2017-2018 Classics Series

See our programming for the 2017 - 2018 Classics Season. You can view the brochure here. Remaining shows for the 2016-2017 season can also be viewed below. 

2017-2018 Classics 


From a Five-Time Grammy Winner to Holst’s The Planets

Friday, September 22, 2017, 8PM, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News
Saturday, September 23, 2017, 8PM, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk
Sunday, September 24, 2017, 2:30PM, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach

Five-time Grammy award-winning bassist and a graduate of Denbigh High in Newport News, Victor Wooten performs The Bass Whisperer, composed especially for him.  Named one of the “Top 10 Bassists of All Time” by Rolling Stone, Wooten has been the bassist for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones since the group’s formation in 1988.  From the mighty Mars to the cinematic Jupiter, Holst's The Planets has inspired sci-fi movie music for generations! In celebration of NASA Langley’s 100th Anniversary join the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and take a dazzling trip through the galaxy. 

JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Victor Wooten, double bass
Women of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Robert Shoup, Chorusmaster

Randall Svane: Quantum Flight
Conni Ellisor: The Bass Whisperer
Holst: The Planets


The Best of Wagner’s Ring Cycle

Friday, October 20, 2017, 8PM, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News
Saturday, October 21, 2017, 8PM, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk
Sunday, October 22, 2017, 2:30PM, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach

Wagner’s 15-hour Ring Cycle is to opera what Lord of the Rings is to literature and film!  The Ring includes some of the most scintillating music ever written – join us as JoAnn Falletta and a special guest narrator weave this timeless fairy tale into a manageable, magical evening and epic work of love, greed, revenge and jealousy in both the human and godly realms!

JoAnn Falletta, conductor

Wagner: The Ring


Reformation Festival

Friday, November 03, 2017, 8PM, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News
Saturday, November 04, 2017, 8PM, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk
Sunday, November 05, 2017, 2:30PM, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach

We mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation by presenting one of Felix Mendelssohn’s grandest symphonies, one written “to celebrate the Church Revolution,” together with the piece that inspired it – Bach’s Cantata No. 80. We will hear two wonderful keyboard concerti from Bach’s hand, performed by the renowned international star and best-selling pianist Simone Dinnerstein to her first performances ever in Hampton Roads.

Benjamin Rous, conductor
Simone Dinnerstein, piano
Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Robert Shoup, Chorusmaster

Bach: Cantata No. 80 (Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott)
Bach: Keyboard Concerto No. 1
Bach/Webern: A Musical Offering (Ricercare)
Mendelssohn: Reformation Symphony


Handel's Messiah

Friday, December 15, 2017, 8PM, First Baptist Church Newport News, Newport News
Saturday, December 16, 2017, 8PM, Harrison Opera House, Norfolk

JoAnn Falletta conducts the Virginia Symphony Orchestra for the time-honored Christmas tradition of George Frideric Handel’s revered oratorio, Messiah. Get in the spirit of the season with this distinguished performance of Handel’s sacred masterpiece that presents the austere and dramatic narrative of the Messiah. From Isaiah’s prophecies to the Hallelujah Chorus, you will be brought to your feet in the Messiah performance of the season.

JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, etc.

Handel: Messiah


A Roman Holiday

Friday, January 19, 2018, 8PM, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News
Saturday, January 20, 2018, 8PM, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk
Sunday, January 21, 2018, 2:30PM, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach

Share the warmth of the seven hills of Rome as the Orchestra features Respighi’s powerful Roman Festivals, the third in his popular “Roman Trilogy” of orchestral favorites.  This enchanted concert opens with Beethoven’s ever beloved Violin Concerto performed through the hands of master soloist Tianwa Yang, quoted to be, “the most important violinist to come on the scene in many a year.”   The beautiful intermezzo from Cavelleria Rusticana is one of those timeless pieces you never forget.

JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Tianwa Yang, Violin

Beethoven: Violin Concerto
Mascagni: Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana 
Respighi: Roman Festivals



Classics from Chopin and Brahms

Friday, February 23, 2018, 8PM, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News
Saturday, February 24, 2018, 8PM, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk
Sunday, February 25, 2018, 2:30PM, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach

A Virginia premiere brings this concert to light with Stravinsky’s Funeral Song which was recently rediscovered in 2015 in the St. Petersburg Conservatory.  French pianist, Prisca Benoit, known for her intense and powerful sound, and for a refined pianistic touch with countless range of colors performs Chopin’s moving Piano Concerto No. 2.  Twenty-one years of its conception Brahms wrote its first symphony after hearing Beethoven’s Ninth, both pieces in D minor. 

JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Prisca Benoit, piano

Stravinsky: Funeral Song (Virginia premiere)
Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2
Brahms: Symphony No. 1




Scheherazade ,and a Philip Glass Fantasy

Friday, March 09, 2018, 8PM, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News
Saturday, March 10, 2018, 8PM, L. Douglas Performing Arts Center, Norfolk
Sunday, March 11, 2018, 2:30PM, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach

Join guest conductor Eric Jacobsen (conductor and co-founder of the out-of-the-box orchestral ensemble The Knights) for a contemporary masterwork by Philip Glass, featuring two of the VSO’s beloved principal players, Michael Laubach and Robert Cross.  This performance will thrill audiences in substance and style with its fantasy for two timpanists.  Scheherazade is the musical portrayal of a story from One Thousand and One Nights in which the Persian queen Scheherazade saves her own life through cunning story-telling.

Eric Jacobsen, conductor
Michael Laubach, timpani
Robert Cross, timpani

Barber: Adagio
Philip Glass: Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade


Carmina Burana PLUS a World Premiere!

Friday, April 06, 2018, 8PM, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News
Saturday, April 07, 2018, 8PM, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk
Sunday, April 8, 2018, 2:30PM,2 Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach

The VSO’s Classics season closes with one of the most recognizable works of all time – Carmina Burana.  Based on 24 of the poems found in the medieval collection Carmina Burana, this 20th-century choral masterpiece has been heard countless times in film, television and even at professional sporting events. Also on this dynamic program is a World Premiere of Michael Daugherty’s Concerto for Orchestra, commissioned by Susan and David Goode and inspired byon the steam locomotive photography of O. Winston Link.  Our partners for this production include the Virginia Transportation Museum and the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke.

JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Virginia Children's Chorus

Michael Daugherty: Concerto for Orchestra (World Premier)
Orff: Carmina Burana





Copland's Clarinet Concerto

Thursday, October 12, 2017 | 8 PM | Phi Beta Kappa Hall

JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Michael Byerly, clarinet

Respighi: Botticelli Triptych
Copland: Clarinet Concerto
Brahms: Serenade No. 2

The 2017-2018 Williamsburg Classics series opens with Respighi’s Botticelli Triptych, a marvelous and colorful piece inspired by Italian painter Sandro Botticelli’s Early Renaissance paintings in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The program continues with Principal Clarinet Michael  Byerly’s VSO solo debut in a dreamy concerto from America’s most beloved native composer,  Aaron Copland. Commissioned by jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman, Copland’s Clarinet Concerto was influenced by Brazilian folk music heard on his travels through South America. The two-movement concerto is languid yet expressive in its first movement and becomes restive and audacious in the second. The concert concludes with Brahms’ mellow and airy Serenade No. 2 constructed around a multi-movement suite model.




Beethoven's Symphony No. 2

Thursday, November 9, 2017 | 8PM | Crosswalk Community Church

JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Aundi Marie Moore, soprano

Kodaly: Dances of Galanta
Barber: Knoxville: Summer of 1915
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2

The second installment of this season’s Williamsburg Classics Series begins with Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály’s Dances of Galanta. An avid collector of Hungarian folk songs, Kodály based the piece on the folk music of Galanta, and it bears an evocative, fervent quality that ignites glowing orchestral sonorities. The program proceeds with Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915. This “lush, richly textured” work is set to excerpts from a 1938 prose poem by James Agee that later became a preamble to his Pulitzer Prize-winning book A Death in the Family (1957). The concert concludes with Beethoven’s more relaxed and blithe Symphony No. 2, one of the final works of his “early period.”




Holiday Brass

Friday, December 15, 2017 | 8PM

Saint Bede Catholic Church

The bold sounds of the Virginia Symphony Brass section ring in the holidays with a blast! Experience the festive sounds of the season in a concert filled with wit, virtuosity, and the glorious music of the holidays—featuring the VSO brass and percussion sections. You’ll enjoy music from a variety of styles that make this concert one holiday delight you won’t want to miss!




Mozart's Haffner Symphony

Friday, March 23, 2018 | 8PM | Crosswalk Community Church

Ligeti: Concert Romanesc 
Walton: Viola Concerto
Mozart: Symphony No. 35, Haffner

The final Williamsburg Classics program opens with György Ligeti’s Concert Romanesc, a modestly modern piece composed in four movements played without pause. Using elements from the Romanian folk tradition, Ligeti echoes childhood memories of Alpine horns heard in the Carpathian mountains. William Walton’s viola concerto, featuring Juilliard graduate and Chesapeake, VA native Andrew Gonzalez, is an emotionally gripping piece and is arguably the first great viola concerto of the 20th century. The performance concludes with Mozart’s Symphony No. 35. Also called the Haffner Symphony, the work has a spirited first movement that is, Mozart said, to be played with fire, followed by an unhurried, graceful second movement, a bright, atmospheric third, and ending in a fervid finale that Mozart advised be played “as fast as possible.”




Roots: the British Isles

Saturday, May 13, 2017, 8 PM

Benjamin Rous, conductor

Arnold: Tam O'Shanter Overture
Britten: Suite on English Folk Tunes
Beethoven/arr. Rous: Irish Songs
Haydn: Symphony No. 101, "The Clock"