Featured Q&A: Music Director Gianandrea Noseda, who will be conducting the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) this month.
GEORGETOWN MEDIA GROUP: Tell us more about the programs you are conducting in D.C. this month.
GIANANDREA NOSEDA: The programs in January 2022 are dedicated to Beethoven and two great 20th-century American composers, George Walker and William Grant Still. The idea is to explore the development of symphonic form since it was Beethoven who reshaped the symphony in a way that affected everyone from Schubert to Brahms and Mahler to Shostakovich. D.C. native George Walker—the first Black composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music—and William Grant Still—the first Black composer to have a symphony performed by a leading orchestra—also felt Beethoven’s profound influence so it will be fascinating for audiences to hear how Beethoven, Walker, and Grant Still inform and enlighten one another.
GMG: What are some of your proudest accomplishments the last few years with the NSO?
GN: At the top of the list is the quality of the NSO’s playing regardless of the repertoire we are presenting. Actually, it’s not just the quality but the technical skill of the NSO whether we are approaching Bach and Handel (the Messiah last month was stupendous) or music written today, such as a work by Carlos Simon, the Kennedy Center’s new Composer-in-Residence. The chameleon-like spirit of the orchestra and its ability to adapt is my proudest musical accomplishment with this great orchestra.
GMG: When did you first know you wanted to do something involving music as a career?
GN: It has to be when I was teenager around the age of 16 or 17. I started piano lessons when I was five-and-a-half years old and during my teens I began exploring composition, musicology, and conducting. It was really at that point that I knew music would be the principal part of my life.
GMG: How difficult has it been for the NSO during the pandemic? What has gotten you through?
GN: Of course, it was difficult not to see each other from March 2020 – March 2021. During that period, my biggest duty and responsibility was to motivate the NSO and keep the momentum going on what we had already accomplished together since 2017. The artists of the NSO did a fantastic job reinventing themselves with many digital initiatives including NSO @ Home. My role was to communicate regularly with them and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel which we are hopefully nearing. Ultimately, I needed them to know I was part of the family through every virtual means at my disposal even if I couldn’t be there physically.
GMG: What are your goals for the next 5 years with the NSO?
GN: In the future, I want to make our relationship even stronger and make the NSO a transformative part of Washington, D.C., America, and globally through touring, recording, residencies, digital initiatives, and many other projects. I want the National Symphony Orchestra to be a truly national orchestra.
In other news…
Rubell Arts Museum Coming Along
Art collectors Don and Mera Rubell are working on opening a second location of their “Rubell Museum” (the first being in Miami). The Rubells are hoping to open their second location sometime this year in the closed Randall Junior High School in SW DC. Additional details will be forthcoming.
Local Artists “Take to the Streets”
Tenleytown resident Sid Edelmann decided to try woodworking in his retirement from the World Bank. As of July 2021, he created Little Gallery, a place reminiscent of the Little Free Libraries all over the city. The wooden structure serves as a mini art gallery for local artists of any age to display their creations. Since the summer, Little Gallery has featured 21 artists. The exhibit is located at 4400 Fessenden St. NW, along with a Little Free Library and a library of sticks for your canine companions.