Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Classics Concert Series

Pictures at an Exhibition • 9/21 – 9/23

Friday, September 21, 2018 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 8PM

Saturday, September 22, 2018 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 8PM

Sunday, September 23, 2018 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 2:30PM

Saunter into a new season with Pictures at an Exhibition. Mussorgsky’s most famous composition, written in just twenty days, is a suite of 10 pieces depicting his tour of a memorial exhibition for his late friend, the painter and architect Victor Hartmann. JoAnn Falletta and the VSO will perform Ravel’s orchestration of this picturesque masterpiece. Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture makes for a triumphant opening to this program before world-class violinist Sandy Cameron takes the stage to perform acclaimed film composer Danny Elfman’s Violin Concerto – the first performance by a professional orchestra in the United States. 

JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Sandy Cameron, violin

Brahms: Academic Festival Overture
Elfman: Violin Concerto
Mussorgsky/arr. Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition

Boléro • 10/19 – 10/21

Friday, October 19, 2018 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 8PM

Saturday, October 20, 2018 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 8PM

Sunday, October 21, 2018 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 2:30PM

JoAnn Falletta and the VSO return for Ravel’s most famous work, Boléro. This melodic, whimsical work – originally composed as a ballet – is a perfect example of Ravel’s preoccupation with restyling and reinventing dance movements. This program also features the Fourth Piano Concerto by Canadian composer Andre Mathieu, performed by guest artist Alain Lefevre, who worked with conductor and composer Gilles Bellemare to reconstruct the composition that was lost for 70 years. At the height of the concert is Poulenc’s most celebrated work, Gloria.

JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Alain Lefèvre, piano
Anna Feucht, soprano
Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Robert Shoup, chorus master

Tailleferre: Overture
Mathieu: Piano Concerto No. 4
Poulenc: Gloria
Ravel: Boléro

Winter Dreams • 11/30 & 12/2

Friday, November 30, 2018 | Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News | 8PM

Sunday, December 2, 2018 | Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach | 2:30PM

“Winter is coming….” Usher in the season with the VSO in a program that pays homage to winter featuring Glazunov’s picturesque Winter from The Seasons. Acclaimed cellist Julian Schwarz returns with Tchaikovsky’s delightful Rococo Variations. The VSO then takes a trip north to Finland for Sibelius’ evocative Fifth Symphony. We close with a rare treat on the concert stage, the climactic Pas de Deux from Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker.

JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Julian Schwarz, cello

Glazunov: Winter from The Seasons, Op. 67
Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations for Cello and Orchestra
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5
Tchaikovsky: Pas de Deux from The Nutcracker

Handel’s Messiah • 12/13 – 12/15

Thursday, December 13, 2018 | Regent University, Virginia Beach | 8PM (Regent Classics Series)

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

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

Handel: Messiah

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

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7

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

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

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

Tan Dun: Pipa Concerto
Rózsa: Hitchcock’s Spellbound
John Williams: Close Encounters

 

Mahler Symphony No. 2 • 4/19 & 4/20

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

Saturday, April 20, 2019 | Chrysler Hall, Norfolk | 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

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

Declared “brilliant” by the Washington Post, violinist Sandy Cameron is one of the most strikingly unique artists of her generation. Since her debut at the age of 12 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, Cameron has performed extensively as a soloist and recitalist throughout North America, Europe, and Korea. At 15, Sandy was a featured guest at the famed White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Salzburg Festival in Salzburg, Austria, and at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. She has toured North America with renowned conductor Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra, and made other solo appearances with orchestras such as the Seattle Symphony and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Cameron was a performer in Cirque du Soleil’s Los Angeles based show, “IRIS”, and is a featured soloist in Danny Elfman's Music from the Films of Tim Burton concerts and The Nightmare Before Christmas Live at The Hollywood Bowl.

Cameron is currently touring the world with jazz trumpeter and composer Chris Botti, performing jazz standards and classical repertoire. She also performed as a part of Tan Dun’s Hero Concerto and The Triple Resurrection in China. Her work has been featured on a number of major film scores including Rio 2, The Peanuts, Straight Outta Compton, Goosebumps, The 5th Wave, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fantastic Four and The Cobbler. She will also be touring with composer Austin Wintory performing his score for the video game Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.

