Virginia Symphony Orchestra

2018-2019 Full Concert Schedule

Handel’s Messiah • 12/13 – 12/15

Thursday, December 13, 2018 | Regent University, Virginia Beach | 8PM

Friday, December 14, 2018 | First Baptist Church, Newport News | 8PM

Saturday, December 15, 2018 | Harrison Opera House, Norfolk | 8PM

Join the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and VSO Chorus for the time-honored Christmas tradition of George Frideric Handel’s revered oratorio, Messiah. Get in the spirit of the season with this distinguished performance of Handel’s sacred masterpiece that presents the austere and dramatic narrative of the Messiah. From Isaiah’s prophecies to the Hallelujah Chorus, you will be brought to your feet in the Messiah performance of the season.

JoAnn Falletta , conductor
Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Robert Shoup , chorusmaster
Amy Owens, soprano
Chrystal Williams, mezzo soprano
Gene Stenger, tenor
Kevin Deas, bass baritone

 

Handel : Messiah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Concert Sponsor

Holiday Brass • 12/12-12/16

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 | Chesapeake Conference Center, Chesapeake | 7PM

Friday, December 14, 2018 | St. Bede Catholic Church, Williamsburg | 8PM

Saturday, December 15, 2018 | Regent University Chapel, Virginia Beach | 7PM

Sunday, December 16, 2018 | Vanguard Brewpub & Distillery, Hampton | 2PM

The bold sounds of the Virginia Symphony brass section ring in the holidays with a blast! Experience the festive sounds of the season in a concert filled with wit, virtuosity, and the glorious music of the holidays—featuring the VSO brass and percussion sections in an all-new program. You’ll enjoy music from a variety of styles that have made this concert a new holiday tradition!

Gonzalo Farias, conductor

James Beckel: Christmas Fanfare
Holst/Haislip: Christmas Day
de la Monnoye/Pascuzzi: Patapan
Kelly: Of Night, Light, and Brass
Pierpont/Wetherill: Jingle Bell Fantasy
Traditional/Berry: Still, Still, Still
Carmichael: Angels We Have Heard on High
Strauss/Haislip: Radetsky March
Tchaikovsky/Snedecor: Il est né
Marks/Litton: Rudolph
Traditional/Snedecor: The First Noel
Holocombe: Sing Along (Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, Frosty the Snowman)

Holiday Brass performances in Chesapeake and Regent University are free and open to the public. 

Chesapeake Holiday Brass Sponsor


Regent Holiday Brass Sponsor

Holiday Pops! • 12/20 – 12/22

Thursday, December 20, 2018 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 8PM

Friday, December 21, 2018 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 8PM

Saturday, December 22, 2018 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 8PM

Join us for the must-see holiday tradition of the season – Holiday Pops! There’s no better way to lift your spirits than with seasonal songs and traditional carols delivered in full sound and spectacle by the Virginia Symphony, the inspirational voices of Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus and special guests. Led by conductor Robert Shoup, Holiday Pops will have all the magical elements you’ve come to expect —high energy, familiar carols and lots of holiday warmth! And we’ll even throw in a surprise or two! We can’t wait to celebrate the season together!

Robert Shoup , conductor
Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Copeland Mills School of Performing Arts, Dance Magic Dancers
Virginia Children’s Chorus

Traditional/Chris Hansen: Ding Dong Merrily on High
O’Neil/Bob Philips: Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Overture
Mendelssohn/Will Todd: Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
Vaughan Williams/Greaves: Fantasia on Greensleeves
Yon: Gesu Bambino
Jessel: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
Holst/Will Todd: In the Bleak Midwinter
Torme/Newsom: Christmas Song
John Williams: Somewhere in My Memory from Home Alone
Bruce Broughton: Miracle on 34th Street Overture
John Williams: Star of Bethlehem from Home Alone
Pierpont/Gould: Jingle Bells
Styne/Charles Coznes: Let it Snow!
Traditional/Paul Carey: We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Traditional/Will Todd: God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
Anderson: Sleigh Ride
John Williams: Merry Christmas from Home Alone
James Stephenson: A Holly and Jolly Sing Along

Concert Sponsor

Jingle Bell Jam • 12/22

Saturday, December 22 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 3PM

Santa Claus is coming to town and he’s stopping by to be a part of the VSO’s ever-popular Jingle Bell Jam! Celebrate the magic of the season with an afternoon that showcases the music of the holidays performed by the best talent in Hampton Roads. You won’t want to miss this holly jolly concert! Get your tickets early– this family favorite is sure to sell out!

Pre-concert activities start at 2 p.m.

Gonzalo Farias , conductor
Copeland Mills School of Performing Arts, Dance Magic Dancers
Virginia Children’s Chorus

PB&J Series Sponsor:

Broadway A to Z … ABBA to Les Miz!™ • 1/18 & 1/19

Friday, January 18, 2019 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 8PM

Saturday, January 19, 2019 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 8PM

We’re back with the best of Broadway! Your favorite Broadway hits spanning the decades, from Jerome Kern to Comden and Green. Featuring songs from: SHOWBOAT, Les Misèrables, Guys and Dolls, The King And I, Peter Pan, Rent, West Side Story, La Cage Aux Folles, Cabaret, and The Music Man. These are the songs that you and all Broadway fans around the world want to hear sung by the current stars of Broadway!

Gonzalo Farias , conductor
Alicia Hall Moran , vocals
Nicholas Spangler, vocals

This concert is sponsored by Bank of America.
Bank of America - Sponsor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Songs of a Dreamer: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. • 1/20

Sunday, January 20, 2019 | Second Calvary Baptist Church, 3920 Corprew Avenue, Norfolk | 7:00PM

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra will pay homage to the visionary Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This concert will feature orchestral and vocal music that inspires that legacy of Dr. King. The VSO’s annual Dreamer Award will also be presented to Thomas Wilkins, Music Director of the Omaha Symphony and Norfolk native. Through the VSO’s Harmony Project Concert program, this performance is free and open to the public.

This concert is presented in partnership with the City of Norfolk.

Gonzalo Farias, conductor
Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven Symphony No. 7 • 1/25 – 1/27

Friday, January 25, 2019 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 8PM

Saturday, January 26, 2019 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 8PM

Sunday, January 27, 2019 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 2:30PM

Composed during a health retreat in the Bohemian spa town of Teplice, in today’s Czech Republic, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 is one the composer considered to be among his best works. It gained instant popularity for its second movement, Allegretto, which was encored at the premiere in which Beethoven conducted. To open our program, the VSO is joined by soloist Sirena Huang for Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, the largest orchestral work by the composer.

Thomas Wilkins , conductor
Sirena Huang , violin

Rossini: Overture to La Gazza Ladra
Mendelssohn
: Violin Concerto

Beethoven
: Symphony No. 7

Concert Sponsors
    

Beethoven Symphony No. 8 • 2/1 & 2/2

Friday, February 1, 2019 | Regent University, Virginia Beach | 8PM

Saturday, February 2, 2019 | Crosswalk Church, Williamsburg | 8PM

This program is centered around the concept of identity and the risks involved in being true to one’s own. Each composer in this program struggled with his own secrets. The concert opens with an overture to Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, in which Leonore must disguise herself as a prison guard to rescue her husband. George Corbett then takes the spotlight, performing the Concertino for English Horn by Italian composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari. Then, Copland’s Quiet City, featuring VSO principal trumpet David Vonderheide and English horn George Corbett. This piece represents a character from the Shaw play of the same name, who abandons his heritage and dreams in exchange for his material wealth and success. The program concludes with Beethoven’s cheerful Symphony No. 8, full of joy despite his onset of deafness.

Gonzalo Farias , conductor
George Corbett , English horn
David Vonderheide , trumpet

Beethoven : Leonore Overture No. 3
Wolf-Ferrari : Concertino for English Horn
Copland : Quiet City
Beethoven : Symphony No. 8

Hogwarts Hullabaloo: The Magical Music of Harry Potter • 2/9

Saturday, February 9, 2019 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 7:30PM

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra will present a special concert certain to cast a spell on audiences of all ages. Join the VSO on a journey to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Featuring magical music expertly crafted by John Williams and more, this concert is not to be missed by any witch, wizard, or muggle. Come in your finest dress robes and prepare to be spellbound as the music comes to life in the concert hall.

Come early for photos, trivia and prizes!  Doors open at 6:30PM!

Gonzalo Farias, conductor

 

Inspiring Transformations | ODU-VSO Side-by-Side • 2/21

Thursday, February 21, 2019 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 7:00PM

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Old Dominion University Symphony Orchestra are joining forces once again for an exhilarating program based on the theme of transformation. Ludwig van Beethoven’s overture for his only opera, Fidelio, underwent multiple transformations before reaching its final form; his Leonore Overture No. 3 (actually the second of four versions of this overture) exhibits much of the drama within the opera, which presents a woman who transforms her appearance to rescue her husband from prison. Les Préludes is an iconic demonstration of Franz Liszt’s signature technique of thematic transformation—the morphing of themes in different guises throughout the work. Camille Saint-Saëns, who greatly admired Liszt, incorporated thematic transformation into his entire Symphony No. 3, with its famous use of organ, played here by ODU faculty organist Dr. James Kosnik. Join us as members of the VSO help to inspire transformations among ODU’s next generation of music professionals.

Gonzalo Farias, conductor 
Paul Kim, conductor 
Virginia Symphony Orchestra 
Old Dominion University Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven: Leonore Overture No. 3
Liszt: Les Preludes
Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3, “Organ”

Grieg Piano Concerto • 3/9 & 3/10

Saturday, March 9, 2019 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 8PM

Sunday, March 10, 2019 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 2:30PM

Jeffrey Biegel returns to the VSO for one of the most-loved concertos of all time, Grieg’s Piano Concerto. This concerto is among Grieg’s earliest important works and the only concerto the composer completed. Written in just a month in the summer of 1944, Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 was intended to be “a hymn to free and happy Man, to his mighty powers, his pure and noble spirit.” This triumphant and electrifying composition has remained one of his most popular works.

JoAnn Falletta , conductor
Jeffrey Biegel , piano

Bantock : Kishmul’s Galley
Grieg : Piano Concerto
Prokofiev : Symphony No. 5

 

Concert Sponsor
BARBARA SPIGEL

Classics Reborn • 3/15 & 3/16

Friday, March 15, 2019 | Regent University, Virginia Beach | 8PM

Saturday, March 16, 2019 | Crosswalk Church, Williamsburg | 8PM

This concert is a celebration of innovation, examining works in which each composer borrows classic forms and makes them new. The concert opens with Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn – often said to be the first independent set of variations for orchestra in the history of music. The concert then shifts to Mozart’s lovely Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra, featuring VSO principal musicians Debra Wendells Cross and Barbara Chapman. The second half opens with Puccini’s dark-hued, melodic Chrysanthemums. We close with Stravinsky’s neoclassical masterpiece, Pulcinella. This suite is from a one-act ballet with original costumes and sets designed by Pablo Picasso.

JoAnn Falletta , conductor
Debra Wendells Cross , flute
Barbara Chapman , harp

Brahms : Variations on a Theme of Haydn
Mozart : Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra K. 299
Puccini : Chrysanthemums
Stravinsky : Pulcinella Suite

A Mozart Celebration • 3/21 – 3/24

Thursday, March 21, 2019 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 8PM

Saturday, March 23, 2019 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 8PM

Sunday, March 24, 2019 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 2:30PM

Guest conductor Scott Yoo, Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Mexico City Philharmonic, takes the helm of this magnificent Mozart program.  Symphony No. 39 is the first of a set of three symphonies, the last set he composed. Its opening is “so majestic that it so surprised even the coldest, most insensitive listener.” The program opens with the Overture to The Magic Flute before Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, a work that blends symphony with concerto in this small-ensemble masterpiece. With its rich harmonies and incandescent themes, the work has inspired arrangers and composers for centuries. This beautiful piece, the only surviving complete concerto for this combination of instruments, features principal musicians of the VSO.

Scott Yoo , conductor
Sherie Aguirre , oboe
Michael Byerly , clarinet
Laura Leisring , bassoon
Jacob Wilder , horn

Mozart : Overture to The Magic Flute
Mozart : Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major, K. 297b
Mozart : Symphony No. 39

Gershwin’s Rhapsody and More! • 3/28 & 3/29

Thursday, March 28, 2019 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 8PM

Friday, March 29, 2019 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 8PM

Hailed “America’s Pianist,” Kevin Cole joins the VSO to pay homage to great American jazz giant George Gershwin! Chicago Tribune raves “When Cole sits down at the piano, you would swear Gershwin himself was at work… Cole stands as the best Gershwin pianist in America today.”  Don’t miss this grand finale to an incredible POPS season featuring “Rhapsody in Blue” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”.

Gonzalo Farias , conductor
Kevin Cole, piano 

 

 

Concert Sponsor

An American in Paris • 3/31

Sunday, March 31, 2019 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 3PM

The School of Richmond Ballet joins the VSO for a dazzling display of dance! We’ll take a musical promenade through 1920’s Paris with a unique interpretation of one of George Gershwin’s favorite compositions, An American in Paris! You will be mesmerized by the stunning combination of music and dance.

Preconcert activities start at 2 p.m.

Gonzalo Farias, conductor
The School of Richmond Ballet


PB&J Series Sponsor:

Concert Sponsor

A Night at the Movies • 4/5 – 4/7

Friday, April 5, 2019 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 8PM

Saturday, April 6, 2019 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 8PM

Sunday, April 7, 2019 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 2:30PM

Join the VSO for a Night at the Movies! From the composer of the score to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto features a first for local audiences. The pipa is a traditional Chinese four-stringed instrument, and soloist Wu Man is one of the world’s leading performers, having worked with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. John Williams’ hauntingly beautiful music from Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind will be one of the many film scores featured.

