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What about the music?

An inside look with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Highlight: Power and Promise

Eric Jacobsen, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Music Director

The Performers

Katherine Jolly

A bright, young, accomplished singer on the opera and concert stages, soprano Katherine Jolly has appeared in leading roles with Opera Theatre Saint Louis, Florida Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Virginia Opera, Amarillo Opera, Piedmont Opera, Lyric Opera Cleveland, American Lyric Theatre and others. Her recent CD Preach Sister Preach has received airtime on radio stations across the country and rave reviews in publications and on websites such as Gramophone, Review Graveyard, Take Effect, and others. In the concert arena, she has performed recently as the soprano soloist in Handel’s The Messiah with the Evansville Philharmonic, the Richmond Symphony, and the Phoenix Symphony. Jolly was featured with the Phoenix Symphony in staged performances of Brundibar, Knoxville: Summer of 1915, with Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Carmina Burana, with Northwest Florida Symphony, and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, with the Sacramento Choral Arts Society. In 2012, the soprano returned to the Sacramento Choral Arts Society, in the Fauré Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria. “Jolly’s voice enraptured the audience, as she sang the ethereal Domine Deus”, Sacramento Press.  

Katherine made her debut with Houston Grand Opera in 2012, performing as part of their East/West Chamber Opera series, in a premier of New Arrivals. “Katherine Jolly, also making her HGO debut, employed tender and expressive soprano vocals to make her portrayal of Iris poignant and unforgettable”, Operaworld.com.  She debuted with Virginia Opera, reprising Yum-Yum, in The Mikado, and was featured with the company as one of three sopranos in their Simply Sopranos Gala. The soprano returned to New York City Opera in 2010 for performances as Laoula in L’Etoile following her performances in Cendrillon, in 2007, where Variety wrote of her debut, “As the Fairy Godmother, coloratura soprano Katherine Jolly, delights with her endlessly flowing trills, runs and roulades.”

A winner of the 2006 Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals, the New York Times wrote “Katherine Jolly used her agile, bright lyric soprano to superb effect in showpieces from Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail and Ariadne auf Naxos. Ms. Jolly returned to the Met in the spring of 2010 to workshop An Enchanted Island with the company, and was featured with City Opera’s VOX series for new operas, in Acquanetta, and Josephine, broadcast on NPR. In addition to her Metropolitan Opera National Council Award, she has been the recipient of other awards from organizations including the George London Foundation, Opera Theatre Saint Louis, the McAllister Foundation, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

Jolly has presented workshops of co-authored research on yoga, singing, and performance anxiety at the Performing Arts Medical Association, Voice Foundation, National Association of Teachers of Singing, and the National Percussion Conference, among others. The soprano is a certified yoga instructor, with 18 years of training in classical ballet, additional studies in modern and African dance, as well as mindfulness training. She received the Doctorate of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. As an Assistant Professor of Music at Saint Louis University, Department of Fine and Performing Arts, Dr. Jolly was recently awarded a Mellon Faculty Career Grant, and was a 2016-2017 Finalist for the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in the College of Arts and Sciences. She was the recipient of a New Frontiers Grant for Creative Activity, from Indiana University, where she served as an Assistant Professor of Voice from 2017-2019. Katherine’s primary teachers were Barbara Honn, Thomas Baresel, and Phyllis Hoffman. More information can be found at Katherine’s website here.

Thomas Wilkins

In addition to holding the position of Principal Guest Conductor for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Wilkins is the Henry A. Upper Chair of Orchestral Conducting, as well as Professor of Music in Orchestral Conducting on the faculty of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He is also Music Director Laureate of the Omaha Symphony, the  distinction earned in recognition of his outstanding tenure as the symphony’s longest-serving music director in its 100+ history. His guest conducting credits include every major American orchestra, and his enthusiastic commitment to bringing music to audiences of all ages has earned him numerous accolades–including ”Best People and Ideas of 2011” by the Boston Globe, the prestigious “Outstanding Artist” award at the Nebraska Governor’s Awards, and the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society conferred by Boston’s Longy School of Music.

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

The Creators

Louis Moreau Gottschalk

Roman Carnival Overture

Hector Berlioz
(1803-1869)

Pronounced “bear-lee-ohs”

A gifted French musician and composer, Hector Berlioz did not begin his formal education in the field of music! His father, a physician, urged him to study medicine, instead. Despite arguments with his parents and dutifully earning his first degree in science, Berlioz persevered and eventually went on to study composition at the Paris Conservatoire.

He was a virtuoso on the guitar and also played the flute.

He was a lifelong friend of Mendelssohn.

Berlioz worked hard to promote dramatic expression in music, especially in the music of Weber, Beethoven, and his own compositions.

What is an overture? It is a “musical composition, usually the orchestral introduction to a musical work (often dramatic), but also an independent instrumental work.”

The “English horn, first used notably in Hector Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture (1844), became increasingly useful for its peculiar dark and melancholy expression.”

Max Bruch

Honey and Rue

Andre Previn
(1929-2019)

Previn was a famous American pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor who was born in Germany. His family had to move to America when he was a child, however, because of Nazi persecution. He began working for major movie studios while he was still a teenager!

“In 1996 he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), and in 1998 he received a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in music.”

“The American soprano Kathleen Battle read the words of the poet Toni Morrison and commissioned Morrison and the composer André Previn for a song cycle… Honey and Rue is a composition for soprano, orchestra, and ‘occasional jazz combo.’” Morrison wrote a set of six poems inspired by “the lives of women and African Americans.”

What is rue? It means “to feel sorrow, remorse, or regret.”

Louis Moreau Gottschalk

Symphony no. 4 “The Inextinguishable”

Carl Nielsen
(1865-1931)

Nielsen was born in Denmark and became an admired violinist, conductor, and composer–especially a composer of symphonies. Among many other works of music, he wrote six symphonies in total.

Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4 is one of his best known works. He composed “the Inextinguishable”  “… to capture in music the idea of an “inextinguishable” life force that runs through all creation.” 

Inextinguishable is a word that describes something that cannot be extinguished, like a flame that can’t be put out. 

What is a symphony? It’s a “lengthy form of musical composition for orchestra, normally consisting of several large sections, or movements, at least one of which usually employs sonata form (also called first-movement form).”