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Maestro Kim Kluge’s Farewell Season with ASO | News Release | Alexandria Symphony Orchestra

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Alexandria Symphony Maestro Kim Allen Kluge’s Contract Will Conclude in June 2016

ASO Honors Kluge in His Final Season and Announces an International Search

Alexandria, VA—The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) announces today that Maestro Kim Allen Kluge, who has served as ASO Music Director for the past 27 years, has informed the Board of Trustees that he will not be renewing his contract with the ASO after it expires as scheduled on June 30, 2016, as he will be pursuing additional conducting and composing opportunities on the national and international music scene.  In honor of his many years of leadership and service, Kluge will become the organization’s first Maestro Emeritus.

When Maestro Kluge started with the ASO, it was an avocational orchestra; he quickly transformed it into a fully professional ensemble, known for its outstanding musicianship, visceral and poetic music-making and innovative programming.  Maestro Kluge has been a passionate advocate for music education in Alexandria, making it an essential part of the ASO’s program.  Maestro Kluge’s dynamic presentational style at concerts is key to the education of his audiences.  Most recently, under his Music Directorship, the ASO developed the first El Sistema-inspired program in the Washington, D.C. region, ASO Sympatico, which has been honored with a 2015 Yale Distinguished Music Education Partnership Award.

Kluge has been a leader of the inter-arts movement in Washington, D.C. and has forged relationships between the ASO and the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian, the Washington Opera, the Washington Ballet, The Shakespeare Theatre, and many other leading performing arts institutions in our nation’s capital.

Maestro Kluge is scheduled to conduct the remaining ASO concerts for the 2015-2016 Season: Symphony & Cinema. The national capital region will have the opportunity to hear the world premiere of the American Concerto for Piano & Orchestra, composed by Kim and his wife, Kathryn Kluge, at the ASO’s season finale on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Following the conclusion of his tenure with the ASO, Maestro Kluge will be conducting nationally and internationally, and will bring his passion for education, orchestra building and innovative programming to his endeavors.  He will continue his work as a composer, writing music for film, concert hall and performing artists.

Maestro Kluge stated, “I will work closely with the ASO to ensure a seamless transition to my successor.  The Alexandria Symphony is my first baby and I have been devoted to its growth and prosperity.  I am proud of the reputation and foundation we have built for the future, even in a time of so much uncertainty for orchestras.  I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the tens of thousands of shoulders that I stand on and will continue to honor them with loyalty and devotion.”

The ASO will establish a committee to undertake an international search for the next ASO Music Director and Conductor.  The ASO looks forward to celebrating its 75th Anniversary in its 2018-2019 Season and seeks a Music Director who passionately supports the ASO’s mission to provide quality, affordable and accessible music to the Washington metropolitan region and to broaden its educational and community outreach.  The committee seeks the right individual who will present compelling performances with inspirational programming, spark chemistry with the audience and catalyze the diverse cultures and musical tastes within our community.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, donors, and patrons of the ASO, I thank Maestro Kluge for his many years of service to the Alexandria Symphony,” said Ronal Butler, President of the ASO Board of Trustees.  “Maestro Kluge transformed an amateur orchestra into one of the shining jewels of the arts scene in our nation’s capital and established the ASO as a cultural resource to the community.  As we look to the future, we are excited to partner with our next Music Director who will share our artistic vision, honor our organization’s 72 years of musical history and expand our mission as we embark on our next chapter.”

Maestro Kim Allen Kluge, biography

Kim Allen Kluge brings an epic sense of drama to his music-making, from composing to the podium, and has been praised by The Washington Post: “Maestro Kluge is a brilliant composer, conductor and visionary of our time. Epic performance!” Distinguished by his powerful music-making and its dramatic impact, he has been likened to the great poetic musicians of our time. “Kluge’s sense of drama was evident…relentless pressure I associate with Arturo Toscanini,” hails The Washington PostThe Alexandria Journal has lauded Mr. Kluge’s passionate style, commenting, “In its power, Kluge’s performance bore the hallmarks of the work of such mesmerizing artists as Artur Nikisch and…Leonard Bernstein.”