Sarah Hicks , conductor
Wu Man , pipa

Prokofiev
: Suite from Lieutenant Kijé, OP. 60
Tan Dun : Pipa Concerto
Rota: Romeo and Juliet Suite
Rózsa : Hitchcock’s Spellbound
John Williams : Close Encounters

 

Mahler Symphony No. 2 • 4/18 & 4/19

Thursday, April 18, 2019 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 8PM

Friday, April 19, 2019 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 8PM

The 2018-19 Classics Season comes to a close with one of the greatest symphonies of all time. Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, among his most popular and successful works during his lifetime, demonstrates his vision of beauty in the afterlife and in resurrection. Characteristic of Mahler, the symphony is written for a huge orchestra and runs the gamut of emotions in the contemplation of life and death.

JoAnn Falletta , conductor
Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Robert Shoup , chorus master

Mahler : Symphony No. 2

The Music of Star Wars • 5/4

Saturday, May 4, 2019 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 7:30PM

Back by popular demand, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra will perform music from the iconic film franchise Star Wars. Experience the entire saga through the films’ scores written by the legendary John Williams, including music from Rogue One and the recently released Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

John Williams is a fifty-time Oscar nominee for his music, and is well-known for his vast musical film credits spanning from Jaws to E.T. and Harry Potter. His score to George Lucas’s two Star Wars trilogies are widely celebrated.  Williams’s Star Wars score stands out especially among the strong showing of science-fiction cinema in 1977, the year Star Wars premiere. NPR notes that “[Williams’s] mastery of melody and deftness of tone make the Star Wars scores a signal achievement in the history of cinema.”

Gonzalo Farias, conductor

Princesses and Pirates • 5/12

Sunday, May 12, 2019 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 3PM

Ahoy Mateys!  Join the Virginia Symphony Orchestra on a magical journey of orchestral treasures perfect for Princesses and Pirates!  This musical adventure awaits young royalty and mariners ready to discover all the excitement of the symphony! Sing along to well- known songs and movie scores by Disney and other favorites.  Come dressed in your best princess or pirate costume and escape to a magical world!

Pre-concert activities start at 2 p.m.

Gonzalo Farias , conductor

PB&J Series Sponsor:

Joanne Falletta, Music Director, Conductor - Virginia Symphony OrchestraJoAnn Falletta

Music Director

JoAnn Falletta is internationally celebrated as a vibrant ambassador for music, an inspiring artistic leader, and a champion of American symphonic music. An effervescent and exuberant figure on the podium, she has been praised by The Washington Post as having “Toscanini’s tight control over ensemble, Walter’s affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski’s gutsy showmanship, and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein.” Acclaimed by The New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation”, she serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and music advisor to the Hawaii Symphony.

Ms. Falletta is invited to guest conduct many of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Recent guest conducting highlights include debuts in Belgrade, Gothenburg, Lima, Bogotá, Helsingborg, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a European tour with the Stuttgart Orchestra, return engagements with the Warsaw, Detroit, Phoenix, and Krakow Symphony Orchestras and a 13 city US tour with the Irish Chamber Orchestra with James Galway.

She has guest conducted over a hundred orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Her North America guest conducting appearances have included the orchestras of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Seattle, San Diego, Montreal, Toronto and the National Symphony and international appearances have included the London Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Korean Broadcast Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, China National Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester BBC Philharmonic, Scottish BBC orchestra, Orchestra National de Lyon and Mannheim Orchestra among others. Ms. Falletta’s summer activities have taken her to numerous music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, the Hollywood Bowl, Wolf Trap, Mann Center, Meadow Brook, OK Mozart Festival, Grand Teton, Eastern, Peninsula and Brevard Festival.

Falletta is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards including the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award, the coveted Stokowski Competition, and the Toscanini, Ditson and Bruno Walter Awards for conducting, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra League’s prestigious John S. Edwards Award. She is an ardent champion of music of our time, introducing over 500 works by American composers, including more than 110 world premieres. Hailing her as a “leading force for the music of our time”, she has been honored with twelve ASCAP awards. Ms. Falletta served as a Member of the National Council on the Arts during both the George W Bush and Obama administrations.

Under Falletta’s direction, the VSO has risen to celebrated artistic heights. The VSO, which made critically acclaimed debuts at the Kennedy Center and New York’s Carnegie Hall under Falletta and entered into their first multinational recording agreement with Naxos, performs classics, pops and family concert series in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News and Williamsburg.

In addition to her current posts with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony, Brevard Music Center and Hawaii Symphony, Ms. Falletta has held the positions of principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Phoenix Symphony, music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Falletta received her undergraduate degree from the Mannes College of Music in New York and her master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School.

JoAnn Falletta on NPR | The Innovative Mosaic Of American Symphonies

Bob Shoup, Chorusmaster, Staff Conductor - Virginia Symphony OrchestraRobert Shoup

Chorusmaster/Staff Conductor

This is Robert Shoup’s 20th season as Chorus Master and Staff Conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. His national and international conducting credits include the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, ensembles from the Prague Radio Orchestra and Czech State Philharmonic, and numerous choral ensembles. He served as the Music Director of the all professional Virginia Chorale from 1997-2007.

Robert Shoup’s choruses have been described by critics as “totally enthralling” and “completely mesmerizing,” and he has spearheaded numerous collaborations that have included music, dance and visual arts. His ensembles have been featured on numerous recordings, including two discs with the VSO for the Naxos label (Hailstork and Stravinsky). He served as Assistant Music Director for the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Arts Festival’s highly acclaimed production of the Leonard Bernstein “Mass” and coordinated the collaborating choruses for 2012 performances and recording of Mahler’s Eighth symphony known as the “Symphony of a Thousand.”

His achievements include the creation and coordination of “American Voices”, a two-week-long festival of American choral music with the Virginia Chorale and the VSO. The project earned one of seven major National Endowment for the Arts “American Masterpieces: Choral Music” grants. Shoup also prepared a nationally recruited choir of over 1,800 singers for the 400th Anniversary celebration of Jamestown.

Mr. Shoup is also a singer whom the Pittsburgh Post Gazette called Shoup “an especially fine tenor.” His vocal performances have included the role of John Adams in the world premiere performance of Adolphus Hailstork’s Crispus Attucks, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Fort Collins (CO) Symphony. Mr. Shoup is the founding Artistic Director of CREATOrS, Inc., for which he is composing the score for a major theatrical project related to a true story in sub-Saharan Africa.

Shoup holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education (voice) from Duquesne University, and a Master’s degree in Conducting in the studio of Grammy-winning conductor Robert Page at Carnegie Mellon University.

 

George Frideric Handel was born February 23, 1685, Halle, Brandenburg (Germany) as the son of a prolific barber-surgeon. Handel longed to study music, but his father objected, doubting that music would be a realistic source of income. In fact, his father would not even permit him to own a musical instrument. His mother, however, was supportive, and she encouraged him to develop his musical talent. With her cooperation, Handel took to practicing on the sly. When Handel was still a young boy, he had the opportunity to play the organ for the duke’s court in Weissenfels. It was there that Handel met composer and organist Frideric Wilhelm Zachow. Zachow was impressed with Handel’s potential and invited Handel to become his pupil. He showed a marked gift for music and became a pupil in Halle of the composer Friedrich W. Zachow, learning the principles of keyboard performance and composition from him.

Despite his dedication to his music, at his father’s insistence, Handel initially agreed to study law at the University of Halle. Not surprisingly, he did not remain enrolled for long. His passion for music would not be suppressed. In 1703, when Handel was 18 years old, he decided to commit himself completely to music, accepting a violinist’s position at the Hamburg Opera’s Goose Market Theater. He also took over some of the duties of harpsichordist, and early in 1705 he presided over the premiere in Hamburg of his first opera, Almira. Handel spent the years 1706–10 traveling in Italy, where he met many of the greatest Italian musicians of the day, including Arcangelo Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti and his son Domenico. Handel’s years in Italy greatly influenced the development of his musical style. His fame had spread throughout Italy, and his mastery of the Italian opera style now made him an international figure.

This German-born English composer of the late Baroque era noted particularly for his operas, oratorios, and instrumental compositions. He wrote the most famous of all oratorios, Messiah (1741), and is also known for such occasional pieces as Water Music (1717) and Music for the Royal Fireworks (1749). He composed many works in Italy, including two operas, numerous Italian solo cantatas (vocal compositions), Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno (1707) and another oratorio, the serenata Aci, Galatea e Polifemo (1708), and some Roman Catholic church music.

George Frideric Handel died April 14 1759 in London, England as one of the Baroque era's greatest composers, led a passionate, eventful and occasionally tragic life.

VSO Performances
The Virginia Symphony will perform Handel’s Messiah in the Classics season during a performance of the same name, and the Regent University Classics season during Hallelujah.

Robert Shoup, chorus master

This is Robert Shoup’s 22nd season as Chorus Master and Staff Conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.  His national and international conducting credits include the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, ensembles from the Prague Radio Orchestra and Czech State Philharmonic, and numerous choral ensembles. He served as the Music Director of the all-professional Virginia Chorale from 1997-2007.

Critics have described Shoup’s choruses as “totally enthralling” and “completely mesmerizing,” and he has spearheaded numerous collaborations that have included music, dance and visual arts. His ensembles have been featured on numerous recordings, including two discs with the VSO for the Naxos label (Hailstork and Stravinsky).

He served as Assistant Music Director for the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Arts Festival’s highly acclaimed production of the Leonard Bernstein “Mass” and coordinated the collaborating choruses for 2012 performances and recording of Mahler’s Eighth symphony known as the “Symphony of a Thousand.”  His achievements include the creation and coordination of “American Voices”, a two-week-long festival of American choral music with the Virginia Chorale and the VSO. The project earned one of seven major National Endowment for the Arts “American Masterpieces: Choral Music” grants. Shoup also prepared a nationally recruited choir of over 1,800 singers for the 400th Anniversary celebration of Jamestown.

Shoup is also a singer whom the Pittsburgh Post Gazette called “an especially fine tenor.” His vocal performances have included the role of John Adams in the world premiere performance of Adolphus Hailstork’s Crispus Attucks, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Fort Collins (CO) Symphony.

Shoup also serves as the Director of Music Ministry at Freemason Street Baptist Church where he continues to lead a vibrant vocal music program.  He has been instrumental in the creation of “The Hymnal of Freemason Street Baptist Church,” published Fall 2016. He is also the architect of a new musical outreach program – The Norfolk Street Choir – that will provide homeless individuals an opportunity to participate in music in a performing choir.

He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education (voice) from Duquesne University, and a Master’s degree in Conducting from Carnegie Mellon University where he studied with Grammy Award-winning conductor Robert Page.

An engaging orchestral conductor, award-winning pianist and passionate educator, Gonzalo Farias, has been recently appointed Assistant Conductor of the Virginia Symphony. Under the guidance of JoAnn Falleta, Mr. Farias’ ambition is to establish music-making as a way of rethinking our place in society by cultivating respect, trust, and cooperation among all people in the community.

He is the Associate Conductor of the Occasional Symphony in Baltimore and was the recipient of the prestigious Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conducting Fellowship in 2016 and 2017. Mentored by Marin Alsop, he assisted conductors Robert Spano, Bernard Labadie, Markus Stenz, Christoph König, Johannes Debus, Lahav Shani, among others; he has worked with instrumentalists like Hélène Grimaud, Vadim Gluzman, Johannes Moser, André Watts, and composers Christopher Theofinidis, Anna Clyne, Jonathan Leshnoff, Christopher Rouse, among many others.

As Music Director of the Joliet Symphony Orchestra Farias transformed the city of Joliet embracing the Hispanic residents of the greater Chicago area with pre-concert lectures, free tickets, Latin-based repertoire, and a unique side-by-side Spanish/English narration of Bizet’s Carmen.

During the summer, Mr. Farias has worked closely with Jaap Van Zweden and Johannes Schlaefli in the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland as well as with Neeme and Paavo Järvi at the Pärnu Music Festival. In the United States, he was the recipient of the prestigious Bruno Walter Conducting Scholarship twice at the Cabrillo Music Festival and named “Emergent Conductor” by Victor Yampolsky at the Peninsula Music Festival. He attended also the Pierre Monteux Festival where he received the Bernard Osher Scholar Prize.

Out of 566 applicants and 78 countries, he was recently chosen one of 24 finalists in the prestigious 2018 Malko Conducting Competition with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Hailed by the Gramophone magazine critics, Mr. Farias offered one the “most fluent, honest, open hearted and pointed performances.”. He has conducting experience with orchestras including Charlotte Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Zagreb Philharmonic, National Symphony of Chile, among others.

Mr. Farias was born in Santiago de Chile, where he began his piano studies at age five. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the P.C. University of Chile, and then continued his graduate studies at the New England Conservatory as a full-scholarship student of Wha-Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman. He has won first prize at the Claudio Arrau International Piano Competition and prizes at the Maria Canals and Luis Sigall Piano Competitions. As a conductor, Mr. Farias attended the University of Illinois working with Donald Schleicher and the Peabody Conservatory with Marin Alsop.

Besides having a fond love for piano, chamber, and contemporary music, Mr. Farias is passionate reader of second-order cybernetics as a way to help understand how complex social systems organize, coordinate and interconnect with one another. This includes the interdependent and recursive nature of musical experiences, in which performers and audiences alike interact and respond to each other. In addition to that, he has a warm affection for Zen Buddhism, which he has practiced for many years.

An engaging orchestral conductor, award-winning pianist and passionate educator, Gonzalo Farias, has been recently appointed Assistant Conductor of the Virginia Symphony. Under the guidance of JoAnn Falleta, Mr. Farias’ ambition is to establish music-making as a way of rethinking our place in society by cultivating respect, trust, and cooperation among all people in the community.

He is the Associate Conductor of the Occasional Symphony in Baltimore and was the recipient of the prestigious Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conducting Fellowship in 2016 and 2017. Mentored by Marin Alsop, he assisted conductors Robert Spano, Bernard Labadie, Markus Stenz, Christoph König, Johannes Debus, Lahav Shani, among others; he has worked with instrumentalists like Hélène Grimaud, Vadim Gluzman, Johannes Moser, André Watts, and composers Christopher Theofinidis, Anna Clyne, Jonathan Leshnoff, Christopher Rouse, among many others.

