Press Release

March 8, 2016

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Deborah F. Rutter, President
along with

Philippe Auguin, Music Director of Washington National Opera
Mason Bates, Composer-In-Residence
Christoph Eschenbach, Kennedy Center and NSO Music Director
Suzanne Farrell, Artistic Advisor for Ballet
Joseph Kalichstein, Artistic Advisor for Chamber Music
Gianandrea Noseda, NSO Music Director Designate
Steven Reineke, NSO Principal Pops Conductor
Jason Moran, Artistic Director for Jazz
Francesca Zambello, Artistic Director of Washington National Opera
announce the

2016–2017 Kennedy Center Season
Highlights include:

Yearlong Celebration Marking Centennial of John F. Kennedy’s Birth
Three New Artistic Partners to Lead Center-wide
Artistic and Community Initiatives

Hip Hop Added to Center’s Core Programming
Washington National Opera’s Champion and Dead Man Walking
The Public Theater’s trilogy The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family
plus an Array of Tony Award®–winning Musicals and Plays and Five Global Works
National Symphony Orchestra: Maestro Eschenbach’s Final Season + Slava at 90
Ballet Across America
And More Than 2,000 Performances of Theater, Dance, and Music of All Kinds
(WASHINGTON)—The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced
programming for the 2016–2017 season for the Center, the National Symphony Orchestra, and
~ more ~

Washington National Opera. Under President Deborah F. Rutter’s continued leadership, the
Kennedy Center is re-imagining ways of presenting the arts in the 21st century through
interdisciplinary programming, immersive audience engagement, and a focus on artist-centric
programming. The 2016–2017 season includes significant and institution-wide initiatives from
the yearlong celebration marking the Centennial of John F. Kennedy’s birth, to three newly
appointed Artistic Partners who will lead these artistic and community initiatives (Yo-Yo Ma,
Renée Fleming, and Q-Tip), and the support of American programming. With more than 2,000
performances across many artistic genres, the Center continues its tradition as the nation’s center
for the performing arts, commissioning, producing, and presenting the finest of local, national,
and international arts. The 2016–2017 season includes 25 commissioned or co-commissioned
works and projects across the Center’s full range of artistic disciplines.

JFK Centennial
Marking and honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Center’s namesake, the late
President John F. Kennedy (JFK), the Center will offer an expansive, yearlong initiative from
April 2016–May 2017, featuring a wide range of programs reflective of the late President’s
vision, ideals, and legacy alongside forward-looking initiatives reflecting the contemporary spirit
of America. Under the visionary leadership of Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter, the
Centennial program is designed to encourage dialogue and personal creativity, highlight the role
of culture and artists in society, bring people together, and connect artists and audiences in more
powerful ways—goals long championed by acclaimed cellist and humanitarian Yo-Yo Ma, who
begins a three-year relationship with the Center as its newly appointed Artistic Advisor At Large.
For the complete programming of the JFK Centennial, please see here.

New Artistic Partners: Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, and Q-Tip
As part of its 2016–2017 season announcement, the Center has welcomed three newly appointed
roles and key relationships with legendary cellist and humanitarian Yo-Yo Ma (Artistic Advisor
At Large), superstar soprano and arts advocate Renée Fleming (Artistic Advisor At Large), and
renowned Hip Hop artist and socially conscious cultural pioneer Q-Tip (Artistic Director for Hip
Hop Culture). As artists, curators, and thought leaders, these three new advisory roles will
advance important institution-wide initiatives, and explore new facets of the arts on both local
and national levels over the next three years. Mr. Ma, Ms. Fleming, and Q-Tip will join the
Kennedy Center’s current multidisciplinary team of Artistic Partners including: Philippe

Auguin, Music Director, Washington National Opera; Mason Bates, Kennedy Center Composer
in Residence; Christoph Eschenbach, Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra and
Kennedy Center; Suzanne Farrell, Artistic Advisor for Ballet Programming and Artistic Director
for The Suzanne Farrell Ballet; Joseph Kalichstein, Artistic Director for Fortas and Chamber
Music Programming; Jason Moran, Artistic Director for Jazz Programming; Gianandrea Noseda,
Music Director Designate, National Symphony Orchestra; Steven Reineke, NSO Principal Pops
Conductor; and Francesca Zambello, Artistic Director, Washington National Opera. For further
information about the appointments of the new Artistic Partners, please see here.

