Today's post is from NSO @ Wolf Trap's Festival Conductor Emil de Cou.
It's time to round up unusual suspects: Ingrid Bergman, a genie, a hidden dragon, Marvin Hamlisch, a serial killer, a dancing plum, a folk hero, and three divas. Shocked, shocked, and shocked? The NSO @ Wolf Trap plays it again with a wildly eclectic cast of characters from stage, screen, and concert hall for a season of musts you will surely remember.
We begin our summer tomorrow, July 7, with a tribute to Tchaikovsky, a composer who has become as American as the Fourth of July with the cannons of his 1812 Overture. We pit the cannons of his 1812 Overture against the glittering musical ornaments of that Christmas classic, the Nutcracker Suite, his beloved Violin Concerto, and music from his opera Eugene Onegin.
Like opera, the video game genre (and by now the level of talent devoted to its merits that appellation) engages all of our senses with music, action, and visual effects. Still, it came as a surprise to all of us that since we first presented PLAY! A Video Game Symphony (July 8) in 2006, the rollicking music of Civilization (TM) and The Legend of Zelda (R) performed with orchestra, chorus, and video has proven to be a true new NSO @ Wolf Trap tradition. The music and images are interwoven in an innovative and magical way; this is definitely not your father's Pac-Man or your grandmother's Pong. We've come a long way from "Doot-deet doot-deet doodle-deedle-deet!"
Two evenings are devoted to the most celebrated of American art forms - the Broadway musical. Three brassy Broadway Divas (July 9) will bring down the house with some of the greatest torch songs, ballads, and showstoppers ever written, leaving you hungry - err, eager- when we serve up a staged production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd (July 22), the tale of a murderous barber and his pie-baking lady friend (definitely not Marie Callendar). Bring mustard and mayo, but if you're planning to sit close to the stage, the ketchup is on the house.
Three evenings celebrate the magic of movies, from martial arts to love stories to family classics. Academy Award-winning Chinese composer Tan Dun (Aug. 5) has created three concert works based on his scores for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Banquet, and Hero. Each will feature an outstanding young NSO soloist. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains mix it up at Rick's Cafe Americain in the East Coast premiere of the live orchestra accompaniment to the 1942 classic Casablanca (July 30). Pack the popcorn and pull out your Popsicles for Disney in Concert: Magical Music from the Movies (Aug. 4) featuring music from The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King.
A summer without Marvin Hamlisch (July 29) and the NSO @ Wolf Trap would be like.... well, a summer without Marvin Hamlisch and the NSO @ Wolf Trap! The consummate composer for Broadway and Hollywood returns with what he has done for love: create timeless melodies that have garnered him the Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar, Tony, and Pulitzer Prize. You'll want to kiss and sigh as Broadway leading man Brian Stokes Mitchell and the newest Broadway Baby, Stephanie J. Block, join Hamlisch in music celebrating lovers, young and old and in-between.
Fifty fingers formidably fling 440 keys from five fine pianos when the 5 Browns (July 28) take the stage accompanied by the NSO. (Say that five times.) Keep an eye on those hands as they wander up, down, and across the keyboard for Mozart's Concerto for Three Pianos, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos, plus a Suite from John Williams's music for Star Wars, both specially arranged for five pianos.
In our final concert of the season folk-singing legend Arlo Guthrie (Aug. 6) makes his NSO @ Wolf Trap debut alongside three young classically-trained musicians. "Time for Three" is a one-time-only evening when classics collide with country and folk meets funk.
If this season leaves the ground and you're not with us, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life...
Okay, enough with the Bogie! Here's looking at you, Wolf Trap!