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The Steelpan Comes to the Symphony!
Posted by Amy Drew

As a follow-up to its 2012 Americas Tour, the NSO presents a vibrant rhythm-themed program on May 29 and 30, featuring this year's world premiere NSO Hechinger Commission. Eclectic young American composer Andy Akiho--described as "mold-breaking" and "vital" by the New York Times--has created Beneath Lighted Coffers, a brand-new concerto for steelpan and orchestra that will spotlight the NSO debut of young guest soloist Liam Teague, a native of Trinidad and Tobago hailed as the "Paganini of the Steelpan." 
 
Guest conductor Manuel López-Gómez, one of the most exciting young talents to emerge from the internationally renowned Venezuelan music program "El Sistema," also makes his NSO debut, highlighting two works by South American composers. Antonio Estévez's Mediodía en el llano brings Venezuela's "noon on the prairie" to glorious life with haunting beauty, while Alberto Ginastera's lush Estancia Suite features music from the composer's sweeping ballet inspired by the ranches of his Argentina homeland. 

 

Liam Teague tells us more about Beneath Lighted Coffers and how he got started with the steelpan.

 

How long have you been playing steelpan?

I started in the late 1980s when I was about 11 years old. So I would say I've been playing for over 30 years.

 

How were you first introduced to the instrument?

The steel pan is the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, where I am from. My father had a Cub Scout troop when I was younger, and one of our members brought a steelpan to a troop meeting. It was there that I first fell in love with the instrument.

 

Where did you study?

I started learning the steelpan in Trinidad and then did both of my degrees at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in Dekalb, Illinois. I am an Associate Professor of Music and Head of Steelpan studies at NIU. I also co-direct the NIU Steelband along with Steel Pan legend Cliff Alexis.

 

Can you tell us a little about the Akiho concerto? Do you have a favorite part of the piece thus far?

The Concerto is unique, brilliant, beautiful and very challenging. Each movement is contrasting and Andy has me exploring a lot of new territory. For example, there are places in the Concerto where I am playing the chop sticks, striking the rim and skirt of the steelpan, scratching the steelpan with a percussion instrument called "dreadlocks", and playing in many mixed meters.

I love the entire piece, but the movement called "Oculus" is amazingly beautiful. I haven't been able to get through practicing this movement without breaking into tears, as it makes me think of my mother who passed away in January. I'll be ok for the performances, though.

 

Do you have a favorite performance you've given in the past, or a favorite venue where you've performed?

Every performance is memorable and I feel honored to share the beauty, versatility and profundity of Trinidad and Tobago's national instrument with the world. I am really looking forward to the premiere of the Concerto, and working with such a brilliant conductor, orchestra, and composer.

 

What other instruments do you play?

I played the violin and recorder for a number of years and have actually adapted some violin repertoire onto the steelpan, e.g. Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Paganini's Moto Perpetuo.

 

What do you like to do when you're not playing music?

I love being with my wife, Lorena, and our kids, Jaden (7) and Jeida (2)

I enjoy looking at football (soccer), especially Barcelona and Manchester United. I'm a big NBA fan as well.

 

Tell us something interesting or unexpected about yourself.

I love helping to make other people happy.

 

Any other comments you wish to share:

I'm just really grateful for the opportunity to perform with this great orchestra and I hope that the piece goes from strength to strength. The steelpan's versatility is not always familiar to many people around the world, so I relish opportunities like these to educate the public.

It is a fascinating instrument which can convincingly be integrated into almost any musical situation.

Meet Our Musicians: Ira Gold
Posted by Amy Drew

Ira Gold is a bassist with the National Symphony Orchestra

Ira Gold has been a member of the National Symphony since 2005. Find out about Ira's favorite composer, favorite sports team, and more!

 

Photo by Scott Suchman.

 

What university or conservatory did you attend?

Boston University (BM), Rice University (MM) 

 

Was it for music? 

Yes, both schools.

 

What is your favorite piece (or pieces) to play in the orchestra? 

I love anything by Dvořák, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Stravinsky, or Janáček. 

 

Describe your favorite NSO moment

We performed Brahms's First Symphony with Christoph Eschenbach in February of 2008 (soon after that he was named our Music Director). The last page of the piece was some of the most exciting music making I've ever felt in an orchestra concert.  There was a real visceral feeling to it, almost as if it was the first performance of the piece ever.... 

 

What are three songs or pieces you love to listen to? 

