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Banner Photo: J’Nai Bridges in Daniel Bernard Roumain’s They Still Want to Kill Us (premiering May 25; story below)

Friday, May 21

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This Tuesday, May 25, at 8:00pm ET, Washington Performing Arts is proud to partner with a nationwide consortium of other arts presenters in the online premiere of They Still Want to Kill Us, an aria written by acclaimed American composer and activist Daniel Bernard Roumain (a.k.a. DBR) and sung by mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges—both of whom are ongoing collaborators of Washington Performing Arts. The work commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The date of the premiere also marks one year since the murder of George Floyd.

Viewers can watch the premiere on the Washington Performing Arts website. The event will also stream on the Washington Performing Arts Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.

In the composer’s words: “What happened to American citizens on May 31, 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma was a massacre by white people perpetrated upon Black people. A toxic mix of misinformation, bigotry, ignorance, and white rage ignited a race war that left hundreds dead, a community destroyed, and a nation still struggling for its identity. It seems that some white people still want to kill us (Black people), and the murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and so many others is evidence of this bloodlust sown deep within the American psyche. What are the words and methods of The New Racism? Each day we bear witness to it. Violence against those who are Other in America is deeply rooted in our history, and we have a choice. We can be silent—or we can move mountains and create new spaces for our communities.”

“We are proud to be part of this national consortium of distinguished presenters supporting Daniel Bernard Roumain’s They Still Want To Kill Us,” said Washington Performing Arts President and CEO Jenny Bilfield. “Art and artists can illuminate the greatest connections between us and, at the same time, provide bracing encounters with history and their lived experience that challenge us to acknowledge what is difficult to fathom, and learn, grow, and heal from it. DBR and J’Nai Bridges are artists we deeply admire and respect, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with them both to bring accountability and visibility to areas of our field where power and racism have gone unchecked.”

Daniel Bernard Roumain’s connection to Washington Performing Arts (Society) dates back to 2003, when he made his Kennedy Center debut in a chamber music performance presented on our strings series. The collaboration continues this spring: DBR has composed six new compositions to be performed by young artists in this year’s 50th Annual Joseph and Goldie Feder Memorial String Competition. Each of DBR’s works for the competition is named for and dedicated to a victim of a hate crime or act of violence, including Brayla Stone, George Floyd, and Xiao Zhen Xie.

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This work of social justice and global change is produced by Rika Iino and Ichun Yeh of Sozo Creative with support from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK, and is commissioned by the Apollo Theater, Opera Philadelphia, the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage Anywhere, Joe's Pub, Stanford Live, University Musical Society at the University of Michigan, Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi, Creative Alliance, Bill Bragin, and Washington Performing Arts with support from National Sawdust and the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation, distributed by ActiveCultures, Esty Dinur, globalFEST, ¡Globalquerque!, and HotHouse.

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Roots & Wings: Thank You!


Whether you watched Roots & Wings online, made a donation, donated to or won an item in the silent auction, or spread the news about the event within your own community, we are deeply moved by the support of the Washington Performing Arts family of friends, supporters, and colleagues around D.C. and far beyond.

Many of you have also reached out to our staff and Board with words of joy and appreciation. We are overwhelmed and exceedingly grateful for your friendship. Your support was palpable and impactful as we worked to create this event in support of our gospel music and education programs and in appreciation of our longtime Board member and “superhero,” James J. Sandman.

We are still crunching all the numbers but are thrilled to report that we have exceeded our fundraising goal for Roots & Wings! Thank you, once again, for all you have done to contribute to the success of the event. The proceeds from this online program will bring immediate benefit as we begin, at long last, to plan for a return to in-person arts and education programming after more than a year of so much challenge and hardship, both here in the Greater D.C. region and the world over. Put in the words of yesterday’s theme: the roots of your support will enable Washington Performing Arts constituents of all ages to take wing through the inspiration of the arts!


Did you miss the livestream last night or want to watch all or part of it again? Roots & Wings will stay online as an archived video through Wednesday, May 26! Revisit those inspired performances by Home Delivery Plus pianist Jenny Lin, Danish folk trio Dreamers’ Circus, jazz piano wunderkind Matthew Whitaker, the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir, and the Teaching Artists of Washington Performing Arts, and celebrate our honoree, James J. Sandman, all over again! Watch the event on our website, YouTube Channel, or Facebook Page.

Rewatch the Event


It’s not too late to make a donation in support of the arts education and gospel music programs of Washington Performing Arts! Visit our website by Monday, May 31 to help make arts education happen!

