ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is celebrating 80 years as a live music institution this year. Throughout their 2023-’24 concert season, opening the end of September, ASO will highlight this tremendous achievement with four commissioned compositions through the ASO at 80 project.
“I am thrilled with the eclectic, multifaceted programs we are offering to celebrate the ASO’s 80th anniversary and to contribute to the 275th anniversary of the City of Alexandria in 2024,” says Maestro James Ross. “These programs represent who we are through music — from classics to the contemporary, from master composers to new voices, from our western heritage to what is uniquely American. Each program speaks to us in terms of its own time and place yet relates directly to what we see and experience today.”
The season and anniversary begin Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 with “ASO at 80-oh!” Artistic Advisor and composer Lester Green opens with “A Musical Toast,” a commission on piano, followed by Quinn Mason’s “Toast” with full orchestra. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Brahms Violin Concerto will be featured as well. The latter features world-renowned soloist Elissa Lee Koljonen.
Audiences will hear the sounds of Appalachia and Americana on Nov. 4 and 5 in a program called “Going Home.” The main piece on those dates will be Dvořák’s New World Symphony. In “Tscenacomoco,” a commission, Native American composer Dawn Avery makes a connection between Alexandria’s own Native history and Dvořák’s exploration of Native and African-American musical styles.
ASO’s annual holiday concert, “With a Twist,”will take place Dec. 16 and 17. It will feature a mix of traditional and contemporary music to celebrate the season. Joshua Banbury, a jazz and opera singer, will entertain, along with Chris Ullman, a world whistling champion. The concert is family-friendly. Patrons are invited to come early and hear students from ASO’s music education program.
Feb. 10 and 11, 2024 marks a special collaboration with the Cantate Concert Choir. They will accompany ASO in a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in D. The program entitled “Do Not Go Gentle” includes a performance of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and Clyne’s “Sound and Fury” (with narration from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”). The concerts open with the commissioned piece “Aurora” by Milad Yousufi. His music is inspired by his experiences as a refugee from Afghanistan.
The season finale, “Shuffle and Deal,”occurs on April 20 and 21. The commissioned piece for those dates is “Alexandria Shuffle” by Jorge Amado. Cuban pianist and composer composer Aldo López-Gavilán joins ASO to perform his composition “Emporium,” a concerto. ASO will also play a selection from Bernstein: “Three Dance Episodes” and Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony.
All Saturday performances will be held at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees will be held at the George Washington Masonic Memorial at 3 p.m.
The 2023-2024 Season is generously underwritten by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alexandria Commission for the Arts, and the Rea Charitable Trust. ASO at 80 works are commissioned by Classical Movements for the September/October, November, and April performances. February’s ASO at 80 composition is commissioned by Nancy Davenport.
For ticket info and more, visit alexsym.org/tickets.
This report has been updated. [SEE ALSO: Elections Office Seeking Feedback on Addition of West End Precincts]