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Timeline: Byrd Theatre begins replacing historic seating, announces major accessibility upgrades

The tedious process to replace the historic movie palace’s almost 90-year-old seats will take approximately 12 weeks and result in much-needed accessibility improvements, too.




At long last, the Byrd Theatre is beginning the process to replace the Carytown movie palace’s worn out seating. After announcing plans to raise admission prices last December–raising prices for the first time in recent years from $1.99 to $4–the theatre’s foundation has begun the replacement process, taking out a portion of the center section.

The entire process will take approximately 12 weeks, and replacement will be done in waves.

“If you have seen a film at the Byrd over the last couple weeks, it won’t go unnoticed seats are missing,” said Grant Mizell, Vice President of the Byrd Theatre Foundation. “Our seat fabrication specialists have removed the historical, decorative row endcaps for restoration and refitting to brand new seats.”

On July 21st, the Byrd’s balcony will be open to accommodate customers as the final section of ground floor seating is removed and extensive floor preparations begin to allow for the new seating configuration.

“To increase legroom by spacing rows further apart, it requires ‘moving’ our floor vents–meaning filling and drilling about 80 holes in the concrete slab,” he said.

The resulting configuration will result in more space and comfort (with slightly less overall capacity), while retaining the look of the almost 90-year-old original seats, as the Byrd Theatre Foundation noted in a blog post:

Theaters in the 1920s were designed to maximize seating to meet tremendous demand. Our original seats have become extremely cramped by today’s standards. As our many patrons are well aware they are also in poor condition after nearly 90 years of daily use. Seating capacity at the Byrd Theatre is currently about 916 of the first floor and about 462 in the balcony for a total of about 1,378. The result, given current demand for conventional film showings is that the theater often feels empty even when accommodating an audience that meets the expectations of the theater management.

Mizell says some of the seats that are still in good condition will be used to replace other areas of the theatre, but many of the old seating will be sold off to those interested in owning a piece of Richmond history. Those interested can fill out an interest form here.

The project will also see upgrades that will make the historic theatre much more accessible to those with disabilities. Several sections of seating were removed towards the rear of the theatre to allow for new ADA-compliant, accessible seating, and a new handicap-accessible restroom is being added, too.

The entire project is expected to wrap up in early September.

While the floor seats are removed, the Byrd will host a pop-up event in coordination with local event organizers The Underground Kitchen and a yet-to-be-named local chef on July 25th, The Roaring Twenties Gala, taking advantage of the otherwise unavailable open space.

The seating and restroom upgrades cap off a decade of fundraising and improvements that saw the replacement of the theatre’s roof, its heating and cooling units, and installation of a new digital projection system–investments that totaled over $1 million. The current project, however, is separate from these efforts from a fundraising and strategic standpoint.

“As we published in December, we’ve moved to a more piecemeal approach to restoration,” Mizell said in a text message to RVAHub. “That shift has enabled us to more swiftly approach seating and accessibility, directly after the installation of point-of-sale in December.

He added that the theatre’s Restoration Committee is working on a phased, year-to-year approach that will focus attention on patron accommodations and business needs over beautification and ornamental finishes. The plan has yet to be finalized.

The Byrd Theatre has announced a full roster of upcoming screenings and special performances to take place during construction. Check out the full lineup here.



Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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The world is coming to Richmond for the Menuhin Competition – the “Olympics of Violin” – this May

The world is coming to Richmond from May 14-24, 2020 for the Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading international competition for young violinists. This Competition, called the “Olympics of the Violin,” is held every two years in different cities around the world.

RVAHub Staff



The world is coming to Richmond from May 14-24, 2020 for the Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading international competition for young violinists. This Competition, called the “Olympics of the Violin,” is held every two years in different cities around the world. Richmond is set to be the host city in 2020—only the second time that the Competition has been held in the U.S.

The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 will showcase the exceptional talents of 44 competitors: 22 Juniors ages 15 and under, and 22 Seniors from ages 15-21. A record 321 candidates from 32 countries and five continents applied by the Oct. 31 deadline, and the 44 global competitors were announced in January. One of the competitors is from Virginia, Kayleigh Kim.

For 11 days in May, Richmond will be transformed into a celebratory festival of music with competitions, performances, master classes and concerts in several music genres throughout the region. Co-hosts are the Richmond Symphony, the City of Richmond, the University of Richmond, VCU and VPM.

The first round events at Camp Concert Hall at the University of Richmond are free to the public, but a ticket is required for admission and can be requested here. Semi-final rounds will be held at the W.E. Singleton Center at VCU, and final rounds will be held at the Dominion Energy Center downtown.

For more information about the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020, including dates, times, venues and tickets for all of the events, visit the website.



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Richmond Symphony Announces its 2020-2021 Season

Rush Hour at Hardywood, Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, and a world-premiere work for trumpet by Richmond native Trey Pollard are just a few of this year’s highlights.




The Richmond Symphony announced its 63rd Season today, highlighting a range of programming, renowned guest artists, and commemorations as part of its five concert series:  Altria Masterworks, Metro on the Move, Rush Hour at Hardywood, Symphony Pops, and Atlantic Union Bank Lollipops.

