Alexandria Symphony: Autumn Storytelling and Holiday Merrymaking with a Twist

The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra continues its 2019-2020 season of diverse programming under the direction of Maestro James Ross. In his second year as Music Director with the ASO, Ross endeavors to feature forgotten and underrepresented voices in the concert hall and present symphonic music in unconventional and creative ways. 

“Together we are exploring what vitality an orchestra can bring to our community,” says Maestro Ross. “Although we are dead serious about orchestral music and its much-needed humanizing impact in today’s world, we’re not afraid of surprises and presenting concerts that are both fun and moving.” 

Opening the ASO’s performances on Saturday, Nov. 16 and Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, singers from the Alexandria Choral Society and Fairfax Choral Society will join the orchestra for Lili Boulanger’s Old Buddhist Prayer. Lili was sister to the more famous Nadia Boulanger, known for her influential work in pedagogy. Although she died at 24, Lili composed many acclaimed works in her short life, and she was the first woman to win the Prix de Rome for composition in 1913. 

Following the choral opening, cellist Wolfgang Schmidt will perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Elgar composed the concerto as his last major work, melancholy in its sentiment and also romantic and backward-looking in its style. Soloist Wolfgang Schmidt is internationally acclaimed as a touring and recording artist as well as a conductor. The November program will conclude with Dvorák’s Symphony No. 8. “Dvorák’s Eighth Symphony is full of sunshine, parables, folk dance, forest and perfectly-orchestrated storytelling,” relates Maestro Ross. 

The ASO will present a family-friendly holiday concert experience on Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec.15, 2019. Starting with the prelude to Hänsel and Gretel, the program includes the Nutcracker in two formats: excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s ballet suite and Duke Ellington’s rendition that swings. For Saturday’s performance, Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite will be accompanied by visual images by The New Live rendering the story of an African-American girl in Harlem. Additional visuals by Tim McLoraine will accompany Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and Hänsel and Gretel. 

Also joining the ASO in December is Morgan Short, winner of the 43rd Mary Graham Lasley Scholarship Competition. Ms. Short will perform Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, originally written for guitar and arranged for harp. She is a Classics Alive Artist, sought-after touring soloist, and enrolled at the UNC School of the Arts. December’s concerts will be presented one hour earlier than usual and with no intermission, and the entire audience is invited to stay for a post-concert reception complete with holiday treats, activities and a chance to meet the musicians. “It’s a multi-sensory concert followed by a holiday party for the whole ASO family,” says Ross. 

For more information, visit alexsym.org.