UNITED IN SONG: CELEBRATING THE RESILIENCE OF AMERICA
Premieres New Year’s Eve: Thursday, December 31 on PBS
This New Year’s Eve, JoAnn Falletta conducts the National Symphony Orchestra in the PBS Special, United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America which will premiere Thursday, December 31, 2020 from 8:00-9:30 p.m. EST and again from 9:30-11:00 p.m. EST (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video App. The star-studded performance—filmed at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—encourages our nation to come together and celebrate our irrepressible strength as we welcome the New Year. Despite the enormity of COVID-19 and the significant presence of social injustice, this special evening of wide-ranging music joins us in the ever-present pursuit of uniting as one America.
Filmed with the National Symphony at The Kennedy Center and the soloists at George Washington’s Mount Vernon in front of a small, socially-distanced live audience and under strict COVID-19 mitigation procedures, the program features performances by the NSO with soloists including multi-Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell; internationally celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma; world-renowned pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet; and rising opera star Soloman Howard, as well as Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and Simple Gifts. The special also featuresGrammy-nominated mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton; world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming; celebrated mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves; multi Grammy and Tony Award-nominated artist Josh Groban; recording artist and Broadway star Morgan James; 26-time Grammy and Latin Grammy Award winner Juanes; Grammy Award-winning and world-renowned artist Patti LaBelle; six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald; two-time Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell; and celebrated actor, playwright and professor Anna Deavere Smith; alongside The American Pops Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Luke Frazier.
In addition to the abovementioned musical appearances, interviews with artists were conducted onsite at Mount Vernon by David M. Rubenstein, philanthropist and host of The David Rubenstein Show on Bloomberg.
“It is not important that we were spaced apart from one other, or even in different venues and wearing masks, because we are performing music together and that is what unites us all. Conducting the superb National Symphony Orchestra is a beautiful way to celebrate the New Year with joy and hope” says Falletta. “Music is a universal language and has the unique power of uniting us. I suspect the majority of us will be celebrating this New Year’s with an inability to gather in-person. Ringing in 2021 with music performed by world-class artists, provides an opportunity to celebrate what makes us American,” shared co-executive producer Rubenstein. He added, “When George Washington was leaving office to return to Mount Vernon, he asked that we look to each other and find what we share in common as opposed to what makes us different. That advice appears to be just as relevant today as it was more than 200 years ago. I am sorry that George Washington was not here to greet these extraordinary artists, but I have no doubt that he was listening from above.”
UNITED IN SONG: CELEBRATING THE RESILIENCE OF AMERICA will stream simultaneously with the broadcast and be available on all PBS station-branded platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV and Chromecast.
About JoAnn Falletta
Grammy-winning conductor JoAnn Falletta serves as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Connie and Marc Jacobson Music Director Laureate of the Virginia Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and Artistic Adviser to the Hawaii Symphony and the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra. As Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, Falletta became the first woman to lead a major American ensemble. Her recent and upcoming North American guest conducting includes the Detroit Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and Milwaukee Symphony; and further north, the Toronto Symphony and Orchestre Métropolitain. Internationally, she has conducted many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, and South America. With a discography of almost 120 titles, Falletta is a leading recording artist for Naxos. This year, JoAnn received a GRAMMY® Nomination for Best Choral Performance for the world premiere Naxos recording of Richard Danielpour’s The Passion of Yeshua with the Buffalo Philharmonic, BPO Chorus, UCLA Chamber Singers, and featuring a superb group of soloists including James K. Bass, J’Nai Bridges, Timothy Fallon, Kenneth Overton, Hila Plitmann and Matthew Worth. Falletta won a Grammy Award in 2019 for her role as conductor of Fuchs: Piano Concerto ‘Spiritualist’; Poems of Life; Glacier, Rush. Her Naxos recording of Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan received two Grammys in 2008. Recent releases by the BPO include her second recording of the music of Florent Schmitt for Naxos and The Romantic Age, with works of Beethoven and Mahler, on the orchestra’s Beau Fleuve label. For more information, visit joannfalletta.com
About the National Symphony Orchestra
The 2020–2021 season marks the National Symphony Orchestra’s 90th. Founded in 1931, the Orchestra has always been committed to artistic excellence and music education. In 1986, the National Symphony became an artistic affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where it performs year-round. The NSO’s community engagement projects are nationally recognized, including NSO In Your Neighborhood, an annual week of approximately 50 performances in schools, churches, community centers, and other unexpected venues; Notes of Honor, which offers free performances for active, veteran, prior service, and retired members of the military and their families; and Sound Health, a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its affiliated organizations. Career development opportunities for young musicians include the NSO Youth Fellowship Program and its tuition-free Summer Music Institute. For more information, visit nationalsymphony.org.
About Mount Vernon
Since 1860, more than 85 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon the most popular historic home in America. Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853. To learn more, visit www.mountvernon.org.