The National Philharmonic kicks off its spring concert season with Sphinx Competition winner and acclaimed violinist Melissa White, who will perform "Spirited Brahms" at The Music Center at Strathmore. (Courtesy of the National Philharmonic)
The National Philharmonic kicks off its spring concert season with Sphinx Competition winner and acclaimed violinist Melissa White, who will perform "Spirited Brahms" at The Music Center at Strathmore. (Courtesy of the National Philharmonic)

The National Philharmonic will celebrate the genius of Johannes Brahms at Strathmore with a performance by Grammy and Sphinx Competition award winner, American violinist Melissa White, in “Spirited Brahms.”

White will perform Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77 under the baton of Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski. Also on the program is Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98, which is stored in its original condition in the U.S. Library of Congress.

But the real buzz has to be the musical genius and skill of White, a founding member of the highly acclaimed New York-based Harlem Quartet and a first-prize laureate in the Sphinx Competition, which encourages, develops, and recognizes classical music talent in the Black and Latino communities.

She also performed on the album “Hot House,” which won Grammy Awards in 2013, as well as performing for the Obamas in the White House.

The concert takes place this weekend, March 17-18 at Strathmore’s Concert Hall with special sessions allowing both adults from the audience and children during a “Meet the Instruments” session to learn more about the performers, classical musical and to explore orchestral instruments from different families (string, wood, brass and percussion).

White’s performances have been hailed for their “panache” by The New York Times and as “bringing a new attitude to classical music, one that is fresh, bracing and intelligent” by The Cincinnati Enquirer.

She holds performance degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. White’s current instrument, “Matilda,” was commissioned as part of a Sphinx MPower Artist Grant in 2014 by the American violin maker Ryan Soltis.

Meanwhile, Brahms (1833-1897), remains one of the greatest German composers and pianists of the Romantic era, producing symphonies, choral compositions, chamber music and more than 200 songs. His music was more traditional in rhythm and movement than his Romantic contemporaries, aligning him with Classical musicians Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

Maestro Gajewski is one of a select group of American conductors equally at home in nearly all musical genres. He is the music director and conductor of the National Philharmonic at the Music Center at Strathmore and a sought-after guest conductor. He was a student and disciple of the late Leonard Bernstein, and is described by The Washington Post as an “immensely talented and insightful conductor, whose standards, taste and sensitivity are impeccable.”

So, if your appetites have been wet and you want to know more about this tremendous talented violinist — who this writer’s proud to say is also a “sistah,” as well as something about the equally-talented and enigmatic director of the National Philharmonic, go to our spirited interviews with both of them on our website.

We’re sure you will not be disappointed!

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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