As Music Director of the Joliet Symphony Orchestra Farias transformed the city of Joliet embracing the Hispanic residents of the greater Chicago area with pre-concert lectures, free tickets, Latin-based repertoire, and a unique side-by-side Spanish/English narration of Bizet’s Carmen.

During the summer, Mr. Farias has worked closely with Jaap Van Zweden and Johannes Schlaefli in the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland as well as with Neeme and Paavo Järvi at the Pärnu Music Festival. In the United States, he was the recipient of the prestigious Bruno Walter Conducting Scholarship twice at the Cabrillo Music Festival and named “Emergent Conductor” by Victor Yampolsky at the Peninsula Music Festival. He attended also the Pierre Monteux Festival where he received the Bernard Osher Scholar Prize.

Out of 566 applicants and 78 countries, he was recently chosen one of 24 finalists in the prestigious 2018 Malko Conducting Competition with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Hailed by the Gramophone magazine critics, Mr. Farias offered one the “most fluent, honest, open hearted and pointed performances.”. He has conducting experience with orchestras including Charlotte Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Zagreb Philharmonic, National Symphony of Chile, among others.

Mr. Farias was born in Santiago de Chile, where he began his piano studies at age five. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the P.C. University of Chile, and then continued his graduate studies at the New England Conservatory as a full-scholarship student of Wha-Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman. He has won first prize at the Claudio Arrau International Piano Competition and prizes at the Maria Canals and Luis Sigall Piano Competitions. As a conductor, Mr. Farias attended the University of Illinois working with Donald Schleicher and the Peabody Conservatory with Marin Alsop.

Besides having a fond love for piano, chamber, and contemporary music, Mr. Farias is passionate reader of second-order cybernetics as a way to help understand how complex social systems organize, coordinate and interconnect with one another. This includes the interdependent and recursive nature of musical experiences, in which performers and audiences alike interact and respond to each other. In addition to that, he has a warm affection for Zen Buddhism, which he has practiced for many years.

Alicia Hall Moran, mezzo-soprano

Alicia Hall Moran, mezzo-soprano, is a multi-dimensional artist performing and composing between the genres of Opera, Art, Theater, and Jazz. Ms. Moran made her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning revival The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, starring as Bess on the celebrated 20-city American tour. "Moran finds the truth of the character in her magnificent voice," Los Angeles Times.

A unique vocalist performing across the fine arts and in her own contemporary work, Ms. Moran's creativity has been nurtured by, and tapped by celebrated artists including Carrie Mae Weems, Adam Pendleton, Joan Jonas, Ragnar Kjartansson, Simone Leigh, Liz Magic Laser, curator Okwui Enwezor, and choreographer Bill T. Jones, musicians like Bill Frisell, Charles Lloyd, and the band Harriet Tubman, diverse writers from Simon Schama to Carl Hancock Rux, as well as institutions at the forefront of art and ideas worldwide.

Ms. Moran's artist residencies include Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, MASSMoCA, and National Sawdust center for original music. She's been commissioned by ArtPublic/Miami Art Basel, Museum of Modern Art, The Kitchen, Histories Remixed/Art Institute Chicago, and Prototype Festival: HERE Performing Arts/Beth Morrison Projects, steadily rewriting a template for the classical-pop hybrid singer, with quiet yet critically-acclaimed works such as HEAVY BLUE, her first album, the motown project, The Five Fans, Breaking Ice: The Battle of the Carmens, and Black Wall Street, a personal historical take on the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 which premiered at River To River Festival after developing at National Sawdust and The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/Women In Jazz--institutions dedicated to keeping creativity and risk-taking alive at the critical level Ms. Moran inhabits.

In partnership with husband and collaborator Jason Moran, she was awarded a 2017 Art of Change fellowship by the Ford Foundation and has generated work for the Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennial, Walker Art Center, and Philadelphia Museum of Art, among many others.

Ms. Moran's transcendent vocal performances travel from the jazz club (Village Vanguard, The Stone, Jazz@Lincoln Center, Highline Ballroom, San Francisco Jazz, Kennedy Center, etc.; to solo turns with symphony orchestra--including National Symphony Orchestra Pops, Chicago Philharmonic, Austin Symphony, 1B1 Orchestra/Norway, Roanoke Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic; to the opera stage to translations on theatrical stages and film. Her second album, HERE TODAY, was released December 21, 2017.

Thomas Wilkins, conductor

Norfolk, VA native Thomas Wilkins is music director of the Omaha Symphony, a position he has held since 2005. He will become the symphony's longest-serving music director with the recent extension of his contract through the symphony's 2020-2021 centennial season, whereupon he will become Music Director Emeritus.

Thomas Wilkins is also principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and holds the Germeshausen Family and Youth Concert Conductor chair with the Boston Symphony.  Past positions have included resident conductor of the Detroit Symphony and Florida Orchestra (Tampa Bay), and associate conductor of the Richmond (VA) Symphony. He also has served on the music faculties of North Park University (Chicago), the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Devoted to promoting a life-long enthusiasm for music, Thomas Wilkins brings energy and commitment to audiences of all ages. He is hailed as a master at communicating and connecting with audiences.  Following his highly successful first season with the Boston Symphony, the Boston Globe named him among the “Best People and Ideas of 2011.”  In 2014, Wilkins received the prestigious “Outstanding Artist” award at the Nebraska Governor’s Arts Awards, for his significant contribution to music in the state.

During his conducting career, he has led orchestras throughout the United States, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra—both of which he will return to conduct in the 2016/2017 season.  Additionally, he has conducted the New York Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the Utah Symphony, at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., to name a few.

His commitment to community has been demonstrated by his participation on several boards of directors, including the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Charles Drew Health Center (Omaha), the Center Against Spouse Abuse in Tampa Bay, and the Museum of Fine Arts as well as the Academy Preparatory Center, both in St. Petersburg, FL.  Currently he serves as chairman of the board for the Raymond James Charitable Endowment Fund and as national ambassador for the non-profit World Pediatric Project headquartered in Richmond, VA, which provides children throughout Central America and the Caribbean with critical surgical and diagnostic care.

Thomas Wilkins is a graduate of the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.  He resides with his wife, Sheri-Lee, in Omaha. They are the proud parents of twin daughters, Erica and Nicole.

Sirena Huang, violin

Praised by The Baltimore Sun for her “impeccable technique…deeply expressive phrasing…and poetic weight," Sirena Huang is one of her generation’s most celebrated violinists. She brings not only technical brilliance and powerful artistry to the stage, but also a profound sense of connection to her audience.

Sirena has been the recipient of numerous accolades and awards. Most recently, in February of 2017, Sirena was awarded First Prize at the Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition and in March, she was awarded the winner of the New York Concert Artist. In 2009, she won First Prize Gold Medalist of the 6th International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians. She won First Prize and the Audience Award at the Cooper International Competition in 2011. That same year, she was also named the first Artist-in-Residence of Hartford Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, she was awarded the Hannloser Prize for Violin at the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland. She is also a top prize winner at Singapore International Violin Competition as well as the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition.

Sirena made her solo debut with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra in 2004 at the age of nine, and has performed in seventeen countries across three continents. She has been featured as a soloist with more than fifty prestigious ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Russian Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and the Staatskapelle Weimar in Germany. She has appeared as a guest artist at the Verbier Music Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, Ravinia Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Sarasota Arts Series, Albuquerque Chamber Music Festival, “The Great Music for a Great City” series in New York City, and many others.

Motivated by a deep wish to inspire peace and harmony with her music, Sirena has performed before world leaders, thinkers and humanitarians, including President Obama and Elie Wiesel. At age eleven, she gave a TED talk that garnered more than 2.5 million views. In 2006, she received the honor of playing for His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and thirty Nobel Prize Laureates at the World Peace Conference held in Petra. In 2007, under the invitation of former Czech Republic President Havel, she played in the Opening Ceremony of the “Forum 2000 World Conference” in Prague. In 2008, she was invited to perform during the ceremony in which the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity presented its Humanitarian Award to President Sarkozy of France.

In addition to her TED Talk in 2006, Huang has been featured on numerous radio and television broadcasts, including WQXR’s McGraw-Hill Young Artists Showcase and NPR’s “From the Top" as well as several interviews with WNPR, CNBC, WTNH, WTIC, WB20 and Beethoven Radio.

Photo credit: © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2017

Felix Mendelssohn was born February 3, 1809, Hamburg, Germany. Felix was born of Jewish parents, Abraham and Lea Salomon Mendelssohn, from whom he took his first piano lessons. In 1811, during the French occupation of Hamburg, the family had moved to Berlin, where Mendelssohn studied the piano with Ludwig Berger and composition with Carl Friedrich Zelter, who, as a composer and teacher, exerted an enormous influence on his development. Other teachers gave the Mendelssohn children lessons in literature and landscape painting, with the result that at an early age Mendelssohn’s mind was widely cultivated. He traveled with his sister to Paris, where he took further piano lessons and where he appears to have become acquainted with the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

In 1821 Mendelssohn was taken to Weimar to meet J.W. von Goethe, for whom he played works of J.S. Bach and Mozart and to whom he dedicated his Piano Quartet No. 3. in B Minor (1825). A remarkable friendship developed between the aging poet and the 12-year-old musician. In Paris in 1825 Luigi Cherubini discerned Mendelssohn’s outstanding gifts. The next year he reached his full stature as a composer with the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The atmospheric effects and the fresh lyrical melodies in this work revealed the mind of an original composer, while the animated orchestration looked forward to the orchestral manner of Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. In his music Mendelssohn largely observed Classical models and practices while initiating key aspects of Romanticism—the artistic movement that exalted feeling and the imagination above rigid forms and traditions.

Mendelssohn was an extremely precocious musical composer. He wrote numerous compositions during his boyhood, among them 5 operas, 11 symphonies for string orchestra, concerti, sonatas, and fugues. His Wedding March is heard as brides walk down the aisle all over the world. Among his most famous works are Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1826), Italian Symphony (1833), a violin concerto (1844), two piano concerti (1831, 1837), the oratorio Elijah (1846), and several pieces of chamber music. He was a grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn.

Mendelssohn died November 4, 1847, Leipzig, Germany, a German composer, pianist, musical conductor, and teacher, one of the most-celebrated figures of the early Romantic period.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born December 1770, as the eldest surviving child of Johann and Maria Magdalena van Beethoven. Both his father and grandfather were singers, and his brother had success with the piano. Having observed in his eldest son the signs of a child talent, Johann tried to make Ludwig a child prodigy like his brother, but did not succeed. It was not until his adolescence that Beethoven began to attract mild attention.

Other than his father, Ludwig Van Beethoven has several other teachers that included Gilles Van Den Eeden who worked at the court as an organist, Tobias Friedrich Pfeiffer who was a good friend to the family and taught Ludwig all about the keyboard, and Franz Rovantini who was a relative that instructed Ludwig on how to play the violin and the viola. All these teachers did well in giving his good ground to start his musical journey as a young talented kid. Other than them, he also had training by some of the best musicians in that time. He was a ground-breaker, in all senses. He oversaw the transition of music from the Classical style, full of poise and balance, to the Romantic style, characterised by emotion and impact.

Widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived, Ludwig van Beethoven dominates a period of musical history as no one else before or since. Rooted in the Classical traditions of Joseph Haydn and Mozart, his art reaches out to encompass the new spirit of humanism and incipient nationalism.

Beethoven died March 26, 1827 in Austria. This German composer, was the predominant musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras who changed music forever. He reinvented the symphony, reshaped string quartets, and redefined piano sonatas.

VSO Performances
The Virginia Symphony will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in the Classics season during a performance of the same name, and Leonore Overture No. 3 and Symphony No. 8 in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics season during Beethoven Symphony No. 8.

An engaging orchestral conductor, award-winning pianist and passionate educator, Gonzalo Farias, has been recently appointed Assistant Conductor of the Virginia Symphony. Under the guidance of JoAnn Falleta, Mr. Farias’ ambition is to establish music-making as a way of rethinking our place in society by cultivating respect, trust, and cooperation among all people in the community.

He is the Associate Conductor of the Occasional Symphony in Baltimore and was the recipient of the prestigious Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conducting Fellowship in 2016 and 2017. Mentored by Marin Alsop, he assisted conductors Robert Spano, Bernard Labadie, Markus Stenz, Christoph König, Johannes Debus, Lahav Shani, among others; he has worked with instrumentalists like Hélène Grimaud, Vadim Gluzman, Johannes Moser, André Watts, and composers Christopher Theofinidis, Anna Clyne, Jonathan Leshnoff, Christopher Rouse, among many others.

As Music Director of the Joliet Symphony Orchestra Farias transformed the city of Joliet embracing the Hispanic residents of the greater Chicago area with pre-concert lectures, free tickets, Latin-based repertoire, and a unique side-by-side Spanish/English narration of Bizet’s Carmen.

During the summer, Mr. Farias has worked closely with Jaap Van Zweden and Johannes Schlaefli in the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland as well as with Neeme and Paavo Järvi at the Pärnu Music Festival. In the United States, he was the recipient of the prestigious Bruno Walter Conducting Scholarship twice at the Cabrillo Music Festival and named “Emergent Conductor” by Victor Yampolsky at the Peninsula Music Festival. He attended also the Pierre Monteux Festival where he received the Bernard Osher Scholar Prize.

Out of 566 applicants and 78 countries, he was recently chosen one of 24 finalists in the prestigious 2018 Malko Conducting Competition with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Hailed by the Gramophone magazine critics, Mr. Farias offered one the “most fluent, honest, open hearted and pointed performances.”. He has conducting experience with orchestras including Charlotte Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Zagreb Philharmonic, National Symphony of Chile, among others.

Mr. Farias was born in Santiago de Chile, where he began his piano studies at age five. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the P.C. University of Chile, and then continued his graduate studies at the New England Conservatory as a full-scholarship student of Wha-Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman. He has won first prize at the Claudio Arrau International Piano Competition and prizes at the Maria Canals and Luis Sigall Piano Competitions. As a conductor, Mr. Farias attended the University of Illinois working with Donald Schleicher and the Peabody Conservatory with Marin Alsop.

