Theater Overview


Theater Overview


By Montague Gammon III Bookmark and Share


The 14th Virginia Arts Festival brings a Spring-tide of performance richness to Hampton Roads. More than a dozen theaters, halls, schools and churches host shows in all genres—rock symphony and new operas, a banjo virtuoso and chamber music, a Broadway singer and dance concerts, classical and jazz and much more.

The Birmingham Royal Ballet returns, this time with their pristine, ultra-classical Swan Lake (May 7¬–9). That grand dame of terpsichorean wit, Pilobolus Dance Theatre, offers up their quirky and acrobatic fluidity (May 15–16).

Exotic tradition, splendid costume and mind boggling technique hit the stage with Nalmes, The State Academic Ensemble of Folk Dance of Adyghea, Russia (May 2–3), and our own acclaimed Richmond Ballet drops in with a three part program of 21st Century pieces especially commissioned for the company (May 23).

There’s a good bit of home grown—or at least home based—talent on display. The Virginia Wind Symphony (May 3) is a group of Hampton Roads music teachers, joining together to display their performing talents. JoAnn Falletta headlines a chamber music program called JoAnn Falletta and the Women of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (May 10). Falletta also conducts our Virginia Symphony with guest cello phenom, young Alisa Weilerstein (May 30) .

The Virginia Chorale gives two performances (May 15 and May 30), and the Tattoo even includes two pieces composed by a Norfolk stationed Navy musician, Robert Szabo.

Chamber music performers include internationally famous groups such as the Cavani String Quartet (May 6), the Orion String Quartet (May 20), and the five member, musically diverse Boston Brass (May 21). Weilerstein gives a chamber performance (May 27) and Festival Chamber Music Artistic Director and internationally regarded pianist André-Michel Schub also joins the Orion Quartet for one concert (May 23).

Three weekday mornings provide top notch chamber musicians in a series of 10:30 a.m. Coffee Concerts across the region (May 4, 21, & 28).

For true diversity, there is even some rock, in the form of a tribute style, 50 member orchestra program called Music of Queen: A Rock Symphony (5/22)!

A series of jazz performances called the Attucks Jazz Club bring special visits from trumpeter Joe Magnarelli (May 1), sax player Rich Perry (May 8) and vocalist Rene Marie (May 15).

The African Children’s Choir, orphans of 7 to 11 years old, make a return visit, mixing the traditions of their many homelands with American gospel music and contemporary pieces (May 12).

Broadway headliner Kelli O’Hara joins Tony winning conductor Rob Fisher as part of Festival Williamsburg (May 29), just one day after banjo artist Béla Fleck unveils his latest musical experiment, blending his down home instrument with the sounds of the Indian drum called the tabla and those of that jazz mainstay, the double bass (May 28). Weilerstein’s chamber performance and her concert with the Virginia Symphony are also parts of Festival Williamsburg.

The 8th Annual PANorama Caribbean Music Fest at the Oceanfront (May 7–8) spotlights both local and visiting calypso, steel drum, and Caribbean influenced artists. There’s also a multi-genre World Drum Festival (May 22), the heavily audience-involving Virginia Beer Festival (May 15), and a Festival closing free show by the US Army Band (June 6).

Masterworks in the Making (June 6), workshop creations by early-career opera composers, rounds off these very busy few weeks with a look at the long term future of the performing arts.

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