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The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center Announces 2019–2020

Season Highlights

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We're pleased to announce the Kennedy Center's classical offerings for the 2019–2020 Fortas Chamber Music Concerts, National Symphony Orchestra, and Washington National Opera seasons.

Helmed by artistic director and pianist Joseph Kalichstein, the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts offer an array of repertoire from the 11th century to today and ensembles ranging from piano trios to string quartets to boundary breakers in the field.

NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda leads a spectacular season that includes world premieres, a Beethoven symphony cycle in celebration of the composer's 250th birthday, distinguished guest artists, Act II of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, conducted by Noseda in Washington and at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall, and more.

Led by General Director Timothy O'Leary and Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, WNO announces an expanded line-up with six main stage titles that balances Italian and French grand operas, two works by Mozart, and the greatness of American artistry from Gershwin to today's new composers: Otello, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Samson and Delilah, Porgy and Bess, plus the D.C. premiere of Blue, a new work by Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson, and the American Opera Initiative.

National Symphony Orchestra

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National Symphony Orchestra: Season Opening Gala Concert
Noseda leads a jazz-inspired evening with Yuja Wang

Sat, Sep 28 , 2019   7:00 PM

Our adventure begins with a concert of favorites influenced by jazz. Gianandrea Noseda’s lively program explores how great composers of the last century have embraced the distinctly American art form with gusto, creating unforgettable music that fans of all genres adore. Pianist extraordinaire Yuja Wang joins Noseda for Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1, an enduring masterpiece reminiscent of jazzy vaudeville with high-paced rhythms and comical punch lines.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Carmina Burana

Oct 3 - Oct 5, 2019

“O Fortuna!” Carmina Burana’s towering first movement rolls in like thunder, announcing a celebration of spring, the humor of life in the tavern, and the joys and sorrows of love. Although the words were written by medieval monks, Orff’s outrageous cantata is an unstoppable force brimming with decadent debauchery. Under the baton of Maestro Gianandrea Noseda, the Orchestra is joined by two choruses for a symphonic experience sacred and profane.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Janowski conducts Bruckner's Seventh / Steinbacher plays Mozart

Oct 10 - Oct 12, 2019

Hailed by the New York Times for her “lyricism and fire,” violinist Arabella Steinbacher returns to the Concert Hall to once again delight audiences in a dynamic performance of Mozart’s demanding Violin Concerto No. 4. Esteemed conductor Marek Janowski leads the program, which also includes Bruckner’s most celebrated symphony, the dramatic Seventh.

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NSO Family Concert: Halloween Spooktacular

Sun, Oct 20 , 2019

An annual tradition! The Concert Hall transforms into a ghostly sight when our ghoulishly attired musicians perform new and old classics to celebrate Halloween. Arrive early for trick-or-treating and a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.”

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National Symphony Orchestra: Urbański conducts Tchaikovsky's Fourth / De la Salle plays Chopin

Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2019

In his much-anticipated return to the NSO, electrifying young conductor Krzysztof Urbański unleashes the full force of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. Witness the composer’s magnificent journey from darkness to light: an evolution of emotion ranging from wistful poetry to commanding optimism and ultimately, renewed love of life. Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is performed by young French pianist Lise de la Salle, whose playing inspired a Washington Post critic to write, “For much of the concert, the audience had to remember to breathe... the exhilaration didn’t let up for a second until her hands came off the keyboard.”

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National Symphony Orchestra: Noseda conducts a dance-inspired program / Bar-Josef plays Piazzolla

Nov 7 - Nov 9, 2019

Tango. Ballet. Viennese waltz. Music and dance inspire each other and the audience in this diverse program of classical works connecting the two art forms. Noseda conducts Ellington’s jazz interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s lush ballet score, as well as one of Piazzolla's most popular works, the tango-inspired Four Seasons of Buenos Aires with NSO Concertmaster Nurit Bar-Josef.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Noseda conducts Tristan and Isolde—Act II with Gould and Goerke

Nov 13 - Nov 15, 2019

Don’t miss your first chance to witness Noseda, one of the world’s leading opera conductors, and the NSO perform the stunning music from Tristan and Isolde, Wagner’s story of young lovers undone. A revolutionary work demanding singers of herculean vocal power, Act II of Tristan and Isolde features two masters of Wagnerian repertoire: Stephen Gould, one of today’s most sought-after heroic tenors, and Christine Goerke, who “brings a cool, focused voice, abundant power, chilling top notes and, in moments of doubt, anguished beauty to her singing” (The New York Times).

