Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do you hear what I hear....

...silver bells, the sighs of relief after realizing ALL the holiday lights work, the sloshing of warm apple cider in your favorite mug. We love the sounds of the holidays and hope you will join us for a few more this Sunday, December 14 at 3:30pm as the ASO presents its annual Children's Holiday Concert at the Alfred Street Baptist Church. The program includes favorite holiday sing-a-longs as well as Duke Ellington's jazz-band arrangement of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite. Afterward, receive your fill of holiday cheer and treats with a delicious reception. Tickets are $25 general admission and can be purchased online or via phone at 703-548-0885. This is one afternoon of holiday fun you won't have to travel over the river and through the woods for!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

3 Composers, Two Soloists, 1 Great Night!

Well, the excitement of election season has officially come to an end. Looking for something to fill the void? Join us for an evening of Mozart, Dvorak, and Wilder featuring two guaranteed winners: pianist Yuliya Gorenman and French hornist Amy Horn.

Heralded as a “pianist without fear,” Russian-born, American pianist Yuliya Gorenman brings her artistic fire and extraordinary virtuosity to the ASO for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto #21. Now firmly established in her performing career, Gorenman first achieved international acclaim in 1995 as a prizewinner of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium. She has performed and recorded with the Bavarian Chamber Orchestra, the Hugo Wolf String Quartet, the St. Louis Philharmonic, the Liege Philharmonic, the National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic of Flanders, and many other orchestras and chamber music ensembles. Currently, Gorenman is performing and recording the complete cycle of the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in a series of eight solo recitals at The American University in Washington, DC where she is also a Professor of Piano and Musician in Residence.

Joining Gorenman as a featured soloist is ASO’s own Principal Horn, Amy Horn. She will be spotlighted on Alec Wilder’s Suite for Horn and Strings which ASO Concert Lecturer Colleen Fay calls “vintage Wilder” as it “combines elements of Jazz and popular song, but just enough of each to give the piece a distinctive musical edge.” In addition to her position with the ASO, Horn is also a Master Sergeant in “The President’s Own" United States Marine Band in Washington, DC and a doctoral candidate in Music at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Rounding out the program is Antonín Dvořák’s popular Serenade for Strings. Composed in 1875 in a mere 12 days, the Serenade remains a perennial audience favorite and came from a period of composition that also witnessed Dvořák being well-funded by a grant award and creating his Fifth Symphony. The five, varied movements of the Serenade showcase Dvořák’s rhythmic ingenuity and his now well-known ability to stretch long melodic lines across sections of the orchestra.

"O' Thankful Voice"

Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 8:00pm

Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center

Tickets are $20-$80 and can be purchased online or via phone at 703-548-0885.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

08-09 Season Opener!

It's good to be back! Though we love the slightly more laid back pace of summer, we can't wait to begin our 08-09 season. On Saturday, October 4 at 8:00pm and Sunday, October 5 at 3:00pm, join us as we present "O' Inner Voice" featuring Bowen McCauley Dance at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center (Alexandria). The first program in a season inspired by the voice, "O' Inner Voice" includes Massenet's Meditation from Thais, Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Greensleeves and Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis and Brahms' Variation on a Theme of Joseph Haydn and Piano Concerto No. 1 (Movement 1) with Jeffery Watson, piano.

Ticket prices are $20-80 with special Sunday matinee youth tickets (ages 8-18) only $5! For tickets or more info, call us at 703-548-0885 or visit

Hope to see you on opening night!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Yo, ho, ho! Children's Fest is huge success!

On Sunday, June 8, the ASO held its annual Children's Fest at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center. Outside the venue, hundreds of pirate lads and lasses made treasure maps and pirate hats, heard stories, competed in a limbo contest, and learned new dances. Inside, all those pirates made sure they were heard across the Potomac at the instrument petting zoo. Who knows? Some might even leave behind life on a ship for life on a stage with an orchestra!

After the activities were finished, everyone headed inside the auditorium. You could almost feel the waves pounding as the ASO played selections from the "Pirates of the Carribbean" movies. Maestro Kim Allen Kluge, or as he was known that day, Captain Jack Sparrow, took us on a symphonic adventure. Swords became batons as we played along with the music and mimiced the instruments with our hands.

