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Kennedy Center Review: KCOH Orchestra Musicians Perform on the Millenium Stage

By Jane Fitzpatrick

Appreciate Opera Contributing Author

On December 27th, members of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra performed on the Millenium Stage of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The concert highlighted two “lesser-known instruments,” the oboe and the viola. 

The performance opened with a lively duet: Piotr Szewczyk’s Morning Elation: Fanfare for Oboe and Viola featuring Emily Tsai, oboe, and Uri Wassertzug, viola. Tsai and Wassertzug gave majestic sound to the starring instruments for the entirety of the program, which also included works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms (arr. David Plylar), and Charles M. Loeffler. Tsai and Wassertzug were joined by cellist Danielle Cho for Bach’s Selections from the Goldberg Variations for Oboe, Viola, and Cello, a set that Bach composed based on the rumor that a count who suffered from insomnia desired musical enjoyment from his in-house pianist, Goldberg, during his sleepless nights. The work was, as intended, thoroughly entertaining. Oboe and viola were later joined by pianist Kathryn Brake for Brahms’s Poco Allegretto from Symphony #3 for Oboe, Viola, and Piano (arr. Plylar) and Loeffler’s Two Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola, and Piano. The rhapsodies created an especially enchanting atmosphere, with thoughtful exchanges among the instruments, while naturally highlighting the unique voices of the oboe and viola.

Ever a delight to witness members of the orchestra emerge from their familiar home in the pit to shine on the stage, Emily Tsai and Uri Wassertzug masterfully showcased the unique sounds of their respective “lesser-known instruments” and made for a lively winter evening for an enthused audience.

The Kennedy Center has done well to make inspiring music accessible to the public through its free concerts and live broadcasts, which can be found on the Kennedy Center website and YouTube. That’s right – you can watch this performance and many more for free at any time, and I highly recommend that you do.


Jane Fitzpatrick is an avid researcher of the intersections between religious traditions and international affairs with a passion for opera and art. She earned her master's degree in International Affairs from Penn State University and has a Bachelor's degree in Religious Studies from Gettysburg College. Jane has previously provided research assistance for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Strategic Religious Engagement Unit of the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Army War College. In 2023, she became an contributing columnist.

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