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September 25, 2011

Christoph Eschenbach extends contract with National Symphony Orchestra

The extraordinary German conductor Christoph Eschenbach has extended his contract as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center through the 2014-2015 season. The extension, announced Sunday at the NSO's annual season-opening ball, adds two seasons to his original three-year contract.

“This artistic home has been even more welcoming and rewarding than I had imagined,” Eschenbach said in a statement.

The Eschenbach magic has been evident -- at last to some of us -- from his first concerts with the NSO, so the news of his intensifying relationship with the orchestra and the center is most welcome.

So is some more news made at Sunday's gala: Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein, who has already donated more than $25 million to the institution, announced yet another gift, this one to ...

fund a new organ for the Concert Hall, in honor of the NSO's 80th anniversary and the center's 40th.

The original organ developed any number of technical problems over the years and had been pretty much written off. The new one, with 5,000 pipes, will be built by Casavant FreĢ€res of St-Hyacinth, Quebec. Installation is slated to begin next summer.

The instrument will have 85 ranks of pipes, four manuals and pedal. A set of 61 pipes from the center's original organ will be retained to honor that instrument's donor, Catherine Filene Shouse (she was responsible for Wolf Trap, too).

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, NSO


Installing a new organ is the easy part. If the Kennedy Center doesn't do a better job of maintaining the new organ that it did (or didn't do) on the old one, 10-20 years from now they'll find themselves in the same boat as they are now.

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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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