Library of Congress hosts Flutronix, Ranky Tanky and instruments saved from the Nazis

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Library of Congress concerts (Part 1)

The Library of Congress is more than just a place for archival research. The historic building has also been hosting free concerts since 1925.

“This month we’ve been reopening our concert series with a run of terrific events and a broad vista of the American music landscape,” Anne McLean, the library’s senior producer for concerts and special projects,  told WTOP. “We’re thrilled and grateful to be back.”

This weekend brings the acclaimed duo Flutronix to the Coolidge Auditorium, in the Thomas Jefferson Building, on Saturday, May 21.

“They’re an extraordinary duo of performer-composers, really galvanizing flutists with a unique electro-acoustic blend of classical music, hip-hop and vocals,” McLean said. “Works that comment on profound issues of community, culture and social justice.”

Monday, May 23, and Tuesday, May 24, bring a virtual series honoring “voices of composers suppressed during the Nazi regime,” McLean said. Monday features the Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices, a project of James Conlon, the conductor of the L.A. Opera, performing works including Franz Schreker’s “Kammersymphonie.”

On Tuesday, Canada’s Artists of the Royal Conservatory Ensemble plays a program called “Émigrés to Israel,” featuring works by three composers who escaped Nazi-dominated Europe to Palestine.

The theme continues Wednesday, May 25, with an in-person tribute to Wanda Landowska, a pioneering figure in early music who owned two harpsichords that were looted by Nazis from her home in France. “Those instruments now found their way to the Library, so we’ll be using one of them in performance … with a whole panel discussing her collection.”

Next month bring the Mivos Quartet on Thursday, June 2.

“They are an extraordinary quartet,” McLean said. “They’ll be playing four of our famous Stradivari instruments — very old instruments in very new music, that’s their focus. They’ll be premiering a work by a Washington D.C. native, Jeffrey Mumford, who will be with us for a pre-concert talk that evening.”

You also don’t want to miss The Ritz Chamber Players on Saturday, June 4, giving “a lush, romantic concert” featuring works by Debussy and Ravel, with harpist Ann Hobson Pilot, “a pioneering African-American artist in the orchestra world.” The program will also include a new commission from James Lee III.

Finally, we have the Grammy-winning quintet Ranky Tanky performs on Thursday, June 16, “with a style that combines jazz, funk and gospel influences layered on traditional music from the Gullah people, who are descendants of enslaved West Africans.”

The Ranky Tanky show is part of the new Thursday night happy hour series ‘Live! At the Library,” which provides free programming every Thursday from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

“You can come down each Thursday evening to enjoy free exhibits, events and just the sheer pleasure of the glorious architecture,” McLean said. “Where else can you have a happy hour drink and snack in the great hall of one of the world’s most beautiful buildings?”

Reserve tickets to the free concerts at loc.gov/concerts.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Library of Congress concerts (Part 2)

Listen to the full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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