Tickets and Information: 202-625-2361

EMBASSY SERIES MARKS 20 YEARS.

 

 

EMBASSY SERIES MARKS 20 YEARS OF PROVIDING CLASSICAL,
ETHNIC AND JAZZ CONCERTS AS PART OF “MUSICAL DIPLOMACY”

by Bill Outlaw   billnoutlaw@Yahoo.com

When European countries that became independent, such as Poland, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic,  Slovakia, Russia and Bulgaria first opened their embassies in Washington, DC, in the 1990’s, they chose a nonprofit group called The Embassy Series to organize musical performances as a way to first open their doors and showcase their culture and heritage to the American public.

The Embassy Series has continued to do that ever since, marking its 20th anniversary for the 2013-14 season. The Embassy Series concerts feature world class music at embassies as a way of opening doors and promoting cultural exchanges as well as providing a forum to feature top international performers at embassies.

The Embassy Series’ founder,  Jerome Barry, envisioned the non-profit organization as the vehicle that would be used for cultural and educational purposes, as well as being a venue to present international and national talent.

The Embassy Series was the first outside organization to perform at the new Chinese Embassy in 2010.

“The Embassy Series was honored to be chosen to present the first program in the new Chinese embassy in Washington, DC in 2010,” said Director/Founder Jerome Barry.  “It was a historic and memorable occasion.”

The  list of embassies in Washington, DC, at which the Embassy Series has promoted what Mr. Barry likes to call “musical diplomacy” is quite lengthy and impressive.

When the new Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States wanted to mark 10 years of diplomatic relations with the US, he turned to The Embassy Series and asked Mr. Barry, who is also an acclaimed baritone, to perform.

“Besides economic and trade ventures, this exchange enriches our lives,” said Ambassador Nguyen Chien.

In 2011, when the Iraqi Cultural Center first allowed an outside organization to perform there, they turned to The Embassy Series to host a performance of Iraqi folk music.

The Associated Press quoted the Iraqi ambassador: “We can lift our spirit and soar with the tunes that virtually go back centuries,” Ambassador Samir Shakir M. Sumaida’ie told the crowd, expressing his relief that the evening provided a view of Iraq unrelated to war. “This is an opportunity to see the other side of Iraq.”

The Embassy Series has put on more than 500 concerts at more than 73 countries’ embassies – and counting – since it was formed in 1994.  The performances often showcase the talents of international artists affiliated with their countries in some respect, either by currently living there or through their heritage.

More importantly, Barry, envisioned the non-profit organization to be the vehicle that would be used for cultural and educational purposes as well as being a venue to present international and national talent.

“I wanted The Embassy Series to serve as a bridge to social and cultural exchange that can help countries better educate Americans and others about their heritage,” Barry said.  “I envisioned it as a forum enabling people from the international community to meet and talk to each other.  After all, music is a universal language.”  

Barry, who received musical training in the United States, Italy, Switzerland, France and The Netherlands has performed himself in 15 countries.

He also takes great pride in The Embassy Series role as a place to feature international artists, who have received international acclaim but are not well known in public circles in the United States.

Many have first performed in the United States at events at embassies sponsored by The Embassy Series before going on to perform at other prestigious venues, such as The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

For example, Hungarian pianist Ádám György performed at the Hungarian Embassy on in 2010 and again in 2011. He gave the same incredible performance three nights later at Carnegie Hall in 2011.

Australian violinist Ray Chen, winner of the Queen Elisabeth competition in Brussels, has performed at Embassy Series sponsored events at the Australian Embassy.

Other highly acclaimed international artists who have performed at The Embassy Series include:

Dan Zhu, violinist, who made his debut with The Embassy Series in 2006, going on as soloist with the National Symphony and Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Till Fellner, pianist, made his US debut with The Embassy Series in 2002,  going on to world class fame.

Narek Hakhnzaryan, Armenian cellist, who won the Tchaikovsky International Competition first prize four months after appearing with us at the Armenian Embassy

In addition, The Embassy Series has engaged in partnerships with many noted arts organizations, including: The National Gallery of Art, The Ronald Reagan World Trade Center, WETA Public Radio and TV, This is America and the World and many others.

The list of Embassy Series events has continued to expand its venues and delight audiences with its performances.

n  The Embassy Series opened the Turkish Ambassador’s residence after it underwent major renovation seven years ago.

–  It organized the first performance at La Maison Française.

–  It started the Ahmed Ertagün jazz series at the Turkish Residence

–  It is the only Arts group to organize concerts at The Cuban Interests Section

–  It is the only Arts group to perform at Embassy of Israel

–  It was commissioned as solo producer of Daniel Pearl Memorial concerts in Washington.

It has received numerous awards, including:

–  Washingtonian 2011-  Best of Washington

–  2012 Hidden Gem- Washingtonian Magazine

–  Best Bets- Frommer’s Guide to Washington

Country after country has turned to The Embassy Series to help kick off their special events.

Barry recently said: “Living in the Nation’s Capital for many years and having performed at different embassies, we felt that an organization that concentrated on musical diplomacy on a high level with performers from the US and host country would enhance America’s image abroad. Music, being the international language, appeals to mostly everyone. The mission developed into the following: ‘To foster a greater sense of common global unity through the international language of music by showcasing the very best of each culture in each nation’s symbolic home in Washington, D.C.’