My favorite composer is Bach, so I am often listening to his solo pieces for violin or cello, or his chamber music.   

 

Did you grow up in a musical household? 

Yes.  Both of my parents studied violin from childhood through college.  My mother is a private violin teacher and my father studied violin and bow making in college.  He opened up his own violin shop in 1979 and has been in business in Houston, TX, ever since.  When I wasn't in school, at a sports practice or game, or rehearsal/concert, I was at my Dad's shop, watching him re-hair bows, restore a violin top, or any kind of repair.  I worked for him at various times, learning the basics of the business.  It's given me a deep appreciation and understanding of how string instruments are constructed, how each part of it works and contributes to the sound.  There are so many nuances in string instrument set up, and a professional musician like myself needs to know those things.  My brother played cello for a few years and my sister played violin, but they eventually moved on to other interests.   

 

What did you want to be growing up? 

I love basketball deeply...played on teams for years as a teenager and felt very connected to it.  But whether it was a fear of failure or skepticism of whether I was any good, I decided to focus on music. 

 

When did you know you wanted to be a professional classical musician?

I was a sophomore in high school, and decided that I was going to push myself to be the best bassist and musician.  It became an obsession.  Practicing many hours, participating in youth orchestras, competitions, summer festivals, and ultimately planning to go to a fine music school in college, which worked out for me in both of my degree programs.   

 

What is your favorite thing about living in the D.C. area? 

The green space.  I love the beautiful view I have driving to work every day--Rock Creek Park and 16th Street are basically the woods so it doesn't feel like you are driving in a city. 

 

Where is your favorite D.C. hangout? 

I commute many hours between NSO, Peabody Conservatory, and my home life.  I actually prefer the bike and running trails as a "hangout" location more than any other restaurant or establishment.  But I do love great sushi - no particular place of loyalty.  

 

Do you have any pets?

Yes, our German Shorthaired Pointer, Tia, is 4 years old.  We rescued her when she was 1.  She is my running and training partner.  She's quite the hunter, too!   

 

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

My daughter (Lena, almost 2) and I have been going to the park almost every day for a few months--we play chase, go on the swing, the slide, kick the ball, and take note of buses that go by.  She also points out the airplanes overhead or the caterpillars along the park's edge.  When I have alone time I enjoy walking, running, biking, yoga--movement is the key.  My wife and I love to cook so we are always exploring new recipes.  

 

Favorite movie:  

The Natural 

 

Favorite book:  

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  

 

Favorite sports team: 

Houston Astros

 

Name one thing people would be surprised to know about you. 

Everyone seems surprised I am from Texas, maybe because I have no accent - some think I'm a Yankee.  But, yeah, I'm a Houston boy.  Yee-haw!!!! 

 

 

NSO Salutes Departing Members
Posted by Amy Drew

The National Symphony Orchestra salutes four members of the National Symphony Orchestra who are departing at the conclusion of the 2014-2015 season. Together, they have given more than 140 years of service to the National Symphony Orchestra.

 

Paula Sisson Akbar

Violinist

24 Years of Service

1991-2015

Dennis Piwowarski

Violinist

31 Years of Service

1984-2015

Robert Blatt

Cellist

47 Years of Service

1968-2015

Vernon Summers

Violinist

40 Years of Service

1974-2015

 

 

Each year during one of the final concerts of the season, the NSO honors their departing members with a speech and gifts. Following the concert, current and past members of the orchestra, staff, family, and friends gather in a celebration. Each departing member is recognized and given a special tribute by members of the orchestra. After their tribute, each retiree's photo is hung on the wall, joining all those that have departed over the years.

 

Orchestra members and friends gather for the celebration. Photo by William Haroutounian.

Skits and musical acts are performed in honor of each retiree. Photo by William Haroutounian.

 

The cake for the celebration! Photo by William Haroutounian.

 

 

This year, we would like to feature Paula Sisson Akbar, who was a member of the First Violin section from 1991-2015. Paula was kind enough to share some of her favorite photos from over the years and answer a few questions for us:

 

Do you have any plans for retirement?

Yes, besides my Bucket List, which includes a road trip across the US and a walking pilgrimage in England, I plan to paint/collage, garden, take acting lessons, write, spend more time in Mexico and Greece, and start a shop. In reality, I'll probably sit around in my jammies sipping tea and reading murder mysteries until the end of time. BTW, my list will be different next week.