Cameron has earned numerous awards and honors, including the title of Presidential Scholar, and graduated from Harvard University ('09) and New England Conservatory ('10). A firm believer in giving back to the community, Cameron created her own Music Benefit Fund in 2004, which provided funding for musical education and activity in the schools and community of Poolesville, MD, and continues to participate in a number of charity events.

The outstanding violin used by Cameron, crafted by Pietro Guarnerius of Venice, c. 1735, is on extended loan through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society® of Chicago.

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.

Danny Elfman was born in the Baldwin areas of Los Angeles, California. There he spent a huge amount of time attending a local movie theatre, paying close attention to the unnoticed film scores. Danny Elfman was largely unaware of his talent for composing during his early years of his life, even after creating a Ska band during high school. It wasn’t until the 1970s when older brother, Richard Elfman, started a music troupe while in Paris. The Avant-Garde group began as the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, eventually just known as the American group Oingo Boingo. Many older fans will recognize Danny Elfman’s performance and compositions from this group. While composing the eclectic, intelligent rock for the Oingo Boingo band, Danny formed a strong friendship with director Tim Burton.

The Elfman-Burton partnership began when Elfman composed the soundtrack to Burton’s 1985 film, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, which was also Danny’s first orchestral film score. Elfman delivered the scores, with the help from Oingo Boingo band member Steve Bartek. Burton was so enthralled with Elfman’s works, that Danny has written the performances for all but two of Burton’s films.

The first film Elfman scored was Forbidden Zone, where Danny interestingly played “Satan.” – a film directed by his brother Richard. Most notably, Elfman composed the film scores to the highly successful Batman flicks. Elfman has received many awards for his film compositions. His soundtrack for the highly famous film Men in Black received both an Academy Award Nomination and a Grammy Award Nomination. His three other Academy Award Nominations were for the 1997 movie Good Will Hunting, the 2003 Tim Burton Movie Big Fish, and for the 2008 movie Milk. He was also nominated for the Grammy Award a total of eleven times, for which he won once. Elfman’s score for Batman went on to win a Grammy for “Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture”.

Elfman recently pushed his way into new territory with the completion of his concerto for violin and orchestra, Eleven Eleven. This was a first for Elfman, and effectively launched his career into the classical world. Elfman has proven himself as one of the most versatile and accomplished film composer’s of modern day.  

Mussorgsky was born March 9, 1839 in Karevo, Russia. He was the son of a landowner with peasant influences, as his grandmother was a serf. During his earliest years his nanny would read him Russian fairytales, leaving the young Mussorgsky with a lasting impression of the spirit of the Russian people and a sense of wonder. He discovered music through his mother, who was an accomplished pianist. She gave Modest some of his first lessons, and he could even play some of Liszt’s simpler pieces by age seven.

Modest was primed for a military career from a young age. He and his brother were sent to the Peter-Paul school in preparation for a life in the military. His father was aware of Modest’s musical nature, and entrusted the boys to Anton Gerke, future professor of music at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Later, when Modest was attending the school for Cadets of the Guard, he composed his first piece which was published at his father’s expense. Lieutenant Mussorgsky joined the Preobrazhensky Guards, one of Russia’s most aristocratic regiments. There he made several friends of music-loving officers that were all fond of Italian theatre. He also came to know officer Borodin, who would become another important Russian composer. During a dinner at the home of Russian composer, Aleksandr Dargomyzhsky, Mussorgsky discovered the music of the seminal Russian composer Mikhail Glinka, and this quickened his own Russophile inclinations. This gave Mussorgsky the push he needed to resign from the army and follow his musical passions.

