National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony

Events / National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony

Kick-off the 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival and watch world-renowned performers as we welcome springtime to Washington, DC and celebrate the anniversary of the gift of trees from Japan to the United States. Enjoy spirited traditional and contemporary performances in the historic Warner Theatre. The Festival heralds a natural treasure that unites our city, region, nation, and the world. The trees – both in Japan and the U.S. – always have symbolized birth and renewal. The Opening Ceremony celebrates the season through a showcase of great American and Japanese talent.

Opening Ceremony performers include:

Shigeyama Kyogen 
Shigeyama Kyogen embodies some of the best traits of traditional Japanese performing culture. Kyogen is a world-renowned form of traditional Japanese theater. Kyogen is a kind of spoken drama that is based upon laughter and comedy. With more than 600 years of history, it was designated as one of the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2001. Shigeyama is a prestigious Kyogen family in Kyoto, Japan that has passed on this Kyogen craft from one generation to the next since the early 17th Century.

EL Squad
Since its formation in 2012, EL Squad from Wrecking Crew Orchestra revolutionized the contemporary dance genre with their signature “Light Dance,” a mesmerizing blend of dance, music, and electroluminescent technology. Audiences are amazed at the dazzling effects achieved through intricate, fast-paced choreography without the help of CGI. As of July 2016, viral YouTube videos of their performances have garnered over 35 million views.

May J
Having her roots in Japan, Iran, Turkey, Russia, Spain and the UK, multilingual J-pop artist May J. has been one of the most celebrated female singers in Japan since her debut in July 2006. She has hosted the music program “J-MELO” for eight years; it is the only Japanese music show in English that introduces the current J-pop music scene on NHK (Japan’s national public broadcasting organization). Her album “Summer Ballad Covers” (June 2013) was in the top 10 of the prestigious Oricon chart for five consecutive weeks, and her subsequent album “Heartful Song Covers” was in the top 10 for a consecutive eight weeks, a first for a female artist since the 1990s. She is perhaps best known for singing the end roll version of the title song “Let It Go” in the Japanese release of Disney’s animated movie “Frozen.”

The 6821 Quintet 
Named after the distance between Washington DC and Tokyo, the quintet was created by The Ryuji Ueno Foundation as part of the Potomac Music-Lab Project for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The 2017 group consists of Mayu Kishima (1st Violin), Eric Silberger (2nd Violin), Meng Wang (Viola), Clancy Newman (Cello) and Mamiko Hirai (Composer/Pianist), and will be performing the world-premiere of a commissioned piece written by Ms. Hirai.


Saturday, March 25, 2017
5:00 PM to 6:30 PM