Metro Weekly

Wolf Trap reopens this summer, announces 50th Anniversary season

Season highlights include performances by the NSO, Cynthia Erivo, Amos Lee, Watchhouse, and The War and Treaty

Wolf Trap

Wolf Trap is setting the stage for the return of live concerts this summer in a limited yet notably determined way.

The organization will celebrate the golden jubilee of its outdoor amphitheater, named in honor of Wolf Trap founder Catherine Filene Shouse, with a month-long series of concerts that also mark the first live music shows presented at any Wolf Trap venue since December 2019.

The first to be welcomed back to the Filene Center as guests will be area frontline workers and volunteers for “Thank You Community Concerts,” including performances by the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic led by Marin Alsop in her Wolf Trap debut (6/24), and “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band (6/25-27).  

A week later, the National Symphony Orchestra will celebrate Wolf Trap’s history as “America’s Only National Park for the Performing Arts” with a special 50th Anniversary concert led by guest conductor JoAnn Falletta and featuring an all-female cast of special guest artists, including Broadway and film star Cynthia Erivo, Wolf Trap Opera alumna Christine Goerke, and Joyce Yang, silver medal winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The “Fifty Years Together: A Celebration of Wolf Trap” concert is set for Thursday, July 1, the date of the very first performance in the Filene Center, also featuring the NSO, 50 years ago.

“Since opening in 1971, concerts at Wolf Trap have helped define the summer for generations of music lovers,” says Wolf Trap President and CEO Arvind Manocha in the official 50th-anniversary announcement. “As we look toward the future, we will continue to serve as a place where the public can gather together to enjoy nature, experience the arts, and build special memories –- a place where everyone is welcome.”

The 2021 experience at the woodsy enclave will be markedly different, however. The large, open-air Filene Center, which accommodates over 7,000 in non-pandemic times, will have significantly reduced capacity, as groups of two to eight mask-wearing people will be seated together in socially distanced pods scattered throughout, including on the lawn. 

The NSO will return twice more in July, first for a “Beethoven and Bologne” program directed by Jonathon Heyward and featuring violinist Francesca Dego (7/8-9), and then to accompany Norm Lewis in symphonic renditions of some of the celebrated stage and screen performer’s favorite Broadway songs (7/30-31).

The July lineup also includes Americana duo Watchhouse, formerly known as Mandolin Orange (7/7), Max Weinberg’s Jukebox, in which the longtime drummer of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band leads a four-piece band covering hit songs as selected by the audience (7/10-11), the Big Easy’s celebrated Preservation Hall Jazz Band (7/17), D.C. go-go legends Big Tony and Trouble Funk (7/18), two stripped-down, intimate shows with singer-songwriter Amos Lee (7/21-22), two solo appearances by progressive bluegrass musician Chris Thile of Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers fame (7/24-25), Americana artist Aoife O’Donovan along with members of The Knights (7/28), and soul-fired Americana duo The War and Treaty (7/29). 

Concerts in the works for August and September are set to be “announced at a future date.”

Early summer also brings Wolf Trap Opera’s annual showcase of future opera stars participating in its venerated residency program, this year including productions of Bologne’s 18th-century chamber opera “The Anonymous Lover in Concert” (6/18), “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Concert,” a partnership with the NSO (7/2-3), and a double bill of Viardot’s Cinderella and Holst’s “Sāvitri in Concert” in collaboration with Wolf Trap Orchestra (7/16).

Meanwhile, WTO alum Tamara Wilson, Michelle DeYoung, Paul Groves, and Ryan Speedo Green will perform “STARias: Opera’s Most Powerful Moments” (7/23).

And throughout July, the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods will present six different programs from renowned performers for children and families, including Joanie Leeds, this year’s Grammy winner for Best Children’s Album (7/27), Korean-American folk artist Elena Moon Park (7/28), and the Maryland Youth Ballet (7/31). 

The Filene Center at Wolf Trap is located at 1551 Trap Road in Vienna. Tickets for June and July shows go on sale to the public starting Friday, May 7, at 10 a.m., and will be available in blocks of two to eight; one party per block, with no single tickets sold. Prices vary by performance and pod location. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit


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