There’s no place like…a Young People’s Concert!

A pair of ruby slippers will take you home, but where do a pair of sparkly sneakers take you? Right to a Young People’s Concert at the NSO, of course!

Concert host and Principal Second Violin Marissa Regni models the sparkly shoes she wears for the performances.

This week the NSO is hosting over 10,000 local school children from Maryland, D.C., and Virginia for five performances of a Young People’s Concert.

School groups get seated before the performance begins.
Buses line up outside the Kennedy Center.

NSO Principal Second Violin Marissa Regni dons her sparkly shoes with conductor Michael Butterman to lead the NSO to the final frontier: space! The performance, called Reach for the Moon: John F. Kennedy’s Vision and Courage, explores different space-themed music.

Marissa wears some head gear that is out of this world!

From “Mars” from Holst’s The Planets to the main theme from Star Wars there’s something for all young earthlings to enjoy. We’re having a great time seeing so many young people in the Concert Hall!

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: Friday in St. Petersburg

NSO musicians wait on the platform at one of Moscow’s train stations to board the fast train to St. Petersburg on Friday.

NSO Principal viola Dan Foster chats with Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter during the train ride to St. Petersburg on Friday.

NSO musicians consult a map of St. Petersburg to determine their plan for the few free hours they have in the city.

NSO music director Christoph Eschenbach chats with NSO artistic director Nigel Boon during the train ride to St. Petersburg.

NSO tuba Stephen Dumaine takes in some of the scenery on the train from Moscow to St. Petersburg Friday. Photo by Scott Suchman.

NSO flute Alice Weinraub and Concertmaster Nurit Bar-Josef make their way along the train platform after arriving in St. Petersburg Friday.

Stagehands deliver instrument trunks to the St. Petersburg Philharmonia on Friday after arriving there that afternoon.

A Rostropovich Festival poster at the Philharmonia’s stage door lets passers-by know that the NSO would perform that night.

NSO music director Christoph Eschenbach leads a rehearsal on Friday underneath the giant chandeliers if the Great Hall.

NSO production manager Daryl Donley works backstage during the rehearsal in St. Petersburg.

Maestro Eschenbach and the NSO take a bow at the start of Friday night’s concert in the Great Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonia.

Maestro Eschenbach begins Friday night’s NSO concert with a full house listening intently.

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein is the soloist with the NSO Friday–their final concert in Russia together this week.

A standing-room-only crowd enjoys Friday’s NSO concert in St Petersburg.

The NSO’s second violins perform Friday.

NSO trombonist David Murray adjusts his tie at intermission backstage in Friday night.

Backstage tools on tour always include plenty of paperwork, a stopwatch, and trunks as tables.

Maestro Eschenbach and the NSO take a final bow in St Petersburg on Friday. Next stop: home!

All photos by Scott Suchman.

NSO Tour in Russia: Thursday in Moscow

Fresh flowers surround Slava’s headstone at Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery.

On Thursday, some NSO musicians took advantage of a free morning to pay tribute to Slava at his final resting place.

Also buried at at Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery is Dmitri Shostakovich, one of Slava’s closest friends.

NSO musicians pose near a statue at the cemetery honoring another great Russian musician, violinist David Oistrakh.

A newly unveiled statue of Slava marks Rostropovich Square in Moscow.

NSO music director Christoph Eschenbach and cellist Alisa Weilerstein consult the score for Elgar’s Cello Concerto during rehearsal on Thursday afternoon.

NSO violist Bill Foster reminisces as he spots himself in a picture with Slava in a display of historic photos.

Maestro Eschenbach leads the NSO in rehearsal on Thursday in Moscow.

 Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8 was one of Slava and the NSO’s signature works; Maestro Eschenbach leads it on Thursday evening in the Orchestra’s final concert in Moscow and in Friday in St. Petersburg.

 NSO Principal Bassoon Sue Heineman at Thursday morning’s rehearsal.

A statue of Tchaikovsky sits in front of the famous Moscow Conservatory.

A Rostropovich Festival banner hangs above the entrance to the Great Hall at the Moscow Conservatory.

Maestro Eschenbach leads the NSO in its second and final performance in Moscow.

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein performs Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the NSO on Thursday in Moscow.

NSO Principal Harp Adriana Horne performs in Thursday night’s concert in Moscow.

Maestro Eschenbach and the Orchestra take a final bow after Thursday nights concert in Moscow, which featured Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony.