Mussorgsky composed with a bold, unique style but with a relatively small output. The 65 songs he composed describe scenes of Russian life with great vividness and insight and realistically reproduce the inflections of the spoken Russian language. Mussorgsky achieved artistic maturity in 1866 with a series of remarkable songs about ordinary people such as “Darling Savishna,” “Hopak,” and “The Seminarist,” and an even larger series appeared the following year. In 1869 he began his great work Boris Godunov to his own libretto based on the drama by Aleksandr Pushkin, which was originally rejected by a advisory committee of the imperial theatres because it lacked a prima donna role. This piece was subject to a thorough revision, but was completed with the addition of two roles and several new episodes. Mussorgsky heavily struggled with financial difficulties which affected the overall tone of his music. The last years of his life were dominated by depression and alcoholism.

Mussorgsky died on March 28, 1881, in St. Petersburg. He was an innovater of the Russian, romantic music. Striving for a completely unique Russian identity through his works.

Maurice Ravel was born on March 7, 1875 in Ciboure – a village near Saint-Jean-de-Luz – France, to a Swiss father and a Basque mother. His family background was an artistic and cultivated one, and the young Maurice received every encouragement from his father when his talent for music became apparent at an early age. In 1889, at 14, he entered the Paris Conservatory, where he began studying under Gabriel Fauré. During this period he composed some of his best known works.

Ravel was in no sense a revolutionary musician. He, for the most part, was content to work within the established formal and harmonic conventions of his day. Yet, so very personal and individual was his adaptation and manipulation of the traditional musical idiom, it would be true to say he forged for himself a language of his own that bears the stamp of his personality – as unmistakable as any work of Bach or Chopin.

A slow and painstaking worker, Ravel composed fewer pieces than many of his contemporaries. Among his works to enter the repertoire are pieces for piano, chamber music, two piano concertos, ballet music, two operas and eight song cycles; he wrote no symphonies or church music. Many of his works exist in two versions: first, a piano score and later an orchestration.

Ravel died December 28, 1937 in Paris, France. Today, he remains widely regarded as France's most popular composer. He is remembered for once stating, "The only love affair I have ever had was with music."

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will be performing Ravel’s most famous work Boléro in the Classics season during a performance of the same name, and Ravel’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in the Classics season during a performance of the same name.

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

Alain Lefèvre, OC CQ (born July 23, 1962) is a French Canadian pianist and composer. He is one of the Québécois pianists who have sold the greatest number of musical recordings.

In 2009, he was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2011.

Hailed as a “hero” (Los Angeles Times), a “smashing” performer (Washington Post), “a pianist who breaks the mold” (International Piano) and “who stands out from the typical trends and artifices offered on the international scene” (Classica), Lefèvre has performed in over forty countries to the most prestigious venues (Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Théatre des Champs-Élysées, Théatre du Châtelet, Salle Pleyel, Teatro Colón, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Herodes Atticus Theatre, Epidaurus Theatre…) and participated to numerous international festivals (Ravinia, Saratoga, Wolf Trap, Athènes, Istanbul, Cervantino…).

His performances were many times described as “unequaled” (Westdeutsche Zeitung) and “unparalleled” (Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee). Saluted for his “phenomenal technique”

(The Spectator), his « sparkling playing resulting in fascinating interpretations »(Kölner Stadt Anzeiger), his “sovereign mastery” (Hamburger Abendblatt), Lefèvre has been guest soloist of great orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, National Symphony, the China Philharmonic, the SWR, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, the Moscow Virtuosi, (…) and has collaborated with renowned conductors such as James Conlon, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, JoAnn Falletta, Claus Peter Flor, Lawrence Foster, Jacek Kaspszyk, Jacques Lacombe, Kent Nagano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Vladimir Spivakov and Long Yu.

Since the beginning of his career, Lefèvre has included, commissioned and battled for the music of our time. Alexander Brott, Walter Boudreau, John Corigliano, François Dompierre, Pierre-Max Dubois, Henri Dutilleux, Alain Payette are but a few of the composers he has added to his core répertoire. Alain Lefèvre has also championed the music of the forgotten genius, composer and pianist André Mathieu, called the “Canadian Mozart”. He was music director, composer, and pianist for the 2010 motion picture L’Enfant prodige, a film based on André Mathieu’s life, produced by Denise Robert (Cinémaginaire).

