The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced programming initiatives to bridge the period between now and the 2021 season, which is set to begin January 14, 2021, including a limited, in-person slate of programming and online offerings.
The Kennedy Center’s Opera House will come back to life with a concert experience that puts the audience on stage. Artists will perform from a stage extension built into the front of the orchestra-seating level of the hall while concertgoers, entering through the loading doors on the Center’s front plaza, will be seated in physically distanced pairs on the Opera House stage.
These hour-long concerts will take place once a week for a ticketed audience of under 200 once the District of Columbia reaches phase three of reopening.
Performers are scheduled to include Tony nominee Renée Fleming (Carousel), Tony nominee Vanessa Williams (Into the Woods), New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Tiler Peck (On the Town), and Tony-nominated choreographer Camille A. Brown (Choir Boy). The performances will also be released digitally via the Kennedy Center website. Dates have yet to be announced.
Other On Stage at the Opera House concerts will feature Marian Anderson Award winner Will Liverman, members of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Takács Quartet, and the Dover Quartet, appearing with the Escher Quartet.
The Washington National Opera will explore new ways of bringing opera to its audiences through the Come, Hope Project. The WNO will embark on physical and digital initiatives, including a Pop-Up Opera Truck and a Virtual Reality experience. In the digital sphere, Ryan McKinny and J’Nai Bridges will visit monuments throughout D.C. to record Monuments of Hope, a short film connecting uplifting and thought-provoking messages to D.C. and its monuments through music.
Virtual conversations will take place in the fall surrounding themes in the WNO’s spring 2020 D.C. premiere of Blue, an opera by Tony–winning composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson about love, loss, family, and community in the wake of racially motivated police violence.
The National Symphony Orchestra will make its return to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with three Friday concerts in December. NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda will conduct concerts December 4 and 11, and on December 18 Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke will lead the orchestra in a Holiday Pops program. These concerts will be live streamed and will be performed in front of a live, ticketed, limited capacity, physically distanced audience, should D.C. be in phase three of reopening.
In the fall NSO’s In Your Neighborhood program will focus on the DMV medical community, first responders, and other frontline heroes, with an expanded series of chamber concerts across. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, In Your Neighborhood takes the Orchestra and small ensembles into numerous community venues.
In addition to the orchestra’s #NSOatHome series, digital concerts streamed live from orchestra members’ homes, the NSO will also offer NSO/Noseda Fridays, a concert from the orchestra’s archive of live full orchestra broadcasts accessible on Facebook, the Kennedy Center YouTube channel, and the Kennedy Center website.
As D.C. enters later phases of reopening, the River Pavilion will play home to Sunset Concerts. This series of free, hour-long concerts will take place on a stage inside the pavilion with the glass walls opened up for the enjoyment of audiences outdoors.
“President Kennedy described the arts as ‘close to the center of a Nation’s purpose.’ I am deeply proud of my team’s perseverance and the innovative work to fulfill our mission and that national purpose, while prioritizing the safety of artists, staff, and patrons. The last four months have proven that the arts and our artists are crucial to our lives and mental health. We have done the hard work to get this right,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter.