Whether you’re a preschooler ready to bop out with the Fresh Beat Band on Aug. 28, a romantic looking forward to crooner Johnny Mathis on July 20 or a theatre lover salivating over seeing “Wicked’s” Idina Menzel on Aug. 3, the upcoming Wolf Trap summer concert series offers something for everyone.
For its 41st summer season at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park, a diverse lineup allows for everyone to be excited about something. In all, this year will showcase 92 performances at the Filene Center amphitheater, nine evenings of opera at The Barns at Wolf Trap, and 34 performances in 108 days at Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods.
Doo-wop is represented by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (Aug. 23), big band fans can look forward to John Tesh’s Big Band (July 22), Motown lovers can catch a double bill of The Temptations and The Four Tops (Aug. 2) and country fans will find Martina McBride (June 13), Bonnie Raitt (June 14) and Lyle Lovett (Aug. 14).
“When preparing for the season, we wanted to attract as broad an audience as possible. Our goal was a generational diversity that would bring out a wide mix of audiences,” said Terre Jones, Wolf Trap’s chief executive officer, who will be retiring at the end of the year. “I think our strength is the thirty-something, forty-something and fifty-something market, but you have to keep refreshing those generations.”
A number of performers will be making their Wolf Trap debuts in 2012, including country mega-star Alan Jackson, indie-folk singer Josh Ritter and the world music trio Dead Can Dance.
“We always ask ourselves, ‘what target market do we want to get that we haven’t reached,’ and it becomes something of a jigsaw puzzle as we look for fresh acts to bring in,” Jones said. “If you look across the board, we have shows that are clearly designed to attract a younger audience. From the really young Fresh Beat, to Demi Lovato (June 24) to Train (Aug. 21).”
Several returning favorites will play two nights at the venue, including Wilco (July 17-18), the Gypsy Kings (Aug. 7-8), The Steve Miller Band (Aug. 10-11) and Barry Manilow (Aug. 16-17).
A theme to many shows this year is the teaming up of several big acts to represent a collection of music of a certain time period.
The Turtles, the Buckinghams, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, the Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz and the Grass Roots come together for the Happy Together Tour on July 19; Legendary soul singers Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs and Donald Fagen team up for the Dukes of September Rhythm Review show on Aug. 6; Fans of the ’80s will get a kick out of The B-52s and Squeeze playing together on July 19; then there’s the 23rd annual Louisiana Swamp Romp on June 10, featuring the best in New Orleans-style music.
Those who spent their ’90s listening to alternative music will enjoy the rock extravaganza on July 25, when top acts Summerland, Everclear, Sugar Ray, the Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground share the stage. Others will find the team-up of Barenaked Ladies, Big Head Todd & the Monsters and Cracker (July 11) more to their liking.
“We are very happy with our schedule and feel we appeal to a lot of our demographic with these shows,” Jones said. “It’s hard not to look at this and find something on the calendar that someone wants to see.”
Following an opening weekend of two performances of “A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor (Friday and Saturday), the 2012 blast off party on Sunday will feature the United States Marine Band playing concert band favorites, followed by a fireworks show.
Steve Winwood is the first major act to hit the stage on May 29, and June highlights include Gavin DeGraw (June 9), Diana Krall (June 21) and Norah Jones (June 27).
Popular acts in July include Crosby, Stills & Nash (July 3), Seal (July 10), Jackson Browne (July 23) and Rufus Wainwright (July 24). August highlights are Joe Walsh (Aug. 13), Mary Chapin Carpenter (Aug. 18) and Dave Koz (Aug. 22).
As it does every year, the National Symphony Orchestra returns to its summer home where conductor Emil de Cou will lead them through a screening of “West Side Story” (Aug. 4), “The Wizard of Oz” (July 14), and a rendition of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” (July 27) with captivating HD film featuring new NASA images. Meanwhile, Eimear Noone will conduct the NSO while footage from the legendary video game franchise The Legend of Zelda plays on July 26.
Jones said he is very excited about the Foundation’s Seventh Face of America installment on Sept. 8, featuring performances from two famed dance companies in Ballet Hispanico and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.
Theatre highlights include “South Pacific” (June 1-3), “The Pirates of Penzance” (June 29-30), “Sing Along Sound of Music) (Aug. 25), “The King and I” (Aug. 31-Sept. 2) and “Rock of Ages” (Sept. 9).
And of course, no Wolf Trap season is complete without work by the Wolf Trap Opera Company, with this year’s repertoire including Mozart’s Don Giovanni; Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; and a collaboration with the National Symphony Orchestra and The Washington Chorus for a performance of Beethoven’s 9th at the Filene Center (July 28).
Tickets for Wolf Trap’s 2012 performances can be purchased via the Wolf Trap Box Office located at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts at 1551 Trap Road, Vienna by calling 1(877)WOLFTRAP; or visiting www.wolftrap.org.