Adding to the experience was an impressive, and often funny, videography that played behind the orchestra. Interspered with artwork created by area students involved in the Children's Fest curriculum was a narrative about a school janitor. While cleaning at night, he discovers the children's artwork has come to life. Although we all know the arts can be magical, this videography gave that notion a fantastical twist.

After all the activity, excitment, and inspiration (not to mention a beating hot sun), we were all ready to retire to our own quarters and start dreaming up ideas for next year...

(Of course, we couldn't end this post without thanking everyone who attended and volunteered at the event. A very, very, very special thanks goes to Melissa Luby, the amazing ASO Special Project Coordinator who organized the event and made it an amazing success.)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Garden Party 2008

On Wednesday, May 21, 2008, the ASO held its annual Garden Party which featured a live auction. Despite some drizzly weather at the start of the evening, the event was a huge success raising over $41,000! This money will support the ASO's efforts to bring the symphonic experience to the entire community. Examples of these iniatives include the upcoming Children's Arts Festival and our $5 Sunday matinee youth tickets.

Thank you to everyone who attended, donated or bid at the auction, or helped make the event an amazing night! Of course, a special thanks goes to our Board whose hard work makes this all possible!

Picture 1: Elizabeth McCrae, Kate Patterson, Harriet Lankford
Picture 2: Cassie McLaughlin, Nick and Gincy Carosi
Picture 3: Frank and Betty Quirk, Jim and Molly Singerling

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Musician Spotlight: Doug Wallace

For our second edition of ASO Musician Spotlight, we interviewed principal timpanist, Doug Wallace. The New Haven, Conneticut native talked about all things music (from Frank Zappa to Stravinsky) in an email interview conducted in early May.

Are you originally from the area?

I Moved to Virginia at age 10. I attended Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax for Middle School and High School. I received a Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School. I moved back to the DC area in 1996.

What’s your musical background?

I began playing percussion at 8 yrs. old, mostly because I wanted to play drums in a rock band. My parents never really listened to classical music, so I didn’t have much exposure to it until I started playing in youth orchestra and school orchestra. I also played in the George Mason Orchestra while I was in high school. This really helped turned me on to classical music. I have performed with many orchestras and chamber ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Theater Chamber Players, Battery Four Percussion Group, and The Oblivion Ensemble.

I also have many other interests within the music field. I do a great deal of teaching, I compose and have my own publishing company. I also run a percussion web site,

Why did you choose percussion?

My father had played drums in high school and college, so there was a beautiful Gretsch drum set sitting in my basement from the time I was born. I still have that set today!

When did you join the ASO? What’s your most memorable ASO performance?

I have been performing with ASO for about 10 years and was appointed Principal Timpanist in 2000. My most memorable performances have been the emotional debut at Schlesinger Hall (less than two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001), The “Percussion Blast" concert in 2002, Stravinsky’s "Rite of Spring" in 2003, and Milhaud’s "Creation of the World" with Branford Marsalis in 2004.

What or who influences you?

My influences change as I change. At the present time, my family is my greatest influence. I marvel at the things my two year old son can do, and he inspires me to improve in all areas of my life.

Are there any “movers and shakers,” up-and-comers, or exciting trends you see happening in symphonic music?

I think that we have reached a time when Symphony Orchestras must embrace technology in performance, education, and marketing or else they will fail to exist. I have felt for a while that most of the notes, chords, rhythms, color combinations, and orchestration have already been explored in classical music.

The next frontier, in my mind, is the implementation of technology coupled with a transformed art form that requires use of all the senses – sight and sound, of course, but also touch, taste and smell. I guess that I can envision an experience for the audience along the lines of a highly sophisticated live IMAX movie with the orchestra as the featured entity.

Obviously, anything that is cutting edge and that uses sophisticated technology presents two very real problems: 1. It can be extremely expensive to produce. 2. The classical music purists will argue that it goes against a very old orchestral tradition. I respect that point of view very much (and I am not suggesting that we do away with the elegant tradition of a night out dressed up with a glass of wine listening to Mozart's "Symphony #39"). However; orchestras need to reach young audiences in order to keep the tradition of symphony orchestra alive. What about a 24 hour classical music cable channel with news, performances, audience interaction? What about “Classical Music Idol” or “Audition Survivor”? Some people will cringe at the thought of this, but exposure is a good thing if you keep the artistic integrity and quality of the music high. That is the challenge.

Side note - Including popular artists on certain concerts is a way that many orchestras have attempted to attract young audiences, but I think that more needs to be done.

