The National Symphony Orchestra held the family concert – A “Sleepy Hollow”-een – on Sunday afternoon, October 25, 2015 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Concert Hall. Children and their families, many of them colorfully dressed in wonderful Halloween costumes, attend this lively concert. The Kennedy Center graciously donated tickets for patient families from Children’s National Health System to attend the concert and from the start, you could tell that this was not going to be your typical concert. As the organist played the first piece of the concert – J.S. Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” – all the NSO musicians danced down the aisles of the Concert Hall in full Halloween costumes! Kids and parents pointed enthusiastically to their favorite costumes, and some musicians gave M&Ms to kids sitting close to the aisles. When all the musicians reached their respective sections, the concert conductor, Stephen Reineke, proudly strolled out from the wings dressed as the Phantom of the Opera to a rousing applause!
The program had music accessible for kids and adults alike. From the “Phantom of the Opera” Overture, to “In the Hall of the Mountain King” and “Hedwig’s Theme” (from Harry Potter), the concert catered to music familiar to young and old. Even the stage lights created a lively environment matching the various musical pieces. The last piece – Washington Irving’s ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, narrated by Michael Kramer – provided a ghoulish and poetic performance of this classic story with orchestral music bringing the characters and scenes to life. Afterwards, the orchestra closed the concert with a song not on the program – the main theme to the movie “Ghost Busters” – that had the whole audience yelling “Ghost Busters” and dancing in synch with music! Bravo NSO!!
I saw patient families smiling at the musicians’ costumes, applauding enthusiastically after hearing familiar orchestral pieces, and screaming “Ghost Busters” inside the Concert Hall at the top of their lungs! One of the mothers of a Children’s Hospital patient spoke with me afterwards and stated that she really enjoyed having the opportunity to bring her whole family to the Kennedy Center concert. One thing I love about the NSO family concerts is that families can feel comfortable knowing that their kids can just be kids when attending these performances.
Thank you to Children’s National Health System, the Kennedy Center, and the National Symphony Orchestra for partnering with The XA Project to provide this fabulous experience for pediatric patients and their families!! The Arts really do Touch Hearts!