Besides having a fond love for piano, chamber, and contemporary music, Mr. Farias is passionate reader of second-order cybernetics as a way to help understand how complex social systems organize, coordinate and interconnect with one another. This includes the interdependent and recursive nature of musical experiences, in which performers and audiences alike interact and respond to each other. In addition to that, he has a warm affection for Zen Buddhism, which he has practiced for many years.

George Corbett, English horn

George Corbett traverses the eastern United States and beyond to meet the demands for his services as oboist, English hornist and clinician. As English hornist and oboist, Mr. Corbett debuted with the Virginia Symphony, under the baton of JoAnn Falletta, in the fall of 1999 and currently maintains this position.

Previously, he has held positions as principal oboist with Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and Riverside Symphonia in addition to being English hornist with the Harrisburg Symphony. Mr. Corbett’s career has taken him abroad to Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Japan and most recently the Dominican Republic, where he represented the Virginia Symphony in the international ensemble in residence at the Santo Domingo Music Festival under the baton of Phillippe Entremont. Included amongst the ensembles that he has recorded with are the Virginia Symphony, Santo Domingo Music Festival and Eastman Wind Ensemble.

In addition to being a symphonic musician, Mr. Corbett is also an active soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. In concert with keyboardist Tom Marshall, the Washington Post heralds their performance as a model of elegant restraint and level headed shaping. Solo performances with Concerto Soloists include Mozart’s Symphonia Concertante for Winds, J. S. Bach’s Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin, Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Oboes in d minor, and the world premiere of Arthur Cunningham’s Adagio for Oboe and Strings. With Riverside Symphonia he was a featured soloist for Franciax’s L’horloge de flore and Marcello’s Oboe Concerto in c minor. The Virginia Symphony presented him to perform three selections: Debussy’s Rhapsodie and Donizetti’s Concertino for English Horn as well as the recent world premier of Kenneth Fuch’s Eventide for English Horn, Strings and Percussion. His playing has been highlighted by the Virginia Gazette as “marked (with) expression and feeling, superbly displaying his rich tone, musicianship, virtuoso skills and sensitivity.”

A graduate of Eastman School of Music New England Conservatory, Mr. Corbett has been on faculties of notable schools such as Lehigh University (Pennsylvania), Moravian College and Music Institute (Pennsylvania), and has appeared during the summers at Kinhaven Music School (Vermont), Summertrios (New York), Music at Gretna (Pennsylvania) and the American Institute of Musical Studies (Austria). He began playing oboe in the 8th grade under the instruction of Judith Famous, sitting next to her in the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sheldon. Amongst his instructors were James Ostryniec, Peggy Pearson, John Mack, Richard Kilmer, Al Genovese, Jonathan Blumenfeld and Keith Underwood, to name a few.

Intensive studies in yoga and breathwork have led Mr. Corbett to teach workshops for professional and amateur performers alike in developing a higher level of body awareness, especially of the breathing mechanism, for performance enhancement and injury prevention. During the summers he hosts OBOE HOLIDAY, a camp for young oboists in teaching all aspects of oboe performance. He currently resides in Norfolk, Virginia.

 

David Vonderheide, trumpet

A native of Madison, Indiana, David Vonderheide began trumpet studies at the age of twelve. After studying with John Rommel, former Principal Trumpet with the Louisville Orchestra and current Indiana University professor of trumpet in Louisville, KY, he was admitted to Northwestern University in the prestigious studio of Vincent Chicowicz, former Second Trumpet of the Chicago Symphony. It was there that he received his Bachelor of Music in 1996.

David joined the Virginia Symphony in 1998 as Second Trumpet, a position he held until 2009 when he stepped into the role of Principal Trumpet. As principal he can be heard in the VSO’s most recent recordings, The Music of Adolphus Hailstork, and on Mahler’s Eighth Symphony on the Naxos label. With the VSO, he has been featured several times as a soloist, including a performance of Haydn Trumpet Concerto during the 2012-2013 season.

As a teacher, he has been on the faculties of Christopher Newport University and The College of William and Mary. At W&M he has had occasion to appear as a faculty guest soloist with several ensembles. In 2012 he performed the world premier performance of Brian Hulse’s Margins, Afterwards, a piece for solo trumpet and chorus. This work was re-imagined as a piece for trumpet, organ and percussion which David recorded in 2013. Along with another Hulse composition to be recorded in the spring of 2014, these works will be featured on a cd for national release. He is also scheduled to be the featured soloist on the Wind Ensemble’s tour of China with a preceding performance in the Kennedy Center in the spring of 2015.

In 2012, he won the job of Interim Principal Trumpet of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for the 2012-2013 season. While in the ASO, David had a prominent role in many concerts, and received consistently favorable reviews, including their performance in Carnegie Hall, October 2012, where David was mentioned by name in a positive review for his many solos in Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast. While in Atlanta, David took part in two exciting recording projects. He performed on the ASO’s latest CD featuring the music of Sibelius, and recorded commercial music for Coca-Cola.

Recently, David has been asked to contribute to a series of books about the teaching philosophy of his teacher Vincent Chicowicz. As one of his prominent former students, David has written segments for the books and recorded material for a companion CD recording.

Proven to be an in-demand player, David has been a candidate for several Orchestral Principal chairs, He has also played as a substitute musician in some of the country’s best orchestras and has performed in festivals in the US, Asia and Europe.

He currently resides in Portsmouth, Va. with his wife, Virginia Symphony violinist Elizabeth Vonderheide.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born December 1770, as the eldest surviving child of Johann and Maria Magdalena van Beethoven. Both his father and grandfather were singers, and his brother had success with the piano. Having observed in his eldest son the signs of a child talent, Johann tried to make Ludwig a child prodigy like his brother, but did not succeed. It was not until his adolescence that Beethoven began to attract mild attention.

Other than his father, Ludwig Van Beethoven has several other teachers that included Gilles Van Den Eeden who worked at the court as an organist, Tobias Friedrich Pfeiffer who was a good friend to the family and taught Ludwig all about the keyboard, and Franz Rovantini who was a relative that instructed Ludwig on how to play the violin and the viola. All these teachers did well in giving his good ground to start his musical journey as a young talented kid. Other than them, he also had training by some of the best musicians in that time. He was a ground-breaker, in all senses. He oversaw the transition of music from the Classical style, full of poise and balance, to the Romantic style, characterised by emotion and impact.

Widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived, Ludwig van Beethoven dominates a period of musical history as no one else before or since. Rooted in the Classical traditions of Joseph Haydn and Mozart, his art reaches out to encompass the new spirit of humanism and incipient nationalism.

Beethoven died March 26, 1827 in Austria. This German composer, was the predominant musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras who changed music forever. He reinvented the symphony, reshaped string quartets, and redefined piano sonatas.

VSO Performances
The Virginia Symphony will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in the Classics season during a performance of the same name, and Leonore Overture No. 3 and Symphony No. 8 in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics season during Beethoven Symphony No. 8.

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari was born January 12, 1876, as Hermann Friedrich Wolf an Italian-German, not easily categorized. He decided to emphasize this dichotomy with the double-barreled surname, adding to that of his father, the painter August Wolf, that of his mother, Emilia Ferrari, a Venetian noblewoman. He took music lessons as a young boy, and showed promise for composing. Deeply moved by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, he breaks off his study of art and passes the entrance examination at the “Royal Academy of Music” in Munich. There he studies under the teacher of counterpoint Joseph Rheinberger. At the age of 18, under the stage name of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, he conducts the world premiere of his “Serenade for Strings” as part of a student concert.

Wolf-Ferrari is undoubtedly a composer who looks to the past, fondly and with elegance, in an age when innovation, progress, rebellion but also drama and crudeness are the currency in use, and tradition is seen as an enemy to root-out. Wolf-Ferrari is not Neoclassical, he does not echo the past through a filter of modernism or parody (Stravinsky, Hindemith or the Classic Symphony of Prokofiev) rather he immerses himself completely, to create a continuity with Mozart or Rossini, who for him embody universal, timeless values, whilst in Italy Mascagni’s Verismo or the psychological theatre of Puccini hold the stage. He was influenced by the realistic, or verismo, style of Pietro Mascagni. He also composed chamber, instrumental, and orchestral works and a violin concerto.

His humor, however, was Germanic rather than Italian, and most of his works were produced in Germany. His most successful comic operas, I quattro rusteghi (1906; The School for Fathers) and Il segreto di Susanna (1909; The Secret of Susanne), presented 18th-century styles orchestrated in the manner of the 20th century. Comic points in these operas are delicately underlined. In Sly (1927; based on the opening scenes of The Taming of the Shrew) and in his only tragic opera, I gioielli della Madonna (1911; The Jewels of the Madonna)

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari died January 21, 1948. He was an important Italian composer of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will perform Wolf-Ferrari’s Concertino for English Horn in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics season during performances of Beethoven Symphony No. 8.

Aaron Copland was born November 14, 1900 in Brooklyn, as the youngest of five children (his siblings Ralph, Leon, Laurine, and Josephine Copland). Copland and his siblings were the children of Russian-Jewish immigrants. He attended public schools in his hometown of Brooklyn. An older sister taught him to play the piano, and he started to make up songs on the piano at age nine. By the time he was fifteen, he had decided to become a composer. As a first step Copland tried to learn harmony through a correspondence course. Haltingly and in an environment not particularly conducive to art, he struggled toward his goal.

At 20 years old Copland opted to continue his studies in Fontainebleau, France, where he received tutelage from the famed Nadia Boulanger. Having been asked by Boulanger to write an organ concerto, Copland eventually debuted Symphony for Organ and Orchestra on January 11, 1925 with the New York Symphony Society under Walter Damrosch. The decade that followed saw the production of the scores that would spread Copland's fame throughout the world. He was concerned with crafting sounds that would be seen as “American” in its scope, incorporating a range of styles in his work that included jazz and folk and connections to Latin America.

Some of his most well-known pieces include Piano Variations (1930), The Dance Symphony (1930), El Salon Mexico (1935), A Lincoln Portrait (1942) and Fanfare for the Common Man (1942). Copland later composed the music to Martha Graham’s 1944 dance Appalachian Spring. The following year Copland won the Pulitzer Prize for the piece. Having received an array of accolades in his later years, the iconic composer had also worked with Vivian Perlis on a two-volume autobiography, Copland: 1900 Through 1942 (1984) and Copland Since 1943 (1989). A well-received, lengthy biography on his life was published in 1999—Aaron Copland: The Life & Work of an Uncommon Man, by Howard Pollack.

Copland died December 2, 1990, in North Tarrytown [now Sleepy Hollow], New York, as an American composer who achieved a distinctive musical characterization of American themes in an expressive modern style.

VSO Performances
The Virginia Symphony will perform Copland’s Quiet City in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics season during performances of Beethoven Symphony No. 8.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born December 1770, as the eldest surviving child of Johann and Maria Magdalena van Beethoven. Both his father and grandfather were singers, and his brother had success with the piano. Having observed in his eldest son the signs of a child talent, Johann tried to make Ludwig a child prodigy like his brother, but did not succeed. It was not until his adolescence that Beethoven began to attract mild attention.

Other than his father, Ludwig Van Beethoven has several other teachers that included Gilles Van Den Eeden who worked at the court as an organist, Tobias Friedrich Pfeiffer who was a good friend to the family and taught Ludwig all about the keyboard, and Franz Rovantini who was a relative that instructed Ludwig on how to play the violin and the viola. All these teachers did well in giving his good ground to start his musical journey as a young talented kid. Other than them, he also had training by some of the best musicians in that time. He was a ground-breaker, in all senses. He oversaw the transition of music from the Classical style, full of poise and balance, to the Romantic style, characterised by emotion and impact.

Widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived, Ludwig van Beethoven dominates a period of musical history as no one else before or since. Rooted in the Classical traditions of Joseph Haydn and Mozart, his art reaches out to encompass the new spirit of humanism and incipient nationalism.

Beethoven died March 26, 1827 in Austria. This German composer, was the predominant musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras who changed music forever. He reinvented the symphony, reshaped string quartets, and redefined piano sonatas.

VSO Performances
The Virginia Symphony will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in the Classics season during a performance of the same name, and Leonore Overture No. 3 and Symphony No. 8 in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics season during Beethoven Symphony No. 8.

Joanne Falletta, Music Director, Conductor - Virginia Symphony OrchestraJoAnn Falletta

Music Director

JoAnn Falletta is internationally celebrated as a vibrant ambassador for music, an inspiring artistic leader, and a champion of American symphonic music. An effervescent and exuberant figure on the podium, she has been praised by The Washington Post as having “Toscanini’s tight control over ensemble, Walter’s affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski’s gutsy showmanship, and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein.” Acclaimed by The New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation”, she serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and music advisor to the Hawaii Symphony.

Ms. Falletta is invited to guest conduct many of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Recent guest conducting highlights include debuts in Belgrade, Gothenburg, Lima, Bogotá, Helsingborg, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a European tour with the Stuttgart Orchestra, return engagements with the Warsaw, Detroit, Phoenix, and Krakow Symphony Orchestras and a 13 city US tour with the Irish Chamber Orchestra with James Galway.

She has guest conducted over a hundred orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Her North America guest conducting appearances have included the orchestras of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Seattle, San Diego, Montreal, Toronto and the National Symphony and international appearances have included the London Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Korean Broadcast Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, China National Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester BBC Philharmonic, Scottish BBC orchestra, Orchestra National de Lyon and Mannheim Orchestra among others. Ms. Falletta’s summer activities have taken her to numerous music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, the Hollywood Bowl, Wolf Trap, Mann Center, Meadow Brook, OK Mozart Festival, Grand Teton, Eastern, Peninsula and Brevard Festival.

Falletta is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards including the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award, the coveted Stokowski Competition, and the Toscanini, Ditson and Bruno Walter Awards for conducting, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra League’s prestigious John S. Edwards Award. She is an ardent champion of music of our time, introducing over 500 works by American composers, including more than 110 world premieres. Hailing her as a “leading force for the music of our time”, she has been honored with twelve ASCAP awards. Ms. Falletta served as a Member of the National Council on the Arts during both the George W Bush and Obama administrations.

