“Last year already feels like a long time ago,” shares Arvind Manocha, president and CEO of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts about last year’s 50th anniversary season. “It felt exhilarating, nervous, and happy every single night.”
Manocha recounts the pandemic planning for that golden jubilee season from the early reopening with the strictest protocols in place: intimate reduced capacity shows in their massive performing space with audience members sitting with their own parties in socially-distanced “pods.” As the season continued, and local policies and our understanding of the virus’ spread changed, the season gradually broadened into full-capacity, sold-out shows again in August and September while maintaining and adapting other health policies (masking, proof of vaccination, digital tickets, QR coded menus and more).
Maybe because of the bucolic setting of Wolf Trap or the springlike temperatures as we discuss the new season, but Manocha turns to an apt floral metaphor for this blossoming of the “new normal” in performing arts.
“Last year was the beginning of that, a flower blooming, a peeking through of life breaking through the concrete. And this year all of the rest of the flowers are going to be in bloom, a big bush full of beautiful flowers.”
Of those many blooming moments we can all look forward to are Sting, Bonnie Raitt, NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me,” Steve Martin and Martin Short, Sheryl Crow and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Head and the Heart, Japanese Breakfast, Iron & Wine, The Decembrists, and many more artists. This is in addition to three full production operas: Verdi’s “La Traviata,” Weber’s “Der Freischütz,” and the American opera “Susannah” by Carlisle Floyd.
Last June, President Biden announced that Juneteenth would become a federal holiday, so it is only fitting that the only federal park devoted to the performing arts should present a special concert in celebration of Jubilee Day, with hip hop-classical remixes from Thee Phantom & The Illharmonic Orchestra. Manocha sees this genre-blending as true to Wolf Trap’s orchestral roots and as expansive and embracing as Wolf Trap’s mission to celebrate the best of all musical genres today.
“I think it’s going to be one of our biggest seasons ever. There’s a real feeling of optimism, and certainly by the summer, when it’s beautiful weather and outdoors, I think performances at Wolf Trap are going to be very popular for many folks,” Manocha says. “Part of the reason we’re seeing so many great iconic superstars from all genres is because as much as we have been starved for the concert experience, the artists have been in the same boat for two years too. It’s going to be an amazing summer.”
This season there are collaborations with Signature Theatre, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Washington Ballet, and a showcase for DC Go-Go with Trouble Funk, E.U. with Sugar Bear, Junkyard Band, and DJ Wroyal and the Queens of Go-Go Fitness.
“Go-Go is really the D.C. homegrown export; it is the music of the DMV. That’s a theme throughout this scene, a reflection and connection to the local arts environment, “Manocha shares. “And I love that we can find ways to collaborate as organizations, but also to shine light to all these different local talents. ”
Learn more about Wolf Trap’s summer concert schedule here, and follow on Instagram @wolf_trap. Check back over the coming months for upcoming announcements. The latest safety guidelines and updates will always be available on Wolf Trap’s website.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; 703-255-1800; www.wolftrap.org
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