by Eric Feber

How does Chesapeake bid summer a fond farewell during the Labor Day weekend?

In a truly symphonic manner.

As summer fades, Chesapeake and Hampton Roads music lovers of all ages will gather in front of the Buddy Bagley Stage at City Park, 900 City Park Drive off Greenbrier Parkway, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1 for the Symphony Under the Stars, where they will hear the explosive, bombastic and exquisite symphonic sounds of the storied Virginia Symphony Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Aaron Breid.

But don’t worry, this won’t be a tedious, pretentious affair with men in tuxes and women in formal gowns. Come in shorts, flip-flops and T-shirts to this casual all-ages musical extravaganza.

No Mahler angst or atonal antic here, no sir. It will be tried-and-true classical warhorses everybody knows coupled with everything from Looney Tunes to the Pink Panther theme.

Breid will lead the internationally known and lauded Virginia Symphony through such familiar classical iconic compositions as Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” (“Apocalypse Now,” anyone?), Gioachino Rossini’s Overture to “The Barber of Seville” (“Rabbit of Seville,” anyone?) and “Largo al factotum,” Franz Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2,” Georges Bizet’s “Toreador’s Song” and that monumental orchestra work that defined the Allies’ resolve in World War II, Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5.”

And dipping into the jazzy pops side, the VSO will also perform Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy,” Henry Mancini’s “Pink Panther Theme,” Hans Zimmer’s “Lion King Orchestral Suite” and, for something completely different, Bill Holcombe’s “Looney Tunes Overture.” Eh, what’s opera, doc?

Speaking of opera, that’s the forte of Breid, excelling in the grand traditions of German and French opera.

Hampton Roads music mavens first got a taste of Breid when he was the assistant conductor with the Virginia Opera from 2016-2018. He is making his regional orchestral debut with the VSO, conducting the Symphony Under the Stars.

According to, the Minnesota Star Tribune dubbed him “the embodiment of classical clarity.” He’s created classical and operatic clarity with the Central City Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, the Minnesota Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Omaha Symphony and Orchestra Seattle, among others throughout the country. He is currently working on his third season with the Washington National Opera.

Besides the music and festive atmosphere, the best thing about Symphony Under the Stars is that admission and parking are free.

Bring lawn chairs and outdoor blankets, but no tents are allowed. Gates and parking open at 6 p.m. Food vendors will be on-site for the event, which is being presented by the Chesapeake Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

In addition, Arts Alive! Chesapeake will present its Wine for the Arts from 6-8 p.m. Patrons will sip the best of the grape while bidding in a silent auction and participating in raffles.

Proceeds will benefit public art events and arts education programs presented by the Chesapeake Fine Arts Commission and Arts Alive! Friends of the Arts.

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.