National Symphony Orchestra Announces Classical Programming for 2021-2022 Season

High-profile returning guest artists include violinist Hilary Hahn; pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Emanuel Ax, Lang Lang, and Katia and Marielle Labèque.

By: May. 25, 2021
National Symphony Orchestra Announces Classical Programming for 2021-2022 Season

The National Symphony Orchestra has announced classical programming for the 2021-2022 season, its fifth season under the artistic leadership of Gianandrea Noseda. NSO Classical subscriptions for the 2021-2022 season are now available here or by calling (202) 416-8500.

Celebrating the power of live orchestral performance, the season-informed by more than a year of disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic-features a broad range of programming that has become a hallmark of Noseda's tenure as NSO music director, with beloved works to new perspectives from living composers.

"I cannot wait to return to Washington, D.C. and continue to make music with my beloved National Symphony Orchestra, and especially, to share music with our audiences in-person at the Kennedy Center after such an unexpectedly long period which has affected all our lives," stated NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda. "More than ever the emotional power of music speaks to us all and I look forward to having it embrace us and bring joy, hope, and good feelings to our lives this season."

Highlights of the 2021-2022 season include:

In January 2022, Noseda conducts a three-week festival of music by American composers George Walker and William Grant Still paired with Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 1, 4, 5, and 9, in a nod to the 250th Anniversary of the composer's birth. These programs will be recorded for release on the NSO's new recording label. In addition, former Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems will exhibit a series of large-scale abstractions in the Center's Hall of Nations inspired by the music and genius of Beethoven;

Ten NSO debuts: conductors Simone Young, Paavo Järvi, Roderick Cox, Kazuki Yamada, and Louis Langrée; pianists Stewart Goodyear and Jan Lisiecki; soprano Camilla Tilling; tenor Issachah Savage; and bass-baritone Hanno Müller-Brachmann;

High-profile returning guest artists, including violinist Hilary Hahn; pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Emanuel Ax, Lang Lang, and Katia and Marielle Labèque; conductors Thomas Wilkins, Yan Pascal Tortelier, and Marek Janowski;

Noseda and the NSO celebrate Mozart masterpieces written in 1791, the year of the composer's death at age 35. Works include the Clarinet Concerto performed by NSO Principal Clarinet Lin Ma, Ave verum corpus, and the famously unfinished Requiem;

Mini-residency with Michael Tilson Thomas: a 2019 Kennedy Center Honoree and champion of American music and of Gustav Mahler, Tilson Thomas leads the NSO in two programs. The first features works by American masters Copland, Ruggles, and MTT himself. A second program spotlights Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection";

In September 2021, NSO In Your Neighborhood returns for its 11th installment with three weeks of full orchestra, chamber music, and arts activities celebrating the multicultural communities of Petworth, 16th Street Heights, Brightwood, Brightwood Park, Shepherd Park, Manor Park, Lamond-Riggs, Takoma, Takoma Park, and downtown Silver Spring, Maryland.

The Kennedy Center Chamber Players-comprised of titled NSO musicians-perform a series of three Sunday afternoon concerts in the Terrace Theater;

Additionally, the classical season will feature seven new commissions and four world premieres.

Also previously announced, the Orchestra will give performances in connection with the Kennedy Center's 50th Anniversary season including a Concert of Remembrance, led by Noseda, to mark the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 and to honor the healthcare professionals who have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic; and a special evening curated and hosted by Michael Tilson Thomas to officially kick off the Center's 50th Anniversary.

"The announcement of the NSO's new season brings us ever closer to a moment we have been dreaming about for so long," said Gary Ginstling, Executive Director of the NSO. "After an unthinkable pause of 18 months, the NSO musicians and Gianandrea Noseda will again be together with our audiences in the Concert Hall, performing live. We look forward to welcoming NSO patrons back, and we invite new audiences to join us and experience the power and awe of a live NSO performance."

Throughout the past year, Noseda and the NSO have innovated to connect to local and global audiences in new ways, through musician-led virtual content, such as NSO@Home and performances for families of all ages, and through in-person, physically distanced chamber performances, neighborhood porch concerts, and community engagement activities. This spring, Noseda and the NSO returned to the Concert Hall for physically distanced recorded concerts, including a special concert celebrating the friendship of Italy and the United States with performances of several works by composers hailing from both countries. In April, the NSO also recorded a concert, led by NSO Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, featuring music from the Center's next Composer-in-Residence, Carlos Simon. Additionally, as part of The Cartography Project, a multi-year commissioning project engaging artists from around the nation to create a musical map that explores the theme of Black dignity, the NSO is working with composers Derek Carter, Nathaniel Heyder, and Jessica Mays to create short chamber works.

As the Kennedy Center moves towards a full re-opening, it continues to prioritize the health and safety of artists, staff, and patrons. Current protocols can be found here and will continue to be updated as they evolve.

For full program information regarding the NSO classical 2021-2022 season, please see the season brochure located here.

A full listing of our generous sponsors can be found online.

Artists and performances are subject to change.


Gianandrea Noseda will lead 12 weeks of concerts in 2021-2022 to include:

Marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and reflecting on the human loss from Covid-19, as well to honor the healthcare professionals who have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, the NSO, conducted by Noseda, will perform a free concert in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (September 10).

