The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center Announces 2018–2019

Season Highlights

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We’re pleased to announce the Kennedy Center’s classical offerings for the 2018–2019 Fortas Chamber Music Series, National Symphony Orchestra, and Washington National Opera seasons.

Helmed by artistic director and pianist Joseph Kalichstein, the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts offer a variety of ensembles of different generations that demonstrate its continuing commitment to programming the widest range of music in this genre from both the past and present.

NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda leads a spectacular season that includes world premieres, a two-week spotlight on Mozart, a Celebration of Italian Culture, distinguished guest artists, John Williams’s complete scores to Star Wars, Episodes 4, 5, 6, and 7 performed live to films, and more.

Led by Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, WNO continues its focus on bold productions of classic operas, fascinating contemporary perspectives, and the best in American artistry: La traviata, Silent Night, Eugene Onegin, Faust, and Tosca, plus, the return of The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me and the American Opera Initiative Festival.

National Symphony Orchestra


National Symphony Orchestra: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (film with live orchestra)

Sep 12 - Sep 15, 2018

The National Symphony Orchestra presents John Williams’s iconic Oscar®-winning score from Episode IV: A New Hope performed live along with the full feature film.


National Symphony Orchestra: Season Opening Gala Concert

Sat, Sep 22 , 2018   7:00 PM

Joshua Bell is internationally renowned as “one of the most imaginative, technically gifted, and altogether extraordinary violinists of our time” (The Washington Post). This year, he joins Music Director Gianandrea Noseda to officially open the NSO’s new season.


National Symphony Orchestra: Noseda conducts Pictures from an Exhibition

Sep 27 - Sep 29, 2018

NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda conducts a program of music inspired by the visual arts including Rachmaninoff’s The Isle of the Dead, Respighi’s Trittico botticelliano, and Musorgsky’s Pictures from an Exhibition.


National Symphony Orchestra: Tchaikovsky's Fifth & Ax plays Mozart

Oct 4 - Oct 6, 2018

Hear beloved pianist Emanuel Ax, renowned for his poetic performances, in Mozart’s popular Piano Concerto No. 17 in a program conducted by John Storgårds that also features Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and a work by Silvestrov.


National Symphony Orchestra: Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto

Oct 11 - Oct 13, 2018

NSO Conductor Laureate Christoph Eschenbach returns to lead a program of Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage along with his Violin Concerto, featuring dynamic violinist Ray Chen. The concert will conclude with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral.”


The Kennedy Center Chamber Players: Works of Dvorák, R. Strauss & Brahms

Sun, Oct 14 , 2018   2:00 PM

In its vibrant first concert of the season, the ensemble of NSO musicians plays Dvorák’s Terzetto in C major, Strauss’s Metamorphosen, and Brahms’s String Quintet in F major.


National Symphony Orchestra: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (film with live orchestra)

Oct 23 - Oct 25, 2018

The National Symphony Orchestra presents John Williams’s iconic Oscar®-nominated score from Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back performed live along with the full feature film.


NSO Family Concert: Halloween Spooktacular

Sun, Oct 28 , 2018

An annual tradition! The Concert Hall transforms into a ghostly sight when the NSO performs new and old classics to celebrate Halloween, which this year also marks the Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) with our ghoulishly attired musicians. Arrive early for trick-or-treating and a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Age 5+


National Symphony Orchestra: Gaffigan conducts Russian Masterpieces

Nov 1 - Nov 3, 2018

Acclaimed American conductor James Gaffigan returns to lead a program of Russian masterworks including Prokofiev’s Third Symphony and Khachaturian’s Suite from Masquerade. Charismatic pianist Simon Trpceski will play Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a piece famously written for the composer’s son.


National Symphony Orchestra: Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3

Nov 15 - Nov 17, 2018

Denis Kozhukhin makes his NSO debut in Rachmaninoff’s striking third Piano Concerto in a program conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto from Mexico. The concert will also feature Copland’s El Salón México and Revueltas’ La noche de los Mayas, pieces both closely associated with Prieto's birthplace of Mexico.


National Symphony Orchestra: Britten's War Requiem

Nov 29 - Dec 1, 2018

As November marks 100 years since the final armistice of World War I, the NSO will combine forces with some of today’s most gifted voices and choral groups for Britten’s epic War Requiem, conducted by NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda.


National Symphony Orchestra: Noseda conducts Mahler's First Symphony

Dec 6 - Dec 9, 2018

Gianandrea Noseda conducts a program of spirited and expressive works including ground-breaking Mahler’s First Symphony. The NSO will also premiere a new work by Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates.


National Symphony Orchestra: Handel's Messiah

Dec 20 - Dec 23, 2018

Join the NSO, exceptional singers, and a heavenly chorus in the festively decorated Concert Hall for our holiday tradition! Experience all of the hope, redemption, and grace of Handel’s much-loved Messiah, conducted by Nicholas McGegan.


National Symphony Orchestra: Renée Fleming sings Schubert

Jan 18 - Jan 20, 2019

Internationally celebrated soprano Renée Fleming returns for an all-Schubert program, which includes music from Rosamunde, orchestrations of some of his greatest songs, and Berio's Rendering, based on Schubert's uncompleted 10th Symphony.


National Symphony Orchestra: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (film with live orchestra)

Jan 22 - Jan 24, 2019

The National Symphony Orchestra presents John Williams’s iconic Oscar®-nominated score from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi performed live along with the full feature film.


The Kennedy Center Chamber Players: Works of Hindemith, Respighi, Lutoslawski & Schubert

Sun, Feb 3 , 2019   2:00 PM

The Kennedy Center Chamber Players return to play works by Respighi, Schubert, Lutoslawski, and Hindemith.


National Symphony Orchestra: Brahms, Schumann & Liszt

Feb 7 - Feb 9, 2019

NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda conducts A Faust Symphony by Liszt, a piece inspired by Goethe's magnum opus. Also on the program is Brahms’s turbulent Tragic Overture and Schumann’s Piano Concerto with soloist Nicholas Angelich, whose commanding technique is not to be missed.


National Symphony Orchestra: Noseda conducts Berlioz's Romeo & Juliet

Feb 14 - Feb 16, 2019

NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda leads a richly romantic program with a suite of orchestral music from Berlioz’s Suite from Romeo & Juliet, Wagner’s Prelude and "Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde, and Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini.


NSO Family Concert: Let's Go to the Moon!

Sun, Feb 24 , 2019

As the 50th anniversary of the moon landing draws near, join the NSO for a fun-filled concert of interstellar proportions! Age 5+


National Symphony Orchestra: Eschenbach conducts Haydn & Bruckner

Mar 7 - Mar 9, 2019

Christoph Eschenbach leads Bruckner’s powerful Symphony No. 2, a work not played by the NSO for over 25 years. The NSO Conductor Laureate pairs this work with one by Joseph Haydn, another master of vivid orchestral colors: his Cello Concerto in D, which will feature acclaimed cellist Kian Soltani in his NSO debut.


National Symphony Orchestra: Baroque & Beyond

Mar 14 - Mar 16, 2019

After his triumphant 2017 NSO subscription debut last May, Baroque master Ton Koopman returns to the Concert Hall leading a program of colorful works by Rebel, Rameau, CPE Bach, Mozart, and Haydn.


National Symphony Orchestra: Glass's Itaipu & Auerbach's ARCTICA

Mar 28 - Mar 30, 2019

In his NSO debut, Teddy Abrams will lead two programs of cherished pieces by Dvořák and Sibelius as well as a work by Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates. The Thursday concert will conclude with Phillip Glass’s Itaipu, and the Saturday concert will conclude with the world premiere of contemporary Russian-American composer Lera Auerbach’s ARCTICA.


NSO Family Concert: Symphonic Storytelling: TheTravels of Babar

Sun, Apr 7 , 2019

Come children (and children at heart!) for a concert that mixes the magic of stories and music, including the U.S. premiere of Return to the Land of the Elephants—a work based on the famed Babar books, composed by Raphael Mostel. Age 5+


National Symphony Orchestra: Debussy's La mer

Apr 11 - Apr 13, 2019

Up-and-coming conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla makes her NSO debut conducting two of Debussy’s most celebrated works: La mer and Ibéria. This program also features Ravel’s Shéhérazade and Martin’s Guitare.


