June 2, 2017

National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center

By Erin Holt

On my last night out on the town in D.C., I attended the National Symphony Orchestra as they played Mahler’s Second Symphony at the Kennedy Center. It was literally the best music I have ever heard. Here are a few things you should know before attending an event at the Kennedy Center. First, you do not have to dress up. My husband and I did dress up, and we did not feel out of place, but many people were dressed pretty casually. Second, it takes a while to get there. The shows are almost always when traffic is heavy, so you may want to leave an hour early or more depending on how far outside the city you are. Third, they lock the doors when the performance starts and they will not let you in. (Side note, the symphony does not have an intermission, so there is no potty break.) If you are like me, then this means some serious advanced planning. I have to drink enough coffee to make sure I stay awake; even a magical performance can lull you to sleep after a full day of sight-seeing or hill visits. On top of that, I have to make sure I am staying hydrated and that I get a bathroom break in before the show starts. That’s a lot to juggle. So of course, I arrived at exactly 7PM, flew to will call to grab my tickets, ran up three flights of stairs with the ticket lady saying, “I hope you make it” just to plop into my seat about two minutes before they locked the doors, and had to hold it for 80 minutes. In spite of all of that, it was a magical night.

The symphony was the best performance. They were able to play music so quietly, so loudly, so accurately. It held my attention the entire time. Also, the opera sat behind the symphony and during the last pieces, they also sang. The music gave me goose bumps, brought tears to my eyes, and made me ponder how humans could create something so much larger than themselves. The orchestra, conductor, and opera performers received at least five rounds of applause before I left the theater. The Kennedy Center is built on the Potomac River, so make sure you stop outside after the performance and take in the river. In the front of the building, where your Lyft driver will drop you off, there are adorable balls of light (I called them jellyfish), check that out too.