The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Artistic Advisor at Large Renée Fleming today announced the artists for the 2017–2018 season of Renée Fleming VOICES, a concert series that heralds the power of the voice across a wide range of genres.
The second season of the series includes Hamilton Tony Award® winner Leslie Odom Jr.; Broadway sensation and Tony® winner for The Color Purple, Cynthia Erivo; Barbara Hannigan, one of the world’s leading performers of contemporary opera, performing with pianist Reinbert de Leeuw; world music legend Angélique Kidjo; renowned cabaret chanteuse Ute Lemper and the Vogler Quartet in Paris Days, Berlin Nights, a journey through the European songbook of the Weimar years; opera star Isabel Leonard, a Washington National Opera favorite, who performs a recital co-presented with Fortas Chamber Music Concerts; A Night of Jazz with Gregory Porter and the NSO Pops, co-presented with NSO Pops and Kennedy Center Jazz; and Renée Fleming performing alongside acclaimed jazz bassist Christian McBride.
“I have been so gratified by the audience response to the first season of the VOICES series, and I am thrilled that our second season expands to include an even greater diversity of vocal talents from all over the world,” said Renée Fleming. “These are some of the most exciting singers I know, and I can’t wait for Kennedy Center audiences to experience their incredible talents.”
Below are the details of the 2017–2018 season of Renée Fleming VOICES, with commentary from Ms. Fleming on why she personally selected each artist for the series.
Renée Fleming & Christian McBride
Friday, October 13, 2017 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
“I can’t wait to sing again with the iconic jazz bassist Christian McBride at the re-opening of the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater. We first recorded together on my Christmas in New York disc, and I recently joined him in his series at Wigmore Hall in London. Christian’s consummate musicianship, open-hearted and genre-busting sensibility, and sheer virtuosity are a rare treat. He pushed me to the same kind of exploration; but then, freedom is the essence of jazz.”
Leslie Odom Jr.
Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 8 p.m.
“Imagine a performer who could edge out Lin-Manuel Miranda for a prize, any prize. Last year, Leslie Odom Jr. won the Tony Award® for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Hamilton, which I was fortunate to see. I also heard him at the 2016 Kennedy Center Spring Gala. He is a consummate, elegant artist, and this is a performance not to miss.”
Friday, November 3, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
“I was so fortunate to see Cynthia Erivo’s blazing, Tony Award®–winning performance in The Color Purple on Broadway. My family and I were on our feet shouting when she blew out the sound system in the penultimate anthem! Washington, D.C. and television audiences will remember her for her spectacular rendition of “The Impossible Dream” in tribute to John F. Kennedy at the recent Kennedy Center Honors, and she was a high point of the Grammy Awards telecast singing “God Only Knows” with John Legend. Her gift for unsparing, emotional honesty paired with vocal fireworks makes her performances simply unforgettable.”
Barbara Hannigan with Reinbert de Leeuw
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
“Soprano Barbara Hannigan is redefining what a ‘classical’ vocalist can be and do, and I have huge admiration for her creative artistry. Whether she is singing on the opera stage, championing new music, or conducting, she delivers the riveting theatrical experiences that audiences crave, and that we need in the classical world. Her recording of Paul Griffiths’s let me tell you topped countless ‘Best of 2016’ lists. I have seen her in George Benjamin’s masterful opera Written on Skin twice, and I can only say, “fierce and perfect.” Socrate, her collaboration with pianist Reinbert de Leeuw (with whom she will perform at the Kennedy Center) gives us an intimate, profoundly personal look at the music of Erik Satie.”
Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 8 p.m.
“I love when it’s almost impossible to classify an artist. Imagine a singer-songwriter who combines music with activism, earning awards from the World Economic Forum in Davos and Amnesty International; who cites James Brown, Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, and Carlos Santana as influences; and who has a passion for exploring traditional roots of popular music to create something new. Having collaborated with Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews, Philip Glass, John Legend, the Kronos Quartet, Bono, and the Luxembourg Philharmonic, Angélique Kidjo is the kind of inspiring artist for whom the term ‘world music’ is too restrictive, and it’s an honor to have her perform as part of VOICES.”
Ute Lemper’s Paris Days, Berlin Nights with the Vogler Quartet
Friday, March 16, 2018 at 8 p.m.
“One of the great cabaret artists of our time, Ute Lemper is also the preeminent interpreter of the songs of Kurt Weill. He is only one of the Weimar-era composers who figure in her show Paris Days, Berlin Nights, which she will perform with the Vogler Quartet. To excel at cabaret, you need to be an actor with a distinctive musical sensibility. Lemper’s command as a stage and film actress, a singer-songwriter, and even as a visual artist informs her intense, completely unique performances in cabaret. I would not miss this!”
Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 2 p.m.
Co-presented with Fortas Chamber Music Concerts
“Isabel Leonard is in demand at opera houses all over the world for her sparkling voice and stage presence. I loved singing with her recently at Carnegie Hall for the 125th anniversary of that legendary hall. Whether seeing her as Cinderella, Rosina, or Cherubino—or on Sesame Street—beauty and glamour are hallmarks of both her singing and her presence: a classical singer for the 21st century!”
A Night of Jazz with Gregory Porter and the NSO Pops
Tuesday, June 27, 2018 at 8 p.m.
Co-presented with NSO Pops and Kennedy Center Jazz
“When Don Was of Capitol Records first mentioned Gregory Porter to me, I immediately found Be Good on the Internet and became, well, obsessed! I was so taken with his melding of R&B and jazz vocals with his completely modern songwriting sensibility, I became a fan. His work takes a refreshingly honest look at the sometimes small moments that truly make up our lives. He has taken Europe by storm, and I’m glad he has found the time to visit us and participate in VOICES. I hope he will return again and again.”
Subscriptions for the Renée Fleming VOICES series are on sale now. To purchase a subscription, patrons should visit the Box Office, call the Subscription Office at (202) 416-8500, or go to www.kennedy-center.org/subscribe. Subscriptions may be purchased in advance of general on-sale dates, which will be announced soon. Groups of 20 or more may contact the Kennedy Center Group Sales office at (202) 416-8400.