of singing for Leonard Bernstein. Dudamel is known for his excitement as a conductor and performer. He brings tremendous energy to the stage. Our students will thrive.”
The Venezuelan-born Dudamel also serves as music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. At his initiative, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has dramatically expanded the scope of its community outreach programs, including the creation of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, influenced by the philosophy of Venezuela’s El Sistema, which encourages social development through music. Dudamel commits about 25 weeks of his annual schedule to the orchestras and children of El Sistema, both in Caracas and around the country.
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