The official kick-off to the Festival, immediately following Family Day, the Opening Ceremony, presented by Open Skies, features timeless traditions commemorating the gift of trees and a dazzling line-up of classic and contemporary performances.

At the National Building Museum, one of the city’s most inspiring venues, Washington dignitaries welcome residents and visitors to the 16-day, citywide celebration that has made the nation’s capital synonymous with spring around the world.

Time: 4 – 5:30 PM

Location: National Building Museum – 401 F Street, NW (map)

Cost: FREE

Featured Performances

Keiko Matsui
Keiko Matsui is a citizen of the world. She tours relentlessly bringing her music to virtually every corner of the globe. Her music transcends boundary and her unique melting pot of musical influences have garnered her a devout international following. “Music has no borders and it creates a oneness among people,” confides the Japanese-born pianist, composer, and producer. “There have been many occasions when I have felt like music saved me. There is a connection between my fans and me and together in my music we are sharing harmony.” An activist by nature, Keiko (pronounced Kay-Koe, means ‘happy, celebratory child’ in Japanese) has not only used her music to speak to the world but she has lent her voice to causes championed by organizations like The United Nations World Food Programme, Be The Match Marrow Registry, and The National Donor Program and Marrow Foundation. With over a million and a half albums sold and scores of sold-out concerts across the globe, Matsui is one of the brightest stars in instrumental music. Her free spirit and creative genius have afforded her the luxury to share the stage with everyone from Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis to Hugh Masakela and Bob James. On January 25, 2011, Shanachie Entertainment will release The Road…, Keiko’s long-awaited, self-produced, and 22nd album released in the US.


Kevin Eubanks
A gifted musician and prolific composer, and winner of many honors including the BMI Classic Theme Composer Award, Kevin Eubanks is also well known as the Music Director of “The Tonight Show” Band, appearing on the show 18 years (1992 – 2010). Kevin has won over audiences with a laid back style and an affability that seems to belie the concentration and focus that have made him both a household word for TV viewers and a consummate guitarist. His most recent CD, ZEN FOOD (released November 2010 on Mack Avenue Records), debuted in the Top Five on the Billboard Jazz Chart and is Kevin’s fastest selling record ever. Kevin’s performance at the Opening Ceremony is supported by Blues Alley.


TAKE Dance
TAKE Dance is a New York City-based contemporary dance company that explores the integration of expressive and physical movement. Artistic Director Takehiro Ueyama, a native of Japan, graduated from the Juilliard School before joining the Paul Taylor Dance Company. After eight years touring with the Taylor Company, Ueyama founded TAKE Dance. Take blends eastern and western sensibilities to communicate the universal human condition – exciting athletic movement and an unusual sensitivity are combined to create distinctive work that is uniquely “TAKE.” Collaborations with contemporary artists in other creative genres are one of the motivating factors in his creative process. TAKE Dance, through its diverse movement, musical choices, subject matter, and artistic partnerships, brings a unique depth and fulfilling experience to audiences.


Cherry Duet from L’amico Fritz by Pietro Mascagni performed by Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program
Founded in 2002 by Washington National Opera’s (WNO) General Director Plácido Domingo, the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program is a leading resident-training program for artists on the verge of international careers. The program offers exceptionally promising young singers, coach/accompanists, conductors, and stage directors a course of intensive training, study, career guidance, and most importantly, performance opportunities in Washington, DC and beyond. As a cornerstone of WNO’s commitment to the future of opera, the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program is dedicated to cultivating successful careers for its Young Artists and sharing their talents with audiences around the world.


The Opening Ceremony is a free and public event with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.