His discography covers a vast repertoire, from John Corigliano’s Piano Concerto, considered to be the reference version by BBC Music Magazine, to Chopin’s 24 Preludes, where the critic “celebrates Alain Lefèvre”, placing him alongside with the recordings of the “illustrious” Alicia de Larrocha, Ivan Moravec and Arthur Rubinstein (Fanfare).

Lefèvre has won numerous prizes, amongst them a JUNO, an Opus, ten Felix (ADISQ) and the AIB Award (London), for “International personality of the year – Radio”, saluting his radio program broadcast on ICI Musique/Radio-Canada. He is Officer to the Order of Canada, Chevalier of the National Order of Quebec, Chevalier of the Pléiade Order and Recipient of the Queen Elisabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Anna Feucht is a young soprano who has garnered praise for her "exciting coloratura" and "exceptionally beautiful and powerful sound," with "notes that soar towards the ceiling."  She is a frequent soloist with Virginia Opera and Tidewater Opera Initiative. Roles performed include Laetitia in Tidewater Opera's Old Maid and the Thief, Romilda in Bel Cantanti Opera’s Serse,  Miss Silverpeal in Capitol Opera Richmond’s Der Schauspieldirektor, and Pamina in Lyric Opera Studio Weimar’s Die Zauberflöte, in Germany.

Recently, Anna made a splash in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, where she was described as a big talent with tremendous potential and was praised for her coloratura.

She has often appeared as a soloist with orchestra; Anna is artist-in-residence with the Hampton Roads Philharmonic and has presented a selection of opera arias with the orchestra. She appeared as the soprano soloist in Elijah with the Williamsburg Choral Guild. She has also made repeated appearances with the Ocala Symphony Orchestra as soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah, and had a special performance as part of their one year anniversary concert.   Anna is also a soprano with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Virginia Chorale.

Anna obtained her Master of Music degree from the University of Florida and her Bachelor of Music from Christopher Newport University.  She currently lives in Norfolk, Virginia with her dog Wednesday.

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.

 

Germaine Tailleferre was born Germaine Taillefesse, April 19, 1982 in Parisian suburbs. She was the daughter of an unhappy marriage, and her mother’s only solace. As a result, her mother spent hours training her daughter in the arts, teaching piano, solfege and story writing to young Germaine. Indifferent to her dad’s opposition to her musical education, she enrolled in the Paris Conservatory to learn piano and solfege. She studied primarily with Eva Sautereau-Meyer, who discovered she was a pianistic prodigy with a phenomenal memory for music which led to her winning many prizes. This convinced her father of her exceptional skills, but even so, he refused to fend for her education. To avenge this, Germaine Taillefesse changed her name Germaine Tailleferre.

After completing her studies at the Paris Conservatory, Miss Tailleferre threw off academic restraints to compose uncomplicated works that combined brightness, humor and gentle lyricism. She is quoted to be saying, “I write what I feel.” Her experiences in the art world led to her initial success and the formation of Les Six. Tailleferre was the only woman in Les Six, whose other members were Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric and Louis Durey. The six musicians were friends and their works had already been performed on some of the same new-music programs. After two very unhappy marriages, she found her creative energies drained and due to financial issues was almost unable to compose if not for commission, leading to many uneven and quickly composed works. Germaine Tailleferre spent a good deal of time with Maurice Ravel, who was a great source of support for her and encouraged her to enter Prix de Rome Competition. Ravel was impressed by the works of Les Six and gave Tailleferre ideas on composition and orchestration as well. Moreover, her lack of self-esteem and sense of modesty held her back from publicizing herself to a fuller extent.

The 1930s were even more fruitful, with the Concerto for Two Pianos, Chorus, Saxophones, and Orchestra, the Violin Concerto, the opera cycle Du style galant au style méchant, the operas Zoulaïna and Le marin de Bolivar, and her masterwork, La cantate de Narcisse, in collaboration with Paul Valéry. Later in Paris, she worked as an accompanist for children’s music and movement class at a private school in the year 1976. In her final days of life, she was suffering from arthritis in her hands and thus, limited her works. Still she had made it a point to contribute by bringing forth the Sonate Champetre for oboe, clarinet, bassoon and piano. Her last work was on Concerto de la fidelité pour coloratura soprano and orchestra which was premiered before her death at Paris Opera.

