Nestled between the museums and monuments of Washington, D.C., is the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden, an oasis of peace and quiet amid the tourist bustle of the National Mall.

Every Sunday at 12 and 1 p.m. during September, the garden will host a variety of free performances.

This week’s concert featured The United States Air Force Strings, a detachment of the Air Force Band conducted by Capt. David Alpar.

The Air Force Strings performed pieces by Gabriel Fauré, a French composer whom Alpar compared to French impressionist painter Edgar Degas. The band also performed Claude Debussy’s “Sacred and Profane Dances,” and a piece by George Whitefield Chadwick, an American composer.

The concert aimed to connect the works of French and American composers to those of Degas and American painter Mary Cassatt, according to the event itinerary. The gallery selected composers who were influential during the beginning of Degas’ and Cassatt’s success, whose personal and professional relationship is explored in an exhibition that runs at the gallery until Oct. 5.

The National Gallery boasts the longest continuously-running concert series in D.C., said Cristina Del Sesto, the gallery’s deputy corporate relations officer. It chooses to use varied musical programs to foster a love of learning through art, Del Sesto said.

The Sculpture Garden is a favorite spot for the public to interact with the gallery’s extensive collection in a less formal manner, Del Sesto said.

“People might not even realize that they’re looking at a piece of art,” Del Sesto said.

The remaining concerts this month are Ricardo Marlow and Ensemble, a Flamenco music and dance ensemble; The Seldom Scene, a bluegrass band; and the National Gallery of Art Wind Ensemble, which will be playing Bach and Beethoven (presented in honor of the Andrew Wyeth exhibit next-door).

Gallery Music Department Head Stephen Ackert said about 500 people attended Sunday’s concerts.

Megan Niedermeyer, 29, of San Francisco, said she was excited for the change of pace the gallery’s relaxed Sunday performances offer compared to the Friday evening jazz concerts she had previously attended.

Because of the smaller crowds, lack of alcohol and comfortable atmosphere, the gallery’s programs allow patrons young and old alike to enjoy the performances.

Del Sesto said the concerts in the garden are distinctly tied to the gallery’s mission.

“The National Gallery is for the American public,” Del Sesto said. “We go across all forms of art.”

For more information, visit The National Gallery of Art’s website.


writersblocheadshots15Evan Berkowitz is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at



writersblocheadshots19Charles Mitchell is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at




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