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National Symphony Orchestra: Fleming and Gilfry in an NSO co-commission / Noseda conducts Also sprach Zarathustra

Nov 21 - Nov 23, 2019

One of the most celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, soprano Renée Fleming returns to the Concert Hall with Grammy®-nominated baritone Rod Gilfry. Under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda, they perform the D.C. premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Kevin Puts’s Brightness of Light, an NSO co-commission inspired by the letters between iconic American artist Georgia O'Keeffe and her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz. The program comes to a rapturous close with Also sprach Zarathustra, Strauss’s epic showpiece immortalized in pop culture by Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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

Dec 5 - 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: Handel's Messiah

Dec 19 - Dec 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 of the beloved classic. A stellar cast of singers joins Davis, the Orchestra, and The Washington Chorus.

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

Jan 16 - Jan 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 universe. World-renowned pianist Yefim Bronfman joins the program to perform Beethoven’s poetic Fourth Piano Concerto.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Eschenbach returns / Tetzlaff plays Dvořák

Jan 24 - Jan 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

Named 2018 Artist of the Year by the International Classical Music Awards, Manfred Honeck returns to conduct Resurrexit, a piece from Mason Bates, the Kennedy Center's Composer-in-Residence and Musical America’s 2018 Composer of the Year. Commissioned by Honeck, Resurrexit was written to celebrate the conductor’s 60th birthday, and the NSO is excited to bring this masterwork to the Concert Hall. 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 Eighth, a joyous symphony influenced by the composer’s great love for traditional Bohemian music.

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National Symphony Orchestra: Dvořák's Cello Concerto

Feb 6 - Feb 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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NSO Family Concert: Girl Power!

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.”

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

Feb 20 - Feb 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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National Symphony Orchestra: Dvořák's "New World" Symphony

Feb 27 - Feb 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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National Symphony Orchestra: Kozhukhin plays Grieg's Piano Concerto

Apr 2 - Apr 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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National Symphony Orchestra: Langrée conducts Brahms's Second / Hough plays Beethoven

Apr 16 - Apr 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 Second 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: A World Premiere Soon to Be Announced

Sun, Apr 19 , 2020

Some of your favorite artists will be coming together to turn one of your favorite children’s books into a delightful symphonic story! Arrive early for a Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.”

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

Apr 23 - Apr 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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National Symphony Orchestra: Noseda conducts Mahler's Fourth / NSO stars play Haydn

May 7 - May 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 - May 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   8:00 PM

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 - May 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 is Beethoven’s First Symphony and his Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus, a popular ballet inspired by another hero whose suffering ultimately helped mankind, 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 - Jun 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 - Jun 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 - Jun 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.

KC Chamber Players

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The Kennedy Center Chamber Players—Fall Concert

Sun, Nov 3 , 2019   2:00 PM

This fall, The Kennedy Center Chamber Players join the celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday with two of his sonatas. In addition the ensemble will play a cello sonata by Jaffe. 

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The Kennedy Center Chamber Players—Winter Concert

Sun, Feb 23 , 2020   2:00 PM

For their February concert The Kennedy Center Chamber Players share two Beethoven works: String Quartet in C major, Op. 29 and "Kreutzer" Sonata, arranged for String Quintet.

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The Kennedy Center Chamber Players—Spring Concert

Sun, May 17 , 2020   2:00 PM

For their final concert of the season, The Kennedy Center Chamber Players highlight two Beethoven works and Mozart's “the Kegelstatt Trio.”

Washington National Opera

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Washington National Opera: Otello

Oct 26 - Nov 16, 2019

Verdi’s epic retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy traces the collapse of a great hero. As Iago manipulates Otello, the general will confront his deadliest enemy: his jealous heart.

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WNO Guided Rehearsal: The Magic Flute

Sun, Oct 27 , 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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Washington National Opera: The Magic Flute

Nov 2 - Nov 23, 2019

Mozart meets Maurice Sendak and a little magic! This enchanting quest for love and truth features a whimsical production designed by author/illustrator Maurice Sendak.

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Washington National Opera: 2019 Marian Anderson Vocal Award Winner: Soloman Howard in Concert

Mon, Nov 25 , 2019   7:30 PM

This year’s winner, Soloman Howard, is praised for his “sonorous” (The New York Times) and “superhuman” (The Denver Post) bass.

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WNO: American Opera Initiative: Three New 20-Minute Operas

Fri, Jan 10 , 2020

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 Laura Kaminsky, librettist Kelley Rourke, and conductor Anne Manson.

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WNO Guided Rehearsal: Samson and Delilah

Tue, Feb 25 , 2020   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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Washington National Opera: Don Giovanni

Feb 29 - Mar 22, 2020

A notorious lover meets his ultimate fiery punishment in Mozart’s celebrated tragicomedy. He’s spent his life betraying women. Now time’s up.

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Washington National Opera: Samson and Delilah

Mar 1 - Mar 21, 2020

Seduction and deceit tangle in Saint-Saëns’s sensual grand opera. When Delilah seduces Samson into revealing the source of his physical power, his faith will be put to a final, catastrophic test.

