Announcing the 2017-2018 Season of Concerts from the Library of Congress


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Library of Congress Announces 2017-2018 Concert Season

Series features world premieres of new commissions by Harrison Birtwistle, Rebecca Saunders and Esperanza Spalding, “Leonard Bernstein’s America” Centennial Celebration

The Library of Congress kicks off its 2017-2018 concert season with a terrific pair of back-to-back concerts. On October 18, the contemporary music super-group Ensemble Signal performs works by pioneering minimalist composer Steve Reich in a concert presented in collaboration with Washington Performing Arts. Hailing from the vibrant Los Angeles music scene, the Grammy® Award-winning band La Santa Cecilia on October 19 brings to the stage a seductive fusion of styles from a very rich musical universe, “meant to get listeners dancing and thinking at the same time” (New York Times). See a detailed listing of the complete season.

The “Concerts from the Library of Congress” series is made possible through the generous support of endowments given to the Library by private donors.  The series is presented free of charge to the public but requires tickets for admission.  Tickets for “Concerts from the Library of Congress” events are distributed through Eventbrite and may be accessed via or the free Eventbrite mobile app for iOS or Android devices. Tickets are not required to attend pre-concert presentations or weekday daytime programs.

Continuing a nine-decade tradition of championing contemporary composers, the series presents world premieres of three Library of Congress commissions. Known for electrifying, high-velocity performances, percussionist Colin Currie and pianist Nicolas Hodges unveil the world premiere of a new duo written for them by Harrison Birtwistle. France’s Quatuor Diotima premieres a string quartet by Rebecca Saunders. And composer, bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding unwraps a new commission for violin and piano.

Throughout the season, encounters with more than 50 music manuscripts from the vast collections of the Library’s Music Division inspire not only performances, but lectures, conversations and curated displays that trace a composer’s creative path and spark the listener’s curiosity.

“Leonard Bernstein’s America” celebrates the Bernstein Centennial with a spring mini-fest exploring the riches of a resource unique to the Library: the 400,000-item Leonard Bernstein Collection. Michael Barrett is the Music Director for an evening presenting excerpts from the musical 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the operas Trouble in Tahiti and A Quiet Place, plus some extraordinarily rare pieces from the collection. A day-long Bernstein buffet offers a special entrée to the collection: manuscripts, sketches, correspondence, films, photographs, memorabilia and much more will be on display. Informal “Behind the Scenes” presentations and performances will uncover background revelations about West Side Story, Candide, and On the Town. Film screenings during the celebration include On the Waterfront, a National Film Registry classic scored by Bernstein.

Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier give a special two-piano concert spotlighting Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances to mark the Library’s acquisition of the manuscript. The stellar Orlando Consort performs music from the Laborde Chansonnier, a rare surviving manuscript songbook from 15th-century France.  Pianist Solungga Liu’s recital of music by Charles Griffes, Amy Beach and César Franck is built on nine manuscript sources, including the premiere of a Debussy transcription by Griffes.

Violinist and conductor Fabio Biondi and his renowned Europa Galante chamber orchestra perform music by Antonio Vivaldi and his contemporaries, Venetian and Viennese. A formidable string of some of the world’s great quartets includes the Minguet, Artemis, Doric and Diotima. Pianist Winston Choi joins the Spektral Quartet for two concerts offering music by composers from Milton Babbitt to John Zorn and Wadada Leo Smith. The young, spirited Dover Quartet, winner of the Cleveland Quartet Award and the Avery Fisher Career Grant, plays the Library’s superb Stradivari instruments in a pair of concerts honoring the Antonio Stradivari Memorial in December.

The Reva and David Logan Foundation continues its generous support for programming that brings distinguished jazz artists and scholars to the Library. Three generations of important jazz figures appear in the series this year: legendary pianist and NEA Jazz Master McCoy Tyner, performing with his trio and saxophonist Joe Lovano as special guest; four-time Grammy®-winning composer, bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding; and guitar prodigy Julian Lage and his trio partners Scott Colley and Kenny Wollesen. Library of Congress Jazz Scholars offer presentations with interesting Library connections. “Jelly Roll Morton in Washington” reveals John Szwed’s research on Morton’s now-historic 1940 Coolidge Auditorium interview with Alan Lomax. Robert G. O’Meally’s lecture, “Transblucency: Duke Ellington, The Washingtonians and the Realm of the Visual,” shares recently rediscovered clips of the bandleader from the Library’s archives.

Ticket Availability Information

Fall Concerts and Events

Starting Sept. 6 at 10 a.m. Eastern time, patrons can order tickets for Ensemble Signal/Music of Steve Reich, presented on October 18 (special order date for this event only).

Starting Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. Eastern time, patrons can order tickets for events or films from October 19 through December.

Spring Concerts and Events

Starting Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. Eastern time, patrons can order tickets for events or films scheduled between January and June.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at; and register creative works of authorship at

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PR 17-114
ISSN 0731-3527

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