Washington Performing Arts Society to Receive National Medal of Arts

Washington Performing Arts Society to Receive National Medal of Arts 
From Concert-Hall Premieres to In-School Workshops, WPAS Has Drawn
Renowned Artists to the Washington Community and Inspired Generations
of Young Performers to Follow Their Passions 
WASHINGTON, DC  -- (Marketwired) -- 07/08/13 --  Washington
Performing Arts Society, one of the country's leading performing arts
presenters, will be honored on July 10 by President Barack Obama with
a National Medal of Arts. Washington Performing Arts Society, says a
White House announcement, is given the award "for bringing
world-class performances to our Nation's capital. From concert-hall
premieres to in-school workshops, WPAS has drawn renowned artists to
the Washington community and inspired generations of young performers
to follow their passions." WPAS President and CEO Jenny Bilfield will
accept the Medal on behalf of WPAS. She will be accompanied by WPAS
Presidents Emeriti Neale Perl and Douglas Wheeler. This award is the
highest honor given to artists and arts institutions by the U.S.
Government and WPAS is only the fourth D.C.-based arts group and the
first arts presenter of its kind to be so honored. Individuals to be
honored this year include soprano Renée Fleming, musician Herb
Alpert, playwright Tony Kushner and filmmaker George Lucas. 
"Washington Performing Arts Society shares this honor with students
and teachers in our arts education programs, our embassy partners,
the children and adults in our gospel choirs, the performers who have
engaged and transformed our audiences, and our remarkable community
of arts lovers," says WPAS CEO and President Jenny Bilfield. "WPAS is
indeed honored to be awarded this prestigious medal, which recognizes
Washington Performing Arts Society's longstanding enrichment of the
area's cultural landscape," says WPAS Board Chair and Booz Allen
Hamilton Executive Vice President, Reginald Van Lee. 
A TRADITION OF PRESENTING THE WORLD'S OUTSTANDING PERFORMERS 
Dance Troupes, Classical, Jazz and Gospel Artists  
A dynamic, inventive and thriving organization, WPAS' 2013-14 season
of music and dance programs is emblematic of its strengths and
breadth, featuring over 50 music events across eleven venues
throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area; building upon
WPAS's legacy of nearly five decades of presenting the world's most
distinctive orchestras, dance troupes, jazz and classical soloists,
and using the city as our stage. October performances alone include
the return of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
in a performance of Marsalis' "Abyssinian: A Gospel Celebration,"
Velocity DC Dance Festival featuring a cornucopia of outstanding
local dance performers, a recital by pianist Jeremy Denk, whose D.C.
debut was presented by WPAS, an all-Stravinsky program performed by
the world-renowned Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev,
performances and an educational residency by the Dance Theatre of
Harlem, a recital by pianist Yuja Wang, who also made her D.C.
premiere with WPAS; the D.C. premiere of young jazz singing sensation
and Thelonious Monk Competition-winner Cécile McLorin-Salvant, plus a
"What Makes it Greatâ„¢ with Rob Kapilow" educational event focusing on
Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata. 
A TRADITION OF LAUNCHING NEW CAREERS, NURTURING TALENT  
AND COMMISSIONING AND PRESENTING NEW WORKS 
WPAS has a 48-year history of launching new careers and nurturing
tomorrow's stars. WPAS presented violinist Midori's first Washington
recital at age 15. Singer Denyce Graves's first main stage recital
was presented by WPAS. Jessye Norman, Evgeny Kissin, Hilary Hahn,
Savion Glover, Kathleen Battle, Luciano Pavarotti and Wynton Marsalis
are among the numerous internationally respected musicians WPAS
presented for the first time in Washington early in their careers,
bringing them back for frequent performances. Dance companies first
presented here by WPAS include Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre,
Paul Taylor Dance Company and Liz Lerman Dance Company. WPAS also
presented Dance Theatre of Harlem at the Kennedy Center Opera House
shortly after its launch and a year after the Center opened and has
brought numerous renowned international orchestras to Washington
audiences. 
WPAS was one of the first arts organizations to reflect the
Washington area's diversity, inviting singer Todd Duncan, who debuted
the role of Porgy in George and Ira Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," to
be WPAS's first Board Chair at its founding in 1965 and including a
broad representation of people from the community on its Board and
committees. 
WPAS has a long and continuing tradition of commissioning and
presenting premieres of new works by composers such as John
Corigliano, William Bolcom, Mark-Anthony Turnage, as well as Wynton
Marsalis ("Suite for Human Nature") and Sweet Honey in the Rock
("Indaba"). Upcoming commissions include "Green is the New Black," a
work by the Washington, D.C.-based dance troupe Step Afrika! 
EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH 
Distinguished not only by its performances and commissions, WPAS
stands in the forefront of U.S. arts organizations in the area of
educational outreach; engaging with audiences of all ages through its
choruses, a wide variety of dynamic arts education programs, and
community partnerships. WPAS programmed close to 900 education events
over the past two years alone. This year, more than 57,000 people in
Washington, D.C., Maryland and northern Virginia have benefited from
WPAS educational programs. 
These programs have included WPAS' landmark Capitol Arts Initiative,
featuring Capitol Jazz, Strings, Voices and Dance Projects, bringing
teaching artists, and in some cases curricula and instruments, into
the D.C. Public Schools. Begun in 2007, the initiative's Capitol Jazz
Project partners with Jazz at Lincoln Center to bring teaching
musicians and a curriculum authored by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis into
local schools. 
In addition, WPAS' Concerts in Schools program and In-School Artist
Residencies bring a diverse roster of experienced musicians, dancers,
storytellers, and visual artists into area schools where, over a
number of sessions, they integrate their artistic disciplines within
existing school curricula to create interactive educational
experiences. Designed for fifth and sixth-grade students in the D.C.
Public Schools, WPAS award-winning Embassy Adoption Program pairs
embassies with individual classrooms for one school year to
complement the social studies and English language arts curricula. As
a result, students learn about the various facets of their "adopted"
country and develop greater cultural awareness. WPAS' participation
in Kids Euro Festival brings artists representing European countries
to perform in D.C. Public Schools. Past performers include
puppeteers, bubble-blowers, a virtual orchestra, storytellers,
dancers, and a modern circus. 
WPAS CHOIRS: Begun in 1993, WPAS Children of the Gospel Choir has
showcased many of the city's uniquely talented young voices in their
own distinctive style of high energy performances while enhancing the
children's training, performance and disciplinary skills and exposing
them to exciting performance opportunities. WPAS' unique role as a
presenter of top-level artists has enabled choir members to perform
with classical singers Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Kathleen Battle as
well as Yolanda Adams, Dottie Peoples, Sweet Honey in the Rock,
Donnie McClurkin and other noted gospel singers. Members of the Choir
have performed on the steps of the Capitol during the Inauguration of
President Bill Clinton and twice for President Obama and other
dignitaries at the Inaugural Prayer Service at the Washington
National Cathedral, at the White House, the State Department and on
NBC's Today Show, as well as at the opening of the Guggenheim Museum
in Bilbao, Spain. 
WPAS Men and Women of the Gospel Choir has been performing annually
since the early 1990s at major venues within the Washington
Metropolitan area such asThe Kennedy Center, Harman Center for the
Arts and Strathmore Music Center, offering performances based on the
tradition and inspirational root of gospel music and featuring works
by local and national composers while sharing the stage with an array
of Gospel greats. The Choir has also performed with Sweet Honey in
the Rock at Carnegie Hall. 
Four WPAS SUMMER CAMPS; Capitol Jazz Camp, Capitol Strings Camp,
Children of the Gospel Vocal Workshop and Summer Steps with Step
Afrika!, provide instruction in the traditions of jazz, string
instrument techniques, gospel singing, and step dancing to young
people ages nine to eighteen. In addition to instruction, students
develop discipline, teamwork, and leadership skills. A fifth, Playful
Rhythms Camp, introduces music and movement to students age four to
eight. Camps are led by a faculty of local teaching artists and are
often enriched by world-renowned guest artists including musicians
from Jazz at Lincoln Center. 
The National Medal of Arts was established by Congress in 1984, upon
the recommendation of President Ronald Reagan and the President's
Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, for the purpose of honoring
artists and patrons of the arts. The President may award no more than
12 medals each year "to individuals or groups who, in the President's
judgment, are deserving of special recognition by reason of their
outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and
availability of the arts in the United States." 
Considered one of the country's leading presenters of the performing
arts, Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS) was established in
the nation's capital by the legendary impresario Patrick Hayes.
Throughout its 48-year history, WPAS has created profound
opportunities for connecting the community to artists, both in
education and performance, for more than four decades. The mission of
the Washington Performing Arts Society is threefold: 1) to provide
the Washington community with performing arts presentations of the
highest quality and of varied content and tradition; 2) to support
and nurture performing artists and their art forms; and 3) to provide
lifelong learning opportunities through arts education, youth
involvement, and community partnerships. 
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Contact information 
Publicist
Washington Performing Arts Society
2000 L Street, N.W. Suite 510
Washington, D.C. 20036
btabor@wpas.org
PH: 202-533-1886
FAX: 202.331.7678