Germaine Tailleferre’s contribution in the French musical movement as well as in the realms of music had been enormous.

Andre Mathieu was born February 18, 1929 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As a very young child he revealed an exceptional talent for the piano and for composition, which encouraged his father, Rodolphe, to give him his first lessons. He composed Trois Études for piano at four and gave a recital of his works 25 Feb 1935 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, creating a sensation. The young Mathieu enjoyed huge successes at a young age, and was given a grant by the Quebec government that enabled him to go to Paris and study piano with Yves Nat and Mme. Mathieu also studied harmony and composition with Jacques de la Presle.

André Mathieu is well-known by his nickname, little Canadian Mozart. His music is firmly late-romantic, unashamedly adhering to the tradition (and style) of Rachmaninov and his music was influenced by Debussy as well. Mathieu's early solo piano works, written mostly in ternary form, reveal an abundance of compositional ideas based on the influences of Romantic and Impressionist styles. However, when he began composing Piano Concerto No. 3, a much larger work, his lack of compositional training became evident. It wasn’t until Mathieu studied with Swiss composer Arthur Honegger did he develop and clearly display a concept of formal structure.

Among the compositions of his youth are the Trois Études, Les Gros Chars, Procession d'éléphants, Trois Pièces pittoresques, Hommage à Mozart enfant, and Les Mouettes, two suites, and a third concerto for piano. Around the time he composed a fourth concerto, his work was beginning to be considered more mature and original. Alain Lefevre has devoted his life to rediscovering the works by Mathieu. Among Mathieu's works for piano and violin are Fantaisie brésilienne, a sonata, a berceuse, and Complainte. Mathieu's vocal works include Le ciel est si bleu, Hymne du Bloc Populaire, Les Chères Mains, and Quatre Mélodies.

Francis Poulenc was born January 7, 1899 in Paris, France to an industrialist father and an artisan mother. His mother, Jenny Royer, introduced the young Poulenc to the piano and often sat him down to practice Mozart, Schubert and Chopin as well as fashionable romances, ‘loveable bad music.’

As the only son of a prosperous manufacturer Poulenc was expected to follow his father into the family firm, and he was not allowed to enroll at a music college. Largely self-educated musically, he studied with the pianist Ricardo Viñes, who became his mentor after the composer's parents died. Poulenc soon came under the influence of Erik Satie, under whose tutelage he became one of a group of young composers known collectively as Les Six. In his early works Poulenc became known for his high spirits and irreverence. During the 1930s a much more serious side to his nature emerged, particularly in the religious music he composed from 1936 onwards, which he alternated with his more light-hearted works.

In his later years, and for decades after his death, Poulenc had a reputation, particularly in his native country, as a humorous, lightweight composer, and his religious music was often overlooked. During the 21st century more attention has been given to his serious works, with many new productions of Dialogues des Carmélites and La voix humaine worldwide, and numerous live and recorded performances of his songs and choral music.

Francis Poulenc died January 30, 1963, Paris. His compositions made an important contribution to French music in the decades after World War I and whose songs are considered among the best composed during the 20th century.

Maurice Ravel was born on March 7, 1875 in Ciboure – a village near Saint-Jean-de-Luz – France, to a Swiss father and a Basque mother. His family background was an artistic and cultivated one, and the young Maurice received every encouragement from his father when his talent for music became apparent at an early age. In 1889, at 14, he entered the Paris Conservatory, where he began studying under Gabriel Fauré. During this period he composed some of his best known works.

Ravel was in no sense a revolutionary musician. He, for the most part, was content to work within the established formal and harmonic conventions of his day. Yet, so very personal and individual was his adaptation and manipulation of the traditional musical idiom, it would be true to say he forged for himself a language of his own that bears the stamp of his personality – as unmistakable as any work of Bach or Chopin.

A slow and painstaking worker, Ravel composed fewer pieces than many of his contemporaries. Among his works to enter the repertoire are pieces for piano, chamber music, two piano concertos, ballet music, two operas and eight song cycles; he wrote no symphonies or church music. Many of his works exist in two versions: first, a piano score and later an orchestration.

