Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Lincoln Center Announces 2019 White Light Festival

Lincoln Center Announces 2019 White Light Festival

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts today announced its 2019 White Light Festival, which will run October 19 through November 24. For its tenth anniversary season, the multidisciplinary festival will feature events presented in eight venues across the city, including U.S. and New York premieres and the return of festival favorites.

"The resonance of the White Light Festival has only deepened during its first decade, as we have moved into far more challenging times here and around the world," said Jane Moss, Ehrenkranz Artistic Director of Lincoln Center. "The Festival's central theme, namely the singular capacity of artistic expression to illuminate what is inside ourselves and connect us to others, is more relevant than ever. This 10th anniversary edition spanning disparate countries, cultures, disciplines, and genres emphasizes that the elevation of the spirit the arts inspires uniquely unites us and expands who we are."

The 2019 White Light Festival opens on Saturday, October 19 with Sugimoto Bunraku Sonezaki Shinju: The Love Suicides at Sonezaki told through Japanese bunraku puppet theater in a contemporary interpretation directed by renowned artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. Incorporating music by Seiji Tsurusawa, designated by Japan as a Living National Treasure, and video by Tabaimo and Sugimoto, this U.S. production premiere is a bold staging of Chikamatsu Monzaemon's classic 18th-century drama based upon actual events, and a rare opportunity to experience bunraku in New York City.

Australia's Circa ensemble blurs the boundaries of dance, theater, music, and circus arts in the New York premiere of En Masse, featuring selections from Schubert's Winterreise and Schwanengesang, plus music by Swedish composer Klara Lewis and a two-piano arrangement of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Circa returns to the festival following its celebrated U.S. premiere performance of How Like an Angel in 2014.

Schumann's Dichterliebe is at the core of Zauberland (Magic Land), a New York premiere directed by Katie Mitchell, in which the Romantic song cycle is interwoven with 16 new songs by composer Bernard Foccroulle and writer Martin Crimp. Soprano Julia Bullock and pianist Cédric Tiberghien star in this story of a woman from a war-torn land seeking a magical realm of security and peace.

The darker side of human nature is on display in DruidShakespeare: Richard III, a chilling story of power and ambition in a wickedly comic production from Ireland's Druid theater company and director Garry Hynes. The production stars Aaron Monaghan, who appeared as Estragon in Druid's acclaimed Waiting for Godot in the 2018 White Light Festival.

For its anniversary year the festival welcomes back other beloved artists, including early music interpreter Jordi Savall and his ensembles Hespèrion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, who with international guest musicians trace the epic route of Francis Xavier's Journey to the East. Tony Award nominee John Douglas Thompson returns to narrate the story of the 16th-century Jesuit missionary's travels from Lisbon to Mozambique, India, Malaysia, Japan, and China.

Also returning is the rapturous Manganiyar Seduction, a musical dance of delirium performed by Sufi musicians from Northwest India, which first appeared in the White Light Festival's inaugural 2010 season and returned due to popular demand in 2013. Audiences will be invited to enter another truly unique sound world with the Republic of Georgia's Ensemble Basiani, a male a cappella chorus performing Georgian folk, work, and sacred songs of haunting, unearthly beauty. Basiani returns to the Church of St. Mary the Virgin after a celebrated festival debut in 2012.

Among works that explore religious devotion, Scottish composer James MacMillan's Stabat Mater makes its U.S. premiere, alongside the U.S. premiere of his a cappella choral work Miserere. Britten Sinfonia joins chorus The Sixteen under Harry Christophers to perform the devastatingly beautiful works created for them that reflect MacMillan's deep Catholic faith and Celtic heritage.

Continuing with soulful devotion and joyous song is The Abyssinian Mass by award-winning composer and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, which captures the African American experience through a swinging big band and gospel choir celebration named for Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church. Co-presented with Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestrawill be joined by Damien Sneed and Chorale Le Chateau.

Mortal love pulls at the musical heart strings in Act II of Wagner's groundbreaking Tristan und Isolde, performed in concert by the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) under Gianandrea Noseda in his first Lincoln Center appearance as NSO music director. Tenor Stephen Gould as Tristan joins soprano Christine Goerke as Isolde for one of the most rapturous and difficult duets in the repertory.

The period-instrument ensemble Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and its Choir perform a concert plumbing the depths of human experience in Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, then rising to soar with Vivaldi's Gloria. The human voice takes center stage again in an all-Mahler recital from baritone Christian Gerhaher. Pianist Kit Armstrong presents an intimate recital of Bach's intricate Goldberg Variations, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw joins the Attacca Quartet for a free performance of her works in the David Rubenstein Atrium.

The 2019 festival closes with conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic making a festival debut with Bruckner's Symphony No. 4. The Austrian composer, a devout Catholic, imbued his symphonies with a romanticism that radiates through his most popular orchestral work.

As in prior years, the 2019 White Light Festival will offer opportunities for audiences to delve further into the themes of the festival with pre- and post-performance artist talks and a special panel discussion moderated by John Schaefer. White Light Lounges follow many performances: these receptions are exclusive to White Light Festival ticketholders and provide opportunities to mingle with artists and fellow concertgoers while enjoying a complimentary glass of wine or sparkling water.

Tickets for the 2019 White Light Festival will be available online at, by calling CenterCharge at 212.721.6500, or at the David Geffen or Alice Tully Hall Box Office (Broadway and 65th Street). Single tickets will be available to purchase beginning June 25, 2019. Friends of Lincoln Center get presale access to tickets beginning June 20, 2019. Visit to become a member for presale access.

The White Light Festival is one of many programs offered by Lincoln Center that annually activates the campus's indoor and outdoor spaces across a wide range of the performing arts. Additional presentations include the Mostly Mozart Festival, Great Performers, American Songbook, Midsummer Night Swing, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, ongoing free performances at the David Rubenstein Atrium, and Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts that reach beyond the iconic campus. Lincoln Center also presents a myriad of education programs and presentations for families throughout the year.

Photo Credit: Frank Stewart

Related Articles View More Off-Broadway Stories

More Hot Stories For You