Line-up of Four American Orchestras for Inaugural SHIFT Festival

Mason Bates, The Knights
The Kennedy Center/Washington Performing Arts

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.

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.
Residency Activities
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’sresidency 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. 
Read more about the festival here