Ravel died December 28, 1937 in Paris, France. Today, he remains widely regarded as France's most popular composer. He is remembered for once stating, "The only love affair I have ever had was with music."

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will be performing Ravel’s most famous work Boléro in the Classics season during a performance of the same name, and Ravel’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in the Classics season during a performance of the same name.

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

Julian Schwarz, cello

Julian Schwarz was born to a multigenerational musical family in 1991. Heralded from a young age as a cellist destined to rank among the greatest of the 21st century, Julian’s powerful tone, effortless virtuosity, and extraordinarily large color palate are hallmarks of his style.

In 2013 Schwarz won 1st prize in the professional cello division of the Schoenfeld International String Competition in Hong Kong, and in 2016 won 1st prize at the Boulder International Chamber Music Competition’s “The Art of Duo” with Canadian pianist Marika Bournaki.  

After making his concerto debut at the age of 11 with the Seattle Symphony and his father Gerard Schwarz on the podium, he made his US touring debut with the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2010. Since then he has led an active career as soloist. Recent and upcoming debuts include the Buffalo and Rochester Philharmonics, Camerata Chicago, Symphony Silicon Valley, and the Toledo, Jacksonville, Charleston, Tucson, Amarillo, San Antonio, Des Moines, Charlotte, and West Virginia Symphonies. Return engagements include the Hartford and Springfield (MA) Symphonies, Northwest Sinfonietta, Lake Union Civic Orchestra, Symphoria (Syracuse NY), and the Boca Symphonia. Internationally, he made his Australian debut with the Queensland Symphony, his Mexican debuts with the Boca del Rio Symphony in Veracruz and the Mexico City Philharmonic with frequent collaborator Jorge Mester, and his Hong Kong debut at the Intimacy of Creativity Festival. He has also appeared at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and the Verbier festival in Switzerland.

As a recitalist, he has performed at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, the Rosenegg Castle in Steyr Austria, on the Embassy Series in Washington DC, at the National Arts Club, and in Palm Springs, CA. In March 2017, Schwarz embarked on an extensive 10-recital tour of China, and will make debuts for the Musical Club of Hartford, the University Club in NYC, and the Boulder Bach Festival in the 17-18 season. A committed chamber musician, he is a member of the New York based Frisson Ensemble, the New York Classical Players, and the Mile-End Trio with violinist Jeff Multer and pianist Marika Bournaki. He performs frequently at Bargemusic in Brooklyn with violinist Mark Peskanov, on the Frankly Music Series in Milwaukee with violinist Frank Almond, and has been the featured young artist at both the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival and the Seattle Chamber Music Festival.

Schwarz is an ardent supporter of new music, and often commissions new works to enhance the cello repertoire. He has premiered concertos by Richard Danielpour, Samuel Jones (recorded with the All Star Orchestra for public television in 2012, subsequently released as a DVD on Naxos), and will give the world premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s first Cello Concerto with a consortium of five orchestras in the 17-18 season. Other premieres include the US Premiere of Dobrinka Tabakova’s Cello Concerto with the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra, and recital works by Paul Frucht, Gavin Fraser, Ren Damin, and Gerard Schwarz. On record, the Schwarz-Bournaki duo has recorded Bright Sheng’s “Northern Lights” for Naxos, the complete cello/piano works by Ernest Bloch for the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, and will release a debut recital album in 2017.

A devoted teacher, Schwarz serves as Asst. Professor of Cello at Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University (Winchester, VA). Other faculty appointments include the Eastern Music Festival (Greensboro, NC), Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (Nova Scotia, Canada), and faculty teaching assistant to Joel Krosnick at The Juilliard School.

Schwarz studied at the Academy of Music Northwest, the Colburn School with Ronald Leonard, and received both BM and MM degrees from The Juilliard School where he studied with mentor Joel Krosnick. Other influential teachers include David Tonkonogui, Toby Saks, Lynn Harrell, Neal Cary, and chamber music studies with Andre Roy, Arnold Steinhardt, Jonathan Feldman, Toby Appel and Paul Coletti. Schwarz plays on a Neapolitan cello made by Gennaro Gagliano in 1743, is an active contributor to Strings Magazine’s Artist Blog, and sits on the music committee of the National Arts Club.

