Classical music can often conjure up images of nature with just a simple melody. But on June 1st, visitors to the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum can simultaneously enjoy nature and music at a National Symphony Orchestra quartet performance in the Museum’s courtyard.
We interviewed the members of the quartet about the connection between music and nature and how the group’s visit to the Museum immediately enticed them to play at one of “D.C.’s hidden gems.”
The group said that the NSO had been in talks with the National Bonsai Foundation about the possibility of performing about one year ago, but they were officially sold on the idea of a concert after a trip to the Museum themselves.
“Once you step into the Bonsai Museum, you feel transported miles away from the city and the NSO hopes this performance at the Museum can have a similar transformative effect on listeners,” one of the group’s musicians said.
The quartet consists of violinists Hanna Lee and Jing Qiao, violist Eric deWaardt and cellist Loewi Lin. DeWaardt has played with the orchestra for more than 30 years, while Lee and Qiao are in their inaugural season, and Loewi will officially become a member of the orchestra next season.
“It’s nice to have both familiar and fresh faces representing the NSO in the community,” a member of the quartet said.
The pieces range from traditional Chinese and Japanese folk songs, which will pay homage to the Museum’s bonsai collections, to Philip Glass’ “Mishima” quartet and “Spring” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which will connect audiences to the Museum’s surrounding natural elements.
The quartet said they selected pieces by composers from a range of time periods, but all of the music is inspired by the nature the musicians found in the Museum.
Their method reflects what composers do when they draw on natural elements as inspiration for their compositions – for example, Smetana’s The Moldau, which brings the Vltava River to life or Debussy’s La Mer written about the sea.
“The NSO strives to make symphonic music accessible to everyone in Washington, D.C. and reach new audiences, and we’re very excited to have this new partnership with the National Bonsai Foundation which supports the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum,” another member of the quartet said. “We hope this concert will bring listeners a little peace and help them enjoy the beautiful surrounds of the Museum!”
Reserve your spot now for the NSO’s performance June 1st! Reservations are suggested but not required.