National Symphony Orchestra Season Opening Ball at the Kennedy Center Saturday, September 25

Although he’s been conducting the National Symphony Orchestra for most of the past year, September’s season opener formally introduces Christoph Eschenbach as the orchestra’s new music director, only the sixth in its history. The 70-year-old Eschenbach, who began his career as a pianist and built up an impressive string of recordings, came into conducting late in his career. His meteoric trajectory to the classical A-list took him from his native Germany to Zurich, Houston, and then the esteemed Philadelphia Orchestra, where he spent five years before his decision not to renew landed him in D.C. If D.C.’s stodgy classical crowd may be wary of Eschenbach’s taste for modernism and new composers, they should be relieved by the opening ball’s program, featuring standards by Strauss and Liszt. The orchestra will be joined by soprano Renée Fleming of the Metropolitan Opera, as well as fellow celebrity pianist Lang Lang, also known as That Guy with the Hair from the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

CHRISTOPH ESCHENBACH CONDUCTS THE NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AT 7 P.M. ON SATURDAY, SEPT. 25, AT THE KENNEDY CENTER CONCERT HALL, 2700 F ST. NW. SOLD OUT. (202) 416-8102.

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