Alexander Glazunov was born July 29, 1865 in St. Petersburg, Russia. His mother recognized the talent in her son. Glazunov’s mother, a piano pupil of Mily Balakirev, took her obviously talented son to her teacher, and on his advice the boy in 1880 began study with Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. In 1882 Balakirev conducted Glazunov’s First Symphony. A revised version of the piece was printed in 1886 by M.P. Belyayev, a millionaire timber merchant and founder of the famous Belyayev music-publishing firm that Glazunov later helped direct.

As Glazunov become an experienced composer, he met many of the talented composers of his time. He absorbed the influence of Franz Liszt, whom he visited in Weimar, Germany, in 1884. Other influences, notably Wagner’s and Tchaikovsky’s, were later evident.

Most of Glazunov’s best works—the fourth, fifth, and sixth symphonies and his ballets Raymonda, Ruses d’amour, and Les Saisons (“The Seasons”)—date from the 1890s. He finished his Violin Concerto in A Minor in 1904 and last complete symphony, the eighth, in 1906. In 1905 he became director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he had taught since 1899. He wrote few large-scale works after 1906: two piano concerti (1911 and 1917), two string quartets (1920 and 1930), the Concerto-Ballata for Cello and Orchestra (1931), and the Concerto for Saxophone, Flute, and Strings (1934).

Glazunov died March 21, 1936 in Paris, France. He was known as the major Russian symphonic composer of the generation that followed Tchaikovsky.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky was born May 7, 1840 in the Votkinsk in the Vyatka district of Russia. He was the second born of six surviving children and the son of a successful engineer. The young Tchaikovsky received a sound education from his French governess. His parents sometimes took him to concerts, and after one such evening he complained that he could not fall asleep because of the music stuck in his head. He was devoted to his mother, and at age four he and his sister composed a song for her. Since music education was not available in Russian institutions at that time, Tchaikovsky’s parents had not considered that their son might pursue a musical career. Instead, they chose to prepare the high-strung and sensitive boy for a career in the civil service. Tchaikovsky attended law school in St. Petersburg, Russia, and, while studying law and government, he took music lessons, including some composing, from Gabriel Lomakin. Tchaikovsky graduated at the age of nineteen and took a job as a bureau clerk. He worked hard, but he hated the job; by this time he was totally absorbed by music.

When St. Petersburg Conservatory opened the following fall, Tchaikovsky was among its first students. After making the decision to dedicate his life to music, he resigned from the Ministry of Justice, where he had been employed as a clerk. Tchaikovsky spent nearly three years at St. Petersburg Conservatory, studying harmony and counterpoint with Nikolay Zaremba and composition and instrumentation with Anton Rubinstein. At the very end of 1875, Tchaikovsky left Russia to travel in Europe. He was powerfully impressed by a performance of Georges Bizet’s Carmen at the Opéra-Comique in Paris; in contrast, the production of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle, which he attended in Bayreuth, Germany, during the summer of 1876, left him cold.

His music has always had great appeal for the general public in virtue of its tuneful, open-hearted melodies, impressive harmonies, and colourful, picturesque orchestration, all of which evoke a profound emotional response. His oeuvre includes 7 symphonies, 11 operas, 3 ballets, 5 suites, 3 piano concertos, a violin concerto, 11 overtures (strictly speaking, 3 overtures and 8 single movement programmatic orchestral works), 4 cantatas, 20 choral works, 3 string quartets, a string sextet, and more than 100 songs and piano pieces.

Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky November 6, 1835 in St. Petersburg, Russia as the most popular Russian composer of all time.