 

Performing a children's concert with regularly engaged extra percussionist, Joe Connell, during a residency in Kentucky.

Paula and her sweetie take a silly photo while the NSO was on tour in Buenos Aires.

Paula and Athabaskan fiddler, Bill Stevens, during the 1992 Alaska residency.

 

 

What are you looking forward to most about retirement?

I'm looking forward to the freedom of a blank schedule. At least for a while.

 

Are you planning on staying in the area?

Yes, I love Maryland and DC and Virginia and Delaware.

 

One of the perks of working in the nation's capital – a trip to the White House! Here, members of the NSO met President Barack Obama in 2012.

 

What will you miss the most about the NSO?

The orchestra is full of bright, ambitious, conscious, forward-thinking people of great integrity. I will miss my colleagues terribly. I will miss performing music to such a high standard. And it will be extremely difficult to sit in the audience when I'd rather be on stage or backstage.

 

Paula with NSO colleagues (from left: Linda Schroeder, retired member Dotian Levalier, former music director Leonard Slatkin, retired member Elisabeth Adkins, Paula Akbar, and Holly Hamilton)

With Mary Chapin Carpenter at a concert at Wolf Trap in August 2014.

Backstage at the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall with strong men, Derek and Jarek, after the December 2014 Cirque de la Symphonie performance.

We take Halloween very seriously around here! The first violin section as "The Wizard of Oz" in 2013.

 

Do you plan on staying involved in music in any way?

OF COURSE I PLAN ON STAYING INVOLVED IN MUSIC!! MUSIC IS MY MIDDLE NAME!! I'd love to play some shows, maybe chamber music on a cruise ship, tour with a troupe of gypsy musicians. . . . To paraphrase Ringo Starr, "I'm on my feet and I'm doing what I love to do, and I'm in a profession, as a musician, where we can go on for as long as we can go on."

 

Paula shows her love of music by taking extra time out of her schedule to coach chamber music students at the NSO's Summer Music Institute in 2010.

Paula with Viva Violins!, a group that performs concerts for youth. Photo by Carol Pratt. (from left: Jane Bowyer Stewart, student, Holly Hamilton, Elisabeth Adkins, and Paula Akbar)

 

Tell us anything else you would like!

I'm savoring every rehearsal and concert from now until my last service at Wolf Trap in August.

 

Paula truly is one-of-a-kind and we will miss her! Photo by Tim Coburn Photography.

 

We thank all our departing members for their service to the NSO and wish them the best!

 

Meet Our Musicians: Abel Pereira
Posted by Amy Drew

Abel Pereira is Principal Horn of the National Symphony Orchestra

We'd like to welcome Abel Pereira to the National Symphony! Abel won the position of Principal Horn in March 2014 and began performing with the NSO at the start of the 2014-2015 season. Be sure to look for Abel on stage!

 

Photo by Scott Suchman

 

 

What university did you attend?

ESMAE (Porto University, in Portugal)

 

Was it for music?

Yes

 

What is your favorite piece (or pieces) to play in the orchestra?

G. Mahler and R. Strauss compositions

 

Do you have a pre-concert ritual or routine?

I always take a nap and I like to eat a proper meal before the show.

 

Describe your favorite NSO moment:

My first concert with the NSO and Maestro Eschenbach at the Kennedy Center on Der Rosenkavalier with Renée Fleming, on the evening right after my audition for the job March 8, 2014. Every moment was full of music and passion and on that day I felt that my life would have a huge change!!!

 

What are three songs or pieces you love to listen to?

Frank Sinatra – "I Did It My Way"

Louis Armstrong – "What a Wonderful World"

Richard Strauss – Vier letzte Lieder

 

Did you grow up in a musical household?

Not at all.

 

What did you want to be growing up?

A ship captain.

 

When did you know you wanted to be a professional classical musician?

At the age of 14 when I left my parents' home to study music in a professional music school in another town.

 

What is your favorite thing about living in the D.C. area?

The ethnic diversity and the socio-cultural nature, the geographical location, the urban planning, and the proximity of spots with beautiful landscapes.

 

Where is your favorite D.C. hangout?

Georgetown.

Music Librarian vs. iPad
Posted by Amy Drew

Steven Honigberg, James Lee, and David Teie are cellists with the National Symphony Orchestra

Photos by Scott Suchman (from left: Honigberg, Lee, and Teie)

 

This Thursday and Saturday, April 30 and May 2, three of the NSO's own cellists, Steven Honigberg, James Lee, and David Teie will be featured as soloists in Penderecki's Concerto Grosso No. 1 for Three Cellos and Orchestra. Also on the concert is Johann Strauss, Jr's. Overture to Die Fledermaus and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.