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Washington National Opera: Blue

Mar 15 - Mar 28, 2020

In the D.C. premiere of Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson’s new contemporary opera, a family struggles when a teenager is shot by police.

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Washington National Opera: Porgy and Bess

May 9 - May 23, 2020

Gershwin’s quintessential American masterpiece melds jazz, folk, and gospel styles. Bess finds herself torn between steadfast love and the dark demons that tug her elsewhere.

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Opera Master Class with Denyce Graves

Tue, May 12 , 2020   7:00 PM

Emerging artists hone their craft under the guidance of mezzo-soprano and D.C. native Denyce Graves, who is recognized as “an operatic superstar of the 21st Century” (USA Today).

Fortas Chamber Music Concerts

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Takács Quartet I

Tue, Oct 15 , 2019   7:30 PM

The Grammy Award®–winning Takács Quartet performs a not-to-be-missed cycle of Bartók's string quartets, Nos. 1, 3, & 5 (Oct. 15) and Nos. 2, 4, & 6 (Oct. 16). 

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Takács Quartet II

Wed, Oct 16 , 2019   7:30 PM

The Grammy Award®–winning Takács Quartet performs a not-to-be-missed cycle of Bartók's string quartets, Nos. 2, 4, & 6 (Oct. 16) and Nos. 1, 3, & 5 (Oct. 15).

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio

Wed, Oct 30 , 2019   7:30 PM

The Kennedy Center's beloved Trio-in-Residence shares a real treat this season—a stunning program of Beethoven's most compelling trios in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020.

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Cantus

Wed, Nov 13 , 2019   7:30 PM

This charming men's vocal ensemble returns with its trademark musicality, “spontaneous grace,” and “expressive power” (The Washington Post). The centerpiece of this year’s program is the exciting D.C. premiere of a new composition from Grammy Award® winner Libby Larsen.

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Pamela Frank and Peter Serkin

Wed, Dec 4 , 2019   7:30 PM

Violinist Pamela Frank unites with frequent collaborator pianist Peter Serkin for an evening of Bach's sonatas. 

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Jay Campbell

Tue, Jan 21 , 2020   7:30 PM

Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja makes her long-awaited Kennedy Center debut alongside her frequent collaborator, cellist Jay Campbell.

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Nelly’s Harpsichord: Music from Mount Vernon

Sun, Jan 26 , 2020   2:00 PM

Harpsichordist Richard Egarr plays the newly completed replica of Eleanor “Nelly” Custis one-of-a-kind harpsichord, a gift from her grandfather George Washington in 1793. The program features popular music from Nelly's time and selections from her own song book to be announced from the stage.

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Trio Con Brio Copenhagen

Wed, Feb 19 , 2020   7:30 PM

Last at the Kennedy Center for the Nordic Cool Festival in 2013, Trio con Brio Copenhagen's program is mysterious yet personal featuring Beethoven, Shostakovich, and Bent Sørensen.

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: A Far Cry

Tue, Mar 31 , 2020   7:30 PM

The Boston-based Grammy®-nominated string orchestra makes its Kennedy Center debut with a program of works by Pärt, Mozart, Elgar, and Tchaikovsky. 

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Dover Quartet

Wed, Apr 15 , 2020   7:30 PM

Now ingrained in the Kennedy Center’s rich history, “the young American string quartet of the moment” (The New Yorker) enters its second season as our Quartet-in-Residence.

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Maurizio Pollini in recital

Sun, May 10 , 2020   2:00 PM

Extraordinary Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini returns to the Concert Hall with a program celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

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Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Emerson String Quartet and Renée Fleming

Thu, May 14 , 2020   7:30 PM

The Grammy Award®–winning Emerson String Quartet reunites with Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor at Large Renée Fleming for another “rapturous recital” (The Washington Post).  At the center of the evening is Penelope, a new monodrama inspired by Homer’s The Odyssey from the Academy Award®–winning composer André Previn and libretto by playwright Tom Stoppard.

Renée Fleming VOICES

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Renée Fleming VOICES: Joyce DiDonato

Nov 8 - Nov 9, 2019

"In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?"
One of opera's most outspoken and impassioned personalities, multi-Grammy Award®–winner Joyce DiDonato presents music from her new album In War & Peace - Harmony through Music. This new selection of arias from Handel and Purcell, among other great opera masters, conveys how powerfully Baroque opera explores the extremes of human nature and the eternal search for serenity. Join DiDonato on this unique and timely journey with prize-winning orchestra Il Pomo d'Oro, under the direction of Maxim Emelyanychev.

Special Concerts

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Chineke! Orchestra with Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello

Tue, Apr 21 , 2020   8:00 PM

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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