As far as education and marketing go, every orchestra should have an interactive web site, blogs, articles with RSS feeds, a MySpace page, a Facebook page, etc. This is how young people communicate these days, and any business or non-profit organization that doesn’t get with the program is going to be left behind. I am also a firm believer in program notes and speaking briefly to the audience before pieces.

Favorite thing to do when not playing?

Sports – I love to play and watch sports. All sports, but especially the big team sports (basketball, football, hockey, baseball). I feel that playing an instrument and playing a sport are very similar because mental focus, endurance, and agility are essential in both activities.

Favorite band or popular artist?

I can’t say that I have one favorite band or popular artist, but the following have all had a strong influence on me…

Band/Artists: Frank Zappa, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jeff Buckley, Ben Folds, Jonatha Brooke, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Jason Faulkner, The Police, Vinx, Kieth Jarrett

Drummers: Steve Gadd, Elvin Jones, John Bonham

What’s the best part of living in the DC metro area?

Traffic – I love having to leave 2 hours early to make sure I am on time for a gig 5 miles away. Just kidding!

Seriously – The DC area in one of the most culturally diverse areas in the world. There is opportunity to experience so much if you take the time to look around. It gets difficult with the
hectic lifestyle many people live in the area, but if you can fight the traffic, there’s plenty to do!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ahoy all parents, children, swashbucklers, and wannabe pirates!

Just because the subscription season is over, doesn't mean the fun is!

Set your course for the ASO's annual Children’s Festival on Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 2pm!

Not simply a concert, the Children’s Festival is the culmination of a cross-curricular educational initiative that brings music into area classrooms through a specially designed music and arts curriculum. The fun begins at 2pm with interactive art stations, limbo and pirate costume contests and dance activities. Children can also play real symphonic instruments at the instrument petting zoo. At 3pm, the ASO, with a special appearance by Dancensations Dance Center, will present selections from the first two Pirates of the Caribbean movies: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man’s Chest.
Both movies have set box office records with Dead Man’s Chest earning the title of third highest grossing movie of all time. Audiences will delight in hearing the score from a movie loved worldwide brought to life by a live symphonic performance. A backdrop to the orchestra features a videography comprised of artwork created by Alexandria students participating in the curriculum project.

The event will be held at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center (3001 N. Beauregard St, Alexandria). Tickets are only $5 general admission and can be puchased online at or by calling 703-548-0885.

Hope to see you there in your best pirate gear!

(Scenes from last year's festival)

Monday, April 7, 2008

All good things must come to an end...

...but not for long!

This past weekend (April 5/6), the ASO performed its last concert in the 2007-2008 subscription series. Entitled "Bliss" and presented in partnership with Heritage Signature Chorale and The Metropolitan Chorus, the program featured Smetana's The Bartered Bride Overture, Hailstork's Earthrise, and Dvorak's Cello Concerto. Of course, we were especially excited to have world renowned cellist Lynn Harrell as the soloist for the Dvorak piece. It was an amazing way to end a season of special collaborations and memorable performances. To everyone who came out despite the drizzly weather, thank you!

While our subscription series may be over, you don't have to leave the symphony for next year but just set a different course! We invite you to set sail with us on June 8 at 2pm as we present our annual Children's Festival featuring music from Pirates of the Caribbean, dance and art activities, a costume contest, and even an instrument petting zoo! It's sure to be a swashbuckling adventure and with tickets only $5, you won't have to forfeit any precious gold doubloons to have fun!

As usual, the concert will be held at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center (NOVA campus, Alexandria). Tickets can be purchased online at or via phone at 703-548-0885.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Spring Forward to Rapture!

The weather is absolutely lovely today, and we can't help but hope March will be more lamb than lion. This Sunday, March 9, we turn the clocks forward and though we'll miss that extra hour of sleep, the extra hour of sunshine will make it totally worth it.

This weekend you can also spring forward to ASO's next performance, "Rapture," on Saturday March 8 at 8:00pm and Sunday, March 9 at 3:00pm (Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall, Alexandria). The program is a collaboration with the Alexandria Choral Society and Bowen McCauley Dance and will feature Mendelssohn’s Symphony #4 “Italian,” Fauré’s Pavane, Beethoven’s Elegischer Gesang, Opus 118, Handel’s Zadok the Priest, and Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances #1. Ticket prices are $20-$80 with special youth tickets (ages 8-18) offered on Sunday performance for only $5. Tickets can be purchased online at or via telephone at 703-548-0885.