Under Falletta’s direction, the VSO has risen to celebrated artistic heights. The VSO, which made critically acclaimed debuts at the Kennedy Center and New York’s Carnegie Hall under Falletta and entered into their first multinational recording agreement with Naxos, performs classics, pops and family concert series in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News and Williamsburg.

In addition to her current posts with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony, Brevard Music Center and Hawaii Symphony, Ms. Falletta has held the positions of principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Phoenix Symphony, music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Falletta received her undergraduate degree from the Mannes College of Music in New York and her master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School.

JoAnn Falletta on NPR | The Innovative Mosaic Of American Symphonies

Jeffrey Biegel, piano

Considered the most prolific artist of his generation, Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA, conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters upon Biegel, for his achievements in performance, recordings, chamber music, champion of new music, composer, arranger and educator.

Biegel recently performed the World Premiere of Giovanni Allevi's 'Concerto for Piano and Orchestra' with Orchestra Kentucky and in Milan's Teatro dal Vermes, recording released in 2017 with Orchestra Sinfonica Italiana. In August 2018, Naxos releases Kenneth Fuchs's "Concerto: Spiritualist" featuring Biegel with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta, and, Grammy award composer, Dick Tunney unveils the new "Peanuts Concerto" for piano and orchestra based on music by Vince Guaraldi. In November, 2018, Christopher Theofanidis's "Concerto for Piano, Strings, Harp and Percussion" will receive its premiere with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Stuart Malina conducting. Equally championing pop music icons, Biegel has brought Jimmy Webb's 'Nocturne for Piano and Orchestra' to the public with Orchestra Kentucky, and PDQ Bach's 'Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra' by Peter Schickele with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

A leading pioneer of concerto projects joining multiple orchestras as a model for commissioning new music in the 21st century, Biegel created the first largest consortium of orchestras in 1998 for Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's 'Millennium Fantasy' premiered with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 2000, followed in 2002 with Tony Award winning composer Charles Strouse's 'Concerto America' with the Boston Pops, Lowell Liebermann's 'Concerto no. 3, Opus 95', premiered with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (2006), William Bolcom's 'Prometheus' for piano, orchestra and chorus, with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra and Pacific Chorale (2010), Richard Danielpour's 'Mirrors' with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra (2010), Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's 'Shadows' (2011) with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Jake Runestad's 'Dreams of the Fallen' (2013) with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, Lucas Richman's 'Piano Concerto: In Truth' (2013) with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, recorded in 2014 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for the Albany label, and Kenneth Fuchs's "Piano Concerto: 'Spiritualist'" with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MA) in 2016.

An avid composer, Biegel's choral music is published by the Hal Leonard Corporation, Carl Fischer, Porfiri & Horvath and The LeDor Group. Leonard Bernstein said of pianist Jeffrey Biegel: "He played fantastic Liszt. He is a splendid musician and a brilliant performer." These comments launched Biegel's 1986 New York recital debut, as the third recipient of the Juilliard William Petschek Piano Debut Award in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. He studied at The Juilliard School with Adele Marcus, herself a pupil of Josef Lhevinne and Artur Schnabel, and is currently on faculty at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, a City University of New York (CUNY).

Granville Bantock was born August 7, 1868, London, England. He studied at Trinity College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London. He was active as a conductor, arranging performances of his own and his colleague’s works. In fact he was unusually generous in this respect taking the opportunity to perform his peer’s works as often as possible.

In 1897 Granville Bantock became conductor at The Tower in New Brighton, where he remained for four years, taking the opportunity to do what he could to encourage British composers in a musical establishment of limited possibility, augmented in 1898 by the foundation of the New Brighton Choral Society. Granville Bantock's music was influenced by folk song of the Hebrides (as in the 1915 Hebridean Symphony) and the works of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss and produced many large-scale orchestral and choral works. His works are neither dissonant nor chromatic but are based upon common chords and diatonic discords. The compositions are homophonic and the chromaticism’s that do appear are semi-oriental in nature, possibly due to his early training for the Indian civil service.

Sir Granville Bantock probably has the unenviable distinction - with less than a handful of other arguable challengers - of being the most unreasonably neglected composer in the whole pitiable chronicle of neglected 20th century British music. He wrote around 800 pieces in genres from opera to light music. Later tone poems followed, generally with some declared literary derivation. Some of his works have an "exotic" element, including the oratorio Omar Khayyám (1906-1909). Among his other better-known works are the overture The Pierrot of the Minute (1908) and the Pagan Symphony (1928). His works were often performed at the beginning of the century, but much of his work has faded from the repertoire. Nevertheless, many of his works have been commercially recorded.

Sir Granville Bantock died October 11, 1946, London, an English composer known especially for his large-scale choral and orchestral works.

Edvard Grieg was born June 15, 1843, Bergen, Norway. His family was Scottish in origin, however, the composer’s grandfather having emigrated to Norway after the Battle of Culloden. His mother, Gesine Hagerup, who belonged to a well-established Norwegian family, studied music at Hamburg. From the age of six Grieg received piano lessons from her, and as a second-son with such talent like his, Grieg flourished in the arts. In 1858, at the recommendation of the violin virtuoso Ole Bull, he entered the Leipzig Conservatory.

During his years of study at the conservatory, Grieg was influenced by the tradition of Mendelssohn and Schumann. Edvard wasn’t the most disciplined pupil. He preferred to discover the music himself. Instead of the compulsory etudes he preferred to improvise and play and finding new tunes and melodies. However, despite the certain amount of reluctance, his love for music grew into what was to become, in his innermost spirit, the right thing to do in life – to be an artist. Grieg proved to be very talented, and moved to Europe to attend the best conservatory. His teachers in Leipzig he had some of the best pedagogues in Europe: Ignaz Moscheles in piano, Carl Reinecke in composition and Moritz Hauptmann, whom Edvard Grieg had the greatest respect for. During his stay in Leipzig Edvard Grieg came in contact with the European music-tradition, first of all he studied the works of Mozart and Beethoven, but also the compositions of more modern composers like Mendelsohn, Schumann and Wagner. Rooted in the national folk tradition of Norway, Grieg’s music is noted for a refined lyrical sense. His spirited rhythms often have a folk song association. His harmonies, developed from the late Romantic style, were considered novel.

As a composer Edvard Grieg was fortunate to be a success while still alive. Grieg spent much time on travels, and received impressions from the big musical metropolis like Leipzig, Prague, Berlin, London and Paris, as well as the Norwegian mountains. He found new ways of approach to the Norwegian folk music, with the result that in the late 19th century France they spoke about two main stiles in music; the Russian school and the Norwegian School. Among the happiest moments of the composer’s life, his daughter was born 1868. In a flurry of inspiration, Grieg composed his masterpiece, Piano Concerto in A Minor. This masterpiece became his final breakthrough as a composer, and after this he was reckoned as one of the greatest composers in his time.

Edvard Grieg died September 4, 1907, Bergen, became Norway’s greatest composer and was a founder of the Norwegian nationalist school of music.

 

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was born on 23 April 1891 in Sontsovka, then a remote rural estate under Russian Empire. His mother, Maria Prokofieva, was an accomplished pianist. The daughter of a former serf, she was tutored in theatre and art by her master’s family from an early age. Sergeyevich was his parents’ only surviving child, having two elder sisters who died in infancy. Watching his interest in music, he mother gave him his first lesson in piano as he turned three. He composed his first piece at age five, meant for piano, it was called ‘Indian Gallop’. The composition was written by his mother in the F Lydian mode. In 1899, his parents took him to Moscow, where he for the first time heard an opera. Intrigued, he began to write one. Very soon a libretto in three acts and six scenes was ready. Later with the help of his mother, he transcribed the music. In 1902, the young Prokofiev was taken to meet Sergei Taneyev, the Director of the Moscow Conservatory. Impressed by his musical talent, Taneyev persuaded composer and pianist Reinhold Glière to give him private lessons during the summers of 1902 and 1903.

During his time at the Conservatory, Prokofiev first tried his hand at symphony. Slowly, he also started experimenting with harmonies, leading to the creation of a number of short piano pieces. He called them "ditties", and these later laid the foundation of his musical style. His teachers were struck by his originality, and when he graduated he was awarded the Anton Rubinstein Prize in piano for a brilliant performance of his own first large-scale work—the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major. The conservatory gave Prokofiev a firm foundation in the academic fundamentals of music, but he avidly sought musical innovation. Prokofiev’s musical talent developed rapidly. He studied the compositions of Igor Stravinsky, particularly the early ballets, but maintained a critical attitude toward his countryman’s brilliant innovations. Contacts with the then-new currents in theatre, poetry, and painting also played an important role in Prokofiev’s development. He was attracted by the work of modernist Russian poets; by the paintings of the Russian followers of Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso; and by the theatrical ideas of Vsevolod Meyerhold, whose experimental productions were directed against an obsolescent naturalism.

Prokofiev was among the most prolific and original composers of the first half of the 20th century, excelling in virtually every musical genre. Prokofiev wrote seven symphonies. Of these the ‘Classical’ Symphony (No. 1), written in 1916–17 with the work of Haydn in mind, is the best known. The Fifth Symphony of 1944 is a work on a much larger scale. The Third Symphony makes use of material from the opera The Fiery Angel, and the Fourth Symphony draws on the ballet The Prodigal Son. Of Prokofiev’s five piano concertos the third is the best known, written in the composer’s instantly recognisable musical language, from the incisive opening to the motor rhythms that follow, in a mixture of lyricism and acerbic wit. More overtly Romantic in feeling are the two fine violin concertos. In addition to a wide variety of choral and vocal music, which includes a concert version of the film score for Alexander Nevsky, Prokofiev wrote a number of less memorable works for various occasions of political importance. Chamber music by Prokofiev includes two sonatas for violin and piano, the second originally for flute and piano and revised by the composer with the help of the violinist David Oistrakh. Prokofiev, himself a formidable pianist, completed nine piano sonatas out of a projected eleven. His music for piano also includes piano versions of music from the ballets Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella.

Prokofiev died March 5, 1953 in Moscow Russia. He was a 20th-century Russian (and Soviet) composer who wrote in a wide range of musical genres, including symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets, and program pieces.

Joanne Falletta, Music Director, Conductor - Virginia Symphony OrchestraJoAnn Falletta

Music Director

JoAnn Falletta is internationally celebrated as a vibrant ambassador for music, an inspiring artistic leader, and a champion of American symphonic music. An effervescent and exuberant figure on the podium, she has been praised by The Washington Post as having “Toscanini’s tight control over ensemble, Walter’s affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski’s gutsy showmanship, and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein.” Acclaimed by The New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation”, she serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and music advisor to the Hawaii Symphony.

Ms. Falletta is invited to guest conduct many of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Recent guest conducting highlights include debuts in Belgrade, Gothenburg, Lima, Bogotá, Helsingborg, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a European tour with the Stuttgart Orchestra, return engagements with the Warsaw, Detroit, Phoenix, and Krakow Symphony Orchestras and a 13 city US tour with the Irish Chamber Orchestra with James Galway.

She has guest conducted over a hundred orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Her North America guest conducting appearances have included the orchestras of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Seattle, San Diego, Montreal, Toronto and the National Symphony and international appearances have included the London Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Korean Broadcast Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, China National Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester BBC Philharmonic, Scottish BBC orchestra, Orchestra National de Lyon and Mannheim Orchestra among others. Ms. Falletta’s summer activities have taken her to numerous music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, the Hollywood Bowl, Wolf Trap, Mann Center, Meadow Brook, OK Mozart Festival, Grand Teton, Eastern, Peninsula and Brevard Festival.

Falletta is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards including the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award, the coveted Stokowski Competition, and the Toscanini, Ditson and Bruno Walter Awards for conducting, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra League’s prestigious John S. Edwards Award. She is an ardent champion of music of our time, introducing over 500 works by American composers, including more than 110 world premieres. Hailing her as a “leading force for the music of our time”, she has been honored with twelve ASCAP awards. Ms. Falletta served as a Member of the National Council on the Arts during both the George W Bush and Obama administrations.

Under Falletta’s direction, the VSO has risen to celebrated artistic heights. The VSO, which made critically acclaimed debuts at the Kennedy Center and New York’s Carnegie Hall under Falletta and entered into their first multinational recording agreement with Naxos, performs classics, pops and family concert series in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News and Williamsburg.

In addition to her current posts with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony, Brevard Music Center and Hawaii Symphony, Ms. Falletta has held the positions of principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Phoenix Symphony, music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Falletta received her undergraduate degree from the Mannes College of Music in New York and her master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School.

JoAnn Falletta on NPR | The Innovative Mosaic Of American Symphonies

Debra Wendells Cross, Principal Flute

Debra Wendells Cross has held the position of Principal Flute in the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Opera, and made Norfolk her home since 1980.  The Seattle native graduated with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she studied with Boston Symphony member James Pappoutsakis.  From there she went on to study with Michel Debost in Paris, France under the auspices of the Harriet Hale Woolly Scholarship.

Ms. Cross serves on the faculty of Old Dominion University, and for many summers was Principal Flutist of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. She spent the 2004-2005 season as interim Principal Flutist of the Buffalo Philharmonic. She has participated in many other festivals including Tanglewood, the Colorado Philharmonic, the Music Academy of the West, the Skaneateles Festival, and the Virginia Arts Festival. She is a founding member of The Virginia Chamber Players, a chamber music group that has released several recordings of the works of American composers, and has been broadcast on NPR's Performance Today.

With the Virginia Symphony's Principal Harpist, Barbara Chapman, she recorded American Mosaics for Flute and Harp, a Christmas CD entitled Love’s Pure Light, and a lullaby CD called Dream Sweet Dreams.  She can also be heard with JoAnn Falletta and Robert Allemany on a two recordings of chamber music entitled Schubert’s Guitar and Borrowed Treasures, and with the Miami String Quartet on a Musical Heritage Society recording of two Mozart Quartets. Her solo appearances with the Virginia Symphony include Mozart's Concerto in G, Mozart's Flute and Harp Concerto, the Faure Fantasy, Halil by Leonard Bernstein, and the Flute Concertos of Carl Nielsen, and Lowell Lieberman.

