The Washington Performing Arts Society has officially released its 2011-2012 season, and few would say the suspense has been killing them. Classical fans will be not terribly surprised to see that it looks a lot like the 2010-2011 season—-with, in fact, some of the exact same lineups: Joshua Bell with Sam Haywood on Jan. 23, and Itzhak Perlman with Rohan De Silva on May 14. Neither pair exuded much chemistry together last year, but Bell and Perlman’s star wattage alone is sufficient to pack the Kennedy Center’s concert hall regardless of whom they play with.
WPAS is also wisely bringing back the Philadelphia Orchestra, which put on one of D.C.’s standout symphonic concerts by an out-of-towner last season. This year they will be joined by violin great James Ehnes for a program of Debussy, Shostakovich, and Mendelssohn at Strathmore on May 11.
Other concerts to watch out for include a 130th birthday tribute to Béla Bartók performed, appropriately, by the Budapest Festival Orchestra on Oct. 26 at the Kennedy Center. The Emerson String Quartet, one of the best chamber groups currently playing, comes to Strathmore on Feb. 15, accompanied by pianist Wu Han. Former New York Philharmonic director Lorin Maazel will emerge from his horse farm in Virginia to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic on Feb. 29 for a program featuring Mozart, Sibelius, and the wicked Richard Strauss. And the multi-talented violinist-violist Pinchas Zukerman will join the European Union Youth Orchestra for Bruch’s breathtakingly beautiful violin concerto in G, on April 15. Both concerts are at the Kennedy Center.
WPAS also organizes a “Jazz Legends” series at the Kennedy Center. This season has luminaries such as Sonny Rollins (Oct. 10), Wynton Marsalis (Feb. 26), and Herbie Hancock (March 11), as well as others whom I’m sure someone who knows more about jazz than me could recommend. Someone page Michael West.
The official release, from Aug. 19, largely reflects the preview WPAS unveiled in June. Performances are generally set years in advance, however, especially for high-roller institutions like WPAS, which bankrolls D.C.’s biggest classical concerts with its wealthy donor base (and pricey tickets). You can see the full season lineup at the WPAS website.