JoAnn Falletta | Robert Shoup | Benjamin Rous

JoAnn Falletta, Music Director |  Back to top

JoAnn Falletta is internationally celebrated as a vibrant ambassador for music, an inspiring artistic leader, and a champion of American symphonic music. An effervescent and exuberant figure on the podium, she has been praised by The Washington Post as having "Toscanini's tight control over ensemble, Walter's affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski's gutsy showmanship, and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein." Acclaimed by The New York Times as "one of the finest conductors of her generation", she serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of both the Phoenix Symphony and the Brevard Music Center.

Ms. Falletta is invited to guest conduct many of the world's finest symphony orchestras. Her upcoming guest conducting highlights include return engagements with the Warsaw, Detroit, Phoenix, Krakow, Puerto Rico and Hawaii Symphony Orchestras and debuts with the Gothenburg Symphony, Stuttgart Philharmonic, Belgrade Philharmonic, Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais and the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall.

She has guest conducted more than a hundred orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Her North America guest conducting appearances have included the orchestras of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Seattle, San Diego, Montreal, Toronto and the National Symphony and international appearances have included the London Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Korean Broadcast Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, China National Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester BBC Philharmonic, Scottish BBC orchestra, Orchestra National de Lyon, Mannheim Orchestra, Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra, among others. Ms. Falletta's summer activities have taken her to numerous music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, the Hollywood Bowl, Wolf Trap, Mann Center, Meadow Brook, OK Mozart Festival, Grand Teton Festival and the Brevard Festival. She is also Artistic Adviser to the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra.

Falletta is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards including the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award, the coveted Stokowski Competition, and the Toscanini, Ditson and Bruno Walter Awards for conducting, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra League's prestigious John S. Edwards Award. She is an ardent champion of music of our time, introducing over 500 works by American composers, including more than 110 world premieres. Hailing her as a "leading force for the music of our time", she has been honored with eleven ASCAP awards. Ms. Falletta serves as a Member of the National Council on the Arts.

The Virginia Symphony's 2013-14 season highlights included a performance of the Strauss Alpine Symphony at the Virginia Arts Festival. In 2012, the Orchestra made their first CD for the NAXOS label with a collection of five pieces, including two world premieres, by composer Adolphus Hailstork.

Since stepping up to the podium as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the fall of 1999, Maestro Falletta has been credited with bringing the Philharmonic to a new level of national and international prominence. Under her direction, the Buffalo Philharmonic has become one of the leading orchestras for the Naxos label, earning a double Grammy Award in 2009 for their recording with soprano Hila Plitmann of John Corigliano's Mr. Tambourine Man, and six Grammy nominations. This season, the BPO will once again be featured on national broadcasts of NPR's Performance Today and SymphonyCast, and international broadcasts through the European Broadcasting Union.

As Principal Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, Falletta conducts many of the main season programs and select regional concerts and other events. She is the first American and the first woman to lead the Orchestra. Falletta made her Proms debut in Royal Albert Hall in August 2012 The Orchestra has a unique exclusive broadcast partnership with BBC, under which its concerts are recorded and streamed for internet broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, Radio Ulster and BBC TV. Under Falletta's leadership, the Ulster Orchestra entered into a multi-year recording relationship with Naxos, which released the Orchestra's discs of music of Gustav Holst in 2012 and Ernest John Moeran in 2013. The Orchestra recorded a second Moeran disc and a recording of music of John Knowles Paine, to be released in the fall of 2013. In the 2013-14 season, the Ulster Orchestra will record four additional CDs for Naxos, including a second disc of music of Johns Knowles Paine, and music of Victor Herbert, John Field and Samuel Coleridge Taylor.

Her Naxos recordings include the double Grammy Award winning disc of works by John Corigliano and Grammy nominated discs of works of Tyberg, Dohnányi, Fuchs, Schubert, Respighi, Gershwin, Hailstork and Holst. Last season saw the release of two new Naxos discs by Falletta with each of the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Ulster Orchestra. She recorded seven additional Naxos discs last season, including two with the London Symphony. Maestro Falletta's growing discography, which currently includes over 75 titles, consists of recordings with the London Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, Ulster Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Czech National Symphony, Philadelphia Philharmonia and Women's Philharmonic, among others.

