The Kennedy Center

Classical Music

Featured this season 2

Upcoming Events

National Symphony Orchestra DECLASSIFIED: Ben Folds Presents

Fri, Dec 6, 2019

As part of his popular DECLASSIFIED series, Artistic Advisor to the NSO Ben Folds welcomes three special guests: country music artist Jamey Johnson; pop-soul singer Emily King; and folk, blues, and Latin fusion songstress Gaby Moreno. These late-night concerts, curated and hosted by Folds, defy the traditional symphony experience by offering great live music—both classical and contemporary—in a casual setting.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Celebrating Slatkin at 75 / Kern plays Rachmaninoff

Sat, Dec 7, 2019

When former NSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin led the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, he commissioned a set of variations—each from a different living American composer—on the famous Paganini Caprice No. 24. In honor of Slatkin’s 75th birthday season, a number of orchestras, including the NSO, have each commissioned an additional variation to create a new, expanded version of the work.

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National Symphony Orchestra at The Anthem: Ugly Sweater Holiday Concert

Wed, Dec 11, 2019

The NSO continues its series of casual, affordable concerts—a new way to enjoy the symphony! To purchase tickets online, please click here.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Handel's Messiah

Dec 19 – 22, 2019

Since its debut nearly three centuries ago, one work reigns unchallenged as the ultimate celebration of holiday cheer: Handel’s Messiah. This year, experience Messiah’s supreme glory in Sir Andrew Davis's must-hear orchestration with a stellar cast of soloists and The Washington Chorus.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Bronfman plays Beethoven / Holst's The Planets

Jan 16 – 19, 2020

From menacing Mars to enigmatic Neptune, a wondrous cosmic dance comes to symphonic life in Holst’s The Planets. Recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Dallas Symphony, New Zealand–born Gemma New makes her NSO debut with this uplifting cornerstone of classical music, taking the audience on a transcendent trip through the solar system. World-renowned pianist Yefim Bronfman joins the program to perform Beethoven’s poetic Fourth Piano Concerto.

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Martin Amini

Thu, Jan 16, 2020

Martin Amini is a stand up comic based in Washington D.C. His material touches on what it's like growing up in America coming from an Iranian and Bolivian background. 

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NSO Music for Young Audiences: Beauty and the Beat

Jan 18 – 26, 2020

See NSO principal second violinist Marissa Regni and NSO principal percussionist Eric Shin in an exciting new program exploring the magic created when the violin and percussion join together. Ages 3+

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National Symphony Orchestra at The Anthem: Holst's The Planets

Wed, Jan 22, 2020

The NSO continues its series of casual, affordable concerts—a new way to enjoy the symphony! To purchase tickets online, please click here.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Eschenbach returns / Tetzlaff plays Dvořák

Jan 24 – 25, 2020

Dvořák’s exuberant Violin Concerto requires exceptional virtuosity and musicianship. Christian Tetzlaff, whom The New Yorker calls “the finest violinist performing before the public today,” displays both with elegance and depth. NSO Conductor Laureate Christoph Eschenbach returns to lead the internationally renowned violinist, bringing to life the work’s powerhouse opening, lyrical slow movement, and spirited finale infused with Slavic cheer.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Lugansky plays Mozart / Honeck conducts Dvořák

Jan 30 – Feb 1, 2020

Manfred Honeck returns to conduct Resurrexit, a piece from Mason Bates, the Kennedy Center's Composer-in-Residence. Commissioned by Honeck, Resurrexit was written to celebrate the conductor’s 60th birthday, and the NSO is excited to perform this masterwork. Nikolai Lugansky, praised by the New York Times for his “remarkable artistry,” performs Mozart’s stormy Piano Concerto No. 24. The program concludes with Dvořák’s joyous Eighth Symphony.

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Mason Bates's KC Jukebox: Juan Atkins, Godfather of Techno

Thu, Jan 30, 2020

Detroit techno fuses with contemporary sounds in an immersive, designed space, featuring performances by Grammy®-nominated ensemble Inscape.

