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Virginia Arts Festival Announces Its 20th Anniversary Season

Virginia Arts Festival Announces Its 20th Anniversary Season

The Virginia Arts Festival celebrates its 20th Anniversary Season in 2016, marking two decades of bringing great artists to southeastern Virginia,…

The Virginia Arts Festival celebrates its 20th Anniversary Season in 2016, marking two decades of bringing great artists to southeastern Virginia, in hundreds of great performances including world premieres, collaborations between musical and theatrical masters, and events that have turned area streets and parks into lively gathering places for friends and families. Virginia Arts Festival performances have transfixed audiences from the region’s concert halls and theaters to its churches, schools, and community centers. Tens of thousands of Virginians have enjoyed performances, side by side with visitors from around the world.

“The Festival’s 20th Anniversary Season looks back with pride, and forward to the future,” said Virginia Arts Festival Director Robert Cross. “We’ll be presenting renowned artists who have become special friends of the Festival, and forging new works and new relationships that will continue to engage and inspire audiences for years to come.”

Festival Preview Performances, December-March

The celebration begins in December 2015 with the first of several “Festival Preview” performances, featuring great artists returning to the Festival to join the Anniversary celebration. The fabled Vienna Boys Choir sings classics and holiday favorites, December 20; superstar violinist Joshua Bell performs January 28; the sleekly powerful Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns, February 26-28; and Ireland’s own The Chieftains get a head start on St. Patrick’s Day, March 15.

Great Music

No other single organization has brought so much—and so varied a selection of—great music to the region, and in its 20th Anniversary the Virginia Arts Festival honors that tradition with an extraordinary roster of artists. On the classical side, world-renowned cellist and musical adventurer Yo Yo Ma joins with the virtuoso pianist Emanuel Ax in concert April 12; the heralded Venice Baroque Orchestra brings glittering, intricate performances of seventeenth and eighteenth century music, April 14; and the astonishing young pianist Yuja Wang makes her Festival debut on May 11. The Festival will once again bring great chamber artists and soloists to concerts in intimate venues, including some of the area’s most beautiful and historic churches. And there is music for every taste, with artists like the slinky, syncopating swing band the Hot Sardines, April 28; and the sizzling Afro-Cuban All Stars, May 3; and the stars of TV’s America’s Got Talent, the Texas Tenors, appearing on Mother’s Day, May 8.

Dazzling Dance

The Virginia Arts Festival’s record as a presenter of ballet, modern, contemporary, and international dance is unrivaled in the region, and in its ongoing commitment to the art form, the Festival opens with the 20th Anniversary Dance Celebration, April 9-10.This unprecedented gathering of stars, performing ballet classics and electrifying contemporary works, includes dancers from American Ballet Theatre, Britain’s Birmingham Royal Ballet and Richard Alston Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, Richmond Ballet, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, and, appearing in the Festival for the first time, Tokyo Ballet.

The relationship between the Virginia Arts Festival and Dance Theatre of Harlem dates back to the Festival’s earliest days, and has culminated in a three-year partnership between the Festival, the City of Norfolk, and this great American company. This season, the Virginia Arts Festival has commissioned a new work on Dance Theatre of Harlem, created by the company’s resident choreographer Robert Garland, to be performed May 14-15 in Chrysler Hall.

There is more dance in store, as the hilarious all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo pirouette in size-13 toe shoes, April 13; and the headline-making dancers of Cuba’s MalPaso dance company move to the Latin grooves ofthe Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.

Must-See Theater

Long known for championing area artists and matchmaking inspired collaborations, the Festival will present a rare treat for theater lovers in its 20th Anniversary Season. Joining the worldwide celebrating marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Festival will present a spectacular, fully-staged production of the bard’s most mystical work, The Tempest, performed by the Virginia Stage Company with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performing the rarely heard score by Sibelius, conducted by JoAnn Falletta, April 16-17.Rounding out the Festival’s 20th Anniversary theater presentations will be a visit from the National Theatre of Scotland, performing the wild and witty tale of The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, April 28-May 1.

20th Anniversary Virginia International Tattoo

How does the United States’ largest patriotic display of music and might top itself year after year? The Tattoo’s 20th will show audiences just how they do that when they present the most awe-inspiring performances ever, featuring more than 1500 musicians, performers and military service men and women from 10 nations. Each year, thousands of visitors from across the U.S. and around the world flock to the Virginia International Tattoo. Now, the American Bus Association, North America’s premiere tour and travel organization, has named the Tattoo the Top U.S. event of North America’s 100 Best Events for 2016.

This is just a sampling of the great performances in store in the Virginia Arts Festival 20th Anniversary Season. Still to be announced: exciting news about Festival Williamsburg, amazing, interactive outdoor events in the Beyond the Concert Hall series, and free performances to share with family and friends. As they are added, new events will be listed on the Virginia Arts Festival web site: vafest.org.

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