Spirit of American Programming
In the continued Center-wide effort to highlight the spirit of American programming, the 2016–
2017 season features two distinct series, the inaugural SHIFT Festival, debuting in the spring of
2017, and co-presented by the Kennedy Center and Washington Performing Arts, and the return
of its week-long Ballet Across America series, last seen in 2013. SHIFT: A Festival of American
Orchestras is a weeklong spotlight on North American orchestras of all sizes that celebrates the
vitality, unique identity, and extraordinary artistry of orchestras by creating an immersive festival
experience in the nation’s capital. It is the first significant collaboration between the Kennedy
Center and Washington Performing Arts in their shared history. Orchestras selected to participate
include: Boulder Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and
Brooklyn-based ensemble, The Knights. Collectively, the participating orchestras will offer
repertoire by nine living composers, two world premieres, and numerous D.C.-area premieres
during the festival, inspired by themes of nature, Americana, creation and creativity, and choral
influences. In April 2017, the Ballet Across America series continues the Center-wide initiative
to support new work with artist-centric programming in two programs curated by major stars of
the ballet world, dancer-choreographer Justin Peck and principal dancer Misty Copeland. The
series will explore ballet’s new directions illustrating the most exciting, creative work happening
across America today. Central to the Kennedy Center’s celebration of the JFK Centennial, guest
curators will present works that explore themes of innovation, courage, freedom, justice, and
service on top of the series-wide exploration of American ballet. For further information about
the SHIFT Festival, please see here. For further information about Ballet Across America, please
see here.


Hip Hop
Hip Hop will become a core programming area at the Kennedy Center moving forward, with the
appointment of its first-ever Artistic Director for Hip Hop Culture. An active member of
Universal Zulu Nation, the first Hip Hop organization which was founded in the 1970s by Afrika
Bambaataa, Q-Tip embodies the multifaceted nature of the culture with a history of seminal
work and longstanding relevance in the community. Famously known as a founder and member
of the group A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip is regarded as a pioneer of the genre who paved the
way for younger Hip Hop artists by introducing jazzy, eclectic soundscapes into Hip Hop
production and a new degree of originality to the art of emceeing. Through his role in A Tribe
Called Quest in the ’80s and ’90s, he became one of the most influential Hip Hop figures of alltime, uniquely fusing rap, jazz, and other styles with piercing, socially conscious lyrics. He also
has enjoyed success as a solo artist and producer, working with high profile Hip Hop and R&B
acts such as the Beastie Boys, Busta Rhymes, J. Dilla, Janet Jackson, Kanye West, Kendrick
Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, and Pharrell Williams. His critically praised solo albums
include Amplified, the Grammy®-nominated The Renaissance, and Kamaal the Abstract. Q-Tip is
currently the host of Apple Music’s Abstract Radio, a weekly Friday radio show where he digs
deep into underground favorites and musical legends.
In addition to Q-Tip’s appointment, a key part of this new venture is the Kennedy
Center’s formal partnership with Hi-ARTs, a leading organization within the urban arts
movement that develops and produces new works of performance and visual art. Hi-ARTs has
collaborated with the Kennedy Center for 15 years in developing the DC Hip Hop Theater
Festival, and also served as co-producer of the Center’s One Mic Festival in 2014. The
organization has built a strong national reputation as a vital incubator for multidisciplinary work,
fusing performance, visual arts, and spoken word with elements of Hip Hop and urban arts. For
the complete Hip Hop season, please see here.

Washington National Opera
The 2016–2017 season includes Mozart’s comic masterpiece The Marriage of Figaro,
Donizetti’s charming The Daughter of the Regiment, a festival weekend of four world premieres
as part of the American Opera Initiative, the company premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence
McNally’s Dead Man Walking, the East Coast premiere of Terence Blanchard and Michael
Cristofer’s “opera in jazz” Champion, and an eye-popping staging of Puccini’s beloved classic,

Madame Butterfly. The season also includes the special one-night-only event: Justice at the
Opera with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by WNO Artistic Director and
host Francesca Zambello, and the return of M&M’S® Opera in the Outfield, WNO’s largest
community program, plus two special Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist performances and other
vocal events. For the complete WNO season, please see here.