Ms. Cross is interested in musical research and has prepared several concerts of historical significance including a program called American Flute Music of the 1920's for the National Flute Association, and a chamber concert of American composers for the Jamestown 2007 Celebration. Debbie's other interests include yoga, and her Labrador Retrievers, Rusty and Charlie whom she enters in dog sports trials, and takes on pet therapy visits to nursing homes and schools. She is married to Virginia Symphony Principal Percussionist and Virginia Arts Festival Director, Robert W. Cross.

Barbara Chapman, Principal Harp

Barbara Chapman has held the position of Principal Harp for the Virginia Symphony since 1988. She has performed with the Virginia Opera since 1986 and performs regularly on the Chamber Music and Organ Swell series of the Virginia Arts Festival.  An active recitalist, she has performed on the Virginia Wesleyan and Old Dominion University Recital series, the Vocal Arts and Music Festival of Virginia Tech and as guest artist with the Virginia Chorale and the Virginia Children’s Chorus. Barbara has held the position of Principal Harp with the Glimmerglass Opera of NY, New York Grand Opera and toured the United States with the American Harp Society’s Concert Artist Program. She has performed with numerous musical theatre productions in the New York City metropolitan area and was harpist for the long-running original New York production of “The Fantasticks”.

A founding member of the Virginia Chamber Players, Ms. Chapman has performed with Catherine Cho, Paul Neubauer, Richard Stoltzman, as well as commissioned, premiered and recorded chamber music by composer, Adolphus Hailstork.  With flutist Debra Wendells Cross, she has concertized extensively, recorded 4 compact discs and has been broadcast nationally on NPR’s Performance Today.  

Ms. Chapman maintains a small private teaching studio. She has served on the faculty of The College of William and Mary and has led workshops at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Eastman School of Music, New York. A graduate of St. Olaf College in her home state of Minnesota, Ms. Chapman studied with Anne Adams in San Francisco and Kathleen Bride in New York City. Ms. Chapman lives in Norfolk with her husband Jonathan Miller.

Johannes Brahms was born May 7, 1833 in Hamburg, Germany. His father, Johann Jakob Brahms, was an innkeeper and a double bass musician with moderate ability. He taught his son violin and piano at an early age, and later hired Otto Cossel to tutor his sons growing piano skills. At just six years old, created his own style and method of writing music to achieve the melodies he composed. He played his first private concert at age ten.

To help his family with tight finances, Brahms gave lessons and performed at local pubs, streets, and dance halls. The constant work strained his mental and physical health, so he took an opportunity for rest by conducting a small, male choir for whom he gave his first choral compositions. He enjoyed a steady success, but after failing to achieve the recognition for his works, he returned to his hometown to continue giving inexpensive lessons and performances. 

Brahms made his name as an accomplished musician, despite wanting to compose full time. He met violinist Reményi, and they went on several successful concert tours. During which, the two acquired several introductions through violinist Joachim. Franz Liszt was highly impressed with Brahms compositions, but Brahms declined the invitation to join Liszt’s group because he disliked Liszt’s music. Reményi sent a letter to composer Schumann, praising Johannes Brahms. Schumann and Brahms enjoyed a strong friendship with each other, and Brahms stayed with the Schumann’s during the middle part of his life and career. Brahms insisted on performing his own pieces, rather than the music of any other historical or modern composer of the day.

Stubborn and uncompromising, Brahms was wholly committed to his craft. Unfortunately, he would destroy pieces he deemed unworthy, including some 20 string quartets. Even though he was a perfectionist, he never gave up on composing. Brahms wrote four Symphonies, each massive in structure and the result of long periods of work and many revisions. In addition, Brahms completed two serenades, and several other orchestral works. Many of Brahms orchestral music contains its own unique charm and enjoy enormous popularity. Brahms composed a large number of other musical pieces during his lifetime. Some two dozen pieces of chamber music has captured the attentions of musicians around the world. The composer always showed particular talent for the piano and for the compositions of variations. One such Variations on a Theme by Handel, made his name in Vienna.
After doctors discovered Johannes Brahms had cancer of the liver, his health quickly began declining. His last performance was in March, 1896 in Vienna. He died a month later, on April 3, 1897.

VSO Performances
The Virginia Symphony will be performing Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture in the Classics season during Pictures at an Exhibition, and Variations on Theme of Haydn in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics season during performances of Classics Reborn.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born January 27 1756. Mozart was born in Salzburg to a musical family. From an early age, the young Mozart showed all the signs of a prodigious musical talent. By the age of five he could read and write music, and he would entertain people with his talents on the keyboard. By the age of six he was writing his first compositions. During his childhood, he would frequently tour various palaces around Europe playing for distinguished guests. Aged 17, he accepted a post as a court musician in Salzburg; although this did not suit him very well, the next few years were a time of prolific composition. In Vienna, he became well known and was often in demand as a composer and performer.

Mozart was generally considered to be a rare musical genius, although he was also diligent in studying other great composers such as Haydn and Bach. He composed over 600 works, including some of the most famous and loved pieces of symphonic, chamber, operatic, and choral music. In London Mozart met, among others, Johann Christian Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s youngest son and a leading figure in the city’s musical life, and under his influence Mozart composed his first symphonies—three survive (K 16, K 19, and K 19a—K signifying the work’s place in the catalog of Ludwig von Köchel).

Two more followed during a stay in The Hague on the return journey (K 22 and K 45a). Perhaps his best-admired work is in opera, the piano concerto, sonata, the symphony, the string quartet, and string quintet. Mozart also wrote many pieces for solo piano, other forms of chamber music, masses and other religious music, and numerous dances, divertimentos, and other forms of light entertainment.

Mozart died December 5 1791, he was one of the most influential, popular and prolific composers of the classical period.

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, Sinfonia Concertante, and Overture to The Magic Flute in the Classics season during A Mozart Celebration, and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics seasons during Classics Reborn.

Puccini was the last descendant of a family that for two centuries had provided the musical directors of the Cathedral of San Martino in Lucca. Puccini initially dedicated himself to music, therefore, not as a personal vocation but as a family profession. He first studied music with two of his father’s former pupils, and he played the organ in small local churches. A performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, which he saw in Pisa in 1876, convinced him that his true vocation was opera. In the autumn of 1880 he went to study at the Milan Conservatory, where his principal teachers were Antonio Bazzini, a famous violinist and composer of chamber music, and Amilcare Ponchielli, the composer of the opera La gioconda.

Puccini’s conception of diatonic melody is rooted in the tradition of 19th-century Italian opera, but his harmonic and orchestral style indicate that he was also aware of contemporary developments, notably the work of the Impressionists and of Stravinsky. Though he allowed the orchestra a more active role, he upheld the traditional vocal style of Italian opera, in which the singers carry the burden of the music. After the death of both parents, Puccini fled his life with a married woman, Elvira. He spent many years secluded away until her husband died. During this time, a son was born. This home was to become Puccini’s refuge from life, and he remained there until three years before his death, when he moved to Viareggio. However, living with Elvira proved difficult. Tempestuous rather than compliant, she was justifiably jealous and was not an ideal companion. Puccini was always interested in contemporary operatic compositions, Puccini studied the works of Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, and Igor Stravinsky.

From this study emerged Il trittico (The Triptych; New York City, 1918), three stylistically individual one-act operas—the melodramatic Il tabarro (The Cloak), the sentimental Suor Angelica, and the comic Gianni Schicchi. His last opera, based on the fable of Turandot as told in the play Turandot by the 18th-century Italian dramatist Carlo Gozzi, is the only Italian opera in the Impressionistic style. Puccini did not complete Turandot, unable to write a final grand duet on the triumphant love between Turandot and Calaf. Suffering from cancer of the throat, he was ordered to Brussels for surgery, and a few days afterward he died with the incomplete score of Turandot in his hands.

Puccini died November 29, 1924, Brussels, Belgium. The Italian composer, was one of the greatest exponents of operatic realism, who virtually brought the history of Italian opera to an end. His mature operas include La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot, left incomplete.

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will perform Puccini’s Chrysanthemums in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics seasons during Classics Reborn.

Igor Stravinsky was born on June 17, 1882, in Oranienbaum, Russia. He was raised in St. Petersburg by his father, a bass singer named Fyodor, and his mother, Anna, a talented pianist. Not wanting Stravinsky to follow in their footsteps, his parents persuaded him to study law after he graduated from secondary school. However, after enrolling at the University of Saint Petersburg, Stravinsky became friendly with a classmate named Vladimir Rimsky-Korsakov, whose father, Nikolai, was a celebrated composer. Stravinksy soon became Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's pupil, as he was granted the freedom to pursue his artistic career upon the death of his father in 1902.

In 1909, the founder of the Ballets Russes, Sergei Diaghilev, invited Stravinsky to orchestrate a couple of Chopin works for his ballet Les Sylphides. That, in turn, led to the commission of The Firebird; a collaboration with choreographer Michel Fokine, the ballet turned Stravinsky into a household name upon its premiere in Paris in June 1910. The outbreak of World War I forced Stravinsky to flee Russia with his family and settle in Switzerland. He dealt with his homesickness by using Russian folklore as inspiration for his work, while other compositions from this time exhibited a jazz influence.

He rose to fame in the early 1900s for his compositions for the Ballets Russes, including the controversial The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky brought his family to Switzerland and then France, continuing his output with such works as Renard and Persephone. In 1920 Stravinsky moved his family to France, where they lived for the next two decades. During that time, his notable works included a comic opera, Mavra (1922), an opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex (1927) and the "white" ballet Apollon Musagète (1928). He continued his prolific output into the 1930s, composing such works as Symphony of Psalms, Persephone, Jeu de Cartes and Concerto in E-flat. After moving to the United States in 1939, he completed his famed Symphony in C and became an American citizen. He delivered a series of lectures at Harvard University, and in 1940 he married artist and designer Vera de Bossett. Stravinsky was nearly arrested for his rearrangement of the national anthem during a performance in Boston in 1944, but otherwise he found a welcome reception in his new country.

Stravinsky died in New York City on April 6, 1971, with more than 100 works to his name. A Russian-born composer whose work had a revolutionary impact on musical thought and sensibility just before and after World War I, and whose compositions remained a touchstone of modernism for much of his long working life.

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will perform Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics seasons during Classics Reborn.

Scott Yoo, conductor

After beginning his musical studies at age three, Scott Yoo performed Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with the Boston Symphony at age twelve. He received first prize in the 1988 Josef Gingold International Violin Competition, the 1989 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and the 1994 Avery Fisher Career Grant. In 1993, Yoo founded the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, conducting the ensemble in its series at Jordan Hall in Boston, and more than ninety performances on tour.

Yoo has collaborated with eminent artists Sarah Chang, Edgar Meyer, Benita Valente, and Dawn Upshaw. He is currently Music Director and Principal Conductor of Festival Mozaic, and Artistic Director of the Medellín Festicámara, a chamber music program for underprivileged young musicians.

As a guest-conductor, Yoo has led the Colorado, Dallas, Indianapolis, New World, San Francisco and Utah Symphonies. He conducted the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in their Elliott Carter Festival, and at Carnegie Hall with pianist Brad Mehldau. Abroad, he has conducted the City of London Sinfonia, the Britten Sinfonia, the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Odense Symphony, the Seoul Philharmonic, and the Yomiuri Nippon Orchestra.

He has recorded for Sony Classical, Naxos, and New World, and is currently recording the complete Mozart Piano Concertos for Bridge Records.

Sherie Aguirre, Principal Oboe

Sherie Lake Aguirre has been the Principal oboist of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Virginia Opera since 1987. She graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor’s degree in Performance and continued her graduate studies with Ray Still at Northwestern University.

Ms. Aguirre has held principal positions with the Singapore Symphony, La Sinfonica de Maracaibo, La Sinfonica de Tenerife, and La Sinfonica de Madrid. She appears regularly as soloist with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and performs frequently in the Chamber Music series of the Virginia Arts Festival as well as the Norfolk Chamber Consort programs.  

From 1990 to 1997 she spent her summers in Boulder, Colorado performing with the Colorado Music Festival. For the past 15 summers, Ms. Aguirre has performed and recorded several CD’s with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival in Florida. Ms. Aguirre also maintains a private teaching studio full of young, local, talented oboe students in addition to fulfilling adjunct faculty positions at William and Mary College and Old Dominion University.

She resides in Norfolk with her husband, a violinist in the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Michael Byerly, Principal Clarinet

Principal clarinetist Michael Byerly joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra at the start of its 2014-2015 season. Originally from Oregon, he studied clarinet with William McColl and Yehuda Gilad, completing degrees at the University of Washington and the University of Southern California and earning an Artist Diploma at The Colburn School. While in Los Angeles, he gained formative orchestral experience as a substitute player with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

As a soloist, he won First Prize at the International Clarinet Association Young Artist Competition and the Pasadena Showcase House Competition. He spent three years in Nishinomiya, Japan, as a member of the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra, and he served for two seasons as Principal Clarinetist with the Tucson Symphony. He resides in Virginia Beach with his fiancée, Christina Havens, who is Director of Education and Community Engagement for the Virginia Symphony

Laura Leisring, Principal Bassoon

Laura Leisring, Principal Bassoon of the Virginia Symphony since 2007, can be heard on more than 35 CD recordings on labels such as Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, and Auvidis Valois as Principal with the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, Canary Islands, Spain 1989-2003, and as Acting Principal of the Milwaukee Symphony 2003/2004.

Highly praised for her work by critics in Spain, she has performed with more than 100 world-class artists, and has been a soloist under conductors Yoel Levi, Antoni Wit, Leopold Hager, and Anne Manson, with whom she performed the European Premiere of the Concerto for Bassoon by Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Composer, Ellen Taaffe-Zwilich.

She has served as Principal with theMusic in the Mountains Festival, Durango, CO. since 2002, where she was a featured soloist in 2007.