Jean Sibelius was born December 8, 1865 in the small garrison town of Hämeenlinna, then under the Grand Duchy of Finland. His birth name was Johan Julius Christian Sibelius; but at home, he was called Janne, which he later changed to Jean and thus became known as Jean Sibelius. Although intended for a legal career, he soon abandoned his law studies at Helsinki, devoting himself entirely to music. At first, he planned to become a violinist. Under the guidance of Martin Wegelius, he composed much chamber and instrumental music. He adopted the name Jean, which he used throughout his professional career in preference to his baptismal names. In his mid-20s he left Finland to continue his studies in Berlin and Vienna, where his teachers included the composers Robert Fuchs and Karl Goldmark.

Sibelius studied at the Finnish Normal School, the first Finnish-speaking school in Russian-held Finland, where he came into contact with Finnish literature and in particular with the Kalevala, the mythological epic of Finland, which remained for him a constant source of inspiration. (Many of his symphonic poems drew on this source.) Around the turn of the 20th century, Sibelius’ fame penetrated the European continent. The pianist-composer Ferruccio Busoni, whose friendship he had made in Helsinki, conducted his Symphony No. 2 in Berlin and the British composer Granville Bantock commissioned his Symphony No. 3. He is widely recognized as his country's greatest composer and, through his music, is often credited with having helped Finland to develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia.

Two chamber music works crowned Sibelius's studies in Helsinki, a suite for violin, viola and cello, and a string quartet in A minor. The core of his oeuvre is his set of seven symphonies which, like his other major works, are regularly performed and recorded in his home country and internationally. His other best-known compositions are Finlandia, the Karelia Suite, Valse triste, the Violin Concerto, the choral symphony Kullervo, and The Swan of Tuonela (from the Lemminkäinen Suite). Other works include pieces inspired by nature, Nordic mythology, and the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, over a hundred songs for voice and piano, incidental music for numerous plays, the opera Jungfrun i tornet (The Maiden in the Tower), chamber music, piano music, Masonic ritual music, and 21 publications of choral music.

Jean Sibelius died September 20, 1957 in Järvenpää, Finland as the most noted symphonic composer of Scandinavia.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky was born May 7, 1840 in the Votkinsk in the Vyatka district of Russia. He was the second born of six surviving children and the son of a successful engineer. The young Tchaikovsky received a sound education from his French governess. His parents sometimes took him to concerts, and after one such evening he complained that he could not fall asleep because of the music stuck in his head. He was devoted to his mother, and at age four he and his sister composed a song for her. Since music education was not available in Russian institutions at that time, Tchaikovsky’s parents had not considered that their son might pursue a musical career. Instead, they chose to prepare the high-strung and sensitive boy for a career in the civil service. Tchaikovsky attended law school in St. Petersburg, Russia, and, while studying law and government, he took music lessons, including some composing, from Gabriel Lomakin. Tchaikovsky graduated at the age of nineteen and took a job as a bureau clerk. He worked hard, but he hated the job; by this time he was totally absorbed by music.

When St. Petersburg Conservatory opened the following fall, Tchaikovsky was among its first students. After making the decision to dedicate his life to music, he resigned from the Ministry of Justice, where he had been employed as a clerk. Tchaikovsky spent nearly three years at St. Petersburg Conservatory, studying harmony and counterpoint with Nikolay Zaremba and composition and instrumentation with Anton Rubinstein. At the very end of 1875, Tchaikovsky left Russia to travel in Europe. He was powerfully impressed by a performance of Georges Bizet’s Carmen at the Opéra-Comique in Paris; in contrast, the production of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle, which he attended in Bayreuth, Germany, during the summer of 1876, left him cold.

His music has always had great appeal for the general public in virtue of its tuneful, open-hearted melodies, impressive harmonies, and colourful, picturesque orchestration, all of which evoke a profound emotional response. His oeuvre includes 7 symphonies, 11 operas, 3 ballets, 5 suites, 3 piano concertos, a violin concerto, 11 overtures (strictly speaking, 3 overtures and 8 single movement programmatic orchestral works), 4 cantatas, 20 choral works, 3 string quartets, a string sextet, and more than 100 songs and piano pieces.

Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky November 6, 1835 in St. Petersburg, Russia as the most popular Russian composer of all time.

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.

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.

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.

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 the
Music 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.

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.