Press Releases

National Philharmonic Announces 2023-2024 Season 

May 17, 2023

Updated                                           July 28, 2023

For Immediate Release                May 16, 2023  


National Philharmonic Announces 2023-2024 Season 



Symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven, Antonín Dvořák,
Gustav Mahler, and Florence Price 

Choral works by James Lee III, Antonio Estévez, Lili Boulanger,
Igor Stravinsky, and Ludwig van Beethoven,
presented in partnership with The Washington Chorus   

with soloists from the National Philharmonic Orchestra,  

including Concertmaster Laura Colgate 

A reimagined, semi-staged dramatic rendering of Handel’s Messiah   

Works by 20th- and 21st- century composers Valerie Coleman,
Florence Price, George Walker, Tania León, and more 

New and returning guest artists 

(NORTH BETHESDA, MD) — National Philharmonic (NatPhil) announced today its 2023-2024 Season, which includes five classical programs conducted by Music Director Piotr Gajewski, one classical concert led by guest conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson, and two choral performances presented in partnership with The Washington Chorus (TWC) and conducted by TWC Artistic Director Eugene Rogers. All season concerts will be held at The Music Center at Strathmore, the Orchestra’s longstanding home in Montgomery County.  

“NatPhil’s 2023-2024 Season spans the reaches of orchestral music—from Classical- and Romantic- era favorites such as W.A. Mozart and Beethoven to outstanding works by contemporary composers like Valerie Coleman and Tania León,” Gajewski said. “I’m especially thrilled to present two concerts in partnership with our friends at The Washington Chorus, and to welcome guest conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson to the NatPhil stage for the first time. “I’m also looking forward to a new and novel presentation of Handel’s holiday classic, Messiah, as a semi-staged production focusing on storytelling. NatPhil’s 2023-2024 Season has a little something for every kind of music lover.” 

Notable repertoire and guest artists in the newly announced season include:  

  • performances of complete symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven (Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale” on October 14, 2023); Gustav Mahler (Symphony No. 4 on April 6, 2024); and Florence Price (Symphony No. 1 on June 8, 2024)—all conducted by Maestro Piotr Gajewski 
  • two concerts presented in partnership with The Washington Chorus and conducted by TWC Artistic Director Eugene Rogers (Universal Longings | Anhelos Universales on November 5, 2023, featuring James Lee III’s Breaths of Universal Longings and Antonio Estévez’s Cantata Criolla; and l’Éternel on May 11, 2024, featuring works by Lili Boulanger, Igor Stravinsky, and Ludwig van Beethoven) 
  • a reimagined production of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah (on December 16 and 17, 2023), presented as a semi-staged dramatic rendering of the holiday classic with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and four soloists—soprano Aundi Marie Moore, mezzo soprano Lucia Bradford, tenor Norman Shankle, and baritone Jorell Williams 
  • a performance of Valerie Coleman’s Phenomenal Women and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, led by guest conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson (on February 10, 2024)
  • Guest artists in their first appearance with NatPhil, including pianist Michelle Cann (on October 14, 2023); baritone Juantomás Martínez Yépez (on November 5, 2023); a wind quintet led by flutist and composer Valerie Coleman (on February 10, 2024);  soprano Talise Trevigne (on March 9, 2024); and soprano Colleen Daly, tenor Nicholas Music, and bass Soloman Howard (all on May 11, 2024)
  • Plus returning soloists, including the complete cast for Handel’s Messiah—soprano Aundi Marie Moore, mezzo soprano Lucia Bradford, tenor Norman Shankle, and baritone Jorell Williams (on December 16 and 17, 2023); pianist Brian Ganz (in recital on February 24, 2024); cellist Zuill Bailey (on March 9, 2024); pianist Claire Huangci and soprano Danielle Talamantes (both on April 6, 2024); mezzo soprano Magdalena Wor (on May 11, 2024); and violinist Sarah Chang (on June 8, 2024). 


National Philharmonic 2023-2024 Season Schedule: 

Gershwin, Price & Beethoven 

Piotr Gajewski, conductor 

Michelle Cann, piano 

October 14, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore 

NatPhil’s 2023-2024 Season begins with a trio of enchanting works conducted by Maestro Piotr Gajewski, transporting listeners from the height of the Jazz Age to a pastoral countryside. Sensational pianist Michelle Cann opens the concert with Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin’s iconic fusion of classical and jazz styles, followed by the rich melodies and rhythms of Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement, which beautifully blends classical and African American musical traditions.  