Kennedy Center Chamber Players: Works of Loeffler, Shostakovich & Brahms

Sun, Apr 14 , 2019   2:00 PM

In their Spring concert, the ensemble of NSO musicians present a varied program of music by Loeffler, Shostakovich, and Brahms.


National Symphony Orchestra: Unexpected Italy (I): From Vivaldi to Rossini

Apr 18 - Apr 20, 2019

NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda leads the NSO and outstanding singers in Rossini’s unquestionably dramatic Stabat Mater in a remarkable program that also features rarely performed gems by Vivaldi, Gesualdo, and Dallapiccola.


National Symphony Orchestra: Saint-Saëns's "Organ" Symphony

Apr 25 - Apr 27, 2019

NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda presents a lively program featuring Franck’s The Accursed Huntsman and young piano virtuoso Seong-Jin Cho in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. Saint-Saëns’s stunning “Organ” Symphony brings the concert to a majestic close.


National Symphony Orchestra: Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique

May 9 - May 11, 2019

Edward Gardner returns to the Concert Hall to conduct Wagner’s Overture to The Flying Dutchman and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. The program will also feature Renaud Capuçon in Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, one of the iconic works in the concerto repertoire.


National Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

May 16 - May 18, 2019

The iconic opening motif of Beethoven’s Fifth has astounded audiences since its 1808 premiere, and conductor Krzysztof Urbanski will bring fresh perspective to this revolutionary masterpiece with all of its original urgency and triumph intact in a program that includes Vilde Frang playing Elgar’s Violin Concerto.


National Symphony Orchestra: Unexpected Italy (II): Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

May 30 - Jun 1, 2019

NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda continues the Kennedy Center’s Spring celebration of his home country with a program featuring works by Respighi, Casella, and perhaps Rachmaninoff’s best-known work, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, featuring pianist Francesco Piemontesi.


Kennedy Center Chamber Players: Works of Poulenc, Penderecki & Beethoven

Sun, Jun 2 , 2019   2:00 PM

In their last concert of the season, The Kennedy Center Chamber Players will play an eclectic program of Poulenc and Penderecki, concluding with Beethoven’s Serenade for Flute, Violin, and Viola in D major.


National Symphony Orchestra: Dvořák's "New World" Symphony

Jun 6 - Jun 9, 2019

NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda presents a program of folk-inspired pieces with a musical language at once original and familiar including Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony: “From the New World,” Copland’s cowboy ballet Billy the Kid, and Berio’s Folk Songs, which features mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili.


National Symphony Orchestra: Mozart Forever I

Jun 14 - Jun 15, 2019

In the first concert of our three-part salute to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Nathalie Stutzmann, conducts the delightful overture to The Marriage of Figaro and “Haffner” Symphony. Concertmaster Nurit Bar-Josef and NSO Principal Viola Daniel Foster showcase virtuosity in their respective instruments playing the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, and Principal Bassoon Sue Heineman shines in the Bassoon Concerto.


National Symphony Orchestra: Mozart Forever II

Jun 18 - Jun 19, 2019

Nathalie Stutzmann continues the NSO’s celebration of Mozart in a concert with opens with the dramatic Overture to Don Giovanni. The program will also contain Mozart’s Symphonies No. 25 and 40, as well as his Horn Concerto No. 4 featuring NSO Principal Horn Abel Pereira.


National Symphony Orchestra: Mozart Forever III

Jun 21 - Jun 22, 2019

The NSO concludes its Mozart Forever series with a program led by Nathalie Stutzmann that includes the glorious “Jupiter” symphony and the famous Overture to The Magic Flute. The concert will also feature Principal Musicians Aaron Goldman and Adriana Horne in the Concerto for Flute and Harp.