Ccurrently a member of the Alexandria Arts Forum, the Alexandria Choral Society will add a mesmerizing voice to the stage with its chorus. The nationally recognized group has performed with Rosemary Clooney and the National Symphony Pops, and its high quality performances and programming have garnered it numerous awards. In 1992, ACS won the first American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) award ever presented to a chorus for Adventuresome Programming. Locally, it has twice received the coveted ALEX Award from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. Particularly unique to ACS is its commitment to regular performances of American choral music. Most seasons include a program of American works, with ACS premiering a new choral work approximately every two years since 1984.

Lucy Bowen McCauley’s dances will provide a stimulating visual journey that exposes something new about each musical selection. Beginning with the stately, elegant Pavane for orchestra and chorus by Fauré that builds on the court dance tradition inherent in the music, the Company will move to Beethoven’s Elegischer Gesang, Opus 118, a buoyant, intimate work for five dancers, and culminate in a high-octane, celebratory dance for the full seven-member company set to the sounds of Handel’s Zadok the Priest. In addition to her choreography for Rapture, founder Lucy Bowen McCauley has created over forty works since the company began in 1996. In 2003, Lucy Bowen McCauley was awarded the Alumni Path of Inspiration Award from the Interlochen Arts Academy and The Arlington Commission for the Arts STAR Award for Artistic Excellence.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Inside Look: Euphoria

We know it's a little overdue, but Happy New Year! While we had a great break, we're excited to be back in the swing of things with all things blog and ASO.
The final countdown has begun for "Euphoria" being presented in partnership with BosmaDance and Alexandria Performing Arts Asssociation. On Saturday, February 9 at 8pm and Sunday, February 10 at 3pm, indulge in the lushness of interwoven strings and dancers at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center (Alexandria).

But what exactly is "Euphoria?" The program is one which traverses both time and place.

The music will take concertgoers full circle from the Renaissance to the Baroque to the Contemporary, which reflects back on these earlier influences. The program begins with one of J.S. Bach’s masterpieces, the Double Violin Concerto, featuring ASO Concertmaster Claudia Chudacoff and 2006 Mary Graham Lasley Scholarship winner, Najin Kim. The concert then progresses into the lighthearted dance of Johann Strauss’ Pizzicato Polka and takes a step back to the Renaissance with Giovanni Gabrieli’s Canzona.
"Euphoria” is rounded out by two contemporary composers, each of whom was invariably influenced by the Baroque. Fantasia concertante on a theme of Corelli by Michael Tippet was written in 1953 for the tercentenary of the birth of Arcangelo Corelli, a Baroque composer. Drawing influence from another master, Villa-Lobos wrote the Bachianas brasilieras #5, Aria to pay homage to Bach and to the music of his native Brazil.

As for the choreography, it will take you around the world as Artistic Director Meisha Bosma was inspired by a recent trip to India to create dances that "delicately thread intimate gestures, sweeping movements and evocative imagery, penetrating the startling extremes of India."

According to BosmaDance:

"'Euphoria' captures the emotions of a stranger in a foreign land. Traveling between India’s densely populated cities to the haunting reality of native village life and refugee camps, Bosma explores how this life-changing journey tested her patience and strengthened her will to cope with life-threatening situations; a severe case of malaria, an uncertain run-in with the Naxalite rebels, emotional days spent with refugees, and the forbidden act of forgetting toilet paper on a long bus ride. “When people ask ‘How was India?’ – I cannot answer with words, instead I tell people to attend the performance of 'Euphoria,' because India is best explained using vibrant color, dance, and music in its most expressive form,” Bosma says.

While working in the studio to create 'Euphoria,' Bosma reaches beyond her all-female company to include the masculine energy of male dancers for the first time. “It is impossible to imagine 'Euphoria' without the inclusion of male dancers because the dynamic among men and women plays a powerful role in defining what India was in the past and what it is today.” 'Euphoria' explores the balance between fantasy and reality, male and female, life and death, chaos and calm and invites the audience to fill in the gaps with their own experiences, emotions and interpretations."

That's it for our inside look at "Euphoria!" We hope to see you in February.

Don't forget our $5 youth tickets (ages 8-18) at our Sunday matinees!

To purchase tickets, please visit or call 703-548-0885.