In Friday’s (12/30) Washington Post, Roger Catlin describes the National Symphony Orchestra’s residency from January 3 to 9 in Washington D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood as a “full-scale musical occupation. The NSO’s most ambitious outreach programs have been to outposts in places such as Alaska and Kentucky, largely serving communities without access to large metropolitan orchestras. But this invasion takes place a little more than 2½ miles up New Hampshire Avenue from the orchestra’s Kennedy Center headquarters…. Most of the more than 30 free performances will feature smaller ensembles in all manner of makeshift concert halls: schoolrooms, community centers, neighborhood arts spaces, restaurants and barrooms….  ‘Geography is seemingly less of a barrier here,’ says Warren Williams, the NSO community engagement manager; especially in comparison with Alaska or Kentucky. ‘But there are other barriers: cultural barriers, financial barriers or societal barriers that may prevent people from going to Metro and seeing the orchestra. They may not know how they’ll be treated in the concert hall. They may not know how to dress. They may not know what to do.’ … ‘The hope,’ says Williams, ‘is to get the National Symphony Orchestra on their radar. We’re hoping to inspire, to have new audiences consider us as an option, to broaden the people’s palate. When people can recognize the NSO and say, ‘They came to my school,’ it lends a sense of civic pride we hope to promote.”

Posted January 4, 2012