HAMPTON ROADS, VA [July 31, 2019] — The Virginia Symphony Orchestra has been selected to receive an Art Works grant of $15,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant will be used to help fund the third annual CommUNITY Play-In and Sing-Along to be held at Scope Arena in Norfolk on Sunday, September 8 at 4:30 p.m.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s CommUNITY Play-In and Sing-Along was created in part as a healing response to the 2017 violent clash in Charlottesville, and in commemoration of the attacks on our nation of September 11, 2001. Now in its third year, this unique event provides an opportunity for the Hampton Roads community to come together in a show of unity through music.

Community members are invited to bring an instrument and play alongside the Symphony’s professional musicians.  There will also be a sing-along component to the event. Music for any instrument and vocal parts are available for download at the VSO’s website virginiasymphony.org/community.

In addition to the musical performances, the event will feature a variety of local performing arts groups representative of the broad arts culture in Hampton Roads. Spoken word from Teens With a Purpose, whose mission is to empower youth through poetry to positively impact communities, will be featured accompanied by a string soloist. Local Alvin Ailey alumnus Elbert Watson, will create choreography to the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony and teach all in attendance a symbolic sequence. A vocalist from the Virginia Opera will perform, and band and orchestra students from Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University will play alongside choirs from VSO’s Harmony Project partner churches and the Norfolk Homeless Choir. The event will also partner with military ensembles to recognize this significant facet of our community. Local pastors from Norfolk churches, Imam Ahmed El Shahawi from the Muslim Community of Tidewater, and Senior Rabbi Rosalind Mandelberg of Ohef Shalom Temple will share spiritual readings to encourage tolerance and provide a multi-faith send-off.

“We are so proud of our community of musicians and music-lovers who have come together through our CommUNITY event to show the strength of our region and the love and respect we have for one another,” said Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan. “NEA’s recognition of this effort is a tremendous honor, and it will allow us to continue to reach even more participants for this one-of-a-kind event that brings so many together when our world sometimes seems so divided.”

“The recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts is very gratifying,” said Karen M. Philion, VSO President and CEO.  “The NEA’s selection process is thorough and competitive, and this award is evidence of both artistic quality and organizational capacity.”

The CommUNITY Play-In and Sing-Along will be held at Scope Arena on Sunday, September 8 at 4:30pm. Music and vocal parts will be available for download for any instrument and skill level so everyone in attendance can actively participate alongside VSO musicians.

For more information about the CommUNITY Play-In and Sing-Along, or to register to participate, visit virginiasymphony.org/community.


As the region’s most celebrated musical, educational and entrepreneurial arts organization, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra continues to challenge expectations and push the boundaries of what an American orchestra can be – even as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2020.

At the heart of the VSO’s narrative is innovation.  In 1991 the VSO made a very bold move in appointing the gifted young American conductor JoAnn Falletta as its music director. Since then, the orchestra has received national attention for its unique mission serving a home area of 1.7 million across the diverse communities of southeastern Virginia.  Through appearances at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall and commitment to adventurous programming, the VSO and its musicians have been highlighted in the media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio and BBC Worldwide News.

As the largest arts performing organization in southeastern Virginia, the VSO and VSO Chorus present more than 150 concerts and events to educate, enlighten and entertain more than 100,000 residents and visitors each year. Recent innovations include health and wellness programs, including interactive therapeutic experiences for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  As it approaches its Centennial year, the Orchestra and its legions of fans look forward with anticipation as the VSO conducts a worldwide search for its next music director.

For information about the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, visit virginiasymphony.org.


July 31, 2019

Contact: Monica Meyer, Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Public Relations
Phone: 757.213.1431 | email: mmeyer@virginiasymphony.org

Contact: Peyton Carter, Manager of Digital Media Strategies and Patron Loyalty
Phone: 757.213.1420 | email: pcarter@virginiasymphony.org

Twitter: @VASymphony
Facebook: facebook.com/virginiasymphony

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