Virginia Symphony Orchestra Administration

Executive
Staff

Karen Philion

President and CEO
More Info

Kristen Bennington

Executive Assistant &
Director of Special Projects
757-213-1411

Orchestra
Activities

Christina Havens

Vice President of Orchestra Activities
757-213-1421

Rodney Martell

Artistic Administrator
757-572-3757

Paula Bonds

Assistant Librarian
757-213-1407

Jim Nesbit

Orchestra Personnel Manager
757-729-2251

Carl Wilder

Principal Librarian
757-213-1408

Diversity and Community Engagement

Nikki Thorpe

Director of Diversity and Engagement

Education

Helen Martell

Director of Education
757-213-1438

Development

Lauren DiPeppe

Director of Development
757-213-1417

Patrick O’Brien

Institutional Relations Manager

Finance

Teresa Kraus

Chief Financial Officer
757-213-1437

Susan Gall

Accountant

Marketing and
Public Relations

Monica Meyer

Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer
757-213-1431

Heather Stultz

Database Manager
757-213-1413

Patron
Services

Anya Simmons

Box Office Manager
757-213-1414

Brooke Bates

Sales Manager
757-213-1423

Joe Bernard

House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator

Artistic
Staff

Eric Jacobsen

Music Director

Thomas Wilkins

Principal Guest Conductor

JoAnn Falletta

Connie and Marc Jacobson Music Director Laureate

Robert Shoup

Chorus Master and Staff Conductor

Ray Landon

Chorus Manager

Simone Paulwell

Soprano, Simone Paulwell has garnered international attention for her innate ability to capture audiences with her strikingly powerful and agile voice. A Washington D.C. native, she made her national debut as a soloist with The President's Own: United States Marine Band in 2007. Ms Paulwell has performed for audiences of all ages and cultures and has graced such prestigious stages as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall, in New York City, the Reichold Center for the Arts in the U.S. Virgin Islands, The Washington National Opera Company and The San Francisco Opera Company. Ms. Paulwell recently completed her first summer at The Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, New York. Ms. Paulwell received critical acclaim under the baton of Yuri Temirkanov and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in St. Petersburg, Russia performing Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in 2004. She also debuted as a soloist with Paul Freeman and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in Prague, Czech Republic in 2006. In 2015 Ms. Paulwell made her European debut as Serena in Porgy and Bess at the Rai Centre in Amsterdam and at Theatre Odyssud in Blagnac, France.

As a lifelong student of music, Ms. Paulwell has studied voice with Betty Ridgeway at Morgan State University, in Baltimore, MD, and Jeremy Winston at Wilberforce University, in Wilberforce, OH, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree. Her educational ambitions have afforded her success in several vocal competitions including 1st place in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition, and 1st place winner of the Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Regional Competition sponsored by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Womens' Club.

In addition to her musical accomplishments and affiliations, Ms. Paulwell is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Eric Jacobsen

Hailed by the New York Times as “an interpretive dynamo,” conductor and cellist Eric Jacobsen has built a reputation for engaging audiences with innovative and collaborative programming. He is the newly-named Music Director of the Virginia Symphony, becoming the 12th music director in the orchestra’s 100-year history, and will assume that post on July 1.

Jacobsen is Artistic Director and conductor of The Knights, and serves as the Music Director for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Jacobsen founded the adventurous orchestra The Knights with his brother, violinist Colin Jacobsen, to foster the intimacy and camaraderie of chamber music on the orchestral stage. As conductor, Jacobsen has led the “consistently inventive, infectiously engaged indie ensemble” (New York Times) at Central Park’s Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, (Le) Poisson Rouge, the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center; at major summer festivals such as Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Ojai; and on tour nationally and internationally, including at the Cologne Philharmonie, Düsseldorf Tonhalle, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Salzburg Großes Festspielhaus, Vienna Musikverein, National Gallery of Dublin, and the Dresden Musikfestspiele. Recent collaborators include violinists Itzhak Perlman and Gil Shaham, singers Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, and Nicholas Phan, and pianists Emanuel Ax and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Also in demand as a guest conductor, Jacobsen has led the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Detroit, the New World, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck and the Tonkunstler Orchestra, with whom Jacobsen appeared at Vienna’s legendary Musikverein.

In the coming season, Eric Jacobsen returns to the Detroit Symphony for the world premiere of James Lee III’s “Amer’ican,” a contemporary response to Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony which also features on the program. He also makes his La Jolla Summerfest debut, conducting three concerts featuring Summerfest Artistic Director Inon Barnaton and other artists. He appears twice with the Virginia Symphony, with guest artist Branford Marsalis and also performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and travels to Bilkent, Turkey, to appear with the orchestra there. With The Knights, he returns to the Tanglewood and Caramoor Festivals and to Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell, and appears at Wolf Trap in a new piece by Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Aoife O’Donovan. In the spring, Jacobsen and The Knights close their season with a multi-city US tour featuring pianist Aaron Diehl.

