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.

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