Music Director Mstislav Rostropovich, lead the National Symphony Orchestra for 17 seasons, making his leadership among the longest and most impressive of current music directors of major American orchestras. During his tenure, the Orchestra was distinguished by constant growth in both artistry and reputation. Maestro Rostropovich’s personal career is extraordinary and has been distinguished by an enviable diversity, bringing him recognition as conductor, cellist, and pianist; as one of today’s most important catalysts for the creation of contemporary music; and as one of the world’s most outspoken defenders of human rights. Maestro Rostropovich’s musicianship has earned him numerous awards including several Wammies, a Grammy, and the Grand Prix du Disque. He was named Musical America’s 1987 Musician of the Year. He holds more than 30 honorary degrees, and 25 different nations have lavished more than 90 major awards upon him, including the 1992 Kennedy Center Honors.


Grammy-nominated recording artist, Joan Jett, from Rockville, Maryland, began her career in 1975 with the groundbreaking all-girl band, the Runaways. After nine albums and several world tours, the Runaways disbanded in 1978, but within two years Joan reemerged with her first solo album, Bad Reputation. Joan began to earn her own reputation as, the Philadelphia Inquirer put it, “the toughest, grittiest, hardest-working woman in rock and roll” with the formation in 1981 of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and the release of her multi-platinum album, I Love Rock And Roll, The double-platinum title single was number one for eight weeks, with a top-ten follow-up. Seven albums followed, including 1988’s platinum Up Your Alley. with its Grammy top-ten anthem, I Hate Myself For Loving You.” In 1987, Joan co-starred with Michael J. Fox in Paul Schrader’s Light of Day earning critical praise and recording the film’s title song.


Charlie Byrd is one of the truly great guitarists in the world today. As a child, Byrd learned to play guitar from his father. He performed regularly with bands in his home area in southeast Virginia. Byrd studied composition and music theory at Manhattan’s jazz-oriented Hartnett National Music School. He was first recognized as a jazz musician in New York in the 1940’s. Mr. Byrd moved to Washington, D.C. in 1960; where he studied composition with Thomas Simmons and the legendary Sophocles Papas. In 1954 he won a scholarship with famed guitarist Andres Segovia and from this influence created his distinctive style: a combination of jazz, classical and Latin rhythms which has thrilled audiences, everywhere. He is also notable for having brought the famed “Bossa Nova” beat to the United States. Charlie Byrd is truly a renaissance guitarist. Mr. Byrd has produced more than fifty albums of his own and has been featured on more than two dozen others. Aside from, his jazz engagements, he has a long list of symphony orchestras that he has performed with and has won many awards for his scores for films and television. All in all, an interesting career for a kid from Chuckatuck, Virginia, who originally wanted to be a baseball player.

Content courtesy of Washington Area Music Association.

Featured image photo credit: AP Photo/The Express-Times, Stephen Flood