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Washington Performing Arts Special Productions are multi-disciplinary large-scale artistic, community engagement, and education projects that provide platforms for creators across genres to pursue projects that advance their artistry and facilitate opportunities for discovery, dialogue, and lifelong learning.

For partnership opportunities and to submit project proposals, please contact Samantha Pollack, Director of Programming.

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Elizabeth Racheva, Chief Philanthropy Officer.


Christopher Tin's To Shiver the Sky

Christopher Tin's To Shiver the Sky
Sat, May 30, 8pm • The Anthem

The United States Air Force Band
Col Don Schofield, commander & conductor
Christopher Tin, conductor
Choral Arts Society of Washington
Scott Tucker, artistic director

Washington Performing Arts presents the world premiere of two-time Grammy-winning composer Christopher Tin’s new oratorio To Shiver the Sky, a musical exploration of mankind’s conquest of the sky for orchestra, chorus, and soloists, sets texts from pioneers of flight from Leonard da Vinci to Amelia Earhart. More info.


Shift: A festival of American Orchestras


SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras
Mon, Mar 23 - Sun, Mar 28, 2020 

SHIFT celebrates the vitality, identity, and extraordinary artistry of orchestras and chamber orchestras by creating an immersive festival experience in the nation’s capital. The week-long festival is composed of mini-residencies, with each participating orchestra presenting education and community events in venues around Washington, D.C., along with full orchestra performances in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. More info. 

SHIFT 2020 orchestras: Baltimore Symphony OrchestraJacksonville Symphony • Knoxville Symphony OrchestraOrpheus Chamber Orchestra

READ: Festival press release
WATCH: SHIFT 2018 recap

Partner: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts




October 2020 • Sidney Harman Hall

Washington Performing Arts has co-commissioned a new semi-staged production of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha—a revolutionary and masterful work that, tragically, was never fully produced in the composer’s lifetime. It recounts the story of a young woman named Treemonisha who is elected by her 1880s community as their leader—long before women, let alone black women, were able to vote anywhere in North America. The opera is being reimagined by an international team of creators and performers led by Volcano Theatre (Toronto), in association with the Moveable Beast Collective. A new book and libretto have been adapted by Leah Simone-Bowen with co-librettist Cheryl L. Davis, and a new orchestration and music were created by Jessie Montgomery and Jannina Norpoth. The reimagined work provides a 21st century framework for understanding a powerful story of black identity and agency in the years following the Civil War, drawing connections between Treemonisha’s story and modern youth activism in the U.S.

WATCH: Treemonisha production trailer video
READ: Washington Post article
LEARN MORE: WPA project prospectus • Production webpage  

Partners: Library of Congress • National Museum of African American History and Culture  CBC Foundation Stanford Live Cal Performances Banff National Arts Centre Howard University Southbank Centre


Hazel Scott

Hazel Scott at 100
Coming 2020/21 

Washington Performing Arts commemorates the 100th birthday of unsung American cultural powerhouse Hazel Scott (1920-1981). Renowned during the 20th century as a brilliant jazz and classical pianist and singer, Scott was one of the most powerful artist-advocates our country has ever known. In addition to being a mainstay at New York’s legendary Café Society, Scott appeared in film, at major concert venues around the world, and on the radio, and she was the first black woman to host a television show in the U.S. These programs are being developed in conjunction with Scott’s son, Adam Clayton Powell III, and Washington Performing Arts Artist-in-Residence Murray Horwitz.

LEARN MORE: WPA project prospectus



Isaac Stern

Isaac Stern 100 
Coming 2021/22

Isaac Stern (1920-2001), one of the most prolific artists, music educators, and impresarios in modern music history, brought a global perspective to his adopted homeland of the United States. Washington Performing Arts is collaborating with Stern’s widow, Linda Reynolds Stern, to commemorate his centennial. 


Previous Special Productions


Dreamers (2018/19)

Jimmy López • Nilo Cruz • Philharmonia Orchestra
Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School
GALA Hispanic Theatre

Shift Festival 2018

SHIFT Festival 2018 (2017/18)

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
 Albany Symphony • Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
National Symphony Orchestra

SHIFT Festival 2017

SHIFT Festival 2017 (2016/17)

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Boulder Symphony • North Carolina Symphony
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra • The Knights

The Migration

The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence (2016/17)

Step Afrika! • Phillips Collection • 11th Street Bridge Park

Wynton Marsalis's Blues Symphony

Wynton Marsalis’s Blues Symphony (2014/15)

Shenandoah Conservatory
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Of Thee We Sing

Of Thee We Sing: The Marian Anderson 75th Anniversary Celebration (2013/14)

Jessye Norman • Dionne Warwick
Congressional Black Caucus