Capitol Concert Memories: Glenn Garlick

Ahead of the National Symphony Orchestra’s annual performance at the National Memorial Day Concert, broadcasted live on PBS each year, musician Glenn Garlick shares some memories of playing at the U.S. Capitol. Watch this year’s National Memorial Day Concert live at 8 p.m. on PBS. Check local listings. 

I have been in the NSO since 1980 so I have played a lot of Capitol concerts. My memories of early concerts on the Capitol grounds are mixed…I am not sure which were Memorial Day, July Fourth or Labor Day. It seems to me that in the beginning we did not differentiate the holidays so much. Rather, we played a concert of generally light classical music for anyone who wanted to attend, with a lot of American classics (Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin) mixed in.

One problem with an outdoor concert is that Nature sometimes takes over and spills a lot of water on everyone. One such concert was due to be conducted by our then-Music Director, Mstislav (Slava) Rostropovich. Rain was predicted for the evening and our management was in constant contact with the weather service to determine if we should cancel the concert or try to fit it in before the storm arrived. The concert was scheduled for 8:00 p.m. and, if the weather service was correct, the storm would sweep through at 8:00. But, the prediction was that at 8:00 there would be about 20 minutes of very heavy rain followed by a beautiful, cool evening. Our manager, Henry Fogel, announced to the crowd that heavy rain was on the way, but if they could last it out and stay, we would still play. A huge cheer went up from the crowd and everyone hunkered down and covered up as much as possible.

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Back from Russia and on to Shostakovich

After a whirlwind tour of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the NSO is back home rehearsing for this weekend’s concerts in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. It’s fitting that immediately upon their return from Russia the orchestra will perform music by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.

Shostakovich was a close friend of former NSO music director, Mstislav Rostopovich and his Symphony No. 5 is a favorite of the orchestra. Since the NSO was founded, it has been performed well over one hundred times! Here’s what NSO cellist Glenn Garlick had to say about the piece last time it was performed in May 2013.

NSO Tour in Russia: Wednesday in Moscow

Rostropovich Festival founder, director, and Slava’s daughter, Olga Rostropovich, with Maestro Eschenbach, welcomes the NSO to Moscow and to the festival on Wednesday morning at the start of rehearsal.

NSO music director Christoph Eschenbach conducts the first rehearsal of the tour on Wednesday morning at Moscow Conservatory — a musically important venue where many of the great Russian composers and musicians (among them Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, and of course Rostropovich) performed, taught, and conducted. Read more

NSO Tour to Russia: Tuesday in Moscow

A poster for the Rostropovich Festival promotes the upcoming NSO concerts in Moscow. 

Press materials await pickup at Tuesday’s press conference at the TASS news agency in Moscow.

Photographers get their shots of the participants at the press conference. 

Speakers take their seats at the press conference on Tuesday at TASS. (L-R: translator, NSO violist William Foster, Festival founder Olga Rostropovich, Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter, NSO Concertmaster Nurit Bar-Josef, and press event moderator).

NSO violist William Foster reminisces with Slava’s daughter, Olga, about working with Slava when he was NSO music director (1977-1994).

NSO concertmaster Nurit Bar-Josef talks about Slava’s impact on the Orchestra and how his influence is still felt today.

A writer from a Russian magazine directs a question to the NSO’s William Foster at Tuesday’s press conference.

Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter answers a question from the press at Tuesday’s press conference.

NSO cellist Steven Honigberg coaches a quintet of young Russian musicians in a masterclass on Tuesday afternoon.

NSO cellist Steven Honigberg demonstrates a musical point for a Russian bassist in Tuesday’s masterclass.

US Ambassador John Tefft and Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter chat during a welcome reception at Spaso House on Tuesday evening.

Ambassador Tefft and his wife Mariella greet Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter (L) and Olga Rostropovich (R) on Tuesday evening.

NSO Principal Viola Daniel Foster and NSO keyboardist Lisa Emenheiser perform a short recital of music by Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff for the guests at Spaso House on Tuesday.

Olga Rostropovich (L) and Deborah Rutter chat with NSO Music Director Christoph Eschenbach after the performance at Spaso House.

A tiramisu cake honors Slava’s 90th birthday, which would have been Monday, March 27.

A replica of the Kennedy Center’s bust of John F. Kennedy by American sculptor Robert Berks sits at Spaso House in Moscow.

Moscow’s famous Red Square is lit up at night.

NSO musicians use the underground street crossing to walk back to the hotel after Tuesday’s reception.

All photos by Scott Suchman.

The NSO Pays Tribute to Slava

As the NSO kicks off its 2017 Russia Tour, we’re remembering the late former music director Mstislav Rostropovich, who would have turned 90 today. His tenure proved to be one of the most glittering periods in the life of the NSO thus far, and saw the introduction of the signature projects that remain an important part of the NSO’s life to this day.

Loading Out: NSO Tour to Russia

Today the NSO embarks on a 3-concert tour to Russia as part of the Rostropovich Festival’s celebration of Slava at 90. These concerts mark the first time an American orchestra has participated in the festival. Three concerts—two in Moscow, one in St. Petersburg—feature repertoire from the Salute to Slava programs in Washington. Stay tuned for many more updates from abroad!
 All photos by Scott Suchman.
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