A small-town feel on the Capitol lawn

WASHINGTON – It’s a celebration on the West Lawn of the Capitol with a very local feel.

Unlike the big Fourth of July Concert, with its cast of celebrities and national-TV simulcast, the Labor Day weekend celebration is more of a community concert – albeit one where the community band is the National Symphony Orchestra.

This concert has become an annual gift to the area from the Kennedy Center and a labor of love for members of the NSO who call the region home.

Locals who came to the West Lawn early to catch the rehearsal said it had a certain down-home atmosphere.

“It feels like sort of a family reunion or something like that in the beautiful, park-like setting,” said Debbie Heffren, of the District.

For one of the guest artists taking part in the concert, it was more like a homecoming.

Nick Kendall is one of the violinists in Time for Three, which bills itself as a “classically trained garage band” with an eclectic repertoire.

“For me, it is awesome because I grew up in Washington, D.C. And for Time for Three to be playing is just an honor for me,” says Kendall.

The trio of musicians also includes bassist Ranaan Meyer and violinist Zachary De Pue. De Pue said even though they were playing in the nation’s capital, the day had a real sense of community.

“I’m from Bowling Green, Ohio. It’s a small town, and this is a a much larger experience. But it does have the same feel – just a community coming together.”

The Kennedy Center and the NSO predicted 30,000 to 35,000 people would attend the Sunday evening concert, led by principal pops conductor Steven Reineke. An NSO spokeswoman predicted with pride that this time, almost all the audience would be local.

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