Posted Jun 03, 2020 | ASO News, 

Alexandria, VA—In partnership with the Alexandria Film Festival, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra announces that six filmmakers have been selected to participate in its joint project, Homegrown: American Stories in Music and Film.

The films will accompany music by American composers performed “live to picture” by the orchestra as part of ASO’s 2020-2021 season on November 7 and 8, 2020. The works will also be screened as part of the Alexandria Film Festival on November 12-15, 2020.

Jennifer Higdon’s Blue Cathedral, composed in memory of her brother and commissioned for the Curtis Institute of Music in 1999, is reflective and nostalgic. Director Michael Fallavollita will retell his Tale of the Kite, which garnered 25 film festival awards, including the Special Jury Award at the 2017 Alexandria Film Festival. The narrative follows a young test pilot stranded in a mysterious desert. As he awaits rescue, his thoughts drift to childhood memories of his grandfather.

William Grant Still was a composer and pioneer within his time as the first African-American to conduct and have his works performed with a major orchestra. He composed his “Manhattan Skyline” in 1957 as part of a larger work, The American Scene, which resembles love letters to five regions of America. Film artists Jane Pittman and Annette Brieger will marry the vibrant history of Washington, D.C. and its U-Street corridor once known as “Black Broadway” with its re-emergence as an urban hot spot of street murals, DJs, and dynamic art.

Charles Tomlinson Griffes, prolific in his short life and great uncle to ASO’s Maestro James Ross, composed Clouds in 1919 for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Filmmaker Alexi Scheiber will present one of his last and most ethereal works with an experimental stop-motion animation of a cardinal exploring beautiful skyscapes as a celebration of state birds and the natural world.

An American journey would not be complete without Aaron Copland. His 1940 rendition of John Henry celebrates the black folk legend who battles a machine to drive railroad steel. Accompanying the piece is Shannon Washington’s epic film documenting a bone-breaking showdown with Beatyafeet, a D.C.-based Go-Go derived dance transformed into a ballet expressing art of motion, creativity and emotion.

Revised over decades as part of Three Places in New England, Charles Ives composed “Housatonic at Stockbridge” in 1911 shortly after he married his wife, Harmony. Utilizing found video footage, artist Tim McLoraine depicts Ives imagining his life to come with his new wife as he overlooks the pastoral beauty of the Housatonic River, deep in the Berkshires.

Originally composed for the 1940 film adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Our Town, Copland derived music from the score for an orchestral suite.  Building upon themes of tradition and community, filmmaker Andrea Kalin will set the suite to scenes of our own town—our beloved Alexandria. The visual narrative, which will follow the city as it awakens to a new day, will feature evocative cinematography, rare archival imagery, and most importantly, crowd-sourced footage collected from our community—all of us contributing to why Alexandria is special and allowing the soul of the city to shine through the images of its people.

Subscription packages for the ASO’s 2020-2021 season are now on sale, starting at $90. Military, senior and group discounts are also available. To order tickets and for more information, visit or call (703) 548-0885.

For biographies of participating filmmakers, click HERE.