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6—the “Pastoral Symphony”—celebrates the beauty of the natural world in five movements that usher audiences through the countryside, painting vivid imagery of a babbling brook, a crashing thunderstorm, and the people that coexist with nature.  

Michelle Cann appears by arrangement with the Curtis Institute of Music. 


Universal Longings | Anhelos Universales 

Eugene Rogers, conductor 

Presented by National Philharmonic and The Washington Chorus 

Juantomás Martínez Yépez, baritone 

TBA, tenor 

November 5, 2023 at 3 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore 

National Philharmonic and The Washington Chorus join forces for a concert of universal proportions conducted by TWC Artistic Director Eugene Rogers, including the Washington-area premiere of composer James Lee III’s Breaths of Universal Longings. “He’s a composer who has what it takes,” says the Baltimore Sun, and his works have been commissioned, premiered, and performed by prominent symphonies throughout the country.  

Venezuelan composer Antonio Estévez’s Cantata Criolla retells the legend of Faust’s deal with the Devil, set to text from the mythic poem Florentino y El Diablo by Alberto Avelo Torrealbas. As Florentino battles for his soul in a singing contest against El Diablo, his story evolves through the rich textures of Estévez’s music. Spoiler alert: our hero prevails.  


Handel’s Messiah 

Piotr Gajewski, conductor 

Baltimore Choral Arts Society 

Anthony Blake Clark, Music Director 

Aundi Marie Moore, soprano 

Lucia Bradford, mezzo soprano 

Norman Shankle, tenor 

Jorell Williams, baritone 

December 16, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. and December 17, 2023 at 3 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore 

National Philharmonic presents Handel’s Messiah in a new and novel semi-staged dramatic rendering to usher in the start of your holiday season. From the triumphant “Hallelujah” chorus to the hauntingly beautiful “He Shall Feed His Flock,” this timeless oratorio has captivated audiences for over 250 years. This season, NatPhil reimagines Handel’s masterpiece, drawing on the storytelling of all-star soloists soprano Aundie Marie Moore, mezzo soprano Lucia Bradford, tenor Norman Shankle, and baritone Jorell Williams, under the direction of Maestro Piotr Gajewski.   

NatPhil acknowledges the recent discovery of Handel’s involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and is dedicated to continuing the conversation around the performance of his works. A portion of ticket sales revenue will be dedicated to benefiting African American charities in our community. 


Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7   

Jeri Lynne Johnson, conductor 

Valerie Coleman & Friends Wind Quintet 

February 10, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore  

National Philharmonic joins forces with dynamic guest conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson for Valerie Coleman’s Phenomenal Women and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7. Phenomenal Women draws inspiration from Maya Angelou’s poem and book of the same name, and celebrates five phenomenal women—Angelou, mathematician Katherine Johnson, tennis great Serena Williams, Olympic boxer Claressa Shields, and former first lady Michelle Obama—telling each of their stories through jazz, classical, and traditional music styles. Coleman, a Grammy-nominated flutist and founder of Imani Winds, will play with a wind quintet assembled for the performance. 

Hailed as one of Dvořák’s most significant works, Symphony No. 7 is a musical journey of epic proportions. From the majestic first movement to the triumphant climax of the finale, Dvořák weaves rich harmonies, playful rhythms, and elements of Czech folk music throughout. Brought to life under the baton of Jeri Lynne Johnson, conductor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Stride” as part of the 2022 Kennedy Center Honors and founder of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, this program is not to be missed.  


Chopin the Virtuoso 

Brian Ganz, piano 

February 24, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore 

Pianist Brian Ganz returns in recital to the NatPhil stage to continue his enduring quest to perform every note the great Polish composer Frédéric Chopin ever wrote. Since its inception in 2011, the “Extreme Chopin” project has showcased Ganz’s virtuosity, deep musicality, and engagement with his audience through Chopin’s magnificent works. This year’s program highlights Chopin’s own virtuosity through some of his most challenging compositions, masterfully performed by Ganz.  


Musical Mediums: Pictures at an Exhibition 

Piotr Gajewski, conductor 

Zuill Bailey, cello 

Talise Trevigne, soprano 

March 9, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore 

Great art begets great music in this program of works inspired by poetry, prose, and paintings conducted by Maestro Piotr Gajewski. George Walker’s Lilacs puts to magnificent music the words of Walt Whitman’s 1865 poem, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” Soprano Talise Trevigne invigorates this Pulitzer Prize-winning piece for solo soprano and orchestra. Cellist Zuill Bailey returns to the NatPhil stage for Tales of Hemingway. He won a Grammy for Best Solo Performance in 2017 for this four-movement reimagining of the works of Ernest Hemingway.   