Jacob Wilder, Principal Horn

Jacob Wilder, Horn - Virginia Symphony OrchestraJacob Wilder completed both a Bachelor's degree and an Artist Diploma in French Horn performance at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in downtown Los Angeles.

During his time in Los Angeles, Jacob played substitute french horn with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and the Santa Barbara Symphony. Jacob has also served as a full time section member in the Colburn Orchestra, American Youth Symphony, the Industry Opera Company, Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, and Colorado College Music Festival.

Beyond making music, Jacob enjoys being outdoors biking, hiking, or playing basketball.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born January 27 1756. Mozart was born in Salzburg to a musical family. From an early age, the young Mozart showed all the signs of a prodigious musical talent. By the age of five he could read and write music, and he would entertain people with his talents on the keyboard. By the age of six he was writing his first compositions. During his childhood, he would frequently tour various palaces around Europe playing for distinguished guests. Aged 17, he accepted a post as a court musician in Salzburg; although this did not suit him very well, the next few years were a time of prolific composition. In Vienna, he became well known and was often in demand as a composer and performer.

Mozart was generally considered to be a rare musical genius, although he was also diligent in studying other great composers such as Haydn and Bach. He composed over 600 works, including some of the most famous and loved pieces of symphonic, chamber, operatic, and choral music. In London Mozart met, among others, Johann Christian Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s youngest son and a leading figure in the city’s musical life, and under his influence Mozart composed his first symphonies—three survive (K 16, K 19, and K 19a—K signifying the work’s place in the catalog of Ludwig von Köchel).

Two more followed during a stay in The Hague on the return journey (K 22 and K 45a). Perhaps his best-admired work is in opera, the piano concerto, sonata, the symphony, the string quartet, and string quintet. Mozart also wrote many pieces for solo piano, other forms of chamber music, masses and other religious music, and numerous dances, divertimentos, and other forms of light entertainment.

Mozart died December 5 1791, he was one of the most influential, popular and prolific composers of the classical period.

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, Sinfonia Concertante, and Overture to The Magic Flute in the Classics season during A Mozart Celebration, and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics seasons during Classics Reborn.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born January 27 1756. Mozart was born in Salzburg to a musical family. From an early age, the young Mozart showed all the signs of a prodigious musical talent. By the age of five he could read and write music, and he would entertain people with his talents on the keyboard. By the age of six he was writing his first compositions. During his childhood, he would frequently tour various palaces around Europe playing for distinguished guests. Aged 17, he accepted a post as a court musician in Salzburg; although this did not suit him very well, the next few years were a time of prolific composition. In Vienna, he became well known and was often in demand as a composer and performer.

Mozart was generally considered to be a rare musical genius, although he was also diligent in studying other great composers such as Haydn and Bach. He composed over 600 works, including some of the most famous and loved pieces of symphonic, chamber, operatic, and choral music. In London Mozart met, among others, Johann Christian Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s youngest son and a leading figure in the city’s musical life, and under his influence Mozart composed his first symphonies—three survive (K 16, K 19, and K 19a—K signifying the work’s place in the catalog of Ludwig von Köchel).

Two more followed during a stay in The Hague on the return journey (K 22 and K 45a). Perhaps his best-admired work is in opera, the piano concerto, sonata, the symphony, the string quartet, and string quintet. Mozart also wrote many pieces for solo piano, other forms of chamber music, masses and other religious music, and numerous dances, divertimentos, and other forms of light entertainment.

Mozart died December 5 1791, he was one of the most influential, popular and prolific composers of the classical period.

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, Sinfonia Concertante, and Overture to The Magic Flute in the Classics season during A Mozart Celebration, and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics seasons during Classics Reborn.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born January 27 1756. Mozart was born in Salzburg to a musical family. From an early age, the young Mozart showed all the signs of a prodigious musical talent. By the age of five he could read and write music, and he would entertain people with his talents on the keyboard. By the age of six he was writing his first compositions. During his childhood, he would frequently tour various palaces around Europe playing for distinguished guests. Aged 17, he accepted a post as a court musician in Salzburg; although this did not suit him very well, the next few years were a time of prolific composition. In Vienna, he became well known and was often in demand as a composer and performer.

Mozart was generally considered to be a rare musical genius, although he was also diligent in studying other great composers such as Haydn and Bach. He composed over 600 works, including some of the most famous and loved pieces of symphonic, chamber, operatic, and choral music. In London Mozart met, among others, Johann Christian Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s youngest son and a leading figure in the city’s musical life, and under his influence Mozart composed his first symphonies—three survive (K 16, K 19, and K 19a—K signifying the work’s place in the catalog of Ludwig von Köchel).

Two more followed during a stay in The Hague on the return journey (K 22 and K 45a). Perhaps his best-admired work is in opera, the piano concerto, sonata, the symphony, the string quartet, and string quintet. Mozart also wrote many pieces for solo piano, other forms of chamber music, masses and other religious music, and numerous dances, divertimentos, and other forms of light entertainment.

Mozart died December 5 1791, he was one of the most influential, popular and prolific composers of the classical period.

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, Sinfonia Concertante, and Overture to The Magic Flute in the Classics season during A Mozart Celebration, and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics seasons during Classics Reborn.

An engaging orchestral conductor, award-winning pianist and passionate educator, Gonzalo Farias, has been recently appointed Assistant Conductor of the Virginia Symphony. Under the guidance of JoAnn Falleta, Mr. Farias’ ambition is to establish music-making as a way of rethinking our place in society by cultivating respect, trust, and cooperation among all people in the community.

He is the Associate Conductor of the Occasional Symphony in Baltimore and was the recipient of the prestigious Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conducting Fellowship in 2016 and 2017. Mentored by Marin Alsop, he assisted conductors Robert Spano, Bernard Labadie, Markus Stenz, Christoph König, Johannes Debus, Lahav Shani, among others; he has worked with instrumentalists like Hélène Grimaud, Vadim Gluzman, Johannes Moser, André Watts, and composers Christopher Theofinidis, Anna Clyne, Jonathan Leshnoff, Christopher Rouse, among many others.

As Music Director of the Joliet Symphony Orchestra Farias transformed the city of Joliet embracing the Hispanic residents of the greater Chicago area with pre-concert lectures, free tickets, Latin-based repertoire, and a unique side-by-side Spanish/English narration of Bizet’s Carmen.

During the summer, Mr. Farias has worked closely with Jaap Van Zweden and Johannes Schlaefli in the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland as well as with Neeme and Paavo Järvi at the Pärnu Music Festival. In the United States, he was the recipient of the prestigious Bruno Walter Conducting Scholarship twice at the Cabrillo Music Festival and named “Emergent Conductor” by Victor Yampolsky at the Peninsula Music Festival. He attended also the Pierre Monteux Festival where he received the Bernard Osher Scholar Prize.

Out of 566 applicants and 78 countries, he was recently chosen one of 24 finalists in the prestigious 2018 Malko Conducting Competition with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Hailed by the Gramophone magazine critics, Mr. Farias offered one the “most fluent, honest, open hearted and pointed performances.”. He has conducting experience with orchestras including Charlotte Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Zagreb Philharmonic, National Symphony of Chile, among others.

Mr. Farias was born in Santiago de Chile, where he began his piano studies at age five. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the P.C. University of Chile, and then continued his graduate studies at the New England Conservatory as a full-scholarship student of Wha-Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman. He has won first prize at the Claudio Arrau International Piano Competition and prizes at the Maria Canals and Luis Sigall Piano Competitions. As a conductor, Mr. Farias attended the University of Illinois working with Donald Schleicher and the Peabody Conservatory with Marin Alsop.

Besides having a fond love for piano, chamber, and contemporary music, Mr. Farias is passionate reader of second-order cybernetics as a way to help understand how complex social systems organize, coordinate and interconnect with one another. This includes the interdependent and recursive nature of musical experiences, in which performers and audiences alike interact and respond to each other. In addition to that, he has a warm affection for Zen Buddhism, which he has practiced for many years.

Sarah Hicks, conductor

Noted in the New York Times as part of "a new wave of female conductors in their late 20's through early 40's", Sarah Hicks's versatile and vibrant musicianship has secured her place in "the next generation of up-and-coming American conductors". In October of 2009 she was named Principal Conductor, Live at Orchestra Hall of the Minnesota Orchestra; in addition to conducting most Pops and Special Presentations, she has been instrumental in creating new Pops productions while also heading the innovative classical series, "Inside the Classics". Hicks concurrently holds the positions of  Staff Conductor of the Curtis Institute of Music. Throughout her career she has collaborated with diverse artists, from Jamie Laredo and Hilary Hahn to Josh Groban and Smokey Robinson; during the summer of 2011 she was on a two-month tour with Sting as conductor of the final leg of his Symphonicities Tour. In June of 2012 she conducted the opening concert of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, and program featuring Dmitri Hvrostovsky, Sumi Jo and Jackie Evancho.

Hicks has guest conducted extensively both in the States and abroad, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, Atlanta Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Detroit Symphony, National Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, Malaysian Philharmonic, RTE Symphony, Danish Radio Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Toronto Symphony Prime Philharmonic (Seoul, Korea), and the Orchestra of la Teatro Fenice.  She led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in July 4th concerts at the Hollywood Bowl in 2012, 2013 and 2015; upcoming concerts include return engagements in San Francisco and Montreal as well as debuts with the Calgary and Danish National Symphonies.

Hicks was a member of the Faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music from 2000-2005 and continues her affiliation with Curtis as Staff Conductor.  Her past positions include Associate Conductor of the North Carolina Symphony Associate Conductor of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Resident Conductor of the Florida Philharmonic, and Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Singers, the chorus of the Philadelphia Orchestra, whom she has led in radio broadcasts heard nationwide.  She has also been Music Director of the Hawaii Summer Symphony, an ensemble she founded in 1991 in her hometown of Honolulu and which she led for five seasons.

Hicks was invited to Japan by the New National Theatre Tokyo, where she acted as assistant conductor to a production of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and has performed Verdi's Aïda with the East Slovak State Opera Theater. Her extensive work with the Curtis Opera Studio include performances of Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites and numerous vocal concerts; she led the Opera Studio's production of Handel's Alcina in 2005 and led the Minnesota Orchestra in a semi-staged production of Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel in 2009.

A committed proponent of the performance of new music, Hicks recently completed a Microcommission Project (the first of its kind) with the Minnesota Orchestra in which hundreds of people made microdonations to fund a major new work by composer Judd Greenstein.  She has led the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in readings, recordings and performances of contemporary works. Her recording project with the Vermont Symphony, "Triple Doubles", featuring music of Richard Danielpour and David Ludwig with Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson, soloists was recently released on the Bridge Label.  She has also conducted performances with Composers in the Shape of a Pear (Cleveland) and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble.

Hicks was born in Tokyo, Japan and raised in Honolulu, HI.  Trained on both the piano and viola, she was a prizewinning pianist by her early teens.  She received her BA magna cum laude from Harvard University in composition; her AIDS Oratorio was premiered in May of 1993 and received a second performance at the Fogg Art Museum the following December.  She holds an Artists' Degree in conducting from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with renowned pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller. Hicks's talents have been recognized with numerous prized and scholarships; she received the Thomas Hoopes Prize for composition and the Doris Cohen Levy Prize for conducting from Harvard University, and she was the recipient of the Helen F. Whitaker Fund Scholarship and a Presser Award during her time at Curtis.

In her spare time, Ms. Hicks enjoys running, yoga, her Papillon, cooking (and eating) with her husband, traveling and sketching.

Wu Man, pipa

Recognized as the world’s premier pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music, Wu Man has carved out a career as a soloist, educator and composer giving her lute-like instrument—which has a history of over 2,000 years in China—a new role in both traditional and contemporary music.

Through numerous concert tours Wu Man has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa, while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China’s ancient musical traditions. Her adventurous spirit and virtuosity have led to collaborations across artistic disciplines allowing Wu Man to reach wider audiences as she works to break through cultural and musical borders. Wu Man’s efforts were recognized when she was named Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year, marking the first time this prestigious award has been bestowed on a player of a non-Western instrument.

As a principal musician in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, Wu Man has performed throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia with the Silk Road Ensemble. She is a featured artist in the documentary The Music Of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, as well as on the film’s 2017 Grammy Award-winning companion recording, Sing Me Home, which includes Wu Man’s original composition Green (Vincent’s Tune) performed with the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth. She has recorded six albums with the group: Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet (2002), Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon (2005), New Impossibilities (2007), the CD/DVD A Playlist Without Borders/Live from Tanglewood (2013) and Sing Me Home (2016) on Sony Classical, as well as Off the Map (2009) on World Village. Her recent performances with SRE include a 2016 tour to summer festivals such as Tanglewood, Wolf Trap, Blossom, Ravinia and Hollywood Bowl, SRE performances with Mark Morris Dance in Berkeley and Seattle, and a tour of Asia.

Born in Hangzhou, China, Wu Man studied with Lin Shicheng, Kuang Yuzhong, Chen Zemin, and Liu Dehai at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she became the first recipient of a master's degree in pipa. Accepted into the conservatory at age 13, Wu Man’s audition was covered by national newspapers and she was hailed as a child prodigy, becoming a nationally recognized role model for young pipa players. She subsequently received first prize in the First National Music Performance Competition among many other awards, and she participated in many premieres of works by a new generation of Chinese composers. Wu Man’s first exposure to western classical music came in 1979 when she saw Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra performing in Beijing. In 1980 she participated in an open master class with violinist Isaac Stern and in 1985 she made her first visit to the United States as a member of the China Youth Arts Troupe. Wu Man moved to the U.S. in 1990 and currently resides with her husband and son in California.

Tan Dun’s individual voice has been heard widely by international audiences.As a conductor of innovative programs around the world, Tan Dun has led the China tours of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra. His current season includes leading the NDR Radiophilharmonie in a five-city tour in Germany, as well as engagements with the London Symphony Orchestra and at the Venice Biennale. Tan Dun has led the world’s most esteemed orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, among others.