The 21-22 Orlando Philharmonic season sees the return of the “Resonate” festival, a unique blend of old and new orchestral and chamber works, performed in standard and more intimate concert formats. This season’s edition features Artist-in-Residence Stewart Goodyear performing the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven as well as orchestral repertoire. The Orlando season will close with a semi-staged production of Orff’s “Carmina burana,” with staging by Alison Moritz and choreography by John Heginbotham.

In recent seasons, Eric Jacobsen and The Knights performed a fully-staged centennial production of Bernstein’s Candide directed by Alison Moritz at the Ravinia Festival, and toured Florida with Gil Shaham. With mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital, Jacobsen and The Knights undertook a 15-concert European tour, including performances at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie and Vienna’s Musikverein. In New York, Jacobsen and The Knights performed at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall; with groundbreaking countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo at National Sawdust in music of Handel and Philip Glass; and at the Park Avenue Armory, where they helped create the music for William Kentridge’s The Head and the Load. With the Bridgeport Symphony, Jacobsen performed with his brother Colin, with whom he recorded a video of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending that was featured on London’s Classic FM and The Violin Channel.

At the close of a successful sixth season with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Jacobsen has continued to pioneer the orchestra’s programming and community engagement in new and exciting directions. During the 20-21 season, the Orlando Philharmonic was one of the few orchestras internationally that was able to perform live concerts, including with renowned pianist Yuja Wang, and they closed their season with “America, Come,” an Orlando Philharmonic commission from Aoife O’Donovan honoring the centennial of the 19th Amendment. Previous seasons included Inside the Score, in which Jacobsen led the audience on a guided exploration of Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique; appearances by multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón as composer-in-residence; and guest appearances by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens and internationally acclaimed cello virtuoso Jan Vogler.

Under Jacobsen’s baton, The Knights have developed an extensive recording collection, which includes the critically acclaimed albums Azul, with longtime collaborator Yo-Yo Ma, as well as the Prokofiev Concerto in the Grammy-nominated Gil Shaham album 1930s Violin Concertos. Their most recent release, featuring Gil Shaham in performances of the Beethoven and Brahms Violin Concertos, was met with critical acclaim upon its release in Spring 2020. The Knights issued three albums for Sony Classical including Jan Vogler and The Knights Experience: Live from New York; New Worlds, and an all-Beethoven album, as well as the “smartly programmed” (National Public Radio) A Second in Silence on the Ancalagon label. Jacobsen’s first release on Warner Classics was the ground beneath our feet. We Are The Knights, a documentary film produced by Thirteen/WNET, premiered in September 2011.

In December 2012, Jacobsen and his brother Colin were selected from among the nation’s top visual, performing, media, and literary artists to receive a prestigious United States Artists Fellowship. Eric splits his time between New York and Orlando with his wife, singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan, and their daughter.

Nathaniel StampleySTAR OF BROADWAY MUSICALS THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS, THE COLOR PURPLE, THE LION KING, and RAGTIME

Nathaniel Stampley starred as ‘Porgy’ in the Broadway National Tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. He has also starred on Broadway in CATS, The Color Purple, and The Lion King. West End (London): The Lion King. Broadway National Tours include Ragtime and Orpheus Returns. Other credits include Big Love, Fiorello! and Lost in the Stars, New York City Center's Encores!; Abyssinia, Pacific Overtures, Strike Up the Band, One Touch of Venus, Violet, Once on This Island, Big River, The Color Purple, Dreamgirls, Show Boat, Harriet: The Woman Called Moses, El Capitan, Girl Crazy, and The King and I. He has performed in The Weill Music Institute concert series, Musical Explorers and Link Up with the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall, and at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Other concerts include 92Y, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra (Naxos recording). El Paso Symphony Orchestra, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, West Michigan Symphony and Bernstein's Mass with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.

@nathanielstampley

Ali EwoldtAli Ewoldt has appeared as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Cosette in Les Miserables (Broadway, National Tour), The King and I (Broadway, Lyric Opera of Chicago), and Maria in West Side Story (National Tour, International Tour). Ali’s concert work includes: Alice Tully Hall, NY Pops at Carnegie Hall, Houston Symphony, Kaohsiung Symphony and The Boston Pops. Ali has a BA in psychology from Yale University and is a proud Filipina-American. @aliewoldt

Teri HansenSTAR OF BROADWAY MUSICALS SHOW BOAT, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, and THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE

Teri Hansen has received International recognition for her crossover abilities as a singing actress from Opera to Broadway and concert stages around the world. Miss Hansen made her Broadway debut in The Boys From Syracuse and starred in London’s West End as ‘Magnolia’ in Hal Prince’s Tony award winning production of Show Boat. Most recently she starred in the National Tours of The Sound Of Music (Elsa) and the Tony Award winning An American In Paris. Miss Hansen starred in tours of The Music Man as ‘Marian Paroo’, ‘Guenevere’ in Camelot and as ‘Magnolia’ in Show Boat. Internationally recognized as an interpreter of Weill, Miss Hansen starred as “Rose” in the film version of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. Miss Hansen also toured for years with Marvin Hamlisch, appeared at the Lincoln Center singing Rodgers and Hammerstein, as well as regular appearances there as a part of the prestigious “Meet the Artist” series. Her solo CD “Into Your Arms…Love Songs of Richard Rodger’s” is available worldwide.

