In the Moment: Wolf Trap and the NSO Celebrate 100th Anniversary of National Parks Service on Friday, 7/1

American epic grandeur will be visible and heard at Wolf Trap when the National Symphony Orchestra presents America the Beautiful in a grand pre-July 4th event.

'America the Beautiful.' Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
‘America the Beautiful.’ Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Conductor Emil de Cou. Photo courtesy of his website.
Conductor Emil de Cou. Photo courtesy of his website.

There will be breath-taking large-scale images that many will instantly recognize from travels or iconic photographs and movies. They are icons of America’s natural beauty from various National Parks around the United States. With the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Wolf Trap (itself a national park) and the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is “thrilled to present America the Beautiful at Wolf Trap.“ said NSO conductor Emil de Cou.

Wolf Trap, the only National Park dedicated to the performing arts noted de Cou. The performance aims “to be an electrifying evening” of striking visuals and stunning music noted de Cou.

The evening’s program will premiere the “National Park Suite”- a visual concerto performed by multimedia artist Nicholas Bardonnay of Westwater Arts projected on in-house screens. The projected photographs of America’s National Parks will be seen in crisp, awesome large-scale format.

Nicholas Bardonnay. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Nicholas Bardonnay. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

The stunning photographic images of National Park will include Canyonlands in Utah; Mesa Verde, Colorado; Death Valley, California; Denali, Alaska, as well as from Yellowstone, Wyoming; Yosemite, California: and the Grand Canyon, and more.

In a lively, joyful interview, Emil de Cou described the premiere of the National Park visual concerto event as, “a love letter to the American people.  It will be a thrill to salute the beauty and grandeur of our American National Parks.” The program is, “to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service by connecting dazzling, iconic images with beautiful music creating an electric atmosphere for the audience.”

The NSO will help the Wolf Trap audience to journey across America using the exquisite Largo from Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9; “From the New World” as images are choreographed with the music. While not born in America, Dvorak lived in the United States when he composed the symphony in the 1890’s. Some may recall that Neil Armstrong carried a recording of “From the New World” on Apollo 11 when he ventured to the moon in July 1969.

De Cou noted that the evening’s program features orchestral music that that celebrates America’s natural beauty and grandeur, but without projected photographs. The program will include compositions by Gershwin, Grofé’s “On the Trail” from Grand Canyon Suite, Copland’s “Promise of Living” from The Tender Land as well as Stephen Sondheim’s wistful Night Waltz. These are works befitting Wolf Trap’s bucolic outdoor setting.

As special guests, the NSO will be joined by the ceremonial US Army Herald Trumpets, the Wolf Trap Opera singers, and bass-baritone Alan Held, who recently sang the role of Wotan in the Washington National Opera’s recent Ring cycle.

As is now becoming a delightful NOS tradition showing how “unstarchy” the musicians are; there will be a distinctive performance from Glenn Donnellan who has performed the National Anthem at Nationals Park. 

Much is being written about the National Park Service founding by President Theodore Roosevelt.  More information is here. 

The United Stage Postal Service has issued beautiful commemorative stamps.

And the local Reston Virginia Photographic Society, League of Reston Artists recently had an exhibition of photographs to celebrate the NPS.

All-in-all what a wonderful, tuneful, visual way to begin the July 4th Holiday long weekend.

“It is fitting to see and hear this tribute to the National Parks at another National Park, Wolf Trap.” added de Cou.

Do take this opportunity to see unforgettable American images and hear memorable music performed by the extraordinary National Symphony Orchestra at the cherished Wolf Trap. Separately and together they will evocate great emotions of pride. Let the pleasures of the evening just wash over you.

Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

America the Beautiful, the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Emil de Cou, celebrates the National Park Service’s centennial year, featuring premiere of choreographed photographs by Nicholas Bardonnay, plays Friday, July 1, 2016 at 8:15 PM at The Filene Center at Wolf Trap – 1645 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. For tickets, call (877) 965-3872, or purchase them online.

Note: there is a pre-performance discussion one hour before the start of this performance with Nicholas Bardonnay, Creative Director & CEO of Westwater Arts.

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David Siegel
David Siegel is a freelance theater reviewer and features writer whose work appears on DC Theater Arts, ShowBiz Radio, in the Connection Newspapers and the Fairfax Times. He is a judge in the Helen Hayes Awards program. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and volunteers with the Arts Council of Fairfax County. David has been associated with theater in the Washington, DC area for nearly 30 years. He served as Board President, American Showcase Theater Company (now Metro Stage) and later with the American Century Theater as both a member of the Executive Board and as Marketing Director. You can follow David's musings on Twitter @pettynibbler.


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