Listening to a symphony lets you peer into the mind of a genius without deciphering chalkboards full of equations or sticking a telescope in Stephen Hawking’s ear. View the work of a master with this GrouponLive deal to see the National Symphony Orchestra at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For $75, you get one ticket for seating in the prime-orchestra section at any three classical performances of the fall 2012 season (a $177 value).
For the first half of the 2012–2013 season, Maestro Christoph Eschenbach hews true to the National Symphony Orchestra’s illustrious, 81-year history. In the first regular-season concert after the Opening Ball, mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor sings the late Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs (October 4–6), originally written as a surprise for his wife, who was able to perform the cycle only a few times before passing away in 2006. O’Connor visited Lieberson a short time later, and the composer gladly gave his blessing to her haunting rendition of the poignant saga. Singing this adaptation of the Chilean poet’s sonnets, which run from true love’s shy dawn to its bitter mortal end, O’Connor is well equipped—in the words of the New York Times’ Steve Smith—with a “smoky sound and riveting stage presence.”
As part of the symphony’s three-year exploration of an indelible legend, the maestro conducts an international assemblage of vocal soloists and the Choral Arts Society of Washington for Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (November 1 and 3), a piece as rich, warm, layered, and tragic as a freshly baked pie dropped on a college-entrance essay. For the final performance of the year, the University of Maryland Concert Choir joins an annual tradition in Handel’s Messiah (December 20–23), one of the few Baroque compositions to enjoy a continuous performance tradition since its 18th-century debut without going stale like "Hot Cross Buns."
National Symphony Orchestra
Along with regularly airing the masters, the NSO has commissioned more than 60 original works, and regularly provides educational opportunities and exhibitions to aspiring composers, conductors, and musicians. Since 1986, the symphony has been a stalwart affiliate of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and puts on as many as 175 performances there annually. Seven crystal chandeliers presented by Norway to the Kennedy Center dangle below the Concert Hall's intricate acoustical canopy and stare down the organ standing sentry at the back of the stage.