Washington Performing Arts announced a somewhat streamlined season on Tuesday. Gone is the Velocity Dance Festival; gone are Rob Kapilow’s “What Makes It Great” lectures (honorably retired after a 10-year run). Still present are Yo-Yo Ma (playing Bach’s solo cello suites at Washington National Cathedral in November), Sir Andras Schiff, Hilary Hahn, the Kronos Quartet, Evgeny Kissin, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and a host of the other usual luminaries that an organization like Washington Performing Arts, however far it pushes off the beaten track, can’t do without.
What Washington Performing Arts does try to do is encourage artists to offer more personal projects, and work to bring down the divisions between different musical genres in a healthy melting-pot. This season’s putative theme is “home,” exemplified by concerts like the Danish String Quartet, in a program based on their two recordings of Danish folk music; the Kronos Quartet’s concert of music from the seven countries originally mentioned in Trump’s travel ban; and the South African singer Vusi Mahlasela. Washington Performing Arts’s Mars Urban Arts Initiative will also come to the fore with a concert by a pair of the local groups the project was created to champion, VeVe and tha Rebels and Dupont Brass.
Five orchestras are on the program. As well as the Concertgebouw, there’s the Czech Philharmonic under Semyon Bychkov; the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (co-presented with the Kennedy Center, and already announced as part of their season); and the San Francisco Symphony, offering a piece by its departing music director, Michael Tilson Thomas. Also technically part of the season is the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, which will be present as part of a simulcast of the West Coast premiere of “Dreamer,” a cantata by Jimmy Lopez about the immigrant experience.
In addition to the soloists mentioned above, there will be programs by Simone Dinnerstein, Jeremy Denk, Yevgeny Kutik, Steven Isserlis, Gil Shaham, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Anoushka Shankar, Denes Varjon, Lara Downes (appearing with the singer Rhiannon Giddens as a guest), Yekwon Sunwoo (the winner of the most recent Van Cliburn competition), the duo-piano team Christina and Michelle Naughton, Chucho Valdes and Hanzhi Wang, an accordion player. February will see a 90th-birthday tribute to Leon Fleisher.
Chamber performances include some high-profile groupings: Itzhak Perlman and Evgeny Kissin; Joshua Bell, Steven Isserlis, and Jeremy Denk; Alisa Weilerstein, Inon Barnatan, Sergey Khachatryan and Colin Currie; Edgar Meyer, Zakir Hussain and Bela Fleck. Also appearing are the Philharmonix, seven members of the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics offering a cross-genre assortment of music on their first U.S. tour.
Complete season information can be found at www.washingtonperformingarts.com.