Washington, DC

March 20 - April 16, 2017

NCBF Cherry Blossoms NCBF Cherry Blossoms

March 26, 2016


5 – 6:30 PM


Warner Theatre, 513 13th Street, NW (map)


FREE; Advance ticketing required. There will be a $5 registration fee when tickets are claimed.
Tickets are currently sold out, if last-minute spaces are available, walk-ins will be accepted at 4:45 PM on the day of the event.


All tickets have been claimed. Walk ups will be accommodated on a first come first served basis.


Kick-off the 2016 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.

To request wheelchair seating or hearing-impaired seating (require ASL interpreter), contact the National Cherry Blossom Festival ticket manager at tickets@ncbfdc.org. Wheelchair and hearing-impaired seating requests are limited to two per patron.


As a kid growing up in Kansas City, Brenna Whitaker fell in love with the music of jazz and blues singers from a long-ago era. “Ruth Brown, Peggy Lee, Cab Calloway, Etta James – those are my people,” says the L.A.-based vocalist. “I don’t even know how I ended up knowing so many of their songs and standards from back then. It’s almost like they found their way to me, like I’m from another time.” After landing her first professional theater gig at age 11, moving to New York City on her own to study with Broadway veterans at age 17, and spending her early 20s leading jazz bands back home in Missouri, Whitaker headed to L.A. and started setting up a series of residencies that eventually attracted fans like Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, and Michael Bublé and caught the attention of Verve Music Group chairman and 16-time Grammy Award-winner David Foster. The first new artist Foster has agreed to develop and produce since discovering Bublé, Whitaker has released her self-titled debut album for Verve that finds her reviving a vast American jukebox of classic songs and revealing the full force of her stunning, soulful voice.

Born in Kyoto, Japan, Ms. Tamura began studying piano at age four. She graduated from Kunitachi College of Music with a Bachelor of Arts in Voice and Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music where she earned a Master of Arts in Opera. Since 2002, Ms Tamura has embarked on an international career as the female soloist in the Three Tenors Concert with Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras at the Arena of Yokohama during the World Cup Championship. She also performed in the Summer Opera Festival at the Foro Romano in Rome and made a debut in the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor at the National Opera in Constanz, Romania. Ms. Tamura’s extensive performance credits include appearances as Juliet in Romeo et Juliet with the Hungarian State Opera; and the Hacioji City Opera, Japan; Licenza in Il Sogno di Scipione with Gotham Chamber Opera; Despina in Cosi fan tutte with Pacific Music Festival and Musetta in La Boheme; Zerlina in Don Giovanni and the title role in Manon in New York. Additionally she has made numerous appearances with various orchestras around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Summer Festival in Roma, L.A. Asian American Philharmonic Orchestra, Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Hamamatsu City Bach Orchestra, and Tokyo City Orchestra.

Gamarjobat fascinates people with their two attractions: thoroughly-plotted stage acts, and lively shows with explosive energy. The group came to be in 1999 when Ketch!, easily identified by his red mohawk, had a fateful street performer encounter with HIRO-PON, with his distinctive yellow mohawk. Their highly-acclaimed performance has been valued highly beyond language and cultural barriers; they have been invited to perform at over 200 festivals in more than 30 countries. For this, they were chosen as one of “the 100 most respected Japanese people in the world” in the Japanese-edition of Newsweek magazine. In 2014, they started the brand new project, “THE GAMARJOBAT COMPANY”. They get together with other professional stage artists to create and perform pantomime-based Silent Comedy works.

MIHO HAZAMA – Conductor of a 14-Piece Jazz Ensemble
Originally from Tokyo, Japan, New York-based jazz composer Miho Hazama began playing piano and electric organ at age 5 and started studying classical composition at age 13. In 2009, Ms. Hazama graduated from Kunitachi College of Music with a bachelor’s degree in Classical Composition. With private instruction in jazz composition from Jim McNeely and piano from Phil Markowitz, Ms. Hazama completed her master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) in Jazz Composition in 2012. A winner of the 2011 ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, Ms. Hazama participated in the Metropole Orkest Arranger’s Workshop in the Netherlands where her arrangements were conducted by Vince Mendoza and performed by the Metropole Orkest. Since 2007, Ms. Hazama has worked with Yosuke Yamashita, Vince Mendoza, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Shiro Sagisu as well as TV-Asahi “Untitled Concert,” the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Siena Wind Orchestra, Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, Yamaha Symphonic Band and the Metropole Orkest. Her arrangements have been performed not only in the US but also in Japan, Poland, England, France and the Netherlands.

The 6821 QUINTET
A quintet specially assembled for the 2016 National Cherry Blossom Festival by the Ryuji Ueno Foundation. Cleverly named to reflect the distance from Tokyo to DC, the group is comprised Mayu Kishima (violin), Tim Park (cello),  Meng Wang (viola), Mayumi Sakamoto (Piano), and Andrew Kwon (violin)  The quintet will be premiering a piece specifically composed for the National Cherry Blossom Festival by Washington Award Grand Prize Winner Michael Djupstrom.

A Tsugaru Shamisen duo comprised of Ko Takahashi and Misao Habu. They got to know each other at Aomori Japanese Folk Song Festival in August, 2011 and worked many times together afterwards. Misao Habu achieved three crowns in the All-Japan Tsugaru Shamisen contest from 2012 through 2013. Ko Takahashi won the victory in the All-Japan Tsugaru Shamisen contest held in Tokyo in April, 2001.He also appeared as a guest on the live concert which celebrates “Misao Habu’s All-Japan Tsugaru Shamisen Championship Winner. Then he composed the works to represent her feelings of “ Genesis” and he got a favorable reception to announce the song. Habu believed in his works and Takahashi trusted her proficiency in musical skills, so they formed the Tsugaru Shamisen Dois‘ HAZUKI’

Getting There:

Metro: The Warner Theatre is accessible through the Metro Center station. This can be accessed through the red, orange, silver and blue lines.

Supporting Sponsors:

Media Partners: