close
The Kennedy Center

Direct Current

DIRECT CURRENT, the Kennedy Center's two-week celebration of contemporary culture, returns for a second season. Training its focus on new works, interdisciplinary creations in which artistic worlds collide, and innovative responses to topical concerns, the 2019 spring immersion showcases some of the most provocative, original, and pioneering voices in the arts today. DIRECT CURRENT takes place on March 24–April 7 at the Kennedy Center and beyond, extending throughout the District of Columbia through collaborations with a number of alternative venues, to expand the growing audience for contemporary culture in the nation’s capital.

Programming for the festival spans the artistic spectrum, from the world premiere of a new orchestral commission to Middle Eastern-jazz fusion, and bold new experiments in dance. This year’s lineup also boasts a strong showcase of work by female artists in everything from opera and contemporary classical to hip-hop and folk.

But DIRECT CURRENT is also about going beyond the stage to explore the issues and ideas at the heart of artists’ works. To support that mission, a number of programs in the festival will include talks with artists and prominent thought leaders, workshops, and supporting education events. In addition to the festival’s mainstage offerings, DIRECT CURRENT 2019 is introducing a new series of intimate performances with dynamic artists at the KC Jazz Club.

March 25
Bon Iver and TU Dance: Come Through
March 27
Gabriel Kahane: 8980: Book of Travelers
March 28-30
Bill T. Jones: Analogy Trilogy
March 29-30
Damien Woetzel: DEMO
March 30
National Symphony Orchestra: Lera Auerbach’s ARCTICA
March 31
Du Yun: Where We Lost Our Shadows
March 31
I’m With Her and Verona Quartet
April 1
Brooklyn Youth Chorus: “Silent Voices”: Lovestate
April 2
KC Jukebox: Chanticleer: “Sirens”
April 4
Sanford Biggers and Moon Medicin
April 4-5
Phantom Limb Company: “Falling Out”
April 5
Henry Threadgill: “Double Up Plays Double Up Plus”
April 6
Triptych (Eyes of One on Another)
April 6-7
Vijay Iyer Sextet
April 7
Brooklyn Rider and Magos Herrera

DIRECT CURRENT takes Kennedy Center artists and programming out into the world beyond the traditional concert hall, reaching new audiences throughout the Washington area by means of innovative ongoing partnerships with a number of key alternative D.C. performance spaces and cultural groups. This season of DIRECT CURRENT includes a co-commission between the National Symphony Orchestra and National Geographic for Lera Auerbach's ARCTICA and a collaboration with Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics who will curate post-concert discussions for Phantom Limb Company’s “Falling Out.”

Offsite pop-up performances include composer-guitarist Mary Halvorson and saxophonist María Grand at the Phillips Collection (March 27) and Amanda Gookin at the Dupont Underground, presenting the Forward Music Project, for which Gookin commissioned new works encouraging social change and empowerment for women and girls (March 29). At the National Gallery of Art, Vijay Iyer teams up with pioneering cellist Matt Haimovitz for a program that juxtaposes Iyerʼs own compositions with a diverse array of works by Bach, Zakir Hussein, Ravi Shankar, and Billy Strayhorn (April 7).

As a part of DIRECT CURRENT, free live multi-genre performances curated specifically for the festival will be presented on the Millennium Stage and in other Kennedy Center theaters every day of the festival at 6 p.m.

March 24
Hugar
March 25
Elder Ones / Amirtha Kidambi
March 26
Tashera
March 27
Liberated Muse
March 28
Roscoe Mitchell with Moor Mother
March 29
Gabriel Mata and sjDANCEco
March 30
Hypercube Ensemble presented by Iranian Female Composers Association
March 31
Yuka C. Honda’s Revert to the Sea
April 1
Peabody Opera Theatre Program presents Laura Kaminsky’s As One
April 2
Gato Preto
April 3
Sister Nancy
April 4
J. Hoard
April 5
Tanya Tagaq
April 6
Laraaji
April 7
Brownout – The Keepers of Latin Funk

A festival celebrating contemporary culture must showcase new ideas and new art. To that end, DIRECT CURRENT in 2019 is proud to feature a number of notable commissions and premieres. On March 30, the National Symphony Orchestra gives the world premiere performance of ARCTICA: An Artistic Exploration, a new NSO co-commission from composer Lera Auerbach. The orchestral work was created in collaboration with Dr. Enric Sala (National Geographic’s Explorer-in-Residence, marine ecologist, and global conservationist) and is the centerpiece of Auerbach’s new multimedia project for which she traveled to the Arctic to collect stories, images, and sounds.