The silent auction is now closed—thanks to everyone who participated! Winning bidders will be contacted by Tuesday, May 25 with information about prize redemption.

If you have any questions about your donation or auction prize, please contact us at Celebrate@WashingtonPerformingArts.org.

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Veronica Swift Schaghajegh Nosrati


Kissin/Bell/Isserlis trio still on hold pending rescheduling

Our online Home Delivery Plus schedule comes to an exciting and wide-ranging close over the next three weeks with the “miraculous voice” (Wall Street Journal) of jazz vocalist Veronica Swift (streaming May 28–June 3) and German piano recitalist Schaghajegh Nosrati, performing J.S. Bach’s Art of Fugue in its entirety (streaming June 4–9).

As Swift describes her recently revised Home Delivery Plus program: “This show for Washington Performing Arts is not only a comeback after a year long hiatus of no gigs, but it is a rebirth. Originally, I was planning on performing my new album, This Bitter Earth, in its entirety, however, I find that after a whole two years of playing these songs and recording them, then releasing them into the world, I see the necessity for growth and change.” Swift will now perform selections from her latest release along with additional jazz standards, some classic rock, and more.

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For her part, 2021 Hayes Piano Artist Schaghajegh Nosrati will perform a single work in its entirely: Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Art of Fugue, a masterpiece that the great Baroque composer worked on throughout the final decade of his life—and left unfinished upon his death. The eminent pianist (and fellow Home Delivery Plus 2021 headliner) Sir András Schiff, a longtime mentor of Nosrati’s, has praised her Bach performances for their “astonishing clarity, purity, and maturity.”

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As announced earlier this month, the trio recital by Evgeny Kissin, Joshua Bell, and Steven Isserlis originally scheduled to stream May 21–28 has been postponed by the artists for personal reasons. We are working with the artists and their management to reschedule this event and will publish an update as soon as possible. More information is available on our website.


Listening Party Celebrating Hazel Scott at 101


On the heels of our Roots & Wings celebration, our dynamic Friends events return in the coming months! Don’t miss out on the remaining listening parties, panel discussions, and more this season. Check out the lineup of 2021 Friends events, and watch your inbox for the invitations and event details. Next up:

Listening Party Celebrating Hazel Scott at 101
Friday, June 11, at 7:00pm ET

Join Washington Performing Arts Artist-in-Residence Murray Horwitz and special guests Karen Chilton, Adam Clayton Powell III, and Jenny Bilfield, to learn more about the life and legacy of unsung American cultural powerhouse Hazel Scott (June 11, 1920–October 2, 1981) through her music and performances, and for a sneak preview of our multifaceted celebration commemorating her 101st birthday, Hazel Scott at 101, beginning next season and concluding in 2022/23.
(open to Friends at the $1,500 level and above)

Not a Friend yet? Join the Friends program today with a gift of $75 or more, or the Chairman’s Circle of our leadership supporters with a gift of $2,500 or more, to start enjoying these great events. Or increase your level of giving to participate in more of these unique experiences.

Thank you for helping us to continue to make a difference by presenting great arts and arts education in our community.

Make a Donation Explore the Friends Program


Washington Performing Arts Notes and Updates


Coming Soon: Patron Survey
When will you be comfortable returning to in-person performances? How have you been enjoying online events? We’d love to hear your thoughts on these and other timely topics as we crystallize plans for our 2021/22 Season—please be on the lookout for our 2021 Patrons Survey. We’ll email you a link in the next week, and we thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts and opinions.

There’s more to come in June...
The items in this May/June edition of our E-News cover only a sampling of our June programming. There’s much more coming in the latter half of the month, so watch for news of upcoming events—including a sneak peek at our 2021/22 Season—in the weeks to come.


Conversations with Heritage Roundtable Discussion


Heritage Signature Chorale: Conversations With Heritage—Cultural Appropriation 2: Music Directors Roundtable” Panel Discussion (April 29, 2021; re-aired May 20)

Washington Performing Arts President & CEO Jenny Bilfield was amongst the panelists in this roundtable discussion on the challenges of Cultural Appropriation as it pertains to concert programming, moderated by Stanley J. Thurston, Washington Performing Arts Gospel Choirs Artistic Director Emeritus and Heritage Signature Chorale Founder.

Watch on YouTube

WTOP News: Washington Performing Arts presents streaming series ‘Home Delivery Plus!’ (May 4, 2021)

Washington Performing Arts President & CEO Jenny Bilfield gives WTOP the scoop on all things Home Delivery Plus.