Many things about this concert will be familiar, but this will be the first time that the NSO has performed the Penderecki. Over the years, the NSO has performed Beethoven's 5th a total of 198 times beginning in its founding year of 1931, and the Overture to Die Fledermaus has been performed 91 times. Not only will this weekend mark the first performance of Penderecki's Concerto Grosso, it also marks another exciting first. Instead of using printed music, Honigberg, Lee, and Teie will be reading their parts off of iPads. This is the first time this has ever been attempted at an NSO concert.

Our soloists were the ones who initially came up with the idea of using iPads for the performance. They believed it would give them the ability to perform more easily. It would be extremely difficult for all three soloists to try and turn pages at the same time, especially in such close proximity to one another and with a bow in one hand. Compared to a printed part on a traditional music stand, the iPad and its stand together are much smaller, which gives the audience a better visual of the soloists. Usually, the music stand shields much of the performer's body and instrument from the audience since the performer must be seated to play. Cellist James Lee even remarked that cello soloists often just look like a music stand with a head to audience members. Using the iPads would solve these problems and our orchestra library was ready to help make this idea a reality.

 

The iPads rest on special stands and even have their own stylus, so the musicians can mark their music.

 

Because preparing music for an iPad is so different than preparing printed music, we sat down with our Interim Associate Librarian, Danielle Wilt, who created iPad-ready parts for our cello soloists out of the printed parts. Here's what Danielle had to say about the process:

The iPad poses a very interesting issue when it becomes a substitute for printed music. The layout of a multiple paged piece of music is exactly like a book. The difference between reading printed music and reading a book is that a musician requires time and a free hand to turn the page. Therefore, when the music is printed, the layout of the music at the bottom of the right pages must be arranged so that the musician has printed rests (breaks in the music where the musician does not play).

 

Above, you can see the original page 14 of the score that needed to be altered. The last two measures (highlighted by the red box) of page 14 had to be moved to page 15 in order for our soloists to have time to "turn the page" via their foot pedals. The version that became the digital scan is below:

 

In the case of our performance you will see the cellists tap a foot pedal to turn each page on the screen. Since the iPad is only able to display one page of music at a time and printed even pages are typically never formatted to have page turn time, the library was asked to reformat the layout of all the pages for our soloists.

 

Foot pedal used by the cellists.

 

This is what I like to call a Frankenstein project. We make copies of the music, cut and shift the lines so each page has a rest at the bottom of the page, tape everything back together, then scan them to a digital format. The final product is an efficient piece of, in this case, digital material which allows our musicians to concentrate on what they do best. Making music!

Meet Our Musicians: William Gerlach
Posted by Amy Drew

William Gerlach is Principal Trumpet of the National Symphony Orchestra

We'd like to welcome William (Billy) Gerlach to the National Symphony! Billy won the position of Principal Trumpet in March 2014 and began performing with the NSO at the start of the 2014-2015 season. Billy will play his favorite piece, Mahler's Symphony No. 5, next week, May 7 – 9, 2015. Be sure to look for him on stage!

 

Photo by Scott Suchman.

 

1. What university or conservatory did you attend?

I attended Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music for my undergraduate degree and did work towards my master's degree at Northwestern's Bienen School of Music and Rice University's Shepherd School of Music.

 

2. What is your favorite piece (or pieces) to play in the orchestra?

Any symphony by Gustav Mahler, especially the 5th symphony!

 

3. Do you have a pre-concert ritual or routine?

I like to be as fresh and relaxed as possible so my routine always includes a pre concert nap, a light dinner, and a good warm up.

 

4. Describe your favorite NSO moment:

I am brand new this season and there have already been many memorable weeks. The two that really stand out to me so far are the all Bach concert with Helmuth Rilling and the all Beethoven concert with Herbert Blomstedt.

 

5. What are three songs or pieces you love to listen to?

Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F, Ravel's La Tombeau de Couperin, and Mahler's 8th Symphony

 

6. Did you grow up in a musical household?

Not at all!

 

7. When did you know you wanted to be a professional classical musician?

I immediately knew I wanted to be a classical musician when I heard the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra play Sibelius's 2nd symphony back in high school.

