Alexandria Symphony Announces ASO at 80 Project

Posted Aug 30, 2023 | ASO News, Events, Press Releases, 

Alexandria, VA— Four original pieces, commissioned in honor of the 80th anniversary of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra will be presented as part of the ASO at 80 Project. Led by Music Director James Ross, the commissions will premiere throughout the 2023-2024 Season as introductions to four of the five performances.

“I see in this year’s programs the diversity, the universality, and the striving human spirit embodied in music,” says Maestro Ross. “Every concert is a jewel in itself; taken together, they are a showcase of older and newer, contemporary and established works, and the richness of stories told in sound.”

The season opens on September 30 and October 1, 2023, with “ASO at 80-oh!” The commissioned piece, Toast, is inspired by the 80th anniversary and will feature composer Lester Green at the piano. A prolific composer and performer, Dr. Green currently serves as Artistic Director for the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts and Artistic Advisor for the ASO. “The original verses span from nostalgic reflections on moments shared around music with family and friends to Dr. Seuss-inspired musings about the humorous personalities within orchestras,” says Green.

On November 4 and 5, 2023, ASO presents “Going Home,” opening with Tscenacomoco by Native American composer Dawn Avery. The piece connects to Alexandria’s Native history encompassing the region and honoring the Powhatan Chiefdom, including six remaining tribes. “This work employs contemporary performance techniques and soaring melodies that reflect Indigenous soundscapes, decolonizing strategies in composition, the lands and peoples of the Tscenacomoco,” says Avery.

On February 10 and 11, 2024, the program entitled” Do Not Go Gentle” opens with Milad Yousufi’s Aurora, drawn from his experience as an Afghan refugee and inspired by a poem dedicated to his mother. His works express both his pride in his country of birth and his longing to return. “I have always dreamed of writing music for the next generation of artists in Afghanistan, to do what Bartók did for his country as a composer and ethnomusicologist,” Yousufi says.

For the season finale “Shuffle and Deal” on April 20 and 21, 2024, the final commission is inspired by Bernstein’s “Three Dance Episodes” from On the Town. Jorge Amado, Cuban-born composer and rising new star, dedicated this fourth dance, Alexandria Shuffle, to Old Town Alexandria. “I used traditional rhythms of Cuban music, such as son, mambo, and rumba,” says Amado. “I also wanted to represent American music through the influence of Leonard Bernstein.” Maestro Ross premiered one of Amado’s works with the Cuban American Youth Orchestra in 2019.

The 2023-2024 Season is generously underwritten by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alexandria Commission for the Arts, and the Rea Charitable Trust. ASO at 80 works are commissioned by Classical Movements for the September/October, November, and April performances. February’s ASO at 80 composition is commissioned by Nancy Davenport.