Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Announces Finalists in Music Director Search | News Release | Alexandria Symphony Orchestra

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Announces Finalists in Music Director Search

Four Candidates to Conduct the 2017-2018 Season

Alexandria, VA—The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) announces its finalists for its next Music Director.  The four selected candidates will conduct and program four pairs of concerts during the ASO’s 2017-2018 season as their final audition.

The final candidates are: Michael Rossi, conducting September 23 and 24, 2017; James Ross, conducting October 21 and 22, 2017; José-Luis Novo, conducting February 10 and 11, 2018 and Nicholas Hersh, conducting April 7 and 8, 2018.  Related community events to meet and interact with the candidates will occur during concert weeks.  The ASO will engage its audience and musicians through targeted surveys to further evaluate the finalists.

Following the suggested guidelines established by the League of American Orchestras, the Music Director Search Committee members worked diligently since the initial August 1, 2016 application deadline to review the complete applications and videos from each of the 170 candidates from around the world.  The inclusive Search Committee consisted of Alexandria citizens, ASO musicians, and members of the orchestra’s Board of Trustees.

“The ASO is thrilled to announce the final candidates, one of which will be the ASO’s next Music Director,” said Ronal Butler, President of the ASO Board of Trustees.  “The search committee received a qualified pool of applicants.  These four finalists have unique backgrounds and fresh ideas to offer the ASO for its upcoming 75th Anniversary year and beyond.”

The finalists are indeed diverse, conducting symphonies from Xalapa, Mexico to Lucena, Spain—from the Los Angeles Philharmonic to the Washington National Opera.

Michael Rossi is the founder and Artistic Director of the Miami Summer Music Festival; James Ross is currently Director of Orchestras at the University of Maryland, Orchestra Director for the National Youth Orchestra – USA, Music Director-designate of the Orquesta Simfònica del Vallès and serves on the faculty at Juilliard.

Complete details for the 2017-2018 Season, including programming, will be announced by May 1.  Tickets are going fast for the ASO’s 2016-2017 Season finale on May 20, featuring Dvořák’s New World Symphony and Barber’s Violin Concerto with guest conductor Emil de Cou and violinist Marlisa Woods.

The fully-professional Alexandria Symphony Orchestra performs Saturdays at Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center and Sunday matinees at the George Washington Masonic Memorial. Single ticket prices: $20- $80 adult, $5 youth, and $10 student with military, senior and group discounts available. To order tickets and for more information, visit www.alexsym.org or call (703) 548-0885.

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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.

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. SOLA sponsors the Mary Graham Lasley Scholarship Competition, now in its 41st year, underscoring the Symphony’s commitment to nurturing young talent and creativity.

ASO Sympatico, the ASO’s El Sistema-based music education program was founded in 2012 and completed its second full school year in June 2016.  Serving 120 students before and after school at John Adams Elementary School in Alexandria, ASO Sympatico is a growing partnership between the ASO and the Alexandria City Public Schools.  ASO Sympatico offers before and after-school music education programming for K-5 students, free of charge to any student.

Following the end of Maestro Kluge’s tenure in 2016, the ASO entered a search process for its next Music Director and Conductor.  With 170 applicants from around the world and four intriguing finalists, the ASO is excited to enter its next chapter and to celebrate its 75th Anniversary in 2018-2019.


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