 

8. What is your favorite thing about living in the DC area?

The amazing food!!

 

9. Do you have any pets?

I don't have any pets but would love to get a dog sometime in the future.

 

10. What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

Because I am new to the area, I spend most of my free time exploring everything this amazing city has to offer!

 

11. Favorite movie:

Mrs. Doubtfire

 

12. Favorite sports team:

Go Packers! (My mom would kill me if I didn't say that)

Backstage with Don
Posted by Margaret Rajic

Margaret Rajic is the NSO Operations Intern.

 

Donald Tillett is the Stage Manager for the National Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Scott Suchman.

 

I recently sat down with Don Tillett, Stage Manager of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO). Don has worked in his current capacity as NSO Stage Manager for twelve years now, but has worked at the Kennedy Center for over forty-two years.

Don began by describing to me his typical Thursday at work. He and the rest of his crew members arrive bright and early at 8:00am to the Concert Hall. There, Don distributes the current week's seating chart to his crew and they work together for the next two hours to set the stage for a 10:00am rehearsal.

    Here is an example of the seating charts that are used:

 

Don then converts the seating charts into his own stage plot, and uses symbols to represent the different types of chairs needed for each section or player. The X's and O's are not to be mistaken for a diagram of defensive strategy in football:

The orchestra's rehearsal typically lasts about two and a half hours. Following the rehearsal, "tech time"- as it is affectionately referred to by the crew- takes place. This time is dedicated to piano tunings, organ tunings, maintenance on stand lights and instrument cases, and preparing all technical aspects necessary for concert production.

When it comes time for the concert that evening, Don sets the concert in motion by calling the lighting cues from backstage. He communicates with the lighting control room and the front of house to provide updates on the status of the conductor, soloist, and variables that might affect the concert's start time.

If all is in order, he will call the first light cue for the concertmaster's entrance and send the concertmaster out on stage. Then, in preparation for the Maestro's entrance, Don will call the next light cue and send the Maestro on stage.

Once the concert begins, he only has a few moments to breathe because the next piece on the program will likely have a different instrumentation that requires Don and his crew to make stage changes: i.e. to move pianos, bring out percussion instruments, and adjust/add chairs.

Don's experiences with the orchestra are not only limited to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. He has travelled around the world on NSO tours, and his presence behind the scenes has ensured that performances on the road take place as smoothly as possible. Don's job on tour has taken him many unexpected places that include, but are not limited to: a rural airport hours outside of Rio de Janeiro where he had to negotiate with customs officers in order to get all the instruments that had flown down, the cockpit of a freighter plane (Boeing 747 with no passenger seats) which was transporting NSO instruments to Europe, and a Chinese market where he purchased Beanie Babies and was given counterfeit yuan as his change.

Don recounted these memories with the biggest smile on his face. He remarked that he never could have imagined that his career, which began in accountancy, would take him to so many incredible places and provide him with so many unforgettable experiences.

Meet Our Musicians: Steven Honigberg
Posted by Amy Drew

Steven Honigberg is a cellist with the National Symphony Orchestra

Steven Honigberg has been a member of the National Symphony since 1984. With cellist colleagues James Lee and David Teie, he will be featured in Penderecki's Concerto Grosso April 30 and May 1, 2015.

What university or conservatory did you attend?

The Juilliard School of Music, received a Master of Music degree

 

What is your favorite piece (or pieces) to play in the orchestra?

My favorite works to play in orchestra include Britten's War Requiem, Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances, Bruckner's "Romantic" Symphony, Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony, Shostakovich Symphony No. 8, Debussy La Mer, Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, Stravinsky Petrouchka, Copland Symphony No. 3, Bernstein's West Side Story Dances, Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4, Brahms Symphony No. 1, Strauss Death and Transfiguration, Beethoven Symphony No. 6, Hanson "Romantic" symphony and Hindemith's Mathis der Maler.

 

Do you have a pre-concert ritual or routine?

Eat light and get to the hall early to warm up.

 

Describe your favorite NSO moment:

My favorite moment was Rostropovich's return to Russia with the NSO in February of 1990. The press coverage and people who swarmed us, seemingly at all times, were not to be believed.

 

What are three songs or pieces you love to listen to?

I like to listen to a variety of music outside the symphonic world when not working. It really depends upon my mood at the moment.

 

Did you grow up in a musical household?

