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Two newly composed works for chamber ensembles will be unveiled at a free concert at the Kennedy Center today. Members of the National Symphony Orchestra will perform Philip Parker’s “Dance Variants on Waltzing Matilda” and Grant Cooper’s “Octagons for Clarinet and String Quartet,” starting at 6 p.m. at the Millennium Stage. The two pieces are fruits of the NSO’s American Residencies program, a kind of goodwill tour in which the orchestra tools around a designated state a couple weeks each year, giving concerts, workshops, and artistic exchanges at impromptu community venues.
The composers hail from two states that hosted recent NSO tours: Cooper from West Virginia (2010) and Parker from Arkansas (2009). American Residencies includes a commissioning component, in which the NSO solicits applications and picks one composer from each state to write a new, 10-15 minute chamber work for the orchestra to debut back home. Cooper directs the West Virginia Symphony and, though a native of New Zealand, leavens his music with Appalachian folk traditions in such works as Boyz in the Wood. Parker is a member of the music faculty at Arkansas Tech University. His compositions often feature woodwinds, percussive ensembles and, possibly, friendly purple dinosaurs (could be different Philip Parker though). Both composers receive a $5,000 commission and are flown into D.C. for the premiere.
The concert begins at 6:00 at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. Free.