Washington National Opera


Washington National Opera: 2018 Marian Anderson Vocal Award Winner: Ryan Speedo Green in Concert

Thu, Oct 4 , 2018   7:30 PM

This year’s winner, Ryan Speedo Green, has been named by the New York Times as a “scene-stealing bass-baritone with a robust voice.”


Washington National Opera: La traviata

Oct 6 - Oct 21, 2018

Violetta delights in high-class pleasures, but she is secretly dying. Will she know true love before death claims her? We launch the 2018–2019 season with a stunning new production of Verdi’s everlasting story of fate and sacrifice, renowned for its soaring arias and heart-wrenching ending.


Washington National Opera: Silent Night

Nov 10 - Nov 25, 2018

On Christmas Eve at the height of World War I, a spontaneous cease-fire arises between enemy soldiers. Based on the true story and 2005 film, Silent Night features Pulitzer Prize–winning music in multiple languages, capturing humanity and hope amidst a devastating war.


Washington National Opera: Holiday Family Opera: The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me

Dec 14 - Dec 16, 2018

As the first Christmas nears, a special character will share the Nativity story from his perspective: the donkey! Director Francesca Zambello brings the award-winning children's book to vibrant life in this heartwarming family opera, revived after its acclaimed 2013 world premiere.



Washington National Opera: Taking Up Serpents, a New Hour-Long Opera, part of the American Opera Initiative Festival

Jan 11 - Jan 13, 2019

This world premiere is the story of 25-year-old Kayla, the estranged daughter of a fire-and-brimstone preacher who is dangerously bitten by one of his own snakes. Kayla’s journey home forces her to confront her troubled upbringing.


Washington National Opera: Three New 20-Minute Operas, part of the American Opera Initiative Festival

Sat, Jan 12 , 2019

Three world premiere short operas will be staged in a concert performance, accompanied by a small chamber orchestra and followed by a Q&A with the artists and creative team. This season's distinguished mentors include composer Jake Heggie, composer and librettist Gene Scheer, and conductor Steven Osgood.


Washington National Opera: Eugene Onegin

Mar 9 - Mar 29, 2019

Time shifts desires—and one will regret his choice—in Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece of unrequited love and missed opportunities, inspired by Pushkin’s novel. More than 30 years have passed since WNO last staged this dramatic tale of rejection and remorse, and now a visually stunning production marks its return.


Washington National Opera: Faust

Mar 16 - Mar 30, 2019

A deal with the devil goes awry in Gounod’s captivating tragedy. The aging Faust makes a pact with Méphistophélès to exchange his soul for Earth's mortal pleasures. But along the seductive path to riches and power, Faust will realize his salvation is devastatingly bound to others.


Renée Fleming VOICES: Jamie Barton

Sat, Mar 23 , 2019   7:30 PM

Noted for her “imperturbable steadiness of tone” (The Guardian), Grammy®-nominated mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton shares her radiant vocals, accompanied by pianist Kathleen Kelly.


Washington National Opera: Tosca

May 11 - May 25, 2019

Love gets political in Puccini’s striking drama set against 18th-century Rome. Passionate singer Tosca takes matters into her own hands when dreaded chief of police Scarpia hunts for her lover. But no one is guaranteed to get out alive.


Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program: A Concert of Comic Masterpieces

Fri, May 24 , 2019   7:30 PM

The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program presents one lively night of comic chaos, featuring works from beloved operatic comedies.

Fortas Chamber Music Concerts


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Dover Quartet

Wed, Oct 10 , 2018   7:30 PM

Fresh from playing a key part in 2017’s Terrace Theater grand re-opening, the Dover Quartet returns as the Kennedy Center’s new Quartet-in-Residence. In its first season of this three-year residency, the group will showcase classic repertoire alongside a work by our Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates.


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio

Tue, Oct 23 , 2018   7:30 PM

Hailed as "the greatest piano trio on the face of the Earth" (The Washington Post), Joseph Kalichstein, Jaime Laredo, and Sharon Robinson dazzle audiences once again with a stunning program featuring Schumann, Ravel, and Mendelssohn.


