The red-carpet grand opening of the Virginia Arts Festival is Friday, March 31. The Royal Winnepeg Ballet will perform Swan Lake, accompanied by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra at Chrysler Hall.
There will be performances on March 31, April 1 and April 2.
The Royal Winnepeg Ballet is one of the best ballet companies in the world. The dancers will be perfect. The music will be gorgeous. The costumes and production will be “lavish.” What a spectacular way to begin another season of the VAF.
Here is a behind-the-scenes video from a recent RWB production of Swan Lake:
Here is what makes the Virginia Arts Festival great: from March until June, you will have your pick of over 50 performances at over 34 venues, from Virginia Beach to Williamsburg. Some of the events are free. Come to Scope Plaza for the Tattoo Hullabaloo and the Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship, April 27 – 30.
Some of the events will be huge productions, like Swan Lake or the Virginia International Tattoo. The Tattoo, produced and directed each year by J. Scott Jackson, is always fantastic. There will be over 1,000 international performers including fife and drum corps, bagpipers, military bands, precision drill teams and Highland dancers. People come from around the world to Norfolk every year for the Tattoo. Here is my review of the 2016 Tattoo.
Itzhak Perlman, the brilliant violinist, will perform some great film scores, including the score from Memoirs of a Geisha and Casablanca, with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach on April 13. The most famous violinist in the world will be right here.
There are smaller events – the quirky, the fun, and the unusual. You won’t be taking a chance. The person or committee who select the performers for the VAF does an outstanding job each year. There is something, always more than one thing, for everyone.
Although Swan Lake on March 31 is the “official” grand opening event for the VAF, I went to the first event on VAF’s calendar on March 23. tenThing Brass Ensemble wasn’t a “lavish” event in a huge venue. I knew very little about it, except that it was going to be a performance by ten women, playing brass instruments.
tenThing is a play on leader’s name, Tine Thing Helseth. The ten women are from Norway. They can play the hell out of their brass: four trumpets, a French horn, a tuba and four slide trombones. It was something unexpected. Only 9.75% of the top orchestra’s brass players are women. It was inspiring. Right out front was a tall, elegant, proudly pregnant Norwegian woman with a huge trombone on her shoulder playing a beautiful piece from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”
This VAF performance was in the Attucks Theater, an old-fashioned kind of theater where you can imagine the era of vaudeville. The stage is small, the acoustics are great and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The women were fine musicians. Not one of their numbers, from Mozart to Aaron Copeland, is written for a brass ensemble, but they sounded fantastic. Their performance was fun and a little quirky. The ladies came out in evening gowns. Tine Thing Helseth was wearing a lovely gown and was barefoot. They moved around the stage with the music. They moved off the stage. It was true surround sound when they formed a circle around the audience and played Tondo alla Turca by Mozart. The pregnant trombone player was inches away from my ear. It was a unique experience.
There are going to be all kinds of great, unique, inspiring and unusual performances this year. The world premiere opera, Kept: a ghost story, will also be performed at the Attucks Theater on May 25 and May 28.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with the great Wynton Marsalis, the “finest big band in the world today” will be at Chrysler Hall on May 5.
Virginia Beach will be hosting a Fringe Festival in the ViBe Creative District May 12 – 13. The Norfolk Fringe Festival will return to the NEON on May 25 – 28. There will be unique and original comedy, jazz, opera and more, both indoors and outdoors. For more details, go to here.
From big to small, from grand to intimate, from ballet to R&B to comedy, there will be something for everyone this year. For a complete list and more information about the 50+ performances, go to here.