Insider’s Guide: Kennedy Center’s 2016-2017 Season

by Catherine Trifiletti

The Kennedy Center “lifts the curtain” on 2016-2017 season. 

By Catherine Trifiletti

Kennedy-CtrMarch 8 was an exciting day at the Kennedy Center as press and staff gathered to hear president Deborah Rutter roll out the highlights of its new season. The dates fall within the 100th anniversary of namesake, John F. Kennedy’s birthday. The underlying theme of the programming will be based on JFK’s “impact on our nation and the American spirit.” Rutter said that the upcoming programs were curated based on the President’s values of “courage, freedom, justice, service and gratitude.”

Rutter announced three new artistic directors who will help in the center’s efforts to celebrate JFK over the next year. Famed cellist, Yo-Yo Ma will step in his three year appointment to encourage the idea of “cultural service” and work off of the question “how can the arts actually help people?” Soprano opera singer Renée Fleming will piggyback off her previous success with “American Voices,” and curate a new series called “VOICES,” celebrating various forms of vocal expression. Rutter saved the best, and most surprising appointment for last– Q-Tip will be joining the center to head its new hip-hop culture program. Q-Tip, best known for being a founder and member of hip-hop pioneers, A Tribe Called Quest, was not in attendance but expressed his excitement about the endeavor in a video message. He also commented on the timeliness of making hip-hop a fixture at the center “it couldn’t come at a better time,” he said, referring to the country’s tumultuous race relations.

Additionally, Rutter announced highlights of programming for the Washington National Opera, National Symphony Orchestra, Fortas Chamber Music Concerts, Ballet & Contemporary Dance and Theater. With over 2,000 shows and performances on the calendar, it is safe to say there won’t be a dull moment at the center this year. See our picks below:

Washington National Opera

Under the direction of Music Director Philippe Auguin and Artistic Director Francesca Zambello.

September 2016: The Marriage of Figaro

February 2017: Dead Man Walking

May 2017: Madame Butterfly

Hip-Hop Culture

Under the direction of Artistic Director Q-Tip.

October 2016: All the Way Live!

May 2017: DJ Spooky’s Rebirth of a Nation

June 2017: /pe-LO-tah/

National Symphony Orchestra

Under the direction of Music Director Christoph Eschenbach.

October 2016: Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto

January 2017: George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

June 2017: Bright Sheng’s Zodiac Tales

Fortas Chamber Music Concerts

October 2016: Harlem String Quartet with Aldo Lo?pez-Gavila?n

December 2016: Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio

February 2017: Venice Baroque Chamber Ensemble

Ballet & Contemporary Dance

Under the direction of Artistic Director Suzanne Farrell.

October 2016: San Francisco Ballet Cinderella

January 2017: American Ballet Theater Swan Lake

February 2017: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater


October 2016: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

December 2016: Wicked

April 2017: Chicago


October 2016: Mercury Soul

January 2017: Jason + Jyoti

May 2017: Thievery Corporation


October 2016: Terence Blanchard featuring The E-Collective

February 2017: Regina Carter: Simply Ella

April 2017: Urban Bush Women: Walking with ‘Trane

Performances for Young Audiences

November 2016: Where Words Once Were

January 2017: Bud, Not Buddy

March 2017: To Sail Around the Sun



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