Tan Dun’s creations can be unabashedly populist, radically experimental, or—most frequently—both. While his work does not neatly fit within previously-existing categories—perhaps the closest fit is opera in the broadest cultural context, Tan has created several new artistic formats, which—like opera—encompass sound, sight, narrative, and ritual.

In addition to his contributions to the repertoire of opera and motion pictures scores, Tan’s new formats include: orchestral theatre, which re-contextualizes the orchestra and the concert-going experience; organic music, which explores new realms of sound through primal elements such as water, paper, and stone; and multimedia extravaganzas, which incorporate a variety of cutting-edge technologies. A winner of today’s most prestigious honors including the Grammy Award, Oscar/Academy Award, Grawemeyer Award, Bach Prize, Shostakovich Award, and most recently Italy’s Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, Tan Dun’s music has been played throughout the world by leading orchestras, opera houses, international festivals, and on radio and television.

The world-renowned artist and UNESCO Global Goodwill Ambassador, Tan Dun, has made an indelible mark on the world’s music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical music, multimedia performance, and Eastern and Western traditions.

Miklós Rózsa was born April 18, 1907 in Budapest. His mother played the piano, but his father was an industrialist who thought very little of music and resisted his son's wish to pursue a career as a musician. However, the young Miklos was clearly highly talented and his passion for music was encouraged by his mother. He was able to read music before he could read words and became a proficient violinist, an instrument he played very well when only five. Rózsa's teacher, Herman Grabner, told his father that he believed him to be a musical prodigy and that he showed considerable ability as a composer. Reluctantly, his father let Miklos satisfy his appetite for music.

At the age of only 21, Rózsa was contracted by the musical publishing company Breitkopf and Haertel. He composed for the concert hall and the theatre and wrote for ballet too. The producer of Knight Without Armour (1937) was his fellow Hungarian Alexander Korda. This was the start of a partnership that led Rózsa to produce some of his finest work. These included The Thief Of Baghdad (1940), The Four Feathers (1939), and Lady Hamilton (1941), starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Although he may be primarily remembered as the composer who captured the "Roman" epic sound for the cinema, he was also highly experimental - often writing for film "noir" and utilising early electronic instruments such as the "Theremin" to suggest psychological disorder. Unusually for a film music composer he also wrote prolifically for the concert hall.

In the Fifties and Sixties Rózsa's name was closely associated with Biblical epics and historical dramas. He often used instruments of the time, or tried to emulate them, in Quo Vadis (1951), El Cid (1961) and Sodom and Gomorrah (1962). But his two best and most memorable "epic" scores were Ben Hur (1959) and King of Kings (1961). Throughout his career Rózsa had been regarded as a specialist composer - first of oriental fantasies, then psycho- logical trauma, crime pictures and finally historical epics. He broke from these moulds towards the end of the 1970s when asked to compose for films such as Jonathan Demme's The Last Embrace (1979), Time After Time (1979) and Carl Reiner's Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1981). Rózsa stopped composing in the 1980s because of ill-health. Illness prevented him from attending his own special 80th Birthday Celebration, held at the Royal Festival Hall, in London, with his fellow film composers Jerry Goldsmith and Elmer Bernstein.

Miklós Rózsa died in July 27, 1995 in Los Angeles as one of the last of the great "classic" film and television composers

John Williams was born in New York City on February 8, 1932. Williams—who studied at Julliard—worked as a jazz pianist and studio musician before starting to compose for television and film. John Towner Williams, generally known as John Williams, was born in the Flushing section of Queens, New York, on February 8, 1932. His father was a musician, and Williams started taking piano lessons at a young age. With his family, Williams moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1948. He attended the University of California at Los Angeles for a short time before being drafted into the U.S. Air Force in 1951. After three years of military service, Williams returned to New York City, where he worked as a jazz pianist. He also attended the Juilliard School, studying with famed teacher Rosina Lhevinne in pursuit of his dream of becoming a concert pianist.

Returning to Los Angeles, Williams became a movie studio musician. He was heard as a pianist on films such as Some Like It Hot (1959) and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Working with Henry Mancini, Williams also played piano on the theme for the television program Peter Gunn. Soon, Williams was composing his own music for TV. Williams may be best known for his work with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Almost all of Spielberg's films have Williams scores; their notable collaborations include Jaws (1975), E.T. (1982), Jurassic Park (1993), Schindler's List (1993), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Munich (2005) and Lincoln (2012). Williams also composed the music for George Lucas's six Star Wars movies. In 2013, it was announced that Williams would write the score for Episode VII (2015), and he later returned for Episode VIII (2017).

Shows that received Williams's musical touch include Wagon Train, Gilligan's Island and Lost in Space. His career took off in the 1970s; since then, he has scored more than 100 films, including the notable films listed above. Williams also composed and arranged music for the big screen, starting with Daddy-O (1959). He received his first Academy Award nomination for Valley of the Dolls (1967). Williams has won five Academy Awards and received a record-breaking number of nominations. In 1972, Williams won an Academy Award for his work on Fiddler on the Roof.  He'd also gained attention for his score for The Poseidon Adventure (1972), which received an Oscar nomination as well.

In a career that spans five decades, John Williams has become one of America’s most accomplished and successful composers for film and for the concert stage. He has served as music director and laureate conductor of one of the country’s treasured musical institutions, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and he maintains thriving artistic relationships with many of the world’s great orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Joanne Falletta, Music Director, Conductor - Virginia Symphony OrchestraJoAnn Falletta

Music Director

JoAnn Falletta is internationally celebrated as a vibrant ambassador for music, an inspiring artistic leader, and a champion of American symphonic music. An effervescent and exuberant figure on the podium, she has been praised by The Washington Post as having “Toscanini’s tight control over ensemble, Walter’s affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski’s gutsy showmanship, and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein.” Acclaimed by The New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation”, she serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and music advisor to the Hawaii Symphony.

Ms. Falletta is invited to guest conduct many of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Recent guest conducting highlights include debuts in Belgrade, Gothenburg, Lima, Bogotá, Helsingborg, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a European tour with the Stuttgart Orchestra, return engagements with the Warsaw, Detroit, Phoenix, and Krakow Symphony Orchestras and a 13 city US tour with the Irish Chamber Orchestra with James Galway.

She has guest conducted over a hundred orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Her North America guest conducting appearances have included the orchestras of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Seattle, San Diego, Montreal, Toronto and the National Symphony and international appearances have included the London Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Korean Broadcast Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, China National Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester BBC Philharmonic, Scottish BBC orchestra, Orchestra National de Lyon and Mannheim Orchestra among others. Ms. Falletta’s summer activities have taken her to numerous music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, the Hollywood Bowl, Wolf Trap, Mann Center, Meadow Brook, OK Mozart Festival, Grand Teton, Eastern, Peninsula and Brevard Festival.

Falletta is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards including the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award, the coveted Stokowski Competition, and the Toscanini, Ditson and Bruno Walter Awards for conducting, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra League’s prestigious John S. Edwards Award. She is an ardent champion of music of our time, introducing over 500 works by American composers, including more than 110 world premieres. Hailing her as a “leading force for the music of our time”, she has been honored with twelve ASCAP awards. Ms. Falletta served as a Member of the National Council on the Arts during both the George W Bush and Obama administrations.

Under Falletta’s direction, the VSO has risen to celebrated artistic heights. The VSO, which made critically acclaimed debuts at the Kennedy Center and New York’s Carnegie Hall under Falletta and entered into their first multinational recording agreement with Naxos, performs classics, pops and family concert series in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News and Williamsburg.

In addition to her current posts with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony, Brevard Music Center and Hawaii Symphony, Ms. Falletta has held the positions of principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Phoenix Symphony, music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Falletta received her undergraduate degree from the Mannes College of Music in New York and her master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School.

JoAnn Falletta on NPR | The Innovative Mosaic Of American Symphonies

Bob Shoup, Chorusmaster, Staff Conductor - Virginia Symphony OrchestraRobert Shoup

Chorusmaster/Staff Conductor

This is Robert Shoup’s 20th season as Chorus Master and Staff Conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. His national and international conducting credits include the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, ensembles from the Prague Radio Orchestra and Czech State Philharmonic, and numerous choral ensembles. He served as the Music Director of the all professional Virginia Chorale from 1997-2007.

Robert Shoup’s choruses have been described by critics as “totally enthralling” and “completely mesmerizing,” and he has spearheaded numerous collaborations that have included music, dance and visual arts. His ensembles have been featured on numerous recordings, including two discs with the VSO for the Naxos label (Hailstork and Stravinsky). He served as Assistant Music Director for the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Arts Festival’s highly acclaimed production of the Leonard Bernstein “Mass” and coordinated the collaborating choruses for 2012 performances and recording of Mahler’s Eighth symphony known as the “Symphony of a Thousand.”

His achievements include the creation and coordination of “American Voices”, a two-week-long festival of American choral music with the Virginia Chorale and the VSO. The project earned one of seven major National Endowment for the Arts “American Masterpieces: Choral Music” grants. Shoup also prepared a nationally recruited choir of over 1,800 singers for the 400th Anniversary celebration of Jamestown.

Mr. Shoup is also a singer whom the Pittsburgh Post Gazette called Shoup “an especially fine tenor.” His vocal performances have included the role of John Adams in the world premiere performance of Adolphus Hailstork’s Crispus Attucks, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Fort Collins (CO) Symphony. Mr. Shoup is the founding Artistic Director of CREATOrS, Inc., for which he is composing the score for a major theatrical project related to a true story in sub-Saharan Africa.

Shoup holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education (voice) from Duquesne University, and a Master’s degree in Conducting in the studio of Grammy-winning conductor Robert Page at Carnegie Mellon University.

 

Gustav Mahler was born on July 7, 1860, into an Austrian Jewish family on July 7, 1860 in Kaliste, Czech Republic. Mahler and his 11 siblings grew up in Jihlava, where pronounced ethnic divisions made him feel like an outsider. With music serving as an outlet, he began singing and composing on the accordion and piano at the age of 4 and gave his first recital at 10. When he was 15 years old, Mahler entered the Vienna Conservatory. During his years at the school, he began composing a piece where he felt he was able to truly develop his voice, Das klagende Lied. Ultimately, he turned to conducting after graduation, believing it to be a more practical career choice.

From 1897 to 1907, Mahler was the musical director of the Vienna Court Opera, a job for which he converted from Judaism to Catholicism. While holding this position, Mahler toured all over Europe, becoming very well known. He built a villa at Maiernigg in Carinthia, and each summer he’d vacation there and compose a great deal of music. Mahler’s work ethic was characterized by perfectionism, a trait that made him unpopular among the musicians that he directed.

Mahler’s compositions were solely symphonic rather than operatic. He eventually composed 10 symphonies, each very emotional and large in scale. He also wrote several song cycles with folk influences. His work is characterized as part of the Romanticism movement and is often focused on death and afterlife. He is known for his choral work Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) and the song cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer). On January 1, 1908, Mahler debuted as director of New York City’s Metropolitan Opera. One year later he was conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He returned to Vienna to die of heart disease on May 18, 1911. He passed away before he fully completed his tenth and final symphony.

Died on May 18, 1911, in Vienna, the Austrian composer and conductor Gustav Mahler had served as director for the Vienna Court Opera from 1897 to 1907. After his death, Mahler’s work went largely unacknowledged. It took decades for his community to recognize his influence; he is now regarded as a pioneer of 20-century composition techniques, particularly progressive tonality.

An engaging orchestral conductor, award-winning pianist and passionate educator, Gonzalo Farias, has been recently appointed Assistant Conductor of the Virginia Symphony. Under the guidance of JoAnn Falleta, Mr. Farias’ ambition is to establish music-making as a way of rethinking our place in society by cultivating respect, trust, and cooperation among all people in the community.

He is the Associate Conductor of the Occasional Symphony in Baltimore and was the recipient of the prestigious Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conducting Fellowship in 2016 and 2017. Mentored by Marin Alsop, he assisted conductors Robert Spano, Bernard Labadie, Markus Stenz, Christoph König, Johannes Debus, Lahav Shani, among others; he has worked with instrumentalists like Hélène Grimaud, Vadim Gluzman, Johannes Moser, André Watts, and composers Christopher Theofinidis, Anna Clyne, Jonathan Leshnoff, Christopher Rouse, among many others.

As Music Director of the Joliet Symphony Orchestra Farias transformed the city of Joliet embracing the Hispanic residents of the greater Chicago area with pre-concert lectures, free tickets, Latin-based repertoire, and a unique side-by-side Spanish/English narration of Bizet’s Carmen.

During the summer, Mr. Farias has worked closely with Jaap Van Zweden and Johannes Schlaefli in the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland as well as with Neeme and Paavo Järvi at the Pärnu Music Festival. In the United States, he was the recipient of the prestigious Bruno Walter Conducting Scholarship twice at the Cabrillo Music Festival and named “Emergent Conductor” by Victor Yampolsky at the Peninsula Music Festival. He attended also the Pierre Monteux Festival where he received the Bernard Osher Scholar Prize.

Out of 566 applicants and 78 countries, he was recently chosen one of 24 finalists in the prestigious 2018 Malko Conducting Competition with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Hailed by the Gramophone magazine critics, Mr. Farias offered one the “most fluent, honest, open hearted and pointed performances.”. He has conducting experience with orchestras including Charlotte Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Zagreb Philharmonic, National Symphony of Chile, among others.

Mr. Farias was born in Santiago de Chile, where he began his piano studies at age five. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the P.C. University of Chile, and then continued his graduate studies at the New England Conservatory as a full-scholarship student of Wha-Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman. He has won first prize at the Claudio Arrau International Piano Competition and prizes at the Maria Canals and Luis Sigall Piano Competitions. As a conductor, Mr. Farias attended the University of Illinois working with Donald Schleicher and the Peabody Conservatory with Marin Alsop.

Besides having a fond love for piano, chamber, and contemporary music, Mr. Farias is passionate reader of second-order cybernetics as a way to help understand how complex social systems organize, coordinate and interconnect with one another. This includes the interdependent and recursive nature of musical experiences, in which performers and audiences alike interact and respond to each other. In addition to that, he has a warm affection for Zen Buddhism, which he has practiced for many years.