Virginia Symphony Presents Annual Celebration of Dr. King

Popular Annual Event Will Be Virtual

HAMPTON ROADS, VA [January 13, 2021] – The Virginia Symphony Orchestra will pay homage to the visionary civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. via the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s YouTube Channel for 45 days beginning January 18, 2021. Entitled “Songs for a Dreamer,” it is the largest arts celebration of Dr. King’s life in Hampton Roads every year.  

Presented in collaboration with the City of Norfolk and VSO’s HARMONY Project partner churches, the annual “Songs for a Dreamer” concert will be presented virtually this year, including welcoming remarks by Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander.  In addition to the traditional invocation, delivered by Pastor Robert Lee of Collinswood Agape Baptist Church, excerpts from inspiring speeches made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be recited by Pastor Jerome Barber of Sixth Mt. Zion Baptist Temple and Pastor Geoffrey Guns of Second Calvary Baptist Church.  A string quartet will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with featured vocal soloist Gregory Gardner of Norfolk State University, George Walker’s “Lyric for Strings,” the African American hymn “He Looked Beyond My Faults,” and Adolphus Hailstork’s “Adagio for Strings.” 

The concert will feature a VSO string quartet comprised of Simon Lapointe, Seiko Syvertsen, Alexandra Takasugi, and Rebecca Gilmore Phillips.

A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Gregory Gardner has performed locally, nationally, and internationally in opera, musical theater, oratorio, and concert productions. The baritone teaches voice at Norfolk State University. He earned his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Howard University.

This year, the VSO’s Dreamer Award will be presented to Beverly Kane Baker, former principal violist of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, based on her outstanding example of the King legacy relative to areas of diversity and inclusion and furthering their impact in the orchestral arena. In 1983, Ms. Baker joined the Virginia Symphony as a section player. In 1987, she was appointed assistant principal viola and won the principal position in 1994. The Virginia Symphony made its Carnegie Hall debut in 1997, and Ms. Baker performed with her colleagues on NBC’s The Today Show. She performs regularly with the Virginia Chamber Players and was invited to perform Berlioz’ Harold in Italy with the Bismarck Mandan Symphony Orchestra in North Dakota. Beverly also performed with the Re-Collective Orchestra at Sony Studios to record the film score of Lion King under the direction of Hans Zimmer. A passionate advocate of diversity in the arts, she works with organizations including the Gateways Music Festival and the Sphinx Organization that connect, inspire, and mentor young people of color in classical music.

The “Songs for a Dreamer” concert has been presented by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the HARMONY Project and the City of Norfolk since January 2012. Since its inception in the 2005, the HARMONY Project has served as an example of how the power of music can bring all people together. 

The VSO’s Harmony Project collaboration with 10 historically black churches throughout Hampton Roads, also provides VSO musicians to perform during worship services, Family Night events, and education programs for church youth programs and schools. Current partner churches are First Baptist South Hill in Chesapeake, Sixth Mt. Zion Baptist Temple in Hampton, Agape Baptist Church in Portsmouth, East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, First Baptist Church Denbigh and Carver Memorial Presbyterian Church in Newport News, and First Baptist Church Bute Street, Second Calvary Baptist Church, Bank Street Memorial Baptist Church and Calvary Revival Church in Norfolk.

This shortened but powerful presentation, honoring Dr. King’s life and accomplishments, will be available via the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s YouTube Channel for 45 days beginning January 18, 2021.

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As the region’s most celebrated musical, educational and entrepreneurial arts organization, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra continues to challenge expectations and push the boundaries of what an American orchestra can be as it celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2021.

At the heart of the VSO’s narrative is innovation.  In 1991 the VSO made a very bold move in appointing the gifted young American conductor JoAnn Falletta as its music director. Since then, the orchestra has received national attention for its unique mission serving a home area of 1.7 million across the diverse communities of southeastern Virginia.  Through appearances at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall and commitment to adventurous programming, the VSO and its musicians have been highlighted in the media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio and BBC Worldwide News.

As the largest arts performing organization in southeastern Virginia, the VSO and VSO Chorus present more than 150 concerts and events to educate, enlighten and entertain more than 100,000 residents and visitors each year. Recent innovations include health and wellness programs, including interactive therapeutic experiences for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  As it continues to expand its vision and embrace the future, the Orchestra and its legions of fans look forward with anticipation as the VSO continues its worldwide search for its next music director.

For Immediate Release

January 13, 2021
Contact: Monica Meyer
Vice President of Marketing, Sales, and Public Relations
Phone: 757.213.1431

Twitter: @VASymphony

VSO Guest Artist: Andrew von Oeyen

Hailed worldwide for his elegant and insightful interpretations, balanced artistry and brilliant technique, Andrew von Oeyen has established himself as one of the most captivating pianists of his generation.

Since his debut at age 16 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mr. von Oeyen has extended his interpretive voice to a broad spectrum of repertoire as both a soloist and recitalist. He has collaborated with such ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Mariinsky Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, Grant Park Orchestra, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Utah Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Marseille, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto USA Orchestra, Slovenian Philharmonic and Slovak Philharmonic. As both soloist and conductor he has led concerti and orchestral works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel and Kurt Weill. On July 4, 2009, he performed at the U.S. Capitol with the National Symphony in “A Capitol Fourth,” reaching millions worldwide in the multi-award winning PBS live telecast.

‍Mr. von Oeyen has appeared in recital at Wigmore Hall and Barbican Hall in London, Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Boston’s Symphony Hall, Zürich’s Tonhalle, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, St. Petersburg’s Philharmonia, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, Royce Hall in Los Angeles, Herbst Theater in San Francisco, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Sala São Paulo, Teatro Olimpico in Rome, in Mexico City, Hanoi, Macau, and in every major concert hall of Japan and South Korea. Festival appearances include Aspen, Ravinia, Grant Park, Mainly Mozart, Saratoga, Schubertiade, Spoleto, Brevard, Grand Teton, Chautauqua and the Mariinsky’s “Stars of the White Nights.”

Mr. von Oeyen has recorded for Warner Classics since 2017. His albums under that label, including works for piano and orchestra by Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Gershwin and a disc including Debussy’s Fantaisie pour Piano et Orchestre, have been met with critical acclaim. Mr. von Oeyen has also recorded award-winning recital albums of Liszt, Debussy, and Stravinsky under the Delos label.

Mr. von Oeyen, of German and Dutch origin, was born in the U.S. He began his piano studies at age 5 and made his solo orchestral debut at age 10. An alumnus of Columbia University and graduate of The Juilliard School, where his principal teachers were Herbert Stessin and Jerome Lowenthal, he also worked with Alfred Brendel and Leon Fleisher. He won the prestigious Gilmore Young Artist Award in 1999 and also took First Prize in the Léni Fé Bland Foundation National Piano Competition in 2001. Mr. von Oeyen lives in Paris and Los Angeles.