ArtsIn Z HoodMusic

A Dynamic Delivery at Capital One Music Hall

The Power of One Woman

Maestra Gemma New, who joined the National Symphony Orchestra in 2019, eloquently conducts Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia, the Sibelius Symphony Number 5, and the world-premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Violin Concerto, written during and inspired by the pandemic. (Photo Scott MacConomy)

Alexandria, VA – In 1987 Congress declared March National Women’s History Month. I wonder if 35 years ago anyone could have foreseen a young, blonde ponytailed New Zealand-born woman named Gemma New conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in a premier performance by superstar Jennifer Koh of a violin concerto about coping during a medieval pandemic (the plague) composed by Missy Mazzoli during COVID.

The state-of-the-art performance venue at Capital One Music Hall was modeled after the warm, intimate setting of Radio City Music Hall yet the space is expansive and quite contemporary. (Photo Kelly MacConomy)

Last month the National Symphony Orchestra returned to the Capital One Music Hall in Tysons after its debut appearance on November 5. With elegance and flair, powerhouse conductor Gemma New delivered an emotive yet decisive punch to Vaughan William’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.

Violinist Jennifer Koh, exquisite in cobalt couture, presented con brio the premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Violin Concerto (co-commissioned by the NSO) with astonishing vibrancy and articulate expression. The program concluded with Symphony No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op 82 by Sibelius, letting the brass sparkle and shine in the greatest symphonic ending of all time!

There’s no doubt that back in 1987, the rebranding of Tysons Corner to “Just Tysons!” followed by the building of a whole new Boro neighborhood and a state-of-the-art performance and event space had yet to advance from a pipe dream. The extension of the Metro to Tysons put all the puzzle pieces in place. After 20-some odd years of planning, the Capital One Music Hall ribbon was cut last fall. On October 1, 2021, operatic pop star Josh Grobin dazzled in opening the packed, stunning space fashioned after the iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York.

On that date, Omicron hadn’t quite hit the big time. Seats were filled. Masks were more relaxed for the vaccinated. By February 2022, vaccination cards and photo IDs were required. Masks were monitored. Social distancing was inherent in ticketing and self-enforced, with patrons spreading out into unoccupied seats.

National Symphony Orchestra Bassists greet young musicians and fans after a rigorous and articulate performance of Sibelius, Brahms, and the premier of a new violin concerto by Missy Mazzoli. (Photo Scott MacConomy)

The memorable February 4 program had been performed the night before at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. It was the second of four NSO concert series to be held at the Capital One Music Hall for the 2021-2022 season. The next two NSO collaborations will be in June. On Friday, June 10, seven-time Grammy Award-winning Emmanuel Ax plays Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with Marek Janowski conducting.

Brahms Tragic Overture and Serenade No. 2 in A Major, Op. 16, will round out the program. Brahms dedicated the Serenade to composer and pianist Clara Schumann, wife of the Romantic-era composer Robert Schumann. Clara was a friend who greatly influenced the 19th-century German composer. More girl power!

The June 24 program has Steve Reineke conducting NSO Pops: A Celebration of John Williams. It’s the composer/conductor’s 90th birthday. The NSO is pulling out all the stops to showcase the living legend’s body of symphonic and iconic cinematic-score literature. With 52 Academy Award nominations, John Williams is the most Oscar-nominated person after Walt Disney, who had 59.

The Capital One Music Hall is unique in its partnership with Fairfax County, whichpermits use of the center by local arts nonprofits at cost through ArtsFairfax. Capital One Center managing Director Jonathan Griffith expressed praise for the alliance, saying, “We are honored to celebrate the inaugural season of Capital One Hall with the National Symphony Orchestra. This dynamic arts and entertainment destination has received accolades from our community during the inaugural performances. Its world-class acoustics will provide the perfect setting for the stature of the NSO’s talent and beautiful music.”

Wonder women violinist Jennifer Koh, composer Missy Mazzoli, and conductor Gemma New with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Capital One Music Hall in Tysons. (Photo NSO)

Waitress kicked off the first of the many planned Broadway revival series in October. The 2016 Broadway hit, based on music and lyrics by Sarah Bareilles, the 2007 film by Adrienne Shelly, and the book by Jessie Nelson earned four Tony nominations. Waitress might have won Best Musical had it not opened the same year as the story about a New Yorker named Alexander Hamilton. The plot revolves around the stories of three waitresses working in a diner. Waitress evocatively showcases the plaintive and powerful performance going through everyday life.

Upcoming at Capital One Hall is Fiddler on the Roof, opening March 11 with five performances through March 13. Come on out to the Capital One Music Hall. It’s not your parents’ Tysons anymore. The National Symphony Orchestra and Broadway in Z Hood….What a match that makes!

Capital One Hall is located at 7750 Capital One Tower Road, Tysons, Virginia 22102. Get more information and tickets at www.capitalonehall.com

ICYMI: Alexandria Choral Society Returning for March 19 Performance at George Washington Masonic National Memorial

Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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