In 2012-2013, Maestro Kluge celebrated 25 years as Music Director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra. During that season, Maestro Kluge led a historic performance at the National Gallery of Art in honor of the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The Washington Post raved about this performance, noting, “Kluge is superb at high-voltage works like this—if you haven’t heard him conduct, you’re missing a great musical experience—and turned in a taut, visceral reading, perhaps the most exciting heard here in years.”

Maestro Kluge is a Valedictorian of Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he served as Concertmaster of the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra and received the coveted Arthur Dann Award for Outstanding Pianist and the Pi Kappa Lamda Scholarship for Musical Excellence. Maestro Kluge pursued two doctorates in Music from the University of Maryland and received a Conducting Diploma from the Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena where he studied with Valery Gergiev. He participated in the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center Program where he was a protégé of Seiji Ozawa, Roger Norrington and Sir Simon Rattle. In 2006, he garnered the Wammie Award for Best Conductor presented by the Washington Area Music Awards. Maestro Kluge has appeared as guest conductor with the Sinfonietta de Paris, Les Solistes Parisiens, the Mannheim Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Seoul Philharmonic, the Baltimore Lyric Opera and the Kennedy Center National Opera Orchestra. In 1997 Kluge co-founded Capital City Opera which partnered and presented with regional theater companies, George Mason Center for the Arts, The Washington Performing Arts Society and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

A passionate advocate for music and arts education, Maestro Kluge believes education should be integrated into every concert experience regardless of format or audience demographic. Immediately upon his appointment as ASO Music Director, Kluge instituted a comprehensive year-round inter-curricular music program that included ensemble and full orchestra experiences for public and private schools. In 2003, Maestro Kluge founded the Children’s Arts Festival. He has developed mentoring programs and side-by-side concerts—pairing aspiring young musicians with ASO professionals. This season, he will work closely with many of Alexandria’s music students through ASO Sympatico (education program at John Adams Elementary) as well as offering composition instruction, master classes, workshops, and mentoring. The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra has honored Maestro Kluge’s commitment to arts education by instituting the Kluge Young Composer Competition.

Maestro Kluge composes for a wide range of clients ranging from Academy Award-winning producers to The National Gallery of Art. He composes with his wife Kathryn for music icons ranging from pop stars to jazz legend, Branford Marsalis (Vocalise, a concerto) and classical virtuoso, Midori (Meibuki, a concerto written for the violinist’s Orchestra Residencies Program with the ASO in 2012).

In 2012 The Kennedy Center presented the Kluge’s Haiku Suite, choreographed and performed by Bowen McCauley Dance. The National Gallery of Art commissioned them to compose and perform film scores for their historic 2012 Alice Guy-Blache Retrospective. In 2013, the Kluges were commissioned to write River Poem for orchestra, chorus and bells, in dedication to the City of Alexandria. The Kluges composed and Maestro Kluge performed Rhapsody for Lily for orchestra and piano in 2014, which was dedicated to the Kluge’s newborn daughter.

The husband and wife team continue to write scores for film and live performance. This season their work ranges from composing for Academy Award-winning producers to a commission from the National Gallery of Art that will benefit imprisoned writers throughout the world. They will compose the score for a film version of Eckhart Tolle’s Milton Secretstarring Peter Fonda. This season the Kluges will be offering to the ASO the world premiere of their American Concerto for Piano & Orchestra. Repeat performances of American Concerto for Piano & Orchestra are in high demand and have been slated with orchestras from around the world.

Maestro Kluge’s stature as a composer and conductor is being recognized nationally, as he has recently been named Music Advisor for The Hollywood Film Festival. He produced and moderated a music panel for the Topanga Film Festival in 2014 with film director/producer Alexander Payne. Additionally, Kluge is on the Advisory Board for Digital Hollywood and serves as Music Advisor for CineCause, a global organization dedicated to filmmakers and change agents who want to have a positive social impact on the world.