On September 25, the season kicks off with the Orchestra's season-opening gala with an evening celebrating the rich colors and majesty of a live symphony orchestra. The program features The Block by the Center's newly announced Composer-in-Residence Carlos Simon along with Alberto Ginastera's Four Dances from Estancia and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Funds raised through the NSO Gala support the Orchestra's performances, education programs, and community engagement initiatives throughout the year. Sponsorships are available now at

The first week of subscription concerts features three-time Grammy Award®-winning violinist Hilary Hahn performing Brahms' Violin Concerto, along with the sweeping Third Symphony by Florence Price, the first Black woman to have a symphonic work performed by a major symphony orchestra (September 30-October 2).

Noseda and the NSO celebrate Mozart masterpieces written during the final year of his life in 1791. The program will include the composer's Clarinet Concerto performed by NSO Principal Clarinet Lin Ma, Ave verum corpus, and Requiem (December 2-4).

For the first time, Noseda conducts the NSO in Part 1 (Christmas) of Handel's Messiah. The holiday favorite is paired with Bach's well-known Magnificat (December 16-19).

In January 2022, Noseda conducts a three-week festival of programs of music by American composers George Walker and William Grant Still paired with four of Beethoven Symphonies. The performances will be recorded for future release on the NSO's new recording label, distributed by LSO Live.

On January 13, 15, and 16, performances will feature Sinfonia No. 1 by Walker, a Washington, D.C. native and the first Black composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music, along with Beethoven's Symphonies Nos. 1 and 5. Then on January 20-22, the program include the Fourth Symphony by Still, the first Black composer to have a symphony performed by a leading orchestra (Rochester Philharmonic) and to conduct a major American symphony orchestra (Los Angeles Philharmonic). Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 rounds out the program. The festival finishes on January 27-29 with Walker's Sinfonia No. 4 and Beethoven's epic Ninth Symphony.

NSO principal musicians take the spotlight in Haydn's Sinfonia concertante. The program also includes the lively Third Symphony by Louise Farrenc. Though often overlooked, Farrenc was at the center of Parisian music in her lifetime and admired as a teacher, scholar, and composer (February 17-19).

The program on February 24, 26 & 27 begins with the fourth of Bach's Brandenburg Concerti and is followed by Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4, Heitor Villa-Lobos's symphonic blend of Bach and the passions of Brazil; Mahler's Symphony No. 4 completes the program.

In March Noseda conducts the world premiere of a Kennedy Center/NSO commission, Philip Glass' Symphony No. 15, along with Beethoven's Violin Concerto, performed by James Ehnes (March 3-5).

In June, Noseda conducts a dance-themed program, featuring the NSO premiere of Italian movie score composer Nino Rota's Ballet Suite from Fellini's La Strada. Rota's piece is paired with two works by 19th-century composer Alexander Borodin, whose compositions were often adapted for musical theater (June 2-4).


The NSO continues its longstanding commitment to new music by offering seven new commissions in the 2021-2022 season, including:

James Lee III, An Engraved American Mourning (NSO Commission, World Premiere)

September 10, 2021

The NSO will premiere this new work by composer James Lee III to mark the 20th Anniversary of 9/11.

Angélica Negrón, En otra noche, en otro mundo (NSO Co-Commission)

October 28-30, 2021

Co-commissioned with Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Puerto Rican composer Angélica Negrón's new orchestral work, En otra noche, en otro mundo, will receive its East Coast premiere with the NSO with Yan Pascal Tortelier conducting.

Missy Mazzoli, Violin Concerto (NSO Co-Commission, World Premiere)

February 3 & 5, 2022

Gemma New conducts the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli's first commission from the NSO, a violin concerto for acclaimed violinist Jennifer Koh. The work is co-commissioned with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, BBC Proms, and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

Philip Glass, Symphony No. 15 (World Premiere)

March 3-5, 2022

Under the direction of Noseda, the NSO will premiere Philip Glass' latest symphony in March of 2022.

Joan Tower, Cello Concerto (NSO Co-Commission)

May 19-21, 2022

The NSO welcomes MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipient Alisa Weilerstein performing the East Coast premiere of a cello concerto by Joan Tower, one of the most significant American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. The program will be conducted by Louis Langrée.

Mason Bates, Philharmonia Fantastique (NSO Co-Commission)

May 12-14, 2022

Co-commissioned with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and Pittsburgh Symphony, former Kennedy Center Composer-in -Residence Mason Bates' Philharmonia

Fantastique is a 25-minute work for orchestra and animation. It will be conducted by Grammy® winner Cristian Măcelaru.

Peter Boyer, Balance of Power (World Premiere)

Dates to be announced

Commissioned for the NSO to honor the 95th birthday of Dr. Henry Kissinger, Grammy®-nominated composer, orchestrator, and conductor Peter Boyer's most recent work will receive its world premiere in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.


This three-concert series on Sunday afternoons in the Terrace Theater offers audiences the opportunity to enjoy chamber music performed by titled NSO musicians.

November 14, 2021 at 2 p.m.

Dayna Hepler and Ricardo Cyncynates, violins; David Hardy, cello; Lambert Orkis, piano

Mozart Trio in E major for Piano, Violin, and Cello K 542

C. Schumann Trio in G minor for Violin, Cello, and Piano Op. 17

Franck Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano

April 10, 2022, at 2 p.m.

Anaïs Naharro-Murphy, soprano; Ricardo Cyncynates, violin; David Hardy, cello; and Lambert Orkis, piano

Shostakovich Seven Romances on Poems by Alexander Blok Op. 127

Schubert Sei mir gegüsst D. 741

Schubert Fantasy in C Major D. 934

June 5, 2022, at 2 p.m.

Ying Fu, violin; Daniel Foster, viola; David Hardy, cello; Lambert Orkis, piano

Previn Trio No. 2 for Violin, Cello, and Piano

Poulenc Sonata for Violin and Piano

Brahms Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25