On March 31, DIRECT CURRENT hosts the U.S. premiere of Pulitzer-winning composer Du Yun and Palestinian videographer Khaled Jarrar's video oratorio, Where We Lost Our Shadows, which depicts the timeless struggle of human migration and celebrates the resilient human spirit. Finally on April 6, DIRECT CURRENT will present the East-Coast premiere of Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), which is a Kennedy Center co-commission. Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) features music by librettist Robert O’Hara and composer Bryce Dessner, a performance by Roomful of Teeth and Caroline Shaw, poetry by Essex Hemphill and others, with large-scale projections of imagery by the late visual artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

Upcoming Events


Hugar

Sun, Mar 24, 2019, 6:00 PM

Icelandic natives Hugar—comprised of multitalented instrumentalists and musicians Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson—have forged a musical lane of their own with a genre-defying sound. With acclaim from tastemakers like The Line of Best Fit, The Independent, and The Guardian, Hugar now gears up for the next step in its musical journey, having recently signed to Sony Music Masterworks.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


Elder Ones

Mon, Mar 25, 2019, 6:00 PM

Quartet Elder Ones creates drones on the harmonium—an old, air-powered keyboard—and coaxes their bandmates into ripping them apart.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


Bon Iver & TU Dance's Come Through (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Mon, Mar 25, 2019, 7:30 PM

This evening-length performance features new music from Justin Vernon, of indie folk band Bon Iver, and new choreography from TU Dance, known for works that combine modern dance and classical ballet with African-based and urban vernacular movements.

Buy Tickets


Tashera

Tue, Mar 26, 2019, 6:00 PM

Soul Artist and Singer/Songwriter, "Tashera," Robertson, has a voice that is both captivating and unforgettable. A native of Baltimore and new resident of The District, Tashera combines her life experiences with touches of Jazz, Soul and Rhythm & Blues to inspire her growing fan base!

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


Mary Halvorson at The Phillips Collection (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Wed, Mar 27, 2019, 5:30 PM

In the Phillips Collection, the gallery where more than 4,000 major artworks make their home, there will be a pop-up concert with composer-guitarist Mary Halvorson and saxophonist María Grand.

Buy Tickets


Liberated Muse

Wed, Mar 27, 2019, 6:00 PM

Liberated Muse, the all-female arts collective led by performing artist Khadijah Ali-Coleman, presents music from their debut CD Awakening, a tapestry of music from jazzy blues and spoken word to soulful a capella ballads highlighting today’s tumultuous times mixed with optimistic reverence, set to the music and culture of the African diaspora.  

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


Gabriel Kahane—Book of Travelers: 8980 (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Wed, Mar 27, 2019, 7:30 PM

The singer-songwriter performs his evocative new song cycle, which draws on conversations and stories Kahane gathered on an 8,980-mile trip just after the 2016 election. 

Buy Tickets


Roscoe Mitchell with Moor Mother

Thu, Mar 28, 2019, 6:00 PM

Roscoe Mitchell is an internationally renowned musician, composer, and innovator serving as the Darius Milhaud Chair of Composition at Mills College (CA). His virtuosic resurrection of overlooked woodwind instruments spanning extreme registers, visionary solo performances, and assertion of a hybrid compositional/improvisational paradigm have placed him at the forefront of contemporary music.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


National Symphony Orchestra: Philip Glass's Itaipú (Thu.) & Lera Auerbach's ARCTICA (Sat., part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Mar 28 - Mar 30, 2019

The NSO performs a program of music inspired by the natural world; each evening ends with a different composer’s work for chorus and orchestra reflecting on humans’ environmental impact. Thursday concludes with Philip Glass’s soaring Itaipú, while Saturday concludes with the world premiere of Lera Auerbach’s ARCTICA. 

Buy Tickets


KC Jazz Club: Mary Halvorson's Code Girl (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Thu, Mar 28

Mary Halvorson is unlike any other guitarist. A brilliant musical dissenter, her dynamic style stands at the interface of jazz, rock, improvisation, and avant-garde. Halvorson’s quintet makes its KC Jazz Club debut with rich and wayward sounds from her cutting-edge and critically acclaimed new album. 

Buy Tickets


Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company: Analogy Trilogy (part of DIRECT CURRENT)
 

Mar 28 - Mar 30, 2019

A true pillar of modern dance, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company makes a triumphant return to the Kennedy Center with three separate evening-length works that delve into the voice of the marginalized in our society. 

