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Release Date: August 15, 2008

National Gallery of Art Concerts in 2008-2009 Include Four World Premieres and a Revival of A Work Commissioned by the Gallery

Washington, DC—The National Gallery of Art presents its 67th season of the longest-running free concert series in the nation's capital from October 3, 2008, through June 28, 2009. This season will introduce to the Washington public several compositions that have not been heard here before.

In the context of a festival of Swiss culture, pianist Gilles Vonsattel will play a new work by Nico Muhly on October 12, and the Festival Strings Lucerne will play Stellen by Dieter Ammann on October 19, both commissioned and composed for the occasion.

The Gallery also has commissioned two works for this season. The first is a work for chamber ensemble by Jeffrey Mumford, which will be heard on November 30 in a concert by the Verge Ensemble as part of a citywide festival called "3gen." The festival will feature the music of Elliott Carter, Olivier Messiaen, Charles Wuorinen, and younger composers who are indebted to them.

Working jointly with the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the Gallery has also commissioned a suite for string quartet and piano by Jessica Krash. Consisting of fourteen movements, each inspired by a painting by or of a woman from the collections of the two museums, Krash's work will premiere at the NMWA on March 11 and at the Gallery on March 18.

The Gallery will also present Elie Siegmeister's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Commissioned by the Gallery in the 1960s, it will receive its first Washington performance on March 29, when the National Gallery Orchestra under guest conductor Kenneth Slowik will present it with the composer's son-in-law, Alan Mandel, at the piano.

Concert Information

Concerts at the National Gallery of Art are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-seated basis. Sunday concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. in the West Building, West Garden Court, unless otherwise indicated. Seating begins at 6:00 p.m. The entrance to the West Building at Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW, and the entrance to the East Building at Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW, remain open until 6:30 p.m. There is no entry or reentry to either building after 6:30.

The Garden Café in the West Building is open until 6:00 p.m. on Sundays for visitors' convenience. For Wednesday midday performances, the seating begins at 12:00 p.m. and the concerts start at 12:10. Monthly listings of concert programs may be obtained by calling (202) 842-6941 or by visiting the Gallery's Web site at

Concerts In Honor Of Exhibitions

Fourteen musical programs were selected by the head of the Gallery's music department, Stephen Ackert, to highlight Gallery exhibitions. On October 15 (Wednesday), at 12:10 p.m., pianist Michele Campanella will play sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti in celebration of Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples, on view in the East Building, October 19, 2008, through March 22, 2009.

Two concerts will celebrate Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered, on view in the West Building, October 26, 2008, through January 11, 2009. On October 29 (Wednesday), at 12:10 p.m., Musica ad Rhenum will perform 17th-century music for recorder, cello, and harpsichord, and on November 2 the National Gallery Vocal Arts Ensemble will perform music by Sweelinck and other composers active in Amsterdam at Lievens' time.

In honor of George de Forest Brush: The Indian Paintings, on view in the East Building, September 14, 2008, through January 4, 2009, the Gallery music and film departments will collaborate with the National Museum of the American Indian to present live musical accompaniment for the silent film In the Land of the Headhunters, the first film to feature Native American performers. The film will be shown in the East Building Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. on November 9. On November 23, The Singers' Companye from Akron, Ohio, will honor the same exhibition with a concert of choral music by Native American and other American composers.

The first four Sundays in March 2009 will be dedicated to a festival of music in honor of Pride of Place: Dutch Cityscapes in the Golden Age, on view in the East Building, February 9 through May 3, 2009. Music of the Golden Age in The Netherlands will be performed by soprano Ellen Hargis and lutenist Paul O'Dette on March 1, the National Gallery Vocal Arts Ensemble on March 8, the Holland Baroque Society on March 15, and the Egidius Kwartet on March 22.

The Wednesday concerts in March 2009, all at 12:10 p.m., will be dedicated to the Gallery's 63rd American Music Festival, presented in honor of Looking In: Robert Frank's "The Americans," on view in the West Building,January 18 through April 26, 2009. American music from the 1950s and 1960s will be performed by David Amram, who collaborated with Frank on the film Pull My Daisy on March 4; pianist Peter Vinograde on March 11; the National Gallery String Quartet with pianist Jessica Krash on March 18; and the New York Chamber Soloists on March 25. The festival will conclude with a National Gallery Orchestra concert on March 29.

On May 17, the opening of Luis Meléndez, Master of the Spanish Still Life will be marked by a concert by the Foundling Ensemble, early music specialists from Providence, Rhode Island.

"Mendelssohn On The Mall"

In January and February 2009, the Gallery will collaborate with the German Embassy, the Library of Congress, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Smithsonian Institution to present "Mendelssohn on the Mall," a series of twelve concerts that will focus on the music of Felix Mendelssohn on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his birth. Six of the concerts of the festival will take place at the Gallery, performed by the Ma'alot Wind Quintet on January 11, the National Gallery Orchestra on January 18, the Fine Arts Quartet on January 25, pianist Ulrich Urban on February 1, cellist Josef Feigelson on February 8, and the Mendelssohn Piano Trio on February 22.

Other Orchestra Concerts

In addition to the Orchestra concerts mentioned above, the National Gallery Orchestra presents its traditional New Year concert on December 28. Also, soprano Alessandra Marc performs Richard Strauss' Four Last Songs with The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra on May 3, and the National Gallery Chamber Orchestra features guest conductor Vladimir Lande on May 31.


Solo piano recitals continue to be an integral part of the Gallery concerts. Swiss pianist Gilles Vonsattel performs on October 12, and Italian pianist Michele Campanella appears on October 15. On December 7, Austrian pianist Till Fellner begins a cycle of seven recitals in which he will perform all thirty-two sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven. The cycle will continue with concerts at the Gallery and other Washington venues in 2009 and 2010.

On January 4, in his first season of chamber music activity since his retirement from the Beaux Arts Trio, the legendary Menahem Pressler will collaborate with the National Gallery String Quartet. German pianist Ulrich Urban performs Mendelssohn on February 1, and America's own Leon Bates performs on February 25. Peter Vinograde contributes to the American Music Festival on March 11, and California native Tara Kamangar plays her Washington debut on June 21.

Other Concerts

The season begins with a special concert in cooperation with the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival on Friday, October 3, when the Gallery's outdoor Sculpture Garden will be the scene of two performances, at 5:30 and 7:15 p.m., by jazz harmonica player Frederic Yonnet and his ensemble. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Sunday concert on October 5 will focus on mysticism in Spanish music and art from 1500 to the present. Chamber music ensembles include the Vienna Piano Trio on October 26, the Euclid String Quartet on November 16, The National Gallery String Quartet on January 4, with pianist Menahem Pressler with the Poulenc Trio on April 5; the AmorArtis Ensemble on April 19, and the Geringas Baryton Trio on April 26.

Special concerts are also planned in honor of African-American History Month on February 25 and Women's History Month on March 18.

General Information

For additional press information please call or send inquiries to:
Department of Communications
National Gallery of Art
2000 South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785
phone: (202) 842-6353
e-mail: [email protected]
Anabeth Guthrie
Chief of Communications
(202) 842-6804
[email protected]

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