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Washington Performing Arts presents Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin, & Lambert Orkis, piano 

Sat, Feb 1, 2020

Violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter returns to D.C. to put her stamp on Beethoven at 250.  

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National Symphony Orchestra: Dvořák's Cello Concerto

Feb 6 – 9, 2020

“Music is life,” declared Carl Nielsen, “and like it, inextinguishable.” Composed against the backdrop of World War I, Nielsen’s Fourth is one of the most dramatic of symphonies ever composed, from the volcanic opening to the thrilling finale with a duel for two sets of timpani. French German cellist Nicolas Altstaedt makes his NSO debut playing a Dvořák favorite, the sublime Cello Concerto. This is music that makes you feel alive, and conductor Edward Gardner has it pulsing through his veins.

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National Symphony Orchestra DECLASSIFIED: Ben Folds Presents

Fri, Feb 7, 2020

Artistic Advisor to the NSO Ben Folds is back, headlining a special DECLASSIFIED event featuring original music never before performed with an orchestra. These laid-back, late-night concerts, curated and hosted by Folds, defy the traditional classical music presentation by offering great live music in a casual setting with exciting guest artists. 

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NSO Family Concert: Girl Power! Celebrating Women in Music

Sun, Feb 16, 2020

Don’t miss a special showcase of female composers, conductors, and performers to mark 100 years since the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. Arrive early for a Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo” (1–2 p.m. and 3–4 p.m. in the Atrium). Ages 5+

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National Symphony Orchestra: Noseda conducts Mahler's Fifth and Schubert

Feb 20 – 22, 2020

Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony is not unfinished at all. Its brilliance lies in the composer’s deliberate decision to leave the masterpiece as is, and no music lover would have it any other way. With compassion for man’s mortality, Schubert packs a lifetime of hope, suffering, and joy into just two perfect movements. Concluding the program is Mahler’s expressive, powerful Symphony No. 5, balancing heartache and glory.

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NSO Music for Young Audiences: Mozart Mash-Up

Feb 22 – 23, 2020

Share the magic and music of Mozart in a special family concert when members of the National Symphony Orchestra play favorites from the prolific composer. Age 7+

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National Symphony Orchestra: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Feb 27 – 29, 2020

The youngest-ever winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition, Akiko Suwanai joins Noseda for Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, a work radiating Russian spirit. Thursday and Saturday’s program concludes with Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements and Friday’s performance concludes with Dvořák’s “New World Symphony,” two pieces that evoke the Russian and Czech composers’ enthusiastic immersion into American culture.

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Mason Bates's KC Jukebox: Ekhodom and Mason Bates

Thu, Feb 27, 2020

Thievery Corporation's Eric Hilton offers his visonary Ekhodom in an immersive, designed space, with DJing and new music by Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates.

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Washington Performing Arts presents Daniil Trifonov, piano

Wed, Mar 4, 2020

Grammy Award winning Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov has made a spectacular ascent in the classical music world as a solo artist, champion of the concerto repertoire, chamber and vocal collaborator, and composer. 

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John Hersey High School Band presents John Hersey H.S. and W.T. Woodson H.S. Band Concert: A Tribute to John E. Casagrande

Thu, Mar 5, 2020

This concert features two of America's most recognized high school concert bands—W.T. Woodson High School of Fairfax, Virginia, and John Hersey High School of Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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Music Celebrations International Presents  2020 John Philip Sousa Band Festival

Sun, Mar 15, 2020

A Music Festival tribute to Bandmaster and Composer, John Philip Sousa, “The March King,” featuring four award-winning Wind Bands from throughout the United States!
This is a FREE event; please see ticket details below.

Jacksonville Symphony (part of SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras)

Tue, Mar 24, 2020

The Jacksonville Symphony’s program explores the many influences that jazz artists and composers have had on traditional classical composers. Their theme for the SHIFT festival is “Bridges,” and their Composer-in-Residence, Courtney Bryan, will have a significant presence in the mainstage concert as well as in the Symphony’s residency activities.

