Friends of Music
The opening of the 2013–2014 season was noteworthy in a number of ways. First, it marked the Washington, D.C., debut of the New York–based orchestra The Knights, who, with twenty-three musicians, were the largest ensemble ever to perform in the Music Room.
Although the concert embraced a wide variety of musical eras and styles, the centerpiece of the program was Igor Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, in commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of its premiere in 1938. The work was commissioned by Mildred Barnes Bliss to celebrate her thirtieth wedding anniversary. A copy of the original two-disc, 78-rpm recording is preserved in the Dumbarton Oaks Archives. Revisiting the work in the same lovely space where it was first introduced to the music world added considerable appeal to the event.
In addition, The Knights performed two contemporary Washington, D.C., premieres: a concerto for violin, santur (a classical Persian hammer dulcimer), and orchestra by violinist Colin Jacobsen and santur virtuoso Siamak Aghaei; and the orchestra’s collectively composed . . . the ground beneath our feet, which was inspired by a ground bass from Tarquinio Merula’s Ciaccona of 1637. The evening was rounded out with performances of Steve Reich’s Duet for Two Violins and Strings, J. S. Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe, and Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 8, “Le Soir.” The Knights received a standing ovation. The entire concert, which took place on October 7 and 8, was recorded for commercial release on CD.