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March 8, 2011

Kennedy Center's 2011-12 season features music of Vienna, Prague, Budapest; new 'Pal Joey'

The Kennedy Center's 2011-2012 season looks as packed as ever with activity in just about every genre.

Musically speaking, note a month-long festival celebrating the music of three great European cities: Budapest, Prague, and Vienna.

In addition to the National Symphony Orchestra's programs with music director Christoph Eschenbach (Dvorak's "Stabat Mater," concert versions of "Fidelio" and "Bluebeard's Castle," etc.), there will be performances by the Vienna Philharmonic, Prague Philharmonia and more.

On the theater side, there will be a new Kennedy Center production of Rodgers and Hart’s "Pal Joey" with a new book by Terrence McNally. That's bound to be quite an attention-getter. Same for the Sydney Theatre Company's production of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" starring Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving.

Touring productions playing at the center next season will include "Billy Elliot the Musical," "Memphis," "La Cage aux Folles," "The Addams Family" and "Les Misérables." Barbara Cook's Spotlight series of fresh vocal talent returns to the center for its fifth season; the incomparable singer will also be heard in concert.

Back to the NSO for a moment ...

Eschenbach, who will be heard as pianist in chamber music programs during the seasons (including a collaboration on Schubert's "Winterreise" with baritone Matthias Goerne), will spend a lot of time on Beethoven. In addition to "Fidelio," he'll offer five of the nine symphonies.

Big choral works dot the season, including Mendelssohn’s "Elijah" conducted by Helmuth Rilling and Orff’s "Carmina Burana" conducted by Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos. New works by Bill Banfield and Osvaldo Golijov are slated to be heard. Guest conductors include Lorin Maazel, Hannu Lintu, Herbert Blomstedt and former NSO music director Leonard Slatkin. The orchestra also welcomes new principal pops conductor Steven Reineke next season.

Fans of ballet and contemporary dance will find the American Ballet Theatre, Bolshoi Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Suzanne Farrell Ballet (celebrating its 10th anniversary as resident at the center),Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Mark Morris Dance Group, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Beijing Dance Theater, Jo Kanamori’s Noism, and more.

Next season will see a new project called Look Both Ways: Street Arts Across America, a free series of events at the center and beyond celebrating contemporary visual arts, street musicians, circus performers and even flash mobs.

With funding from Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein -- another $10 million gift, six months after his first $10 million gift to the center -- the venue will expand its outreach efforts. The Rubenstein Arts Access Program aims to increase accessibility to young people and those "who have little or limited ability to attend and enjoy the performing arts."

The 2011-12 season also marks Washington National Opera's first year of the affiliation with the center. The opera lineup, previously announced, includes "Tosca," "Lucia di Lammermoor," "Così fan tutte," "Nabucco" and "Werther."

Jazz artists heading to the center next season include Ramsey Lewis, the Manhattan Transfer, Fountain of Youth Band, Django Reinhardt Festival All-Stars, and Jane Monheit.


Posted by Tim Smith at 11:05 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens


Vienna Philharmonic? On what date and with what program? I can't see it on the NSO season announcement page. This saves me a trip to NY...

It's a WPAS event in collaboration with Kennedy Center, 2/29/12. Maazel conducts the Viennese in his wordless 'Ring' arrangement, as well as Mozart's Symphony No. 40.

I have seen all these shows, My favorite is les Miserables, seen it in Paris first and London after;)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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