Enthusiastic concertgoers greet Maestro Eschenbach backstage after Tuesday’s concert. Next stop: St. Petersburg.

Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter, NSO viola Bill Foster, Olga Rostropovich, NSO Music Director Christoph Eschenbach, and cellist Alisa Weilerstein attend a post concert reception hosted by the Rostropovich Foundation.

All photos by Scott Suchman.

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.

NSO Cellist Glenn Garlick takes a moment to listen to rehearsal on Wednesday during a piece he doesn’t play.

The view from the stage into the famed hall during Wednesday’s rehearsal.

Taking an orchestra and its cargo on tour takes a lot of coordination; here, a touring logistics book sits ready with all of the necessary paperwork.

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein rehearses Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto with the NSO in Wednesday.

NSO Principal horn Abel Pereira makes sure his instrument is ready backstage before the the first concert of the tour on Wednesday.

It’s clear from the historic photos around the Hall who the festival celebrates this year–photos of Slava are everywhere as concertgoers wait for the house to open.

Concertmaster Nurit Bar-Josef waits offstage for her entrance before Wednesday’s concert begins.

Maestro Eschenbach and NSO take a bow as the first concert of the tour begins in Moscow on Wednesday night.

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein gives her all in a performance of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1, which the composer wrote for Slava–a close friend–in 1959.

The capacity audience applauds the NSO and Alisa Weilerstein after their performance of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 on Wednesday night.

NSO violists Lynne Levine and Eric deWaardt relax backstage during intermission Wednesday night.

Christoph Eschenbach and the NSO on the famed stage of Moscow Conservatory.

Audience members listen intently to Schubert’s Ninth Symphony on Wednesday night.

Members of the NSO cello section–many of whom were hired by Slava during his time as music director–perform on Wednesday evening.

Members of the NSO wind section focus on their parts during Wednesday’s performance.

Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter leads a toast to Maestro Eschenbach and Alisa Weilerstein at a post concert reception Wednesday night.

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.

Inspiration! Marissa Regni hosts NSO’s Young People’s Concerts

Original Post by Krysta Cihi on

Each season, the National Symphony Orchestra presents a series of Young People’s Concerts for school children grades 3 through 6 throughout the Washington, DC area. Hundreds of school buses carry thousands of children to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall to learn about classical music in fun and engaging ways. Over the past several years, the NSO’s Young People’s Concerts (or YPCs, for short!) have explored themes such as heroism in music (“Summon the Heroes!), music as a language (“Listen Up!”), and extremes in music (“Exploring Extremes: Music to the Max!”). For the second year in a row, NSO Principal Second Violinist, Marissa Regni, will be hosting the Young People’s Concerts, alongside guest conductor Michael Butterman. This year’s theme: Inspiration! These concerts will explore the ideas that help shape composers’ creativity, such as literature, poetry, travel, nature and more. Here’s what Marissa had to say about her experience with the YPCs…

Michael Butterman and Marissa Regni rehearsing for the YPCs
Michael Butterman and Marissa Regni rehearsing for the YPCs

“I’m really excited about hosting the Young People’s Concerts this season. I had such a good time last year, and my NSO colleagues were so supportive.

Of all the extra musical projects I do, the educational concerts are my absolute favorite. I think they are so important because we are building (I hope!) our future audiences. Each concert I develop is a huge undertaking, but it is so worth it because the kids are so energizing. My goal always is to teach something valuable, while still making it fun and entertaining. I don’t ever want to be stiff or stuffy. And so, as my colleagues will attest, I let my crazy personality shine through. If people of any age walk away learning something AND having fun–well, then I’ve done my job. I try to make my shows interesting for my colleagues, as well. I want the audience to see the musicians smiling and enjoying themselves.



Last season, a couple of months after I hosted the Young People’s Concerts, I played a concerto with the NSO on an all-Bach subscription concert. I found out that a young girl in the audience came to that concert (with her family) because she had been to the YPCs with her school and wanted to see me again. I got a 10 year old to ask her parents for symphony tickets! That was the highlight of my week! Throughout the year, I would be approached by kids who enthusiastically said they were at the YPCs and how much they loved it. We are getting students excited about the magic of symphonic music!

I think we are teaching some excellent ideas in this year’s concerts: what inspires composers as they write music. There are wonderful musical examples and concepts that I hope will really get students talking and brainstorming long after they leave the Concert Hall.”