National Symphony Orchestra
Highlights of Maestro Eschenbach’s seventh and final season as NSO Music Director begin with
the 2016 Season Opening Concert, featuring Lang Lang as soloist. Eschenbach will also lead
seven weeks of subscription concerts which include Wynton Marsalis’s Violin Concerto—an
NSO co-commission—in its East Coast premiere by Nicola Benedetti, for whom it was
commissioned. He and the NSO will salute Gidon Kremer on his upcoming 70th birthday
performing Mieczysław Weinberg’s Violin Concerto in its first NSO performances. Two more
programs feature members of the National Symphony, another Eschenbach hallmark, inviting
NSO members to perform as soloists: Concertmaster Nurit Bar-Josef and Principal Trombone
Craig Mulcahy. Additionally, Eschenbach will lead two of the four Slava at 90 programs saluting
former Music Director Mstislav Rostropovich in the season that would have marked his 90th
birthday; and the NSO also travels to Russia as the first American orchestra to participate in the
Mstislav Rostropovich Festival. Gianandrea Noseda, who becomes Music Director Designate in
September, will lead the NSO in two different programs during the 2016–2017 season.
The 2016–2017 season of NSO Pops will open with Principal Pops Conductor Steven
Reineke and the U.S. premiere of The Second City Guide to the Symphony starring Colin
Mochrie. The beloved film E.T. and John Williams’s epic score come to the NSO for three
performances Thanksgiving weekend. R&B sensation Ledisi has earned national recognition not
only through her performance, but through her arts advocacy, entrepreneurship, and other
activities. She comes to the NSO for two performances. For the complete NSO Pops season,
please see here.

Fortas Chamber Music Concerts
The 2016–2017 Fortas Chamber Music Series season includes performances by mezzo-soprano
Joyce DiDonato and the Brentano Quartet, the celebrated Takács Quartet, and Maurizio Pollini,
one of the defining pianists of our time. The trio composed of cellist Alisa Weilerstein, pianist
Inon Barnatan, and clarinetist Anthony McGill will present a new composition by Joseph

Hallman, commissioned by Music Accord, as part of the series. The series also features brothers
Ilmar Gavilán, as part of the Harlem Quartet, and Aldo López-Gavilán, raised in the U.S. and
Cuba, respectively. The brothers are reunited onstage in their first appearance together in
Washington. For the complete Fortas Chamber Music Concerts season, please see here.

Ballet and Contemporary Dance
From traditional classics like Swan Lake and the works of Balanchine, to new choreography and
collaborative work like Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella, John Neumeier’s The Little
Mermaid, Dorrance Dance’s The Blues Project with Toshi Reagon, and the high camp of Les
Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the upcoming dance season encompasses the unique breadth
of national and international companies that both ground and expand the meaning of movement.
Returning favorites include Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the 16th Annual Local Dance
Commissioning Project, which will also be themed on the Center’s celebration of JFK’s
Centennial, Damian Woetzel’s DEMO series, and the Center’s own The Suzanne Farrell Ballet,
which celebrates its 15th season.
In April 2017, the Kennedy Center continues the Center-wide initiative to support new
work with artist-centric programming with the return of its weeklong Ballet Across America
series in two programs curated by major stars of the ballet world, dancer-choreographer Justin
Peck and principal dancer Misty Copeland. The series will explore ballet’s new directions
illustrating the most exciting, creative work happening across America today.
For the complete Ballet and Contemporary Dance season, please see here.

In the 2016–2017 theater season, the Kennedy Center renews its dedication to bringing the
world’s finest theater productions to its stages. In association with The Public Theater in New
York City, the Center presents the highly anticipated new production of The Gabriels: Election
Year in the Life of One Family. A three-play series written and directed by Tony Award®–
winning Richard Nelson, The Gabriels shines an important, probing spotlight on the 2016
political season and is aptly timed to coincide with Inauguration Day 2017. With a long history
of presenting the best of international theater works, the Kennedy Center brings five leading
theater companies and artists from abroad to present cutting-edge and contemporary productions
in its 2016–2017 season: Canada’s Ex Machina presents Needles and Opium, a visually stunning
work by celebrated director Robert Lepage; Cuba’s Teatro el Público performs the mythic

Antigonón, Un contingente épico, directed by Carlos Díaz; Kuwait’s Sulayman Al Bassam
presents his provocative new play Petrol Station; France’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord presents
Battlefield, a new work based on The Mahabharata by legendary director Peter Brook and his
collaborators Marie-Hélène Estienne and Jean-Claude Carrière; and Russia’s Maly Drama
Theatre presents a bold production of Chekhov’s classic Three Sisters. Continuing its tradition of
presenting the best of Broadway, the Center presents an array of hit plays and musicals in the
2016–2017 season, including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Into the
Woods, Wicked, Chicago, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound
of Music, Cabaret, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I. For the complete theater
season, please see here.

