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Monday, January 5, 2015

Free Hindemith sonatas concert Wednesday at St. John's, Lafayette Square

Composer Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), age 28/Wikipedia

Iris Lan will play the complete organ sonatas of German composer Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) in a free performance at St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square on Wednesday, beginning at 12:10 p.m.

The program, part of St. John's First Wednesday series, is scheduled for just 35 minutes, a rare opportunity to hear the complete sonatas by one composer at a single concert.  The sonatas are based on old folk songs.

Hindemith, also a violinist, teacher, and conductor, learned to play the violin when he was a child.  When he was 19, he was chosen assistant leader of the Frankfurt Opera Orchestra, and he gained an international following at age 27 when some of his compositions were played at a Salzburg music festival.  

He had a rocky relationship with the Nazis who criticized his music but thought they could use him as a tool. In 1935 he was hired by the Turkish government to reorganize its musical education program which he achieved to worldwide acclaim, and his influence is still experienced and appreciated there today, according to Wikipedia.  Hindemith became an American citizen in 1946 and taught at Yale University, before returning to Europe in 1953 where he died in Frankfurt, near his birthplace.

Juilliard-trained Lan, a renowned Harvard University graduate, is the organist at Manhattan's Church of St. Andrew and a former choir member at St. John's.

St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C./Photo by Patricia Leslie
St. John's, known to many Washington residents as the yellow church at Lafayette Square, is often called the “Church of the Presidents.” Beginning with President James Madison, who served from 1809 to 1817, every president has been a member of St. John's or has attended services at the church. A plaque at the rear of St. John's designates the pew where President Abraham Lincoln often sat when he stopped by the church during the Civil War.

All concerts start at 12:10 p.m. (with an exception in April), and last about 35 minutes. Food trucks are located at Farragut Square, two blocks away, for those on lunch break.

Who:  Organist Iris Lan plays Paul Hindemith's sonatas

What: First Wednesday Concerts

When: 12:10 p.m., January 7, 2015

Where: St. John’s, Lafayette Square, 1525 H Street, NW, at the corner of 16th, Washington, D.C. 20005

How much: No charge

Duration: About 35 minutes

Wheelchair accessible

Metro stations: McPherson Square (White House exit), Farragut North, or Farragut West

For more information: Contact Michael Lodico, St. John's associate organist and choir director, at 202-270-6265 or 202-347-8766

Future dates and artists of the First Wednesday Concerts are:

February 4: Lena Seikaly, jazz vocalist, with the Dan Dufford Trio performing works by Duke Ellington and friends

March 4: Jared Denhard, bagpiper, assisted by Michael Lodico, St. John's organist and choirmaster, performing Pipes and More Pipes

April 19 (Sunday), 4 p.m.: Spring Concert by St. John's Choir

May 6: The U.S. Air Force Strings accompanied by Benjamin Hutto performing a Handel organ concerto and other pieces

June 3: Benjamin Straley, organist at the Washington National Cathedral

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