Hear compositions by Maestro and Kathryn Vassar Kluge at www.kimallenkluge.com. Maestro Kluge’s creative work derives from his passion and conviction that people of different backgrounds can share the essence of their humanity through artistic expression. The common denominator in all Kim Allen Kluge’s work is his desire to reach audiences in a visceral and thought-provoking manner, often through the juxtaposition of disparate styles or genres.

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, a brief history

The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1943 under the leadership and vision of Miss Neale Landen, a music teacher at George Washington High School. Initially an amateur group of about 40 musicians, the ASO sought to perform mostly impromptu concerts at a variety of venues around the city. The Symphony was officially incorporated on August 6, 1954 with an annual budget of around $1200. Dr. Wendell Margrave, Director of the Washington Musical Institute, took over the baton in 1948 and led the group until the mid 1960’s.

In 1966, as demand for a more formal programming schedule arose, the orchestra hired George Washington University professor Dr. George Steiner as Music Director. Under Steiner’s influence, the ASO introduced its first subscription series along with its Lollipop Children’s series of educational concerts, performing at Albohm Auditorium on the campus of T.C. Williams. During the 1980’s, in response to the growing need for volunteers, the Symphony Orchestra League of Alexandria (SOLA) was founded along with the Mary Graham Lasley Scholarship Competition for college-level musicians. Following the retirement of Dr. Steiner, the ASO held an extensive national search for a new music director. Chosen for the position was award-winning Oberlin Conservatory of Music Valedictorian Kim Allen Kluge.

Under Kluge’s direction during the 1990’s, the ASO became a professional orchestra. It rapidly developed a reputation for artistic excellence and innovative programming through its highly successful concerts at the Kennedy Center. In partnership with the City of Alexandria, the ASO significantly expanded its programs and concerts in the schools and began performing in the annual Alexandria Birthday Celebration outdoor concerts.

In 2001, the ASO gave the inaugural concert at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Center, which became its new home. In the Schlesinger era, the ASO emerged as a leader of the Washington DC inter-arts movement, forging artistic partnerships with many of the region’s leading cultural institutions including the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, the Washington Ballet and the Shakespeare Theatre. Crossover concerts featuring visual art, dance, and film have come to symbolize Maestro Kluge’s efforts to engage the regional community in all avenues of artistic expression.

During the Schlesinger era, the ASO has performed with many of the world’s leading musicians including Midori, Peter Serkin, Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg, Richard Stoltzman, Garrick Ohlsson, Yefim Bronfman, Lynn Harrell, Sarah Chang, and Branford Marsalis. The ASO is comprised of the finest professional freelance musicians in the Washington DC area, and regularly receives rave reviews from the Washington Post and other regional newspapers.

Moving forward into the new millennium, the ASO continues to make education a centerpiece of its mission. In 2003, the ASO introduced the Children’s Arts Festival featuring inter-arts activities, workshops and performances for young children. Maestro Kluge has held a variety of masterclasses in performance, conducting and composition throughout the DC region. He has also instituted side-by-side collaborations, in which local high school students perform with the professional musicians of the ASO. SOLA and the ASO present the Mary Graham Lasley Scholarship Competition and the Kluge Young Composers Competition, respectively, underscoring the Symphony’s commitment to nurturing young talent and creativity.

ASO’s newest education initiative, ASO Sympatico, completed its first full school year in June 2015. Launched in 2013, ASO Sympatico is a before and after-school music program at John Adams Elementary School (Alexandria City Public Schools) underwritten by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra. Inspired by the El Sistema method, the program is fully enrolled in its second year with extensive waiting lists. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade are eligible to participate in the five ensembles, free of charge.  ASO Sympatico was honored as a 2015 Yale Distinguished Music Education Partnership.

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