Buy Tickets


sjDANCEco

Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 6:00 PM

sjDANCEco’s performance demonstrates the power and poetry of dance through José Limón’s “The Exiles,” inspired by the exodus during and following WWII, to Maria Basile’s  “The Upward Spiral,” new work by Gabriel Mata that merges dance and physical theater, and a group collaborative that explores the multi-generational experiences of its cast.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


KC Jazz Club: Tyshawn Sorey (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Fri, Mar 29

Tyshawn Sorey isn’t just a jazz musician—he’s a conductor, composer, scholar, educator, multi-instrumentalist, and undeniable champion of artistic evolution. A recent winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, Sorey’s revolutionary rhythms flash brightly from behind the dark sunglasses that he wears at every electrifying show.

Buy Tickets


DEMO by Damian Woetzel (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Mar 29 - Mar 30, 2019

The former NYCB principal dancer Damian Woetzel curates and hosts an evening of recent commissions and D.C. premieres from some of today’s most creative voices in dance and music.

Buy Tickets


Amanda Gookin's Forward Music Project (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 9:00 PM

At the Dupont Underground, an experimental arts space housed in a converted subterranean trolley station, National Sawdust Projects—the producing arm of National Sawdust—presents cellist Amanda Gookin’s Forward Music Project.

Buy Tickets


Hypercube Ensemble

Sat, Mar 30, 2019, 6:00 PM

The Iranian Female Composers Association (IFCA) and Hypercube join forces to present the music of Iranian female composers. The program includes three commissions for Hypercube along with works by IFCA founding members.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


KC Jazz Club: Amir ElSaffar and Two Rivers Ensemble (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Sat, Mar 30

The Iraqi American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar weaves together Middle Eastern musical languages with jazz, pushing the boundaries of each tradition. His Two Rivers Ensemble’s unique fusion has won accolades from DownBeat Magazine to rowdy ovations at the Newport Jazz Festival.

Buy Tickets


Where We Lost Our Shadows (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Sun, Mar 31, 2019, 5:00 PM

This U.S. premiere incorporating orchestra, video, and soloists recognizes and depicts the timeless struggle of human migration and its many effects, while celebrating the resilient human spirit that instigates and survives it. Incorporating Qawwali raga and texts by Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan, it is the creation of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Du Yun and Palestinian videographer Khaled Jarrar, who discuss their work together in a post-concert talk.

Buy Tickets


Yuka C Honda: Revert to Sea

Sun, Mar 31, 2019, 6:00 PM

Yuka C Honda presents Revert to Sea, a brand new multimedia work inspired by the surreal, darkly comedic writings of Japanese author Ryu Murakami. The performance features an all–star ensemble of avant–garde improvisers and an animated visual score manipulated live by an expert video artist.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


I'm With Her
with Verona Quartet (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Sun, Mar 31, 2019, 8:00 PM

After a jam session at the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival, three queens of the Americana/folk/bluegrass scene—Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan, and Sara Watkins—knew they had to set out on tour together. On the road, I’m With Her was born. Their individual backgrounds as vocalists and multi-instrumentalists seamlessly blend into a unique sound, creating unforgettable songs layered with elegant technical skill, expressive lyrics, and impressive harmonies.  

Buy Tickets


As One

Mon, Apr 1, 2019, 6:00 PM

Laura Kaminsky’s As One is a chamber opera in which two voices—Hannah after and Hannah before—share the part of a sole transgender protagonist in a poignant coming-of-age story with universal themes of identity, authenticity, and compassion.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


Brooklyn Youth Chorus: "Silent Voices": Lovestate (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Mon, Apr 1, 2019, 7:30 PM

This choir of diverse young New Yorkers aged 12–18 performs commissions from some of today's most fascinating composers. Lovestate confronts the challenges of division and categorization while envisioning a more inclusive and compassionate future. 

Buy Tickets


Gato Preto

Tue, Apr 2, 2019, 6:00 PM

Gato Preto—the producer Lee Bass and rapper/singer Gata Misteriosa—unveil the African music paradise reflecting their roots in the polyrhythm of Bass from Ghana, the Portuguese slang of Gatas Mozambique, and the incredible Djembe of Moussa Diallo from Senegal.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


Mason Bates's KC Jukebox: Chanticleer—"Sirens" (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Tue, Apr 2, 2019, 7:30 PM

San Francisco’s three-time Grammy®-winning male vocal group returns with a program of 20th- and 21st-century choral music. Anchored by Sirens, a song cycle by Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates, the performance also features composers ranging from Ned Rorem to Freddy Mercury. 

Buy Tickets


LargeUp Presents: Sister Nancy Live with DollarVan

Wed, Apr 3, 2019, 6:00 PM

Come celebrate Jamaican dancehall's iconic first lady, Sister Nancy, LIVE in concert with band, DollarVan, as they perform her classic hit songs, "Bam Bam," "One Two," "Transport Connection" and more.

Presented in collaboration with LargeUp, as part of DIRECT CURRENT.