Performances for Young Audiences
The 2016–2017 season of performance for young audiences includes seven new Kennedy Center
commissions, highlighting work from icons in the fields of jazz, classical music, hip hop, dance,
poetry, and theater, as well as a wide variety of other performances that will present young
audiences with challenging ideas in an accessible and entertaining setting. The seven world
premieres include Bud, Not Buddy, written by Kirsten Greenidge with music written and
performed by five-time Grammy®–winning artist Terence Blanchard; The Man with the Violin,
which features world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell and is based on his best-selling picture
book, that chronicles the time he went undercover as a street musician and performed outside a
Washington Metro station; All the Way Live!, in which the hip-hop performers from B-Fly
Entertainment collaborate on the spot to “remix” everything from folk tales to classical art; To
Sail Around the Sun, a unique spin on Vivaldi’s classic The Four Seasons featuring the
collaboration of Washington, D.C.-based contemporary dance group Company E with musicians
from the National Symphony Orchestra; From the Mouths of Monsters, a contemporary
reimagining of the literary classic Frankenstein by award-winning playwright and breakbeat poet
Idris Goodwin; Where Words Once Were, written by award-winning playwright Finegan
Kruckemeyer, in which words themselves take center stage; and /peh-LO-tah/, a performance
work by Marc Bamuthi Joseph that uses poetry, dance, visual effects, and music to examine the
impact of soccer on global society. For the complete Performances for Young Audiences season,
please see here.

Artistic Mashups: KC Jukebox, Jason +, and DEMO series

Continuing the Center’s commitment of artist-curated programming across many of the Kennedy
Center’s key genres, the 2016–2017 season of Mashups includes KC Jukebox, the Center’s new
contemporary music series that premiered in November 2015 under the direction of Composerin-Residence Mason Bates. KC Jukebox will expand to five events in its second season and will
include the Washington debut of the acclaimed classical/club event Mercury Soul, an eclectic
evening exploring hot-off-the-presses chamber music, a concert headlined by Angolan composer
and instrument builder Victor Gama, a performance by superstar chorus Chanticleer, and the
Kennedy Center debut of the legendary local DJ collective Thievery Corporation. The Jason+
series, which also debuted in the 2015–2016 season under the leadership of Artistic Director for
Jazz Jason Moran, returns with fresh names and new exploratory concepts, underlined by
Moran’s distinct knack for developing artistic programs that are engaging, accessible, and
transformative. Dancer, director, choreographer, and thought leader Damian Woetzel will once
again curate and host DEMO, a series of experimental evenings that bring together a range of
dancers, musicians, poets, actors, and other artists to explore new work as well as reframe
existing work around a common theme. For the complete Artistic Mashups season, please see

The 2016–2017 season highlights two artist-curated series conceived by visionaries of the genre:
Jason+ and Terence Blanchard, All-In. The Jason+ series returns with fresh names and new
exploratory concepts, underlined by Moran’s distinct knack for developing artistic programs that
are engaging, accessible, and transformative. The upcoming season of Jason+ includes D.C.
premieres of two multimedia works featuring visual artist Joan Jonas (Reanimation) and
installation artist Theaster Gates (Looks of a Lot), and a new commission with emcee, singer, and
producer Georgia Anne Muldrow aka Jyoti (Muldrow Meets Mingus). Terence Blanchard’s
residency builds on the trumpeter/composer’s multi-faceted talents to offer a year-long arc of
programming that includes collaborations with Washington National Opera (Champion) and the
Center’s theater department (Bud, Not Buddy), as well as a headlining appearance with his band,
the E-Collective. Blanchard will also assume a mentorship role to young students in the District
of Columbia Public Schools through a series of creative workshops, leading to a performance
showcase of their work and collective accomplishments. For the complete Jazz season, please
see here.


Comedy at the Kennedy Center in the upcoming season kicks off with highly-anticipated debuts
by two celebrated political satirists and stars of late night television—John Oliver (Last Week
Tonight with John Oliver) and Trevor Noah (The Daily Show with Trevor Noah). The fall 2016
lineup also includes a light-hearted blend of comedy sketches and classical music with the U.S.
premiere of The Second City Guide to the Symphony starring Colin Mochrie, in collaboration
with the NSO Pops led by Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke; a political parody on the
upcoming election, which was created by Slate and The Second City; a classical music/pop
culture/comedic theatrical show by the hilarious violin and piano duo of Igudesman & Joo; and a
stand-up comedy performance by Saturday Night Live alum Kevin Nealon. In early 2017, Adam
Carolla brings his one-man show, Not Taco Bell Material, based on the 2012 book by the same
title. For the complete Comedy season, please see here.

