The National Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Steven Reineke, and artistic advisor Ben Folds welcome legendary actor, musician, activist and recent space traveler William Shatner as a guest artist for his upcoming concert DECLASSIFIED: Ben Folds PRESENTS Friday, April 29 at 9 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.
On October 13, 2021, William Shatner had the honor of being the oldest human and the only artist to have traveled beyond Earth’s atmosphere after decades of famously portraying interstellar explorer “Captain James Tiberius Kirk on Star Trek. In a unique concert experience, Shatner will perform new and original spoken word poetry with new orchestral compositions inspired by nature. It is through his poetry and character that Shatner articulates his personal and profound perspective on the fragility and vulnerability of our planet. Accompanied by the NSO, Shatner explores the “thin line” between life and death that our planet’s atmosphere currently faces. Folds serves as host, occasionally joining the orchestra as well as Shatner as a duet partner.
Shatner’s original works will be paired with pillars of the classical repertoire such as Clair de lune by Claude Debussy and Les Planètes by Gustav Holst.
This partnership between longtime friends and collaborators, Folds and Shatner, is the latest project in their decades-long shared history. Previously, they teamed up on Shatner’s acclaimed album, Has Been, with their much-loved version of Pulp’s “Common People.” They also performed “In Love” together from Folds’ album Fear of Pop together on Late Night with Conan O’Brien on January 22, 1999.
The evening will begin with a pre-concert performance at 8 p.m. on the Millennium Stage in the Grand Foyer, featuring attendees of the DC Camp ACappella Intensive to be held Tuesday, April 26 at Planet World in the restored historic Franklin School building. . . The Intensive is a free, one-day program led by singer/arranger/composer Deke Sharon, and is the result of a collaboration between Folds, Planet Word, a DC-based interactive museum dedicated to immersive language experiences, the NSO and Camp ACappella. The pre-performance events will also include a photo booth, corn hole and beer tasting provided by Port City, which is based locally in Alexandria.
The DECLASSIFIED® Series challenges the traditional presentation of classical music by providing excellent live music in a casual and relaxed setting, featuring performances of symphonic music, as well as newly composed or arranged music specifically for this event. The series strives to break down misconceptions about classical music while providing pre- and post-concert parties.
Since its inception in 2017, the DECLASSIFIED®: Ben Folds PRESENTS concert series has featured a host of contemporary artists from a multitude of genres. These varied artists perform songs that are newly arranged and orchestrated for the artist and the ONS specifically for these events. Over the years, guest performers have included Grammy®, Tony® and Emmy® award-winning artists such as Jon Batiste, Sara Bareilles, Regina Spektor, Wu Man, Danay Suarez, Jamey Johnson, Sarah Silverman, Kishi Bashi and more. others.
Ben Folds is widely regarded as one of the leading musical influencers of our generation.
He has created a huge body of genre music which includes pop albums with Ben Folds Five, several solo albums and numerous collaborative records. His latest album was a medley of pop songs and his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra which topped the Billboard Classic and Classic Crossover charts.
For more than a decade, he has performed with some of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras and is currently the first-ever artistic advisor to the Kennedy Center National Symphony Orchestra.
Folds published her first book – a collection of interrelated essays, anecdotes and lessons about art, life and music – in 2019, which debuted as a New York Times bestseller. and currently hosts a series of podcasts derived from his book, “Lightning Bugs: Conversations with Ben Folds.” In addition to solo rock and orchestral tours, he is also developing a new unscripted TV series with Fred Rogers Productions, continues to appear in various film/TV guest roles, and is working on two new albums.
An avid photographer, Folds is also a member of the prestigious Sony Artisans of Imagery, worked as a photo editor for National Geographic, and was featured in a Kennedy Center’s Digital Project mini-documentary about his photographic work.
A strong advocate for arts education and funding for music therapy in our nation’s public schools, Folds was for more than five years an active member of the distinguished Artist Committee of Americans for The Arts (AFTA) and serves on the board of Administration of AFTA Arts Action. Funds. He was also chair of the Arts Action Fund’s national ArtsVote2020 initiative, which encouraged voter engagement in the 2020 US election, and continually advocates for improved public policy for the arts and arts education.
