Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Awards Grants Aimed at Helping Community Through Music

Several projects serve ACPS students and those enrolled in Sympatico program

“If we can’t play together, we can at least invent together!” said ASO Music Director James Ross. (Courtesy photo)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Yesterday afternoon the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra announced the recipients of a micro-grant. Each recipient will complete a project involving classical music by June 2021 with assistance from the grant.

Upon project completion, one of the following objectives will be met: confront systemic racism in classical music, connect to all parts of the community, promote underrecognized artistic voices, and improve the lives of children.

“I wanted to animate and harvest our musicians’ quarantine-inspired creative thinking and invite them to invent, present, and realize projects that are singularly apt for this strange ‘concert-quiet’ year we are facing,” said ASO Music Director James Ross. “These projects might never have come to the fore in normal times. If we can’t play together, we can at least invent together!”

Below is a list of the names of recipients and a brief summary of their projects.

  • Alexandria Symphony’s Concertmaster Claudia Chudacoff will record Chia Patino’s mournful Wild Swans with string quartet. This will be the first known recording of this piece. The Ecuadorian composer was inspired by poetry, expressing a range of emotion and speaking to those in isolation. The final video will be shared on social media.
  • Animation artist Alexi Scheiber will provide a virtual artist talk for Sympatico students about setting her film A Cardinal Among the Clouds to music (Clouds by Charles Tomlinson Griffes). After learning about animation from Ms. Scheiber, students will make traditional and digital paper puppets. The original film was commissioned by the ASO as part of Homegrown: American Stories in Music and Film, and it will premiere during the 2021-2022 season.
  • Avalanche Bass Quartet, led by ASO musician Kimberly Parillo, will present a socially-distanced outdoor concert at the Mason District Amphitheater in Annandale. Performing a variety of classical and popular repertoire (including video game themes), the unconventional quartet will highlight messages of racial and social justice. The performance will be free and open to the public.
  • A premiere woodwind quintet, WindSync, led by ASO oboist Emily Tsai, will present a virtual workshop to Sympatico students. A combination master class and career development learning opportunity, the members will share how a professional ensemble stays relevant and creates content during the current pandemic. WindSync will provide future opportunities for students to attend in-person performances.
  • QuinTango, led by ASO violinist Joan Singer, will teach ACPS students to play a tango. Orchestra students from Hammond Middle School, George Washington Middle School, and T.C. Williams High School will review recordings of their parts and a complete performance by QuinTango. After coaching and practice, the students will perform their parts virtually playing along live with QuinTango.
  • Spark Media will test Humanities.Games, a platform in development to empower students to learn through art-related games. Through interactive workshops, students from ASO Sympatico will help create music-based games that will be further developed by Spark Media. The final product, underwritten by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be a range of educational games for students with limited access to computers.
  • ASO assistant principal cellist Jihea Choi and violinist Sonya Hayes will present a workshop to middle school students in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Ms. Choi and Ms. Hayes will demonstrate secret string techniques and begin a conversation about systemic racism in classical music via Zoom. Students will be invited to ask questions about musicianship and music careers.

“These outstanding and original projects are emblematic of ASO’s commitment to creativity in service to our community,” says ASO Executive Director George Hanson.

Several projects serve students in ASO’s Sympatico music education program, as well as Alexandria City Public Schools students not enrolled in the program.

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