Concerts from the Library of Congress to Open its 96th Season

We cordially invite you to join us in an exhilarating virtual adventure, one that opens a new portal to our extraordinary concerts and conversations, new works commissioned by the Library, and major celebrations, including a very special (Re)Hearing Beethoven festival.

This year, we’re adding a captivating and entirely new dimension to the concert experience. Each program will offer engaging encounters with treasures from the world’s largest music collection—manuscripts, documents, and artifacts—more than 26 million items.

Standing on the Coolidge Auditorium stage, you can imagine the presence of generations of now-legendary musicians who knew it well—Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Jelly Roll Morton, Leonard Bernstein, Leontyne Price—to name just a few. Aaron Copland and Martha Graham created their iconic ballet Appalachian Spring here in 1944. We are proud that our concerts have helped to shape the outline of music history.

The Budapest String quartet, performing in the Coolidge Auditorium, from a film on the Library of Congress, produced by the U.S. Office of War Information. Photograph by U.S. Office of War Information, 1945.

 

—But this story is not only about a glorious past: our traditions, begun by our visionary founder Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, are still very much alive and flourishing!

Her commitment to the creation of new music remains a crucial mandate. This season, we are presenting works by forty contemporary composers, and world premieres of three Library commissions, from Michael Abels, James Lee, and Igor Santos.

In this time of profound change, we chose music from many voices to reflect the rich diversity in our society and our music. Celebrating distinguished African-American composers and performers, we’re drawing together a crack ensemble of Black artists—principals in major American orchestras—to perform Wynton Marsalis’s A Fiddler’s Tale. And the Ritz Chamber Players will play music by William Grant Still, Adolphus Hailstork, and others. Tambuco and Ensemble Dal Niente bring us an impressive mini-fest of contemporary Latinx composers.

American masters new and old are the focus of our two virtual residency projects. Violinist Jennifer Koh performs ten new pieces by composers across a dazzling stylistic range. And the JACK Quartet pairs Elliott Carter and Ruth Crawford Seeger with pieces by multi-percussionist and MacArthur Fellow Tyshawn Sorey.

 

Our season opens with the brilliant partnership of pianist Conrad Tao and tap dancer Caleb Teicher, a don’t-miss performance set on music by Gershwin, Bach, and Schoenberg. Later this year you’ll meet newcomers like British saxophonist Jess Gillam, and young musicians from Miami’s New World Symphony. Drummer and bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington will be with us for a mini-residency as a Library of Congress Jazz Scholar.  And we’ll be announcing new and intriguing projects throughout the year, like an exploration of augmented reality video capture for performances.

 

We hope you’ll be sampling the fascinating packages of images and information we’ve created to complement each event. We think you’ll find that they enhance your experience of our concerts in truly astounding ways. We have to say—we have the real thing here.

For Concerts from the Library of Congress, this year will be a bold step forward in our remarkable history, a vision of glorious performances to kindle hope and recapture a sense of joy.

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