This fall, Milanese conductor Gianandrea Noseda kicks off his first season as the NSO’s music director. We caught up with the maestro at his roomy new office in the Kennedy Center, which is decked out with a grand piano and—just as essential—a high-end Lavazza espresso machine. Though we chatted in English (one of four languages he speaks), Noseda couldn’t resist describing his new gig with what appears to be a favorite word: “fantastico!”
So have you eaten anything good since you’ve been in DC?
Oh, Fiola Mare is a very good one. Cafe Milano—I experienced good risotto there, which is my testing dish when I go in so-called Italian restaurants. But I’m open to Chinese, a French brasserie, Mexican.
You’re a big fan of soccer. Will you be watching DC United?
I don’t know. How is the quality of the soccer here?
The risotto is probably better.
I like sports. Baseball, football—there is a good football team here?
Uh . . . let’s talk about your plans for the orchestra. How do you hope to engage Washington audiences?
It’s important to me to share and to spread energy that we can re-create onstage—to make the audience part of the performance. Because I can feel the energy coming at my back. The audience becomes part of this exchange of mutual energy.
Have you met with NSO artistic adviser Ben Folds?
We were Skyping! I don’t like the word “crossover”—we both believe there is good music and bad music [in any genre]. For me, the important thing is to give a good account of Beethoven’s Fifth, a good account of Brahms’s Fourth, as well as an account from an Italian composer from the 21st century and an American composer who wrote musicals.
I do think when a lot of people first get into classical music, it’s the repertoire that they discover, not the crossover stuff. It’s being able to experience the real thing.
You know, sometimes the real thing is not as scary as people think. Just come and see, come and listen. If I try to explain the legacy or the heritage, it already sounds too “important.” Music should be in our veins.
See the National Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony at the Kennedy Center November 9-11.
This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Washingtonian.