The announcement comes as the Symphony wraps up its Music Director search with five candidates being considered to replace former Music Director Steven Smith. The announcement of the new Music Director and his/her participation in the 2020-21 season is anticipated later this Spring.

“Our 2020-21 season marks the beginning of a fresh, new chapter in the Symphony’s great story,” said David Fisk, executive director of the Richmond Symphony. “Not simply are we celebrating our heritage by honoring the major anniversaries of Beethoven and of our Richmond Symphony Chorus; we are excited to be programming works by some of today’s most dynamic composers and presenting diverse guest artists. Leading the orchestra in the year ahead will be our new Music Director, whom we look forward to introducing to our audiences next season, with the warmest of welcomes.”


The eight-program Altria Masterworks series, performed at the Dominion Energy Center’s Carpenter Theatre, is comprised of new and traditional symphonic repertoire, engaging some of the best classical artists in the industry today. The following are highlights of the 2020-21 Masterworks season:

  • The Symphony’s Opening Weekend will take place on Sept. 19-20, 2020, with A Century of American Sound,” showcasing musical contributions that helped define American classical music. Aaron Diehl, known for classical and jazz piano, will perform Gershwin, alongside works by Ellington; William Grant Still, a groundbreaking black composer and conductor; and acclaimed Leonard Bernstein Award recipient Jessie Montgomery.
  • The Symphony will celebrate the 250th Birthday of Beethoven by performing the composer’s iconic Symphony No. 9 (Nov. 14-15, 2020) and Symphony No. 5 (April 17-18, 2021) on the Altria Masterworks series.
  • The Symphony will honor the 50th anniversary and contributions of the Richmond Symphony Chorus through the performance of beloved choral works, including Faure’s Pavane (Nov. 14-15, 2020); Dvorak’s Te Deum (Feb. 6, 2021); and Haydn’s The Creation (May 15, 2021).
  • The Symphony will perform contemporary works from five of today’s most cutting-edge composers on this series, including Coincident Dances by Jessie Montgomery (Sept. 19-20, 2020); Oscillate by Andy Akiho (Oct. 17, 2020); Umoja, Anthem for Unity by Valerie Coleman (Jan. 16, 2021); Maslenitsa by Guillaume Connesson (March 6-7, 2021); and Abstractions by Anna Clyne (April 17-18, 2021).
  • Altria Masterworks will feature classical music favorites, including Ravel’s Bolero (Jan. 16, 2021); Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (April 17-18, 2021); Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Nov. 14-15, 2020); Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3 “Organ” (Feb. 6, 2021); Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites, Nos. 1 and 2 (Jan. 16, 2021); Barber’s Violin Concerto (April 17-18, 2021); Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (March 6-7, 2021); among others.
  • Exciting guest artist debuts with the Richmond Symphony will happen on Altria Masterworks, including pianist Aaron Diehl (Sept. 19-20, 2020); violinist Melissa White (Oct. 17, 2020); pianist Gabriela Martinez (Mar. 6-7, 2021); and violinist Rachel Barton Pine (April 17-18, 2021).


The four-program Metro on the Move series is made up of chamber orchestra favorites, featuring Richmond Symphony musicians as soloists in more intimate settings.  The following are highlights from the 2020-21 Metro on the Move series:

  • In addition to Sunday performances at Randolph-Macon College’s Blackwell Auditorium, the Symphony will perform three Saturday concerts at the new Baxter Perkinson Center for the Arts & Education in Chester, Va.  The first concert will be on Jan. 23, 2021.
  • The Metro on the Move series will feature Richmond Symphony musicians Thomas Schneider, principal bassoon, performing Rossini’s Bassoon Concerto (Oct. 25, 2020), and Concertmaster Daisuke Yamamoto (Feb. 20-21, 2021), leading Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos No. 1 and 3.
  • This series will include contemporary works from four of today’s most dynamic composers, including Harp of Nerves by Hilary Purrington (April 24-25, 2021); Variations on an Unheard Theme by Zachary Wadsworth (April 24-25, 2021); Little Moonhead by Melinda Wagner (Feb. 20-21, 2021), and Entr’acte by Caroline Shaw (Jan. 23-24, 2021).
  • Classical favorites will be heard on this Metro on the Move series including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 (April 24-25, 2021), honoring Beethoven’s 250th birthday; Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos No. 1 and 3 (Feb. 20-21, 2021); Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 “Italian,” (Oct. 25, 2020) and more.
  • Acclaimed guitarist JIJI will make her Richmond Symphony debut with Purrington’s Harp of Nerves (April 24-25, 2021).


The four-program Rush Hour series is made up of casual, one-hour concerts that take place at 6:30 p.m. in the tasting room of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery- Scott’s Addition. Patrons can relax and enjoy craft beer and food, while listening to small-ensemble favorites by the Richmond Symphony. Rush Hour at Hardywood will continue this season, incorporating programs similar to those of the Metro on the Move series (see highlights above).


The four-program Symphony Pops series features popular guest artists performing favorites in pop, jazz, classical, Broadway repertoire, and more, alongside the Richmond Symphony at the Dominion Energy Center’s Carpenter Theatre.