From words to watercolors, the program ends with Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, arranged by Maurice Ravel. Inspired by an exhibition of drawings and watercolors by Viktor Hartmann, Pictures at an Exhibition moves audiences through a musical story, inviting listeners to let their imaginations run wild through Mussorgsky’s sonic landscape.  


Mozart & Mahler 

Piotr Gajewski, conductor 

Claire Huangci, piano 

Danielle Talamantes, soprano 

April 6, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore 

Mozart & Mahler unites two classical music powerhouses and two of National Philharmonic’s favorite guest artists under the baton of Maestro Piotr Gajewski. Pianist Claire Huangci joins NatPhil for Mozart’s striking Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, one of his most complex and virtuosic works. With a darker tone than many of his other piano works, Concerto No. 24 sweeps between moments of turmoil and serenity, showcasing Huangci’s technical prowess and the expressivity of the full orchestra.  

The powerful musical arc of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 unfolds like a grand folk tale. A singular musical experience, Mahler has described it as reminding him of his mother’s smile and sounding like “a dewdrop on a flower that suddenly, illuminated by the sun, bursts into a thousand lights and colors,” and later that it “explodes into a wall of sound representing the gates of heaven.” Distinguished soloist Danielle Talamantes, soprano, joins NatPhil for the final movement, “The Heavenly Life,” in which heaven is described as a beautiful meadow full of playing children and blooming flowers, where loved ones are reunited.  



Eugene Rogers, conductor 

Presented by National Philharmonic and The Washington Chorus 

Colleen Daly, soprano  

Magdalena Wor, mezzo soprano 

Nicholas Music, tenor 

Soloman Howard, bass 

May 11, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore 

National Philharmonic and The Washington Chorus reunite under the baton of TWC Artistic Director Eugene Rogers for a program highlighting the brilliant choral works of Lili Boulanger, Igor Stravinsky, and Ludwig van Beethoven. The intricate harmonies, expressive melodies, and expansive orchestration of Boulanger’s Psalm 24 paint a picture of the composer’s faith and immense talent. While Symphony of Psalms is a profound work that blends religious texts into Stravinsky’s unique musical vision, using dissonant harmonies and shifting meters to create a sense of drama and tension. 

The Mass in C Major—known as the Missa in C—bridges Beethoven’s classical early works and his more experimental compositions, showcasing his masterful understanding of the power of orchestra and chorale. The Missa in C is unique in its clarity and simplicity, conveying moving spiritual themes in a work that remains a beloved staple of the choral repertoire to this day.  


Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 with Sarah Chang  

Piotr Gajewski, conductor 

Sarah Chang, violin 

June 8, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore 

Virtuoso violinist Sarah Chang returns to NatPhil for Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in a program conducted by Maestro Piotr Gajewski. Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 is a masterpiece of Romantic music with soaring melodies and lush harmonies that make it one of the most beloved works in the violin repertoire. Paired with the concerto on the first half of the program is Cuban-born composer Tania León’s Ácana, inspired by Cuban Laureate Poet Nicolás Guillén’s poem dedicated to the towering ácana tree, an essential force in Cuban life and society. León received the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Music and was named a recipient of the 45th Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements in 2022.  

Florence Price’s groundbreaking Symphony No. 1 draws from Price’s classical European musical training while weaving in folk songs, African American spirituals, and the blues. Price’s work brims with passion, energy, and emotion, and serves as a testament to her remarkable talent as a composer. The premiere of Symphony No. 1 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933 serves as a landmark in American music history as the first symphony composed by a Black woman to be performed by a major orchestra in the country. Her outstanding compositions remain a powerful expression of the African American experience. 

Programs, artists, dates, and times are subject to change. 

Subscription and Ticket Information 

Subscriptions and packages to National Philharmonic’s 2023-2024 season will be on sale beginning May 16, 2023 at Single tickets will go on sale in August. 

About the National Philharmonic 

Celebrated for showcasing world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces, National Philharmonic continuously strives to create remarkable educational opportunities in the community while promoting diversity and representation in classical music.  

National Philharmonic is an accessible, enriching component in the Greater Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area, believing that music has the power to spark imagination and shape the world around us. As the only organization with a united orchestra and chorus in the region, over the years National Philharmonic has expanded its footprint beyond its home at Strathmore, with year-round masterclasses along with Summer String Institutes for youth, armed services programs, and partnerships with community organizations. In addition to these programs, National Philharmonic fosters a love of music in young people across the region by offering free admission to all children between the ages 7 to 17 years old. 


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Media Contact: 

Camille Cintrón Devlin 

(571) 317-9317 


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