ASO Presents Homegrown: American Stories in Music and Film

Posted Sep 27, 2021 | ASO News, Events, Press Releases, 

Alexandria, VA—In partnership with the Alexandria Film Festival, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) will present music of American composers on Saturday, November 6, 2021 (6:00 p.m.) at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center and Sunday, November 7, 2021 (3:00 p.m.) at the George Washington Masonic Memorial.

Saturday’s performance at Schlesinger will feature six original short films screened in tandem with the music. (Sunday’s performance at the George Washington Masonic Memorial will include the music only with no film projection.) The project, entitled Homegrown: American Stories in Music and Film, commissioned original film footage to be screened “live-to-picture” for each of the compositions on the program. The concert will conclude with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, based on ten paintings by Viktor Hartmann depicted in the suite, inviting the listener to experience the emotion conveyed by the artist.

“This Homegrown collaboration with the Alexandria Film Festival started by a desire to perform American orchestral pieces live in concert that serve as soundtracks for newly commissioned films by American filmmakers,” says Maestro James Ross. “Usually the music is made to fit the film, but instead our six filmmakers let their creative fantasies run wild, inspired by each given composer. The variety and organic quality of the storytelling is breathtaking!”

Jennifer Higdon’s reflective Blue Cathedral is set with Michael Fallavollita’s retelling of Tale of the Kite, which garnered 25 film festival awards, including the Special Jury Award at the 2017 Alexandria Film Festival. William Grant Still’s “Manhattan Skyline” from The American Scene will come alive by film artists Jane Pittman and Annette Brieger with Black Lives Matter, which marries the vibrant history of Washington, D.C. and its U-Street corridor. Charles Tomlinson Griffes’ “Clouds” is brought to life with filmmaker Alexi Scheiber’s stop-motion animation (utilizing more than 1500 original watercolors and drawings) entitled Among the Clouds.

Aaron Copland’s 1940 rendition of John Henry will be accompanied by Shannon Washington’s epic documentary of Beat Ya Feet, a D.C.-based Go-Go derived dance. Charles Ives’ “The Housatonic at Stockbridge” from Three Places in New England will be screened in painterly fashion with found video footage compiled by artist Tim McLoraine. Building upon themes of unfolding history and community, filmmaker Andrea Kalin set Copland’s Our Town suite to scenes of our own in Our Town: Alexandria.

“We are delighted this historic partnership is finally reaching fruition,” said Alexandria Film Festival Executive Director Patti North. “What began as a unique collaboration uniting the power of live music with visual storytelling as an integrated whole, we add the celebration of an audience being able once again to enjoy these art forms in person and in the moment.”

Attendees for Saturday’s performance are welcome to stay for an interactive talk on the stage with the filmmakers, immediately following the concert.

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra is committed to providing a safe concert environment for our patrons, musicians and staff. The concerts will be presented with no intermission. Schlesinger Concert Hall has been completely overhauled with a state-of-the-art ventilation system. Audience members, musicians, staff, and volunteers will be required to wear a mask during performances. ASO is also requiring all attendees, musicians, volunteers and staff be fully-vaccinated. ASO will communicate with ticket buyers well in advance of each performance to establish what specific safety measures will be required to attend.