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March 3, 2009

Kennedy Center's 2009-2010 season has Russian accent

The Kennedy Center announced Tuesday a typically wide-ranging lineup for the 2009-2010 season, including the start of a two-year festival of Russian arts; the first concert by National Symphony Orchestra music director-designate Christoph Eschenbach since the announcement his appointment last year; a showcase of works in a variety of genres by people with disabilities; a festival of Terrance McNally plays with operatic themes; and a production of the Tennessee Williams classic A Streetcar Named Desire starring Cate Blanchett and by directed by Liv Ullman.

For music fans, the big news of the "Focus on Russia" fest is the visit by the Mariinsky Opera (also still popularly known as the Kirov Opera) and a production of Prokofiev's gargantuan War and Peace, conducted by Valery Gergiev (right).

There will be concert versions of Eugene Onegin and Boris Godunov as well, not to mention performances by the Mariinsky Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet.

The NSO will contribute to the Russian theme with such guest artists as pianist Evgeny Kissin, violinist Vadim Repin and cellist Mischa Maisky.

Speaking of the NSO, Eschenbach (left) will conduct Verdi's Requiem. Other artists who will be on the orchestra's podium next season include NSO principal conductor Ivan Fischer, former NSO music director Leonard Slatkin, Lorin Maazel (his program includes a work for narrator and orchestra he has composed), composer/conductor John Adams, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos and Andrew Litton.

Soloists of note on the NSO roster: tenor Ben Heppner, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Joshua Bell, pianists Nelson Freire, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Lang Lang. The orchestra's programming covers a fairly broad sampling of repertoire, from Bach's B minor Mass to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and Bartok's The Wooden Prince.

In addition to the Russian companies, the Kennedy Center's dance offerings include appearances by American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Danced Theater and Suzanne Farrell Ballet. There will be a gospel music series and the return of Barbara Cook Spotlight, a series featuring Broadway performers. 


Posted by Tim Smith at 1:27 PM | | Comments (1)


I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


This is music to any humble blogger's ears. Many thanks.TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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