Tania León awarded Pulitzer Prize for music

Tania León has been awarded the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for music for her orchestral work “Stride,” introduced in February 2020 by the New York Philharmonic. “Stride” is described by the Pulitzer judges as “a musical journey full of surprise, with powerful brass and rhythmic motifs that incorporate Black music traditions from the US and the Caribbean into a Western orchestral fabric.”

León, a 78-year-old, Cuban-born composer who in 1969 became the first music director of the Dance Theater of Harlem, has served as an advisor on new music for the New York Philharmonic and Latin American music advisor for the American Composers Orchestra. She has composed works in media ranging from opera to jazz and indigenous percussion ensembles. She has taught at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York since 2000, and also is on the faculty of CUNY’s Graduate Center in Manhattan.

A 1999 interview of León by Frank J. Oteri, published on the website NewMusicBox:


Symphony Summer ChamberFest 2021

The Richmond Symphony will present four concerts in its Summer ChamberFest at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, July 8 through 29, in the Gottwald Playhouse of Dominion Energy Center, Sixth and Grace streets.

Programs include works by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Ravel, Poulenc and Piazzolla, alongside rarely heard works by Joseph Boulogne (Chevalier de Saint-Georges) and Rebecca Clarke and contemporary pieces by Caroline Shaw and Juan Pablo Contreras.

Series tickets are $75, single tickets $25 per concert. For more information, call the symphony’s patron services office at (804) 788-1212 or visit http://www.richmondsymphony.com

Summer ChamberFest artists and programs:

July 8 – David Lemelin, clarinet; Hyojoo Uh, viola; Russell Wilson, piano. Mozart: Clarinet Trio in E flat major, K. 498 (“Kegelstatt”); Ravel: “Menuet antique;” Rebecca Clarke: Prelude, Allegro and Pastorale.

July 15 – Adrian Pintea & Stacy Matthews, violins; Stephen Schmidt, viola; Jason McComb, cello. Joseph Boulogne (Chevalier de Saint-Georges): Quartet No. 5 in G minor; Mendelssohn: Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44; Caroline Shaw: Entr’acte.

July 22 – Anthony Limoncelli, trumpet; Dominic Rotella, French horn; Evan Williams, trombone. Works TBA by Mozart, Poulenc, others.

July 29 – Ellen Cockerham Riccio, violin; Daniel Stipe, piano. Astor Piazzolla: “Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas” (The Four Season of Buenos Aires”); Juan Pablo Contreras: “Diálogos.”

Virginia Symphony taps Eric Jacobsen

Eric Jacobsen, the cellist and conductor best-known as co-founder and artistic director of The Knights, has been named music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

He succeeds JoAnn Falletta, who last summer concluded her 29-year-tenure with the Hampton Roads-based orchestra. She is now the VSO’s music director laureate.

Jacobsen and his brother, violinist Colin Jacobsen, founded The Knights in the late 1990s as a collective of New York-based musicians, initially playing chamber music. The ensemble evolved into an orchestra whose programs range from standard classical repertory to contemporary and culture-crossing music.

Jacobsen has been music director of the Orlando Philharmonic since 2015, and has been principal conductor of the Greater Bridgeport (CN) Symphony and artistic partner of the Northwest Sinfonietta of Seattle since 2014. He also has guest-conducted a number of US and European orchestras.

He is the cellist of Brooklyn Rider, a string quartet specializing in contemporary and avant-garde music, and has performed with the Silk Road Ensemble, an ensemble founded by Yo-Yo Ma to explore non-Western art-music.

The 38-year-old cellist-conductor is the son of Edmond Jacobsen, a violinist who formerly played in New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and flutist Ivy Jacobsen. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School. He is married to the folk singer Aoife O’Donovan.

“Eric’s innovative vision, musical curiosity, and boundless energy are in perfect alignment with this moment, and with the VSO’s commitment to serve the entire community in new and exciting ways,” Karen M. Philion, president and CEO of the orchestra, said in a statement announcing Jacobsen’s appointment.

When he conducted the VSO in March 2020, “it wasn’t just me loving this orchestra, it was going in both directions. There was a symbiotic thing going on,” Jacobsen told Amy Poulter of The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk:


June calendar

A stumble on the way to revival of live classical music in Richmond: Two leading organizations have scheduled performances at the same time on the same day.