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Escher String Quartet

Wed, Nov 14 , 2018   7:30 PM

As former BBC New Generation Artists, the Escher String Quartet has established itself as a creative force in the UK and beyond. The group’s strength as expressive and nuanced performers is clear as they play with a “penetrating intelligence and curiosity” (The New York Times).


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: The Tallis Scholars

Wed, Dec 5 , 2018   7:30 PM

After their last sold-out performance in 2015, The Tallis Scholars return to fill the Terrace Theater once again with richly textured vocal music from the Renaissance—this time in a delightfully festive concert for the holidays. 


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Imani Winds

Wed, Jan 30 , 2019   7:30 PM

The Grammy®-nominated quintet Imani Winds returns with a diverse program highlighting works from six contemporary composers including a new commission from Pulitzer Prize recipient Henry Threadgill.


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Juilliard String Quartet

Wed, Feb 6 , 2019   7:30 PM

The ever-evolving institution that is the Juilliard String Quartet has become a living American legend. The group continues to be “the standard by which all other quartets must be judged” (The New York Times).  


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Shai Wosner and Orion Weiss

Tue, Mar 5 , 2019   7:30 PM

Pianists Shai Wosner and Orion Weiss unite for an exhilarating evening including works for four hands—a rare treat for Fortas concertgoers. 


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Takács Quartet with Garrick Ohlsson

Tue, Mar 12 , 2019   7:30 PM

The Grammy®-winning Takács Quartet return with their trademark blend of drama, spirit, and levity. Star pianist Garrick Ohlsson joins them for Elgar’s Piano Quintet.


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Benjamin Beilman in Recital

Thu, Mar 21 , 2019   7:30 PM

Charismatic young violinist Benjamin Beilman returns for an evening of Beethoven and Bartók sonatas, plus a new piece by prolific composer Frederic Rzewski, specially composed for Beilman.


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Morgenstern Trio

Tue, Mar 26 , 2019   7:30 PM

Morgenstern Trio offers delightful 20th-century works alongside a lighthearted favorite by Schubert—all with the same “polished technique and musical imagination” that made its last Kennedy Center performance a “night to remember” (The Washington Post).


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Venice Baroque Chamber Ensemble with Robin Johannsen

Wed, Apr 10 , 2019   7:30 PM

This collective of musicians from the Grammy®-nominated Venice Baroque Orchestra returns with a program highlighting some of the quintessential composers of the era. 


Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Russian Renaissance

Thu, May 23 , 2019   7:30 PM

With classic Russian instruments, Russian Renaissance dexterously melds traditional folk music with an infusion of modernity. Their program reflects this diversity with its broad range of works by classical composers to jazz favorites.

Special Concerts


West-Eastern Divan Orchestra / Daniel Barenboim, founder & conductor

Wed, Nov 7 , 2018   8:00 PM

This orchestra based in Seville, Spain, brings together young Arab and Israeli musicians and defies the fierce political divide in the Middle East. Their program, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, will include R. Strauss’s Don Quixote and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.


Teatro Regio Torino: I vespri Siciliani, in Concert

Tue, May 21 , 2019   7:30 PM

As the Music Director of Italy’s famed opera house, NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda brings musicians from the opera company along with special guest soloists to Washington, D.C. to give a concert performance of Verdi’s I vespri Siciliani.

Explore the Arts

The Kennedy Center

Guided Rehearsal: La traviata

Sun, Sep 30 , 2018   7:00 PM

Audience members get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a world-class opera production as it comes together through this unique open rehearsal experience.

The Kennedy Center

Opera Master Class with Francesca Zambello

Mon, Nov 19 , 2018   7:00 PM

Observe the WNO Artistic Director, an internationally acclaimed director of theater and opera, as she leads this master class for pre-professional singers

The Kennedy Center

Guided Rehearsal: Eugene Onegin

Thu, Feb 28 , 2019   7:00 PM

Audience members get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a world-class opera production as it comes together through this unique open rehearsal experience.

The Kennedy Center

Guided Rehearsal: Faust

Fri, Mar 8 , 2019   7:00 PM

Audience members get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a world-class opera production as it comes together through this unique open rehearsal experience.

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