Mother was and is currently a professional pianist who studied at the Eastman School and then with Marguerite Long in Paris. She gave her NY debut recital in Alice Tully Hall when I was 13. For a time my father was a composer and studied with Arthur Honegger in Paris. He also played the oboe in school. My father took me to all of my lessons as a child.

 

What did you want to be growing up?

I don't think I gave this very much thought. I was pretty much in the moment with my music and did not think about future work until I won a job here with the National Symphony in 1984.

 

When did you know you wanted to be a professional classical musician?

Again this was not what I thought about very much. I knew that I enjoyed playing the cello and that I turned to the instrument in times of distress for emotional healing.

 

What is your favorite thing about living in the D.C. area?

I love D.C.'s monuments, beauty in springtime, many fine restaurants and entertainment.

 

Where is your favorite D.C. hangout?

I enjoy visiting with my wonderful neighbors.

 

Do you have any pets?

My hobby is taking care of a large salt-water fish tank. I love its colors and underwater life. Sometimes after concerts I will view the tank in silence to relax.

 

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

I take on various projects from time to time. They are mostly music related and technology oriented. Such as writing a biography on my teacher at Juilliard, Leonard Rose, and creating YouTube videos for educational purposes.

 

Favorite movie:

Amadeus – wonderful portrayal of Mozart and the time in which he lived.

 

Favorite book:

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

 

Favorite sports team:

I grew up in Chicago and became a big sports fan early in life. I still root for all Chicago teams.

 

Name one thing people would be surprised to know about you.

I have 3 false front teeth – knocked out of my mouth playing hockey when I was 12. I received a 2-minute tripping penalty on the play.

 

Meet Our Musicians: Leah Arsenault
Posted by Amy Drew

Leah Arsenault is Assistant Principal Flute of the National Symphony Orchestra

We'd like to Welcome Leah Arsenault to the National Symphony! Leah won the position of Assistant Principal Flute in June 2014 and has been performing with the NSO ever since. Leah was happy to share more about herself now that she has had time to settle into life in Washington, DC. Be sure to look for her on stage at upcoming NSO performances!

 

What university or conservatory did you attend?

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and The Colburn School

 

Was it for music?

yes    

 

What is your favorite piece (or pieces) to play in the orchestra? 

Anything by Brahms or Dvořák.They both have such great writing for wind instruments.  

 

Do you have a pre-concert ritual or routine?

I like to eat a big meal and head to the hall early to focus and calm my mind.

 

Describe your favorite NSO moment:

This is my first season, so my favorite moment so far would be when I learned I got the job of course!

 

What are three songs or pieces you love to listen to?

It's hard to choose, but I love listening to Brahms piano trios and and I also really enjoy listening to jazz, especially the old standards.     

 

Did you grow up in a musical household?

Neither of my parents are musicians, but they did require that both my brother and I take piano lessons.

 

What did you want to be growing up?

With the exception of a few months in the eighth grade when I thought I wanted to be an engineer, I've always wanted to be a musician.

 

When did you know you wanted to be a professional classical musician?

Though I started out on piano, it wasn't until I started playing the flute that I found my calling in music and knew I wanted to focus on that specifically. It was probably my freshman year of high school that I started to realize that if I worked hard enough, I could really make it a career.

 

What is your favorite thing about living in the DC area?

People are so friendly here! And it's on the east coast. I'm definitely an east coaster at heart.

 

Do you have any pets?

I have a three-legged cat named Basil.

 

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

There are so many ways! I am crazy about yoga and all things "mind and body" and love to hike and be active outdoors. I also love learning about and eating cheese and baking bread. One of my favorite things is to go out to hear live jazz.

 

Favorite book:

Current favorite is "Crossing to Safety" by Wallace Stegner.

 

Name one thing people would be surprised to know about you.

I once catered a friend's backyard wedding for 70 guests. It was one of the most stressful things I've ever done.

O Christmas Tree…
Posted by Krysta Cihi

Krysta Cihi is the Asst. Manager of Production and Operations for the National Symphony.

December is here, and festive evergreens are all around: In Rockefeller Center, the White House… and of course, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Each year the NSO Production staff and Crew are tasked with decking the Concert Hall with wreaths, garlands, bells and snowflakes… and of course, the Christmas trees! Here are some photos from this year's glittery fun, and a video to see the whole decorating process!

Bare trees, ready for decorating!

Believe it or not, these ornaments are for only ONE tree.

Santa's helper…

The finished product!

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