The Richmond Symphony with its associate conductor, Chia-Hsuan Lin, perform in a concert at 4 p.m. June 13 marking the opening of the Baxter Perkinson Center for the Arts, 11801 Centre St. in Chester. The program includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, the “Sonata da Chiesa” by Virginia composer Adolphus Hailstork and Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” Overture. Tickets: $25 (limited seating, masks required in the hall). Details: (800) 514-3849 (ETIX); http://www.richmondsymphony.com . . . Assistant Conductor Daniel Myssyk leads the orchestra in a pops concert at 8 p.m. June 5 at Pocahontas State Park, 10301 State Park Road in Chesterfield County. Tickets: $10 (plus parking fee). Health protocols and ticket information: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/pocahontas-premieres-the-richmond-symphony-tickets-118391130057 . . . Several symphony ensembles perform along a one-mile walking route in “Mile of Music,” a free event from 2 to 4 p.m. June 12 at Forest Hill Park, 4021 Forest Hill Ave.

The Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia concludes its current season with “Weather the Storm,” a program of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and a new work commissioned by the society, Kevin Alexander Day’s “Surgent,” at 4 p.m. June 13 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 2315 N. Parham Road. Performers include violinists Nicholas DiEugenio, Johnny Gandelsman and Natalie Rose Kress; violist Dana Kelley; cellist James Wilson; double-bassist Jonathan Colbert; traverso flutist Mary Boodell; and harpsichordist Carsten Schmidt. Tickets: $5-$30 (limited seating, health protocols in effect). Details: (804) 304-6312; http://cmscva.org

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Paul Bhasin, performs in “Symphony under the Stars,” a free concert at 8 p.m. June 5 in Woodville Park, 3904 Woodville Park Road in Gloucester. . . . Virginia Arts Festival performances by the orchestra with JoAnn Falletta, the VSO’s music director laureate, and pianist Olga Kern in all-Beethoven program, June 11-13 at various Hampton Roads venues, are sold out. . . . In another Virginia Arts Festival event, a string ensemble from the orchestra plays in a “sensory friendly” audience-participatory concert with members of Tidewater Music Therapy, at 11 a.m. June 12 at Bank Street Stage, Bank and East Charlotte streets in Norfolk. Tickets: $12. . . . Erin Freeman conducts the orchestra, with guest stars Classical Mystery Tour, a Beatles tribute band, 7:30 p.m. June 15 at Ferguson Arts Center of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, and 7:30 p.m. June 16 at Chrysler Hall, 215 St. Paul’s Boulevard in Norfolk. Tickets: $35. . . . Daniel Matsukawa conducts, with Michael Byerly, the VSO’s principal clarinetist as featured soloist, in a program of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, at 7:30 p.m. June 23 at Sandler Arts Center, 201 S. Market St. in Virginia Beach, 7:30 p.m. June 24 at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, and 7:30 p.m. June 25 at Ferguson Arts Center in Newport News. Tickets: $35. Details: (757) 892-6366; http://virginiasymphony.org

Other Virginia Arts Festival classical events: Pianist Olga Kern, the Ambrosia Quartet, flutist Debra Wendells Cross, oboist Sherie Lake Aguirre, harpist Barbara Chapman, violist Beverly Kane Baker and double-bassist Christopher White, play works by Glinka, Vaughan Williams, Philippe Gaubert and others at 7:30 p.m. June 8 on the Bank Street stage in Norfolk. Tickets: $70-$140. . . . JoAnn Falletta conducts the Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Players, with reciters Hila Plitmann and Fred Child, in William Walton’s “Façade,” at 7:30 p.m. June 14 at Goode Arts Center of Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach. Tickets: $10-$45. Details: (757) 282-2822; http://vafest.org

Gianandrea Noseda, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, conducts a program to be announced featuring NSO members – clarinetist Lin Ma, bassoonist Sue Heineman and double-bassist Robert Oppelt – at 7 p.m. June 3 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington. Tickets: $89. Details: (800) 444-1324; http://kennedy-center.org