- The National Symphony Orchestra warms up before the yearly Anti-Defamation League: In Concert Against Hate. (Photo: TBD Staff)
The Kennedy Center hosted its annual concert last night for the Anti-Defamation League, In Concert Against Hate. While the ADL's often recognized as an organization that fights anti-Semitism, this year’s event honored a variety of victims and heroes: a student and teacher who fought to protect Asian immigrants in a Philadelphia high school; a Sikh who was killed in a Sept. 11 retaliatory hate crime; the mother of a bullied gay teen who committed suicide, spurring her to advocate for gay youth; and a Muslim-American soldier who was killed In Iraq. It is heavy stuff to hear four heartbreaking stories of hatred and suffering.
But the celebrity hosts are often compelling (past hosts include the Mad Men cast, Gabriel Byrne, and Liev Schreiber), tickets are first-come, first-serve once you get an invite, and I ended up the first row of the second balcony (where, in the process of getting to my seat, I tripped over a couple of attendees and nearly threw my purse into the orchestra seats). Even the most serious of shows has its moments, and I collected quite a few.
Inappropriate outfits: One. A floor-skimming, satin, leopard-print, backless gown that dipped low enough to display a lower back tattoo on a young woman. At an event that commemorates people who have suffered from hate crimes, I thought anything backless was out of the question.
Appropriate outfits: Anything that made you look like Betty Draper at a funeral. I give myself an A+.
Guide dogs in the audience: One, in the first row of the orchestra.
Awkward celebrity hosts: Max Adler, Patrick Gallagher, and Josh Sussman, occasional Gleeks. Patrick Gallagher best relayed the stories of the night’s honorees, and his evident emotion was touching. Josh Sussman, who introduced his Glee character as “the school blogger,” spoke too quickly and tripped over his words. Since he had the task of describing the killing of Balbir Singh Sodhi, we’ll chalk it up to nerves. Names are tough.
What would have been more awkward: If Glee’s actual big names had been the hosts. It’s hard to rally against hate crimes when everyone’s shrieking at the cast. Glad we avoided that.
Instances of premature applause: Five. Sometimes you don’t know if it’s really time to clap.
Kennedy Center forgivable shameless plug: The ADL concert opened with selections from South Pacific, which will take the stage at the Kennedy Center next month.
If NSO conductor Emil de Cou went to the club, he would do: The two-step. His rhythm is naturally impeccable, as demonstrated as he bopped about during one of the show’s few light moments, "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair."
Number of times the guide dog was startled awake by the performance: Four.
Most awkward audience laugh: “Justin loved chinchillas.” Glee cast member Max Adler was introducing the story of Justin Aaberg, a gay teen who committed suicide this summer after being bullied.
Shortest performance: The Main Theme from Exodus, performed by the National Symphony Orchestra in three minutes, forty-eight seconds.
Legit chills: “Somewhere” from West Side Story, with vocals by students from Centreville, James Madison, Langley, and West Potomac high schools.