This Sunday, September 24, brings the NSO's Season Opening Ball Concert, with Slatkin conducting an all-Tchaikovsky program followed by a formal dinner and dancing. Joshua Bell will be the featured soloist in the composer's Violin Concerto, soprano Irina Mataeva and tenor Daniil Shtoda will sing excerpts from the opera Eugene Onegin and the posthumous duet Romeo and Juliet, and the orchestra will play the Marche slave and, with the U.S. Army Chorus, the 1812 Overture.
The National Symphony will present six major premieres this season — three of them in the next month. Ilan Volkov, music director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, makes his NSO debut conducting the U.S. premiere of British composer Jonathan Harvey's ... towards a Pure Land Sept. 28-30. The following week (Oct. 5-7), James Galway is the soloist in the world premiere of Flute Mystery, a one-movement concerto for alto flute and orchestra by Norwegian composer Fred Jonny Berg. On Oct. 19-21, Slatkin conducts the NSO in the world premiere of Beyond rivers of vision, which was composed by James Lee III as the dissertation for his doctorate from the University of Michigan.
World premieres in the second half of the season include Liquid Interface by Mason Bates (Feb. 22-24), a new piano concerto composed by Jennifer Higdon for Lang Lang and the National Symphony (May 15-17), and, in the final concert of the season (June 7-9), Four Angels, a concerto for harp and orchestra by Mark Adamo.
Among the other notable events of the National Symphony's 2006-07 season:
* former NSO music director Mstislav Rostropovich conducting two programs of Shostakovich (Nov. 2-4 and 9-11), with soloists including Maxim Vengerov, Martha Argerich and Yo-Yo Ma;
* concert performances (January 18-22) of Strauss's Salome with Deborah Voigt in the title role and Alan Held as Jokanaan (Jan. 18-22);
* Ivšn Fischer conducting Mendelssohn's First Symphony and complete incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream (Feb. 8-10);
* the brothers Capu‹on (violinist Renaud and cellist Gautier) performing Brahms's Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra (Feb. 15-17)
* Osmo V‹nsk‹ conducting Sibelius's Rakastava and Violin Concerto (with Leonidas Kavakos) and Kalevi Aho's Symphonic Dances (Mar. 8-10); and
* a "Serious Fun" festival co-directed by Slatkin and Peter Schickele and featuring such works as The Barber of Seville Goes to the Devil, Le carnaval d'Aix, Uptown Hoedown, Variations on "Pop! Goes the Weasel" and (of course) samples of the oeuvre of P.D.Q. Bach (May 10-12);
Among the guest conductors performing with the NSO this season are Manfred Honeck, Emmanuel Krivine and Jir‹ Belohlšvek. Other visiting soloists include pianists Yefim Bronfman, Andr_ Watts, Yundi Li and Katia and Marielle Labque; violinists Leila Josefowicz, Chee-Yun, Janine Jansen, Julia Fischer and Christian Tetzlaff; and cellist Lynn Harrell.
For more information on the National Symphony Orchestra and its concert series at the Kennedy Center, visit www.kennedy-center.org/nso/.