There was sadness and consternation last year when Carnegie Hall‘s fourth “come to the Big Apple” festival, a.k.a. Spring for Music 2014, presented the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the coverage of which noted the demise of the series. It had been nice while it lasted, as orchestras from the second (or third) rung were afforded opportunities to play in one of our nation’s best concert halls. The programs were marketed at popular prices, and some even garnered reviews. Nice, indeed.
There were then hints of hope for a renewal. as noted by the NY Times in January.
That there has been a transmogrification to the Kennedy Center, announced last week, is welcome news. That among the four groups selected for the first round in Washington, the NC Symphony is, for local boosters, icing on the cake. Our state-supported orchestra joins the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and the Brooklyn-based orchestral collective known as The Knights for concerts and outreach activities in late March and early April of 2017.
Program details are in the link at the foot of this article.* For now, here’s the short version of the press release on the new venture, Shift: A Festival of American Orchestras.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Washington Performing Arts announce Line-up of Four American Orchestras for Inaugural SHIFT Festival
New Washington, D.C. Music Festival Beginning in 2017 Provides National Platform to Celebrate Creativity and Build Community
(WASHINGTON, May 28, 2015) — The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Washington Performing Arts today announced the four North American orchestras selected to participate in the first year of the new week-long SHIFT Festival, taking place at the Kennedy Center March 27 through April 2, 2017. Chosen from a pool of exceptional submissions from orchestras across North America, the selected orchestras include:
Boulder Philharmonic (March 28), North Carolina Symphony (March 29), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (March 31), and Brooklyn-based ensemble, The Knights (April 1). 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.
SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras is a week-long 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. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $900,000 grant for the collaboration, of which $700,000 will be leveraged as matching funds for new gifts to support the program. Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter and Washington Performing Arts President & CEO Jenny Bilfield made the announcement this afternoon in Cleveland at the League of American Orchestras’ annual conference before an audience of nearly 1,000 orchestra administrators, musicians, trustees, and volunteers….
In addition to compelling and diverse full-orchestra concert programs performed in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, each of the four orchestras will engage in a mini-residency, interacting with the surrounding community through educational and outreach activities, symposia, and community events in venues throughout Washington, D.C. SHIFT provides a national platform for today’s most innovative orchestras to share a sampling of their most creative and provocative work that embodies the individual orchestra’s identity, community, and artistic vision. Main stage concerts will be ticketed at $25, alongside a combination of ticketed and free events throughout the city. Performance tickets will go on sale in the fall of 2016.
“We are thrilled to announce the orchestras chosen for our inaugural SHIFT Festival and to bring them to the nation’s capital” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. “Though not intentional, the orchestras we ultimately selected represent an almost perfect cross-section of North American orchestras in terms of geographic location, programming focus, budget size, and thematic inspiration. Their enthusiasm for showcasing music that reflects their cities, and their innovative concepts for engaging with the community outside the walls of the concert hall, to us, reflect a fundamental and positive shift in how today’s orchestras view their role in the community.”
“Perhaps most exciting is the breadth and diversity of the repertoire,” commented Jenny Bilfield, Washington Performing Arts President and CEO. “These programs are tremendously imaginative and bold. And they were clearly designed to showcase the identity and vision of each orchestra. What makes the SHIFT Festival additionally special is not only the dynamic and innovative programming, but also that each orchestra’s artistic vision will spill out into Washington’s diverse neighborhoods. The residency component enables these orchestras and their musicians to have a presence in the community at large, offering uncommon connectivity and access.”
“We look forward to collaborating with the Kennedy Center and Washington Performing Arts and these four orchestras to demonstrate to the public, and our nation’s policy leaders, the capacity of orchestras to strengthen communities, engage lifelong learners, and unite audiences through the transformational power of music,” said League of American Orchestras President & CEO Jesse Rosen.
As part of their involvement in the SHIFT Festival, each participating orchestra will offer a residency program across 2-½ days during its appearance in Washington, D.C. The Boulder Philharmonic intends to weave the orchestra’s theme of “Nature & Music” into its residency by performing in outdoor spaces near monuments and parks, including the novel experience of “Guided Hikes” involving musicians and professional nature guides. Drawing from the “Americana” focus of the orchestra’s concert program, the North Carolina Symphony will engage with local D.C. schools and perform at alternative venues. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s residency activities are informed by the theme and personnel of “Creation/Creator,” including chamber concerts and choral workshops, tapping into Washington, D.C.’s rich choral tradition. Lastly, The Knights’ SHIFT residency focuses on mentorship of young people through participatory side-by-sides and informal career conversations with aspiring young musicians, as well as chamber performances in non-traditional venues.
*Program details are included in this PDF: http://web.kennedy-center.org/~/media/Files/KC/Press%20Releases/May%202015%20Releases/UPDATEDPressReleaseSHIFTOrchestraannouncements.pdf.