William Shatner has cultivated a career spanning more than 70 years as an award-winning actor, director, producer, writer, recording artist and rider. He is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable figures and a great philanthropist.
His achievements in television, film and on stage would take up a lot of time and more space than expected here.
In 1966, Shatner originated the role of “Captain James T. Kirk” in the Star Trek television series. The series spawned a feature film franchise where Shatner returned as Captain Kirk in seven of the Star Trek films, one of which he directed.
Shatner starred in the hit TV series TJ Hooker before hosting the first reality-based TV series, Rescue 911.
He won Emmys® and his first Golden Globe for his portrayal of eccentric lawyer “Denny Crane” in The Practice and Boston Legal. He received four other Emmy® nominations as well as other Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations.
Shatner is currently the host and executive producer of The UnXplained on The History Channel. From the producers of Ancient Aliens and The Curse of Oak Island, the hour-long non-fiction series explores the world’s most fascinating, bizarre and inexplicable mysteries.
His love of music inspired him to record the critically acclaimed album Has Been. Milwaukee Ballet performed Common People, a dance presentation over several numbers on the record; the event and its preparations are featured in the documentary Gonzo Ballet, which played to sold-out audiences at film festivals around the world.
In September 2021, Shatner released the autobiographical album titled Bill with tracks featuring Joe Jonas, Brad Paisley and Joe Walsh to name a few. In October 2020, The Blues album quickly reached No. 1 on Billbord’s Blues chart. Shatner previously released the country music album, Why Not Me, in August 2018 with Jeff Cook and Heartland Records. Shortly after, Shatner found great success with Shatner Clause, a holiday album released in October 2018 that peaked at number two on the Billboard chart.
Off-screen and on the airwaves, Shatner is the author of nearly 30 best-selling books in both fiction and non-fiction genres. His autobiography, Up Till Now, was a New York Times bestseller and was followed by Shatner Rules which was published in October 2011. William Shatner’s book Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man was published in February 2016 appearing on the New York Times bestseller list. Shatner published Live Long And…What I Might Have Learned Along the Way in September 2018 and will soon publish Boldly Go, a compelling and timely collection of essays in which Shatner reflects on key events in his 90 years of life, will be will be released in October 2022.
In April 2011, Shatner launched his wildly popular one-man show Shatner’s World on Broadway. He toured Australia and New Zealand, followed by tours in Canada and over 50 cities in the United States.
Shatner was successful in another area – horse breeding. A longtime dedicated breeder of American Quarter horses, he has had enormous success with the American Saddlebred, World Champions in Development and Riding and has won numerous World Championships in multiple equine events. His passions for horses and philanthropy were united when he started the Hollywood Charity Horse Show, which benefits Los Angeles-based children’s charities.
Shatner continues to act, write, produce and direct while making time to work with charities and pursue his passion for equestrian sports. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The 2021-2022 season marks the National Symphony Orchestra‘s 91st and Gianandrea Noseda’s fifth as Music Director. The Italian conductor is the Orchestra’s seventh musical director, joining the ONS legacy of such distinguished conductors. Its artistic direction also includes Senior Pops Bandleader Steven Reineke and Artistic Advisor Ben Folds.
Founded in 1931, the Orchestra has always been committed to artistic excellence and musical education. In 1986, the National Symphony Orchestra became an artistic affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where it performs year-round. ONS community engagement projects are nationally recognized, including NSO In Your Neighborhood, an annual week of approximately 50 performances at schools, churches, community centers and other unexpected venues; Notes of Honor, which provides free performances to serving military, veterans, veterans, and retirees, 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 ONS Youth Bursary Scheme and its tuition-free Summer Music Institute. For more information, visit nationalsymphony.org.
Tickets ($25 to $75) are available at the Kennedy Center box office, online at kennedy-center.org, and by phone through Instant Charge, (202) 467-4700; toll free at (800) 444-1324. For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540.