Kennedy Center reopens this fall for 50th anniversary season

It’s official: The Kennedy Center is reopening this fall after months of pandemic closures.

The prestigious venue will return with a special 50th anniversary season in September.

“I can think of no better way to reemerge from the darkness of these last many months than to reopen with a vibrant, season-long celebration of the Center’s rich history and the bright future of the arts in our nation,” Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said in a statement.

It kicks off Sept. 10 with the National Symphony Orchestra “Concert of Remembrance,” marking both the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the over half-million Americans who have died of COVID-19.

Sept. 14 brings a 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert, including a fresh take on Leonard Bernstein’s “MASS,” which opened the venue in 1971. It will be curated and hosted by Michael Tilson Thomas, pairing the NSO with “preeminent artists of our time.”

The celebratory season will include works by four artists-in-residence, including The Roots (For the Culture Artist Residency), Robert Glasper (Two-Week Artist Residency), Carlos Simon (Composer- in-Residence) and Jacqueline Woodson (Education Artist-in-Residence).

There will also be seven NSO commissions, including Philip Glass, whose 45-minute Symphony No. 13 will have its world premiere in March 2022 conducted by the NSO’s Gianandrea Noseda.

Spring 2022 will bring “50 Years of Broadway at the Kennedy Center,” a concert featuring Broadway talents. It will celebrate the great musical theater moments from throughout the Center’s history, including “Pippin,” “Annie” and “Les Misérables.”

March 2022 will also bring the Washington National Opera series “Written in Stone,” celebrating the monuments and iconic buildings of the nation’s capital.

Meanwhile at the REACH, you can enjoy yoga, meditation and the world premiere of Ragamala Dance Company’s “Fires of Varanasi.” Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems will also work with local school groups to create a large-scale public art “playscape” on the REACH Plaza.

There will also be a new bronze statue of President John F. Kennedy on the REACH campus this November.

“At the heart of our planning and preparation, even as we continue to navigate health and financial challenges, is the desire to present a season and a fresh patron experience that taps into our 50 years of history as the National Cultural Center,” Rutter said.

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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