Highlights from 2020-21 Symphony Pops series include:

  • VCU Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Rex Richardson will debut a world-premiere work for trumpet by Richmond native Trey Pollard. The premiere is part of a program celebrating the 100th birthdays of Charlie “Bird” Parker and Dave Brubeck (Feb. 27, 2021).
  • Warner Bros. presents BUGS BUNNY AT THE SYMPHONY, 30th Anniversary Edition-LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements © & TM Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s20). This concert will bring the world’s favorite classic LOONEY TUNES projected on the big screen, while the Richmond Symphony performs the exhilarating, original Carl Stalling scores LIVE! (Oct. 3, 2020 at Altria Theater). The program is conducted by George Daugherty, created by George Daugherty & David Ka Lik Wong.
  • “Frank & Ella: A Night of Jazz” will feature vocalists Capathia Jenkins and Tony DeSare, reliving the magic of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald (April 10, 2021).
  • Family favorite Let it Snow! is back again to celebrate the start of the holiday season (Dec. 5-6, 2020).


The four-program Atlantic Union Bank LolliPops series is made up of short, sensory-friendly concerts for the entire family.  Taking place at Dominion Energy Center’s Carpenter Theatre, the LolliPops series includes pre-concert activities for kids, including an instrument petting zoo.

The following are highlights from the 2020-21 Atlantic Union Bank LolliPops series:

  • The Symphony will celebrate the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) by performing works honoring the tradition, in collaboration with a performance by the Latin Ballet of Richmond (Oct. 31, 2020). The concert will be presented in both English and Spanish.
  • The Symphony will also bring back LolliPops favoritesThe Snowman (Nov. 28, 2020), “The Life and Times of Beethoven” (Feb. 27, 2021), and the timeless tale of Peter and the Wolf (April 10, 2021).


Subscription packages are now on-sale for the Richmond Symphony’s Altria Masterworks, Metro on the Move, Rush Hour at Hardywood, Symphony Pops, and Atlantic Union Bank LolliPops series concerts.

Subscribers enjoy a variety of benefits, including priority seating, 20% off single ticket prices, flexible ticket exchanges, pre-sale opportunities for special events and concerts, and much more.

To renew your subscription or to become a new subscriber, please call 804-788-1212, or visit



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Byrd Theatre breaks silence on recent changes with online Q & A

The historic Byrd Theatre and Foundation broke their silence on a number of recent changes at the theatre and put to rest some of the rumors about its future. The organization posted a Q & A on their website in an attempt to address rumors and set the record straight. Curiously, though, the theatre makes no mention of former General Manager Todd Schall-Vess’ ouster.




The historic Byrd Theatre and Foundation broke their silence on a number of recent changes at the theatre and put to rest some of the rumors about its future. The organization posted a Q & A on their website in an attempt to address rumors and set the record straight. Curiously, though, the theatre makes no mention of former General Manager Todd Schall-Vess’ ouster.

You have questions. We have answers. We’re breaking down the answers to some of your pressing questions. This installment is all about our programming. Let’s get to it!

Q: Are you becoming an art house theatre or a first-run theatre?

A: We’ve always tried to include a mix of films that you might not necessarily get to see in the more commercial movie theaters and we plan to continue to do that because we hear from our community that those opportunities are important. We program a mix of sub-run films and repertory films. The repertory films include our Big Screen Classics series, Marathon Mondays, Family Classics and other special events.

Q: Seems like the films you showed in January and beginning of February feel different than your normal programming, are you sure you aren’t changing your programming?

A: January and February are tough times in the sub-run movie business. Sub-run is the majority of our screenings. Here’s a bit on how it works. The big distribution companies hold films in first run as long as they can if they have an Oscar nominee, which limits the number of available sub-run films. In addition, January tends to be a slower month in terms of releases in general. All this makes it incredibly difficult to get the big films or the Oscar nominees in this time period. Our strategy has always been to look for other opportunities in this timeframe. We showed a documentary because it was getting some great reviews and had good attendance numbers and was an Oscar nominee. We chose the others based on what was available and what we thought would appeal to our community. This happens at this time every year as we struggle for good sub-run films.

Q: I heard you hired a booker from Massachusetts to book the films. How is this person going to know this community?

A: We did hire an experienced film booker who is based in Massachusetts. She works with many independent theaters all around the country. While she has excellent relationships with the studios and can help us score great films she’s not booking anything without working closely with us. All of our films are being thoughtfully chosen and curated for our audience by the programming committee.

Q: What is this programming committee?

A: The programming committee has been curating our repertory film programs for about 5 years. It is made up of board members, community representatives, and theater staff. It originated  the family classics, big-screen classics and the other repertory film series we do. More recently, the committee has been overseeing the selection of all of our films. The programming committee helps plan special events as well.

Q: What’s up with the big Capital One banner?

A: Capital One has been a generous sponsor of our Family Classics Series for a couple of years now. We are so grateful to them and their support of our programming that we wanted to recognize them for their generosity as part of their sponsorship package.



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