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Director’s Corner Address from Christopher Kendall

Before commencing on the good news about the coming season, I want to convey, on behalf of the Consort, great sadness at the loss of a wonderful colleague. When the Consort was launched back in 1975, one of the first to join and contribute his distinguished voice was Loren Kitt, then in his fifth season as principal clarinetist of the National Symphony Orchestra. None of us who worked with Loren during his long tenure with the Consort will forget the experience or what we learned from Loren; he was truly a great artist.

The character of Loren's amazing musicianship was established immediately, in that first season, during a Consort rehearsal of a particularly demanding work, in which, during the initial reading, everybody involved was falling by the wayside one by one....except for Loren, who seemed utterly unperturbed by the piece’s difficulties and continued to play with evident ease. Basically, he could play absolutely anything without breaking a sweat.

A man of few words, he nevertheless wielded a scalpel-like wit, and would frequently reduce rehearsals to hilarity with a quiet remark. Both these characteristics, along with the endless elegance and beauty of his playing, were invaluable for an ensemble tackling extraordinarily, sometimes stressfully difficult music.Loren had recently retired from the NSO after a remarkably long and distinguished career when the news came of his sudden death. His loss has come as a shock and source of enormous sadness. Consort pianist Lisa Emenheiser, whose career with the Consort overlapped Loren’s by many years, writes: “We will all miss him so very much.  Loren was one of my greatest mentors, and I was constantly inspired by his playing.  I learned so much from him.  What an incredible musician.  He was also such a humble and kind person, a good friend.”

A reference to the Consort’s archive of recorded performances dating back to the group’s origins will provide an opportunity to hear many of Loren’s wonderful performances. To those of us who made music with him, the very essence of many of the greatest works we performed during the last quarter of the 20th Century consists in the memory of Loren Kitt’s peerless playing.

The Consort will dedicate its November 4th performance to Loren. The memorial service will be at St. James Episcopal Church in Lake George, New York on Monday, October 2 at 11 AM, with a reception to follow in nearby Queensbury New York. Loren’s family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Loren’s name to the Cancer Center at Glens Falls Hospital, where he received excellent care.


The Consort’s 2017-2018 season represents some exciting developments for us. Our museum home, SAAM (Smithsonian American Art Museum), has presented us with a particularly stimulating array of exhibitions inspiring an especially diverse and exploratory season, including programs based on Mexican and Korean artists, and a significant number of wonderful works by women.

Balancing these programs are two that approach what might be considered “standard” contemporary repertoire but from a distinctive vantage, one featuring music for two pianos and the other celebrating Leonard Bernstein’s 100th.

Finally, we’re adding a fifth concert this year, a special holiday event that will - finally - afford an opportunity to film Jon Deak’s beloved “Passion of Scrooge.” This concert will take place at beautiful, atmospheric St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capital Hill.

More on these programs at this site as the season proceeds. For more details, visit our “In Season” page and please join us for a season of artistic adventure.