Local musicians are coming together to cheer up children battling serious illnesses.
The National Symphony Orchestra is partnering with Children’s National Hospital for a special project called The Lullaby Hour every Wednesday at 7 p.m. from March to May.
“The National Symphony has long had a program called Sound Health, which explores the connection between music and wellness,” NSO Executive Director Gary Ginstling said. “We thought we would invite the music community from around the D.C. area to record performances of lullabies and meditative pieces to share with Children’s National.”
Volunteers are invited to submit videos of themselves singing lullabies, meditations or soothing songs for patients. Submissions must be 2-5 minutes long and appropriate for children ages 0-18 and their families. Songs can be original works or existing pieces.
“We’ve put out a call and gotten over 20 submissions from musicians around the DMV,” Ginstling said. “We are getting a wide range of submissions that range from Beethoven by National Symphony musicians to works by Woody Guthrie and Irish ballads.”
NSO musician Heather Green and her daughter recorded “Appalachia Waltz.”
“Heather is a fantastic violinist in the National Symphony, so she and her daughter got together,” Ginstling said. “That’s one of the ones we’ve shared publicly on our social media, so you can go hear Heather and her daughter playing together. It’s the perfect example of the kind of music and kind of material that we’re sharing with the families.”
Each month will feature new videos on a rolling deadline. The deadline for the April Lullaby Hour has passed, but the deadline for the May Lullaby Hour is April 15.
The videos will broadcast over the hospital’s internal media platform, Seacrest Studios.
“We’re sharing the videos with Children’s National and every Wednesday they are broadcasting these videos directly into the rooms,” Ginstling said.
It’s just the latest NSO charitable project, including last year’s “In Your Neighborhood.”
“At the onset of the pandemic, we were sending small groups out to hospitals just to play outside,” Ginstling said. “We certainly understand the trauma and challenges of families’ lives being disrupted. It’s our small way of taking what we do and giving them moments of respite in the midst of the difficult and often unspeakable challenges.”
Last Friday, the NSO also kicked off four virtual concerts featuring NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda streaming on the Kennedy Center’s Digital Stage+ platform.
“It was a full year since he was last here with the NSO at the Kennedy Center and a year since he’s been in Washington,” Ginstling said. “He was finally able to come back and we got a small group of about 30 or 40 players, taking into account all sorts of protocols to keep our musicians safe, and we recorded a series of four programs.”