North Carolina Symphony Nationally Recognized; Tapped for Inaugural Kennedy Center Initiative

The North Carolina Symphony performs in Raleigh
Washington, D.C.

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 weeklong 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 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. 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. A full schedule of the 2017 SHIFT concert programs, artists, and repertoire appears at the end of this release.

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.


Statement from the North Carolina Symphony

The North Carolina Symphony has been chosen as one of four American orchestras that will participate in the inaugural year of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras, a three-year festival which launches in the spring of 2017. Participation in the festival, which is a collaboration between the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Washington Performing Arts, is designed to bring national attention to the work of each chosen organization, not only for their artistic excellence but for their relationships with their communities. SHIFT is the successor program to Carnegie Hall’s Spring For Music initiative.

As a SHIFT Festival orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony will incorporate full orchestral and smaller ensemble performances, symposia, workshops, and other events at the Kennedy Center and in smaller venues and schools throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.  Our participation will occur over a 3-day period envisioned for March 2017, with our full orchestral program featuring the works of our great friend, composer Robert Ward (1917-2013), and a new work by Sarah Kirkland Snider that we will premiere this September during the opening week of our 2015-16 season. The SHIFT program will be rounded out withRusty Air in Carolina, a work by Mason Bates that the orchestra performed in the 2014-15 season, and North Carolina-born Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw’s violin concerto Lo, which was co-commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony.

The SHIFT Festival uniquely aligns with the North Carolina Symphony’s long history as the nation’s first state-supported orchestra, and its current and future strategy of sharing innovative programming in communities all across the state of North Carolina, and at the same time performing music of the highest artistic excellence. SHIFT will take Symphony programs already being performed in North Carolina communities – such as our PNC’s Grow up Great Music Discovery program, our Soundbites and KINGS chamber ensemble concerts performed in alternative spaces such as restaurants and clubs, as well as its statewide education concerts – and place our musicians and our music director Grant Llewellyn into a well-deserved national spotlight.

For more information click here.

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