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We are the 21st Century Consort

21st Century Consort Members 2019-2020 SeasonFounded in 1975 as the 20th Century Consort, the group became the resident ensemble for contemporary music at the Smithsonian Institution in 1978. In its annual series, currently at historic St. Mark’s on Capitol Hill, and formerly at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Consort has presented finely balanced concerts frequently related to museum exhibitions, featuring music by living composers - often world premieres - along with 20th century classics. In 1990, the Consort was awarded the Smithsonian Institution’s Smithson Medal in honor of their long, successful association.

Under the direction of its founder and conductor, Christopher Kendall, the Consort’s artists include principal players from the National Symphony Orchestra, along with other prominent chamber musicians from Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

For over forty-four years live concerts by the 20th/21st Century Consort have been professionally recorded. In 1995 the Consort initiated a project to create a permanent archive of these recordings. These live recordings complement the Consort’s studio recordings on major labels. As of this year 44 seasons, 183 concerts, 630 compositions by 253 composers, in 774 performances were presented for permanent preservation to the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library of the University of Maryland. The physical media include over a thousand DVDs and CDs.

You can listen to any of these recordings, today, here, free, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. You can read the printed programs for each concert and experience what happened on that day and in that place. Visit our archive page to search the entire archive and listen to any concert, composition, or composer.

Who we are…


Director's Corner


H2O, the 21st Century Consort’s March 14 concert at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to be streamed at 6:00PM Saturday, March 21!

Read the printed program now for this concert.

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