@teridhalinks

Sean MacLaughlinSTAR OF BROADWAY MUSICALS THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, EVITA, THE WOMAN IN WHITE and BOMBAY DREAMS

Sean MacLaughlin recently garnered critical acclaim across the country performing the role of Juan Peron in the Broadway National Tour of Evita. He has sung with countless symphony orchestras throughout the United States and Canada singing the music of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Rodgers. Broadway credits include Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera, Elton John’s Lestat, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman In White and Bombay Dreams. Other credits include Transport Groups Productions of The Audience, Requiem for William, and Baby: in Concert; South Pacific: In Concert at Carnegie Hall; Grand Hotel, Follies and More at Signature Theatre in DC; The Sondheim Celebration: Merrily We Roll Along and Chess at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Frank Wildhorn’s Excalibur and Webber’s Sunset Boulevard. Film includes HBO’s Something the Lord Made and Walking Shadows.

@theatremutt

Nathaniel StampleySTAR OF BROADWAY MUSICALS THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS, THE COLOR PURPLE, THE LION KING, and RAGTIME

Nathaniel Stampley starred as ‘Porgy’ in the Broadway National Tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. He has also starred on Broadway in CATS, The Color Purple, and The Lion King. West End (London): The Lion King. Broadway National Tours include Ragtime and Orpheus Returns. Other credits include Big Love, Fiorello! and Lost in the Stars, New York City Center's Encores!; Abyssinia, Pacific Overtures, Strike Up the Band, One Touch of Venus, Violet, Once on This Island, Big River, The Color Purple, Dreamgirls, Show Boat, Harriet: The Woman Called Moses, El Capitan, Girl Crazy, and The King and I. He has performed in The Weill Music Institute concert series, Musical Explorers and Link Up with the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall, and at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Other concerts include 92Y, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra (Naxos recording). El Paso Symphony Orchestra, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, West Michigan Symphony and Bernstein's Mass with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.

@nathanielstampley

Nathaniel StampleySTAR OF BROADWAY MUSICALS THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS, THE COLOR PURPLE, THE LION KING, and RAGTIME

Nathaniel Stampley starred as ‘Porgy’ in the Broadway National Tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. He has also starred on Broadway in CATS, The Color Purple, and The Lion King. West End (London): The Lion King. Broadway National Tours include Ragtime and Orpheus Returns. Other credits include Big Love, Fiorello! and Lost in the Stars, New York City Center's Encores!; Abyssinia, Pacific Overtures, Strike Up the Band, One Touch of Venus, Violet, Once on This Island, Big River, The Color Purple, Dreamgirls, Show Boat, Harriet: The Woman Called Moses, El Capitan, Girl Crazy, and The King and I. He has performed in The Weill Music Institute concert series, Musical Explorers and Link Up with the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall, and at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Other concerts include 92Y, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra (Naxos recording). El Paso Symphony Orchestra, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, West Michigan Symphony and Bernstein's Mass with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.

@nathanielstampley

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.

 

Karen M. Philion

As the President & CEO of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Karen Philion brings a wealth of experience across a broad spectrum of arts and cultural assignments to her position. Karen has significant experience in strategic planning, fundraising and marketing, believes passionately in the ability of the arts to connect people, and credits her management success to a radically open and highly collaborative leadership style.

While earning her graduate degree at the University of Mississippi, Karen joined the editing team of the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, hailed by the Washington Post as an invaluable guide to southern life, culture & history. Contributing more than twenty entries, her work includes articles on subjects as diverse as the Tidewater coastal region, to musical legends Patsy Cline and Dizzy Gillespie. From Mississippi, Karen headed north where she managed the day-to-day operations of a 28-member station statewide public radio network—the Alaska Public Radio Network. Major highlights there included successful initiatives with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Karen joined the orchestra industry at the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, where she planned and implemented all marketing and fundraising activities for this statewide touring orchestra in 26 communities. She also helped create a statewide network of regional boards, an important mechanism that supported and positioned that VSO as a popular and successful attraction for residents and thousands of tourists throughout the state.

As Director of Development for the Buffalo Philharmonic, Karen was recruited as part of a new senior management team to secure and rebuild the Orchestra’s fundraising efforts by growing support for expanded programming, world-class artists, and critical stabilization initiatives – including the appointment of the orchestra’s then new music director – JoAnn Falletta. During her tenure, the BPO enjoyed three consecutive years of record-breaking fundraising, which represented more than 60% of all income. In 2011 Karen was recruited to the Virginia Symphony as VP of Development, during which time contributed income increased over three years by twenty percent.

Since being named CEO in 2015, Karen has led the VSO in a transformative long-range planning process which is transforming the organization and challenging the idea of what a 21st century orchestra can mean to our community. She has assembled a dynamic team, created innovative community partnerships, and launched new strategic initiatives to provide support and opportunity to the VSO’s musicians as they engage and enhance our community through the performance of live symphonic music.

A member of the 2017 CIVIC Leadership Class, Karen spends her spare time with her family: two daughters, Laura and Libby, and her husband Tom Philion, another arts management veteran.