Ms. Falletta received her undergraduate degree from the Mannes College of Music in New York and her master's and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School.


Robert Shoup, Chorusmaster/Staff Conductor | Back to top

 Robert Shoup is serving his 19th season as Chorusmaster/Staff Conductor. Known for ensembles called by critics “totally enthralling” and “completely mesmerizing,” Shoup has led the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus for 18 of its 25 years, preparing it for concerts, tours and recordings from Hampton Roads to Europe.

Shoup served as Assistant Music Director for the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Arts Festival acclaimed production of the Leonard Bernstein “Mass."  He  was the architect of  "American Voices", a collaborative two week festival of American choral music which earned a large NEA "American Masterpieces: Choral Music" grant.  Mr. Shoup coordinated a national choir of 1,800 singers for the 400th Anniversary celebration of Jamestown at which President George W. Bush took the baton from JoAnn Falletta and conducted the orchestra in a photo op seen round the world.  He was also the coordinator and principal preparer of the mass choir assembled to perform and record Mahler's 8th Symphony.  He has prepared the VSO Chorus for two recordings on the Naxos label including Adolphus Hailstork's "Launch Out on Endless Seas" and Igor Stravinsky's "Les Noces."

Mr. Shoup is a singer the Pittsburgh Post Gazette described as possessing “an especially fine tenor voice.”  He has sung or prepared singers for performances with Renee Fleming, Lorin Maazel, Rosemary Clooney, Garrison Keillor, Kristin Chenowith and Rob Fisher. Shoup sang the role of John Adams in the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s Crispus Attucks.

Shoup has a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education (voice) from Duquesne University, and a Master’s in Conducting from the studio of Robert Page at Carnegie Mellon University.

He is the Director of Music Ministry at Freemason Street Baptist Church in Norfolk.


Benjamin Rous, Resident Conductor | Back to top


Admired for his dynamism on the podium, Benjamin Rous was hired as Associate Conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in 2010 and quickly became a favorite among audiences throughout southeastern Virginia.  Promoted to Resident Conductor in 2013, he took on an expanded role in the VSO's calendar, where he performs annually on every series including Classics, Regional Classics, Pops, Young People's Concerts, and state tours.  In the summers, he pursues his love of education, serving as faculty conductor of Greenwood Music Camp in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts.

Recent guest appearances include debuts with the National Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Hartford Symphony, and the Santa Fe Symphony.  Highlights of past seasons include performances with the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa), Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, the Illinois Symphony, and on St. Louis's Pulitzer Concerts with musicians of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.  Rous was featured in the 2013 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview with the Jacksonville Symphony, and in the summer of 2014 he was called upon by the Grant Park Festival to fill in for a delayed conductor on less than 24 hours’ notice.

An accomplished instrumentalist, Rous has concertized extensively on violin, viola, and keyboard instruments.  He has served as guest principal 2nd violin with Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with whom he performed under the batons of Claudio Abbado and Daniel Harding, including European tours and a teaching residency with El Sistema students in Caracas.  He was a regular member of the Boston-area Arcturus Chamber Ensemble for a decade, and has led the Virginia Symphony Orchestra from the harpsichord in baroque repertoire.

Benjamin Rous studied music at Harvard with an emphasis on composition, graduating with highest honors.  His works have been performed by diverse ensembles including the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, the Greenwood Orchestra, and the Fromm Players.  During his college years he served as Music Director of Harvard Bach Society Orchestra and of Lowell House Opera, studied performance practice with Robert Levin, and performed on baroque violin with the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra as section leader and soloist.  He went on to earn the Doctor of Musical Arts in orchestral conducting with Kenneth Kiesler at the University of Michigan, where he also studied harpsichord and pursued his interest in dance.  He received further guidance in festivals and masterclasses from David Zinman, Kurt Masur, Gustav Meier, Marin Alsop, and Lorin Maazel.