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Noseda’s NSO to make first trip abroad, including concert at La Scala

Season announcements from the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera and Fortas Chamber Music Concerts show signs of an institutional reboot

Music Director Gianandrea Noseda and the National Symphony Orchestra will tour to Europe next season. (Elman Studio)
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The National Symphony Orchestra announced Thursday its 2023-24 slate of programming, a tripartite season based on three “season-spanning residencies” and featuring the orchestra’s first international tour under music director Gianandrea Noseda.

On the European tour (Feb. 16-28), the NSO, accompanied by pianist Seong-Jin Cho and violinist Hilary Hahn, will travel to Spain, Germany and Italy, with a performance at the famed Teatro alla Scala in Noseda’s hometown of Milan.

The tour is the centerpiece of the residency called “Gianandrea’s Friends,” which, on this side of the Atlantic, will spotlight pianist Fazil Say, violinist Gil Shaham, Hahn and Cho, as well as a Carnegie Hall appearance with violinist James Ehnes (Feb. 12).

Though the NSO has historically had a robust touring history, recent years have seen the orchestra playing homebody.

The orchestra last went to Europe in 2016 under maestro Christoph Eschenbach, a seven-date jaunt that was twice as long as a visit in 2013. (Before that, it was Leonard Slatkin who led a European charge in 2002.) A quick Russian tour in 2017 with Eschenbach was followed by pair of well-regarded 2019 appearances in New York (one at Lincoln Center, another at Carnegie Hall). And an ambitious tour of Japan and China scheduled for March 2020 was wiped out entirely by the pandemic.

Since then, the orchestra has barely made it farther from the Kennedy Center than Wolf Trap. (Though on April 18, the orchestra will return to Carnegie Hall, joined by Noseda favorite, pianist Daniil Trifonov.)

The news of the tour feels of a piece with a larger institutional reboot afoot — or, at least, a stepping on the gas — at the NSO, including the naming in January of erstwhile Los Angeles Master Chorale chief executive Jean Davidson as the orchestra’s new executive director (replacing Gary Ginstling, who last year departed to helm the New York Philharmonic) and the extension of Noseda’s contract through the 2026-27 season. (Noseda also recently extended his contract with the Zurich Opera House through the 2027-28 season.)

The other two companion “acts” of the forthcoming NSO season are “Gianandrea’s Roots” — an extended exploration of Italian, Russian and American composers — and the launch of an opera-in-concert series (promising one opera per season), starting with Verdi’s “Otello” (June 7-9, 2024).

Other season highlights include six NSO commissions, including composer Adolphus Hailstork’s “JFK: The Last Speech,” narrated by Phylicia Rashad (Oct. 26-28), and new compositions by Tania León (Nov. 2-4), Kennedy Center composer-in-residence Carlos Simon (Jan. 25-27) and Anna Clyne (May 16, 18 and 19, 2024).

The NSO announcement arrives concurrent with season announcements from the Kennedy Center’s two other classical institutions — the Washington National Opera and the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts, the latter of which recently named violinist Jennifer Koh as its artistic director.

This October, the WNO will present the world premiere of Jeanine Tesori’s “Grounded,” an operatic adaptation of George Brant’s play (and featuring his libretto) and a co-production with the Metropolitan Opera (Oct. 28-Nov. 13). Mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo will make her WNO debut in the lead role of Jess, an elite F-16 fighter pilot. The WNO will also revive Tesori and J.D. McClatchy’s “The Lion, the Unicorn and Me,” a family-friendly holiday opera based on the children’s book by Jeanette Winterson (Dec. 8-10).

The company will also stage a new production of Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet” (Nov. 4-18); the world premiere of a commissioned ending to Puccini’s “Turandot” by composer Christopher Tin (May 11-25, 2024); and a new (and New Orleans-inspired) production of Jacques Offenbach’s “La Périchole,” starring mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard (March 9-24, 2024).

The Fortas Chamber Music Concerts, meanwhile, announced a season of 13 chamber concerts, including the final Kennedy Center concert of the Emerson String Quartet (Oct. 20), which will feature the D.C. premiere of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “Drink the Wild Ayre” alongside quartets by Beethoven, Mozart and Bartok.

The Fortas will also host recitals by violinists Augustin Hadelich (Oct. 15) and Maxim Vengerov (Nov. 14) and bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel (Nov. 19), as well as the D.C. premiere of Carlos Simon’s “Requiem for the Enslaved” (March 14, 2024), written in honor of the 272 enslaved people sold in 1838 by Georgetown University.

Incoming artistic director Koh will perform an introductory program with her former mentor, violinist Jaime Laredo (Dec. 1), and will present a program dedicated to composer Missy Mazzoli (March 1).

Visit for complete season announcement details.