“The clapping began in the upper balcony of the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and spread through the auditorium until the entire audience was clapping in rhythm,” writes Anne Midgette in Thursday’s (3/30) Washington Post. “The National Symphony Orchestra had just finished its first performance in Russia in nearly a quarter of a century… It demonstrated that, at a time when political rhetoric is heated, music may be offering the real language of diplomacy…  The NSO is playing another concert in Moscow on Thursday and one in St. Petersburg Friday before flying home… The NSO has come to honor its late music director, Mstislav Rostropovich, at the annual festival that his daughter Olga created in his memory, on what would have been his 90th birthday. Rostropovich … led the NSO for 17 seasons, after he was exiled from the Soviet Union… When he returned in 1990 for the first time, he brought the NSO with him—and got a Beatles-style welcome.” This week in Moscow, “When the last notes of Schubert’s Ninth Symphony died away, the applause … gradually built to that rhythmic, pounding clapping. We want to like music. And we want to like each other. That may be the most profound message, at the moment, that cultural diplomacy has to offer.”

Posted March 31, 2017

Pictured: Members of the National Symphony Orchestra and guests gather for a group photo in Moscow’s Red Square. Photo: Scott Suchman/National Symphony Orchestra