J Hoard

Thu, Apr 4, 2019, 6:00 PM

J Hoard performs protest and freedom songs by Ameircan composers, moving chronologically from Negro spirituals into modern pop songs that celebrate the shared experiences of LGBT and racial struggles in America.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


Phantom Limb Company: Falling Out (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Apr 4 - Apr 5, 2019

Known for its marionette puppetry and multimedia theatrical production, New York's Phantom Limb Company has created a response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in collaboration with butoh dancer Dai Matsuoka. The work is the company's final installment in an environmental trilogy exploring our changing relationship to nature over time.

Buy Tickets


Renée Fleming VOICES: Theo Bleckmann (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Thu, Apr 4, 2019, 9:00 PM

The Grammy®-nominated Berlin vocalist and contemporary composer Theo Bleckmann fuses jazz, classical, and rock into a sublime set.

Buy Tickets


Moon Medicin (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Thu, Apr 4, 2019, 9:00 PM

This multimedia concept band, fronted by Harlem-based interdisciplinary artist Sanford Biggers, performs original compositions and re-imagined covers against a backdrop of sound effects and images of sci-fi, punk, sacred geometry, coded symbology, film noir, minstrels, world politics, and ceremonial dance. 

Buy Tickets


Tanya Tagaq

Fri, Apr 5, 2019, 6:00 PM

Tanya Tagaq’s music isn’t like anything you’ve heard before. Unnerving and exquisite, Tagaq’s unique vocal expression may be rooted in Inuit throat singing but her music has as much to do with electronica, industrial and metal influences as it does with traditional culture. This Inuk punk is known for delivering fearsome, elemental performances that are visceral and physical, heaving and breathing and alive. Her shows draw incredulous response from worldwide audiences, and Tagaq’s tours tend to jump back and forth over the map of the world.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


Henry Threadgill: Double Up Plays Double Up Plus (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Fri, Apr 5, 2019, 7:30 PM

The saxophonist/flautist makes his highly anticipated Kennedy Center debut accompanied by his mind-blowing ensemble on piano, saxophone, drums, tuba, and cello. A mentor of Jason Moran, who calls Threadgill his “favorite living composer,” the Pulitzer Prize winner brings his avant-garde musical innovations and intense, unyielding originality to audiences in the spring of 2019.
 

Buy Tickets


Caroline Shaw and Friends (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Fri, Apr 5, 2019, 9:00 PM

Composer Caroline Shaw, the versatile New York-based musician who is not only the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, but also a member of vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, is joined some of her musician friends in our intimate club-like venue. 

Buy Tickets


Laraaji

Sat, Apr 6, 2019, 6:00 PM

New Age music pioneer Laraaji transports us into inspiringly beautiful and restful listening dimensions with his celestial zither, harp, kalimba, ecstatic voice, and synth improvisation. Masterful, intuitive healing music blending natural acoustic sound with modern electronics and positive meditative understanding.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


Vijay Iyer Sextet (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Sat, Apr 6

The MacArthur Award-winning keyboardist-composer fronts “a dream team of cutting-edge improvisers” (Rolling Stone) that includes Tyshawn Sorey on drums. Released in 2017, the sextet’s record Far From Over was named among the year’s best jazz recordings by the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times.

Buy Tickets


Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Sat, Apr 6, 2019, 8:00 PM

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) is the first theatrical performance granted permission to explore and integrate the work of Robert Mapplethorpe. Reflecting deeply on the continued impact of the late visual artist's photography, the East Coast premiere of this theater piece by librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle and composer Bryce Dessner brings together choral ensemble Roomful of Teeth, vocalist-violinist-composer Caroline Shaw, and the poetry of Patti Smith and Essex Hemphill, with projections of Mapplethorpe’s breathtaking images.

Buy Tickets


Du Yun with OK Miss  (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Sat, Apr 6, 2019, 9:00 PM

Du Yun— heralded as an “indie pop diva” by the New York Times—takes the stage with OK Miss, her own experimental band, for a set featuring excerpts from her musical Dim Sum Warriors.

Buy Tickets


Brownout - The Keepers Of Latin Funk

Sun, Apr 7, 2019, 6:00 PM

Brownout is a 9-piece "latin funk powerhouse" (-Stereogum) from Austin Texas. Here they will perform a selection from their catalog spanning over ten years as well as material from their upcoming new album, due out in fall of this year.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT


Brooklyn Rider and Magos Herrera (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Sun, Apr 7, 2019, 7:30 PM

The omnivorous string quartet joins forces with the acclaimed jazz singer to reinterpret classics from Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Spain, celebrating such luminaries as Octavio Paz, Federico García Lorca, and Rubén Darío. 

Buy Tickets