Virginia Opera adjusts its 2020-21 season

Virginia Opera has reordered its 2020-21 season programming and dates, delaying the start of the season to February, canceling productions of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and Jennifer Higdon’s “Cold Mountain” and adding a Poulenc-Puccini double-bill.

“The pandemic has forced us to acknowledge the realities and do what is best for all,” Adam Turner, the company’s artistic director, writes. “[T]hat reality can be nothing but adjusting and re-imagining plans for the 2020-2021 season.”

The newly announced Virginia Opera lineup:

* Poulenc’s “La voix humaine” and Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi,” Feb. 5, 7 and 9 at Norfolk’s Harrison Opera House, Feb. 13 and 14 at the Center for the Arts of George Mason University in Fairfax, and Feb. 19 and 21 at the Carpenter Theatre of Dominion Energy Center in Richmond.

* Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” March 12, 14 and 16 in Norfolk, March 20 and 21 in Fairfax, and March 27 and 28 in Richmond.

* The Gilbert & Sullivan operetta “The Pirates of Penzance,” April 16, 18 and 20 in Norfolk, and April 23 and 25 in Richmond.

For information of subscriptions and individual tickets, call the Virginia Opera box office at (757) 347-1906 or visit

Virginia’s Hailstork: a “cultural hybrid”

On the website San Francisco Classical Voice, Michael Zwiebach profiles and interviews Adolphus Hailstork, the Old Dominion University-based composer currently at work on a requiem cantata for George Floyd, whose killing by Minneapolis police ignited nationwide protests. The 79-year-old Hailstork discusses his long-evolving efforts to tap African-American musical roots within established classical forms and styles:


Bahl tapped by Omaha Symphony

Ankush Kumar Bahl, who was one of five finalists auditioning this season to become music director of the Richmond Symphony, has been named the new music director of the Omaha Symphony.

The 43-year-old Bahl, a California native of Indian descent, will succeed Thomas Wilkins, the Virginia-born conductor who will have led the Omaha orchestra for 15 years when his tenure ends next season:

The Richmond Symphony selected Valentina Peleggi as its sixth music director. She begins her tenure on July 1.

Vera Lynn (1917-2020)

Vera Lynn, the singer whose “We’ll Meet Again” and “The White Cliffs of Dover” became iconic songs in Britain and beyond during World War II, has died at 103. Named a Dame of the British Empire in 1975, she last performed in 2005 at the 60th anniversary commemoration of VE Day in London’s Trafalgar Square.

An obituary by Ben Beaumont-Thomas for The Guardian:

Straws in the wind

The Nashville Symphony has canceled all performances through July 31, 2021, and furloughed its 79 musicians and 49 full-time staffers, telling patrons that cancellation of concerts due to the coronavirus thus far has resulted in losses of $8 million, nearly 30 percent of its current operating budget.

The announcement concludes: “Until we have certainty that our economy can remain open, and that audiences are ready and able to return to large public gatherings, attempting to restart concert activity poses significant risks to our institution.”

The Nashville cancellation follows announcements that the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera have canceled all their fall performances.

UPDATE (June 16): Now the Lyric Opera of Chicago has canceled its 2020-21 season.

UPDATE 2 (June 19): Carnegie Hall in New York cancels performances until Jan. 7. . . . New York City Ballet cancels its December “Nutcracker.” . . . The San Francisco Symphony cancels all performances through 2020.

UPDATE 3 (June 24): The Houston Grand Opera cancels performances until April 16.

The new look of symphony concerts

The look and sound of orchestra concerts in the present and, quite likely, some time to come: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, conducted by Gustavo Gimeno, in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, with socially distant musicians playing in a hall with no audience present.

Bear in mind that you’re seeing and hearing one of the world’s pre-eminent orchestras performing in one of the world’s best acoustical environments. Results elsewhere will vary widely:

Cancellations, closures extended into summer

Updated regularly

As restrictions on large public gatherings continue, most musical events are off for the forseeable future.

Specific notices in the Richmond area and Virginia-DC region:

The Richmond Symphony will live-stream its Summer Series of chamber-music concerts. Details: The “Star Wars” concert has been rescheduled to April 1, 2021, and “Violins of Hope” has been postponed until a date to be announced later. Details: (804) 788-1212;

The Richmond chapter, American Guild of Organists has postponed an April 24 recital by Clara Gerdes, part of its Repertoire Recital Series, until Nov. 13 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Information:

The Richmond Philharmonic postponed a concert scheduled for May 10, and hopes to reschedule it in the 2020-21 season. The orchestra has not announced the status of its June pops concert. Information: (804) 556-1039;

The Richmond Choral Society has canceled remaining concerts in its current season. Information: (804) 353-9582;

The Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia has canceled fall programs in its 2020-21 season. Information: (804) 304-6312;

Virginia Commonwealth University has canceled all remaining concerts in the current school year. Information:

The University of Richmond canceled Modlin Arts Center events through the rest of the season. Refunds have been issued. Information: (804) 289-8980;

The Menuhin Competition for young violinists, which had been scheduled for May 14-24 in Richmond, has been postponed until May 13-23, 2021. Tickets already sold for festival events will be honored next year. For information on ticket donations, refunds or exchanges, go to

Elsewhere: The Virginia Symphony Orchestra has postponed all concerts until late August. . . . The Virginia Arts Festival has postponed or canceled all performances through late August. . . . The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra has canceled remaining concerts in its current season. . . . The Ferguson Arts Center at Christopher Newport University in Newport News has suspended performances until Aug. 28. . . . The University of Virginia in Charlottesville has suspended all performances at Old Cabell Hall until further notice. . . . The Paramount Theater in Charlottesville has postponed or canceled events through Aug. 2. . . . Charlottesville Opera has canceled its summer-season productions. . . . Wintergreen Music has canceled its summer concerts and academy. . . . Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs has canceled all live events through June 30. . . . The Roanoke Symphony Orchestra has canceled or postponed all events until the fall. . . . Opera Roanoke has canceled the rest of its season, including performances of André Previn’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” that had been scheduled in May. . . . Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg has canceled all events through early August. . . . Wolf Trap in Vienna has canceled or postponed all summer performances and events. . . . George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax has canceled all events through Aug. 8. . . . The Kennedy Center in Washington has canceled all performances and public events through Aug. 9. . . . Washington Performing Arts has canceled all remaining events in the current season (through June 7). . . . The Library of Congress in Washington has postponed concerts and other public events through July 24. . . . The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD, outside DC, has canceled most ticketed events through Aug. 20.