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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (part of SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras)

Wed, Mar 25, 2020

The Baltimore Symphony presents a program celebrating the changing faces of America, from Dvořák's grand vision for American music, to a forgotten treasure by the first African American woman recognized as a symphonic composer, to a tour de force concerto that draws influence from all over the world.

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Mason Bates's KC Jukebox: Jeremy Kittle's Whorls with Joshua Roman and the Verona Quartet

Thu, Mar 26, 2020

Jeremy Kittel offers his melting pot of classical and folk music in an immersive, designed space, featuring performances from Joshua Roman and the Verona Quartet.

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Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (part of SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras)

Fri, Mar 27, 2020

Every good journey begins and ends at home. This program celebrates the artistic legacy of Knoxville, interweaving music with narrative excerpts by Pulitzer Prize-winning Knoxville native James Agee. The KSO highlights two pieces inspired by Agee texts: Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, which vividly captures a young Agee’s memories of his family and home, and Copland’s Suite from The Tender Land, inspired in part by Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

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Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (part of SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras)

Sat, Mar 28, 2020

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Classical Theatre of Harlem offer a collaborative portrait of the cultural diversity and vitality of New York City through a musical and theatrical performance of Shakespeare’s classic tale A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Kozhukhin plays Grieg's Piano Concerto

Apr 2 – 4, 2020

Following his celebrated NSO debut last season, acclaimed Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin returns to perform one of the most-loved concertos of all time, Grieg’s Piano Concerto. Conducted by incoming Music Director for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Gustavo Gimeno, the program also includes Shostakovich's brilliant Symphony No. 1. Written at the age of eighteen, the work is already characteristic of Shostakovich's trademark style: unafraid, exuberant, and delightfully dramatic.

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Washington Performing Arts presents The Philadelphia Orchestra

Wed, Apr 15, 2020

Grammy Award-winning singer Kelley O’Connor joins the Philadelphia Orchestra in a thrilling program of bold musical voices from the past century. 

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National Symphony Orchestra: Langrée conducts Brahms's First / Hough plays Beethoven

Apr 16 – 18, 2020

With its grand orchestration and stormy, romantic movements, Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto is a vital precursor to the composer’s “heroic” middle-period style, which the NSO explores later this season in Beethoven at 250. Stephen Hough effortlessly conquers the concerto, which demands remarkable mastery and range of color from the soloist. Brahms’s radiant First Symphony and Julia Wolfe’s Fountain of Youth complete the program, making a thrilling NSO debut for conductor Louis Langrée, Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

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NSO Family Concert: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (a Symphonic Spectacular)

Sun, Apr 19, 2020

Once upon a time, there were three hungry Dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur… and a Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway! That’s the just the beginning of a hilarious fractured, symphonic take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, as retold by Mo Willems. Don't miss this new classic performed by favorite performers and the NSO, featuring original music composed by indie pop icon and NSO Artistic Advisor Ben Folds. Ages 5+

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Chineke! Orchestra with Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello

Tue, Apr 21, 2020

A co-presentation with Washington Performing Arts. Championing change and diversity in the classical music world, the Chineke! Orchestra provides young black and minority ethnic artists performance opportunities around the world. The concert features Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the star cellist at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding in 2018.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Eschenbach conducts Ravel's Boléro / Carpenter plays Poulenc

Apr 23 – 25, 2020

Christoph Eschenbach returns once more to lead an all-French program featuring Ravel’s famous Boléro. The sultry slow-burn never fails to excite audiences, unfolding with increasingly rich combinations in the longest-sustained crescendo of any orchestral work. Rock star organist Cameron Carpenter, “a modern-day throwback to the flamboyant virtuosos of the 19th century” (NPR), joins the Orchestra in Poulenc’s vibrant Organ Concerto.

