Byline: Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
"Melodies and Songs of the Kazakh Steppes," a first-ever American concert featuring music from Kazakhstan - one of the new Central Asian republics birthed in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union - premiered Tuesday night at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.
The two-hour program, one of only two U.S. engagements, celebrated a "long-time strategic partnership" between the United States and the oil-rich Kazakhstan, noted Ambassador Kanat Saudabayev. The audience included scores of U.S. servicemen and women, diplomats and the adoptive parents of Kazakh children (Americans adopt 825 Kazakh orphans a year). District Mayor Anthony A. Williams also attended and was presented with a traditional Kazakh dombra, a mandolin-like instrument.
The concert began with a series of Western classical favorites - music from George Gershwin's landmark opera, "Porgy and Bess" was the highlight - performed by an 18-piece chamber orchestra that seemed eager to demonstrate Kazakhstan's expertise and experience in performing Western works.
Solo violinist Aiman Mussakhodjayeva, clad in an electric red dress, played with equally dramatic flair and turned out a smooth and lyrical interpretation of Gershwin's quintessential American composition. …