National Chamber Ensemble’s ‘Annual Holiday Concert’


It’s my favorite holiday concert and again this year I attended National Chamber Ensemble’s Annual Holiday Concert on Sunday, December 14, 2014. It was one heck of a fun sleigh ride filled with works by Bach, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, and Leroy Anderson, and others, performed with much love by fabulously talented and joy-filled musicians from age 10 and up.

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The concert opened with Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Mini Overture and March (arranged by Lynne Latham) followed by Leroy Anderson’s popular ‘Sleigh Ride’ It immediately filled the intimate Spectrum Theatre at Artisphere with the holiday spirit. Mary-Claire Burick, President of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District was the delightful guest host.

Through the magic of YouTube let me take you into the concert and watch some highlights of this festive performance. These videos and musicians tell the story better than I ever could.

Evelyn Song,.Leo Sushansky, Annabelle Song and Patrick D. McCoy.
Evelyn Song,.Leo Sushansky, Annabelle Song, and Patrick D. McCoy. Photo by David Drits.

Two sisters-12 year-old pianist Annabelle Song performed Bach’s Piano Concerto in F minor with great confidence, while sister Evelyn Song, who is 15 and a superb violinist, performed Duets by Shostakovich for Two Violins with National Chamber Ensemble’s Artistic Director Leo Sushansky. You could see that they really enjoyed playing this beautiful composition together.

When Evelyn had the solo spotlight there was a lot of passion coming from her bow as she breathed fire into Wieniawsky’s Polonaise in D Major. She was accompanied by Natasha Dukan on piano, who accompanied several of the musicians throughout the concert..

And the highlight of the concert ended the first half of the concert when 12 young violinists from age 8 to 21 joined the National Chamber Ensemble for a rousing performance of the Bach Double Concerto: Keyboard Concerto in F minor and Concerto for Two Violins in D minor-Vivace. It was a sight to behold – pure teamwork! I loved watching the youngest musicians play. I was kvelling!

Next in the spotlight we had the National Chamber Ensemble: Natasha Dukan (piano), Jorge Orozco (violin), Leo Sushansky (violin), Uri Wassertzug (viola), and Vasily Popov (cello) performing Dvorak Piano Quintet in A Major.

And there was a beautiful Chanukah medley so me and my fellow Chanukah celebrators would yearn for some Latkes and a game of dreidel. 

Guitarist Andrew Pal  Photo by
Guitarist Andrew Pal Photo by David Drits.

Also contributing to the performance was Pop rock guitarist Andrew Pal whose electric guitar shimmered through Christmas Eve/Sarajevo and Wizards in Winter, by Paul O’Neill and Robert Kinkel and arranged by Bob Phillips, as performed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

And although most people attended this concert for the music and the wonderful performances, I attended for other reasons. My friend Leo Sushansky and I share a common goal-to inspire young musicians and actors and lovers of music and theater and the arts. And when I saw all those young musicians playing together my heart melted and I felt so proud of what Leo has accomplished with this amazing National Chamber Ensemble and the love for music that he has passed on to this new generation of musicians. It was so heartwarming watching all the hugs and hi-fives that took place at the post-performance reception. I’m still smiling

Patrick D. McCoy leads the 'Carols Sing Along.' Photo by David Drits.
Patrick D. McCoy leads the ‘Carols Sing Along.’ Photo by David Drits.

And finally a Yuletide Sing-Along – Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson. Now let’s all sing along with tambourine-shaking Tenor Patrick D. McCoy.

Happy holidays and a happy and healthy and music-filled 2015!


Running Time: 90 minutes and a 15-minute intermission.

National Chamber Ensemble’s Annual Holiday Concert was performed on Sunday, December 14. 2014 at the Spectrum Theatre at Artisphere-1611 North Kent Street, in Arlington, VA. For future National Chamber Ensemble performances, visit their website.

The National Chamber Ensemble is supported in part by the Arlington Cultural Affairs Division of Arlington Economic Development and the Arlington Commission for the Arts.

The National Chamber Ensemble is partially supported by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

5 Minutes with Leo Sushansky’ and National Chamber Ensemble’s Holiday Concert is This Sunday, December 14th at 4:30 PM at Artisphere Spectrum Theatre.

An Interview with National Chamber Ensemble’s Leo Sushansky on Their May 10th Mother’s Day Concert by Jane Coyne.

National Chamber Ensemble’s ‘Night of Italian Opera’ reviewed by Ruthann Pippenger on October 27, 2014.

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Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.


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