Does National Anthem have a place in the concert hall?

Posted on: October 6, 2009

Tuesday (10/6) on her Washington Post blog Classical Beat, Anne Midgette writes, “Baseball is moving into the postseason, and the classical music world is moving through its annual wave of home openers. The common link between these two events: the National Anthem, heard at home openers in the concert hall, and always, of course, at the ballpark. In my review of the NSO’s opening gala, I observed the anthem’s omission, which led one commenter to ask how common such an omission was. The only rule appears to be that I don’t know when to expect it. The NSO did indeed play the National Anthem the following week at its first regular-season concert, before the Beethoven Pastoral. Does it have a place? … Part of the issue is the slight uncertainty about whether this music is part of the performance, or a ritual observed before the performance. Leonard Slatkin came up with a creative twist during the ‘Journey to America’ festival in 2002 by conducting two different arrangements of the anthem—by Ormandy, Dorati, Stokowski, and other musical notables who were not born in this country—on each program. No question, there, but that it was part of the main event.”

Posted October 6, 2009