Support for the John F. Kennedy Centennial Celebration is provided by Altria Group.
The Presenting Underwriter of IRELAND 100 is the HRH Foundation, with major support
provided by David and Alice Rubenstein and the Embassy of Ireland.
Additional support is provided by The American Ireland Fund, Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley
Bagley, The Coca-Cola Company, William B. Finneran, Ingersoll Rand, Laura Pels
International Foundation for Theater, Amalia Perea Mahoney and William Mahoney, Malin
Corporation plc, Marcia Mayo, Medtronic, Angela Moore, and Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan.
Bank of America is the Presenting Sponsor of Performances for Young Audiences.
Additional support for Performances for Young Audiences is provided by The Clark Charitable
Foundation; The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Paul M. Angell Family
Foundation; and the U.S. Department of Education.
Capital One® is the Presenting Sponsor of the District of Comedy Festival.
Major support for educational programs at the Kennedy Center is provided by
David and Alice Rubenstein through the Rubenstein Arts Access Program.
NSO Young People's Concerts are made possible in part by the generous support of Bender
Foundation, Inc.; The Clark Charitable Foundation; Mr. James V. Kimsey†; The Morris and
Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Park Foundation, Inc.; U.S. Department of Education; and The
Volgenau Foundation.
Additional support for Kennedy Center education programs is provided by The Honorable Stuart
Bernstein and Wilma E. Bernstein; the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation; the Dr. Gerald

and Paula McNichols Foundation; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; and
Beatrice and Anthony Welters and the AnBryce Foundation.
The Millennium Stage is brought to you by Target and the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott
The Millennium Stage was created and underwritten by James A. Johnson and Maxine Isaacs to
make the performing arts accessible to everyone in fulfillment of the Kennedy Center's mission to
its community and the nation.
Additional funding for the Millennium Stage is provided by Bernstein Family Foundation, The
Isadore and Bertha Gudelsky Family Foundation, Inc., The Meredith Foundation, The Morris
and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Dr. Deborah Rose and Dr. Jan A.J. Stolwijk, U.S.
Department of Education, and the Millennium Stage Endowment Fund.
The Millennium Stage Endowment Fund was made possible by James A. Johnson and Maxine
Isaacs, Fannie Mae Foundation, James V. Kimsey†, Gilbert† and Jaylee† Mead, Mortgage
Bankers Association of America and other anonymous gifts to secure the future of the
Millennium Stage.
Kennedy Center education and related artistic programming is made possible through the
generosity of the National Committee for the Performing Arts and the
President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts.
International Programming at the Kennedy Center is made possible through the generosity of
Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts.
David and Alice Rubenstein are the Presenting Underwriters of the NSO and WNO.
The NSO Music Director Chair is generously endowed by Victoria and Roger Sant.
Major support for WNO is provided by Jacqueline Badger Mars.
WNO acknowledges the longstanding generosity of Life Chairman Mrs. Eugene B. Casey.
Generous support for WNO Italian Opera is provided by Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello.
Additional support for WNO’s artistic programming is provided by Clarice Smith.
Generous support for American Opera Initiative’s The Dictator’s Wife is provided by
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program is made possible through the generous support of
The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, with additional funding provided by
Judy and Billy Cox.
WNO Presenting Sponsor: General Dynamics

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America’s living memorial to President
Kennedy. Under the leadership of Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F.
Rutter, the nine theaters and stages of the nation’s busiest performing arts facility attract
audiences and visitors totaling 3 million people annually; Center-related touring productions,
television, and radio broadcasts welcome 40 million more.
Opening its doors on September 8, 1971, the Center presents the greatest performances of
music, dance, and theater; supports artists in the creation of new work; and serves the nation as a
leader in arts education. With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and
Washington National Opera, the Center’s achievements as a commissioner, producer, and
nurturer of developing artists have resulted in more than 300 theatrical productions, and dozens
of new ballets, operas, and musical works.
Each year, millions of people nationwide take part in innovative, inclusive, and effective
education programs initiated by the Center, including school- and community-based residencies
and consultancies; age-appropriate performances and events for young people; career
development for young actors, dancers, singers, and instrumentalists; and professional learning
opportunities for teachers, teaching artists, and school administrators. These programs have
become models for communities across the country. The Center’s Ensuring the Arts for Any
Given Child program works with selected local school districts and seeks to provide a
comprehensive arts education to children K-8. The Center also has been at the forefront of
making the performing arts accessible to persons with disabilities, highlighted by the work
accomplished with its affiliate, VSA.
As part of the Kennedy Center’s Performing Arts for Everyone outreach program, the
Center stages more than 400 free performances of music, dance, and theater by artists from
throughout the world each year on the Center’s main stages, and every evening at 6 p.m. on the
Millennium Stage. The Rubenstein Arts Access Program expands the Center’s efforts to make
the arts accessible to children, young adults, and to people who have little or limited ability to
attend and enjoy the performing arts, enabling audiences to engage in more ways, at more times,
and in more places than ever before.

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Eileen Andrews
(202) 416-8448