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Dancing whales, in classic style

January 18, 2013

By Teresa Annas
The Virginian-Pilot
© January 18, 2013

At this weekend's Virginia Symphony Orchestra concerts, patrons might find themselves visualizing flying whales frolicking in the sea.

They would be listening to Ottorino Respighi's "Pines of Rome," a four-movement piece with a longtime popularity given a beyond-classical-fans boost in Disney's 1999 animated film "Fantasia 2000." The 1924 composition was featured during the film's whale scene.

"People who have heard it remember it," said conductor JoAnn Falletta. In a concert setting, "it's one of those, I call them surround-sound pieces. Just hearing it live is an overwhelming experience."

Falletta programmed two other Italian pieces for concerts today in Newport News, Saturday in Norfolk and Sunday in Virginia Beach.

English violinist Chloe Hanslip will perform Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Violin Concerto, known for his film soundtracks in the early years of Hollywood. This concerto marked his return to writing for the concert stage, Falletta said.

Hanslip, 25, already has a celebrated career. "I'm glad to introduce her to this region," Falletta said. "She is just a stunning player, very dramatic and very lyrical."

The Virginia Symphony will announce its 2013-14 season to patrons at this weekend's concerts. Here's a preview:

The return of the famed Japanese violinist Midori is a highlight. She performed at the Virginia Arts Festival in 2001, and will open the symphony's season in September with Brahms' Violin Concerto.

"She is one of the greatest violinists of our time," Falletta said. "She's been a big hit here."

Also, Thomas Wilkins, a Norfolk native, will come home to lead the symphony March 14 and 15, 2014. Wilkins is music director of the Omaha Symphony and principal guest conductor for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He will conduct the orchestra for Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" suite and other 20th century American compositions.

A sister piano duo, Christina and Michelle Naughton, will perform Camille Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals" and Francis Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos in January 2014. Other concerts feature Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 ("Pathetique") and dances by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Samuel Barber.

The eight-concert classical series will be presented at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News and the Sandler Center for Performing Arts in Virginia Beach. Subscriptions are $124 to $677.

The orchestra's "regional classics" series in Williamsburg and Virginia Beach will be announced at a later date.

The pops series opens Oct. 17 and 19 with a tribute to Whitney Houston, as the annual "Symphony With Soul" program.

Broadway's Beatlemania quartet will perform here Feb. 6 and 8, 2014, celebrating the 50th anniversary on Feb. 9 of The Beatles' American television debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Other pops concerts will feature Broadway tunes and scores from Pixar films. A holiday pops concert with top local talent is set for Dec. 14 and 15. Pops subscriptions are $99 to $388 for five programs at Chrysler Hall, and $61 to $186 for the three-concert series at the Ferguson Center.

Next season, the Peanut Butter & Jam Family Classics series of kid-friendly concerts will again take place at the Sandler Center. PB&J series tickets are $39 for children, $56 for adults.

Single tickets go on sale July 29.


What Virginia Symphony Orchestra, led by JoAnn Falletta

Where and when 8 tonight, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News; 8 p.m. Saturday, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach

Cost $20-$70 (Chrysler Hall also offers $100 box seats)

Contact 892-6366,

The program Works by Ottorino Respighi, Gioachino Rossini and Ildebrando Pizzetti with violinist Chloe Hanslip performing Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Violin Concerto

Season Tickets

For 2013-14 season tickets, call the Virginia Symphony's box office at 892-6366 or visit


Teresa Annas, 757-446-2485,