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Mason Bates's KC Jukebox: Michael Abels and Rob Garza

Thu, Apr 23, 2020

Thivery Corporation's Rob Garza combines psychedelic electronica with a string octet in an immersive, designed space. Plus, music from composer Michael Abels of the Academy Award®–winning film Get Out.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Noseda conducts Mahler's Fourth / NSO stars play Haydn

May 7 – 9, 2020

Four exceptional NSO principals engage in a spirited musical conversation as they take center stage in Haydn’s joyful Sinfonia Concertante. The program, conducted by Noseda, concludes with Mahler’s heavenly Fourth Symphony, a piece combining the composer’s love of nature and humor with his search for the meaning of life.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Memory and Myth: Music by Sibelius and an NSO premiere

May 14 – 16, 2020

In a symphonic exploration of legend and lore, visionary maestro David Robertson conducts Mnemosyne's Pool, an NSO co-commission from Grammy Award®–winning composer Steven Mackey. Drawing inspiration from the Greek goddess of memory, Mackey’s work tells the story of souls who dared drink from the river Mnemosyne in Hades, thereby bestowing eternal life in the Elysian Fields. Sibelius weaves Finnish mythology into music in The Swan of Tuonela, a tone poem depicting the hero’s quest to kill a mystical swan swimming through the Finnish realm of the dead.

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Lang Lang in Recital

Sat, May 23, 2020

For one concert only, the National Symphony Orchestra presents “the hottest artist on the classical music planet” (The New York Times), Lang Lang. Experience his dazzling piano talents to a solo program of J.S. Bach’s iconic Goldberg Variations.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven at 250: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3

May 28 – 29, 2020

“Let your deafness no longer be a secret—even in art!”
—Beethoven’s notes in the sketches of Opus 59 string quartet, 1806

Our tribute begins with an exciting concert featuring Beethoven’s Third Symphony, “Eroica,” a major turning point in musical history. The work illustrates the composer’s own spiritual quest towards heroism as he coped with deafness and found new triumph in his art and life. Also on the program are Beethoven’s First Symphony and his Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus, a popular ballet inspired by another hero whose suffering ultimately helped humankind, the rebellious Greek Titan who stole fire from the Gods to give to mortals.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven at 250: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5

May 30 – Jun 3, 2020

Famed for its iconic four-note opening, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is one of the most well-known and influential pieces of music ever composed. Imaginative, violent, and wide-ranging, the colossal crowd-pleaser immerses the audience in Beethoven’s state of mind with dramatic tension that builds to a passionate climax. Complementing the program are two works deeply connected to the composer’s rebellious ideals: his Second Symphony and third Leonore Overture.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven at 250: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7

Jun 5 – 6, 2020

Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony starts small but grows into a giant. Upon first hearing the masterpiece, 26-year-old Robert Schumann was so enthralled that he “sat in place without moving a muscle or even breathing.” Beethoven’s Overture from Egmont opens the program, and his Seventh Symphony makes for a visceral, high-voltage finale.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven at 250: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 8

Jun 9 – 10, 2020

Join Noseda for a program of masterworks beginning with the rapid-fire wit of Beethoven’s Coriolan overture, followed by an explosive musical firecracker: his Eighth Symphony. Beethoven's “Pastoral” Symphony, which features some of the composer’s most memorable melodies. By the end of this heavenly concert, the audience finds itself gently transported to the Viennese countryside.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven at 250: Symphony No. 9

Jun 12 – 14, 2020

The NSO culminates its tribute with Beethoven’s epic Ninth, the symphony by which all others are measured. Witness the vast cosmic drama of this groundbreaking piece, which was the first symphony to introduce vocals in an orchestration. With its grand emotional melodies and tremendous final “Ode to Joy,” Beethoven’s final symphony resounds as loudly today as it did two centuries ago.

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National Symphony Orchestra DECLASSIFIED: Ben Folds Presents

Fri, Jun 19, 2020

Ben Folds returns to the Concert Hall this season for his late-night DECLASSIFIED series! DECLASSIFIED concerts, curated and hosted by Folds, defy the traditional classical music presentation by offering great live music in a casual setting with exciting guest artists.

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