… and many ambassadors have expressed their appreciation to The Embassy Series:

Austrian Ambassador:  “May I take this occasion to congratulate you for the wonderful artists that you are always presenting!”

Swiss Ambassador:  “The Embassy Series clearly enriches the cultural life of Washington, DC and provides an opportunity for good exchanges between the diverse communities in this area.  I am proud of the excellent relationship which the Swiss Embassy has enjoyed with The Embassy Series over the span of several years.”

Turkish Ambassador: “It was a distinct pleasure for us to be cooperating with The Embassy Series for our first major musical event at the newly renovated Turkish Residence.

Kazakh Ambassador: “I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the kindness and invaluable support you have given me.”

Slovenian Ambassador: “I wish to express my sincere appreciation of your commitment to promote international understanding through cultural diplomacy.”

German Ambassador: “The high caliber of the many performances organized by The Embassy Series has attracted a wide audience from the capital area, thereby enriching the city’s cultural life.”

The Embassy Series was formed by Jerome Barry and his wife Lisette in 1994 after Barry had been involved since the early 1980s with the Washington Music Ensemble, which was established with the hope of performing works of classical music that were difficult to program and rarely heard.  A group of five resident musicians quickly grew to eight and performances at various churches, festivals, and embassies followed shortly thereafter. The dynamic international programs, as well as, newly commissioned music for the Ensemble, debuted with glowing reviews from the Washington and New York press.  They soon began coordinating with embassies and began performing concerts at the embassies themselves.

But Barry wanted to expand his vision beyond that of presenting extraordinary music.

The Washington Music Ensemble was founded in 1981, and received personal statements of support from composers Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. As a loyal following of subscribers was developed, so too was the outreach of the Ensemble. A worldwide exchange of performing artists allowed for the production of even more multicultural events.

Out of the success of these concerts, the idea of an “Embassy Series” came to fruition. By 1994, The Embassy Series made its debut at the Embassy of Finland. Since then, the Series has continued to produce innovative and original programs with critical recognition, acclaim, and growing support for embassies representing the following nations: Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and Switzerland and many more.

The list continues to grow with performances this season at several ambassador’s residences where they had not previously performed, including  India, Nepal and South Africa.

“In the long run, you can help build connection and mutual understanding, as well as musical appreciation,” Mr. Barry  said. “Every concert, every event is unique, and it’s always about people—the artists, the genius who wrote the music, the people who work to make it happen, the audiences, people who come not just quietly, but to meet people and representatives of countries and people they would not meet otherwise.”

To find out more about The Embassy Series, you can find us on the worldwide web at www.embassyseries.com and e-mail at concerts@embassyseries.org

Tel: 202.625.2361

Jerome Barry’s Biography

Jerome Barry, professional baritone, was born in Boston, Massachusetts.  His beauty of tone, humor, pathos and sense of the dramatic earned him the accolade “a rare phenomenon” from Lukas Foss.  The Baltimore Sun hailed a performance saying:  “… interpreted with refinement and sensitivity by Mr. Barry, his phrasing marked by ease and gracefulness, tone quality warm and burnished … communicating a sense of joy– Triumphant!”

Barry’s versatility includes a wide knowledge of languages, as he speaks nine, and can sing in twenty-eight. While earning a B.A. from Northeastern University in modern languages and a M.A. from Tufts University in languages and literature, he studied concurrently at Boston Conservatory and The Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts.

In Europe he attained a diploma from the Goethe Institut in Germany, and later went to Italy to attend the Santa Cecilia Conservatory of Music in Rome, Italy.   He studied with the renowned Luigi Ricci, Romeo Arduini and Paolo Silveri,  as well as Gérard Souzay and Pierre Bernac in Paris.   He performed all over Europe and then his career took him next to Israel where he sang more than 300 concerts, including recitals, oratorio, opera and orchestral concerts.  He sang with the Israel National Opera, Israel Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Festival.

Upon his return to the United States, he continued his career giving recitals in many prestigious concert halls, singing with the Boston Pops, the Baltimore and National Symphonies and many other orchestras and opera houses.  In addition, his recital career has spanned the United States and fifteen different countries.  His performance credits also include The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Helsinki Festival.  His recording credits include CBS Records, Premier Recordings, Inc., and recordings of the National Radio and Television Stations of numerous countries.

Jerome Barry has been sent by American embassies in Germany, Austria, Lithuania and Latvia to perform and to give master classes to young singers.  He has taught many politicians speaking techniques as well as George Stephanopoulos of international fame.  He is the recipient of the Vietnam Service Medal, The Austrian Service Cross in Gold, the Golden Cross of Merit from the President of the Republic of Hungary, an honorary Ph.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary and has had interviews on CNN, Al-Jazeera, This is America and the World and numerous radio and television stations throughout the world.

He has given numerous performances for charity and has mentored many young people, numbering in the hundreds.  He is considered a master teacher and was Senior Associate at The George Washington University Voice Treatment Center for 15 years.  He has accreditation from the McClosky Institute of Voice in vocal therapy.

Having founded The Embassy Series in 1994, he has organized concerts with 73 embassies in Washington.  The series has garnered many accolades and is considered one of the foremost arts organizations in the country and has an international reputation for excellence in the Musical Arts.

 

 

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