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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



Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Arts & Entertainment

Friday Cheers Announces 2021 Concert Series

Each event in May and June features socially-distanced outdoor concerts with physically-spaced two, four and eight-person pods. Tickets must be purchased in advance, with no on-site ticket purchase available.




Friday Cheers, presented by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, returns May 7 for its 36th season of live music. Richmond’s longest running outdoor concert series is held on Brown’s Island on downtown’s historic and picturesque riverfront.

Each event in May and June features socially-distanced outdoor concerts with physically-spaced two, four and eight-person pods. Tickets must be purchased in advance, with no on-site ticket purchase available.

This year Cheers is celebrating all things local! Local bands, local food and local beer! Produced by Venture Richmond Events, this season’s Friday Cheers boasts a stellar line-up in a format designed to be safe for attendees.

“We are thrilled to present these shows in a safe and responsible way. Invite your friends and family out to enjoy the warm weather in one of Richmond’s most beautiful outdoor event venues,” said Stephen Lecky, director of events for Venture Richmond.

“Venture Richmond has helped make downtown Richmond a true cultural gem, and the team at Hardywood is thrilled for the opportunity to partner with them to bring people together over great music and delicious beer,” said Eric McKay, president and co-founder, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.

2021 Season Lineup

May 7 – Cris Jacobs Band (8:00) with Deau Eyes (6:30) 

Watch Cris Jacobs Band on YouTube:

Watch Deau Eyes on YouTube:


May 21 – Agents of Good Roots (8:00) with Leon III (6:30) 

Watch Agents of Good Roots on YouTube:

Watch Leon III on YouTube:


May 28 – An evening with Art of Noise RVA (6:30)

Watch Art of Noise on YouTube:


June 4 – NO BS! Brass (8:00) with Piranha Rama (6:30) 

Watch NO BS! Brass on YouTube:

Watch Piranha Rama on YouTube:


June 11 – An evening with Suggesting Rhythm (6:30)

Watch Suggesting Rhythm on YouTube: 


June 18 – Mighty Joshua (8:00) and Erin & the Wildfire (6:30) 

Watch Mighty Joshua on YouTube:

Watch Erin and the Wildfire on YouTube:


June 25 – Butcher Brown (8:00) with (6:30) Shormey

Watch Butcher Brown on YouTube:

Watch Shormey on YouTube: 

Advance tickets for individual shows to Friday Cheers are now available to purchase online at Tickets must be purchased in advance online only. There will be no box office on site. Pods will be limited to two, four and eight-persons including children. A two-person pod is 4′ x 8′. A four-person pod is 8′ x 8′. An eight-person general admission pod is a 20ft circle, located in the back section of the island with limited views of the stage. Reserve your pod now to get your choice of spots on the island!

All ticket holders must agree to comply with safety precautions put in place during the event, as outlined on our website. All public health protocols will be strictly enforced, and contactless practices have been implemented for the safety of our guests and staff. Face masks or coverings are required and no admittance will be allowed without one. Social distancing and a face mask are required any time a patron is outside their pod including while walking to the entry points and waiting in line for check-in, porta-johns and beverage and food pickup. All food and beverage purchases will be online and contactless.   

Friday Cheers is Presented by: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Friday Cheers is Sponsored by: CoStar Group, Dominion Green Power, 103.7 Your Variety,  NBC12, CW Richmond and Cucumbers on Fire.



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VMFA acquires portrait by iconic 16th-century woman artist Lavinia Fontana

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced their recent acquisition of Portrait of a Lady (1585) by Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), a celebrated woman artist from Bologna. 




The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced their recent acquisition of Portrait of a Lady (1585) by Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), a celebrated woman artist from Bologna.

“Lavinia Fontana was a pioneer during her lifetime. The discovery and acquisition of this piece elevates VMFA’s collection of late Renaissance art,” says Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s CEO and Director. “Her work demonstrates the significant yet often unrecognized artistic contributions women have made throughout history.”

Fontana was one of the first women artists in Italy to work alongside her male colleagues. Owing to her talent and business acumen, she later became a trailblazer in her role as head of a successful studio. As early as the 1580s, Fontana’s portraiture was highly favored among Bolognese noble families. In the early 1600s, she moved to Rome where she became a painter at the papal court.

Best known for her portraits, Fontana was a renowned painter of the Mannerism movement during the Late Renaissance period. Her paintings reflect a maturation of the conventions of the Mannerist style and she plays an important role in the chapter of art history following the High Renaissance and immediately preceding the Baroque period. Despite the superficial naturalism that this portrait presents at first glance, the artist has cleverly manipulated the dimensions within the composition by subtly exaggerating the proportions of her sitter’s costume to give it a monumental aspect. The effect is magnified by the way that Fontana flattens the obscure background with its curiously positioned table, making the figure stand out in stark relief while simultaneously creating an image that is both spiritually intense and enigmatic. These contrivances, all of which are typical of earlier Mannerist artists such as Veronese and Tintoretto, allowed Fontana to create elegant compositions that flaunted her technical virtuosity.

The young woman in the portrait is dressed in an extravagant amount of gold, jewels, precious stones and pearls. During this era, pearls symbolized the purity of both body and soul. To further emphasize this aspect of her sitter’s moral character, Fontana depicts her toying gracefully with a rosary that is attached to her belt, a gesture that reminds the viewer of her pious dedication to daily prayer. Portraits of this kind were often part of the traditions surrounding aristocratic marital engagements. Fontana’s indulgence in representing the luxurious ornamentation, combined with her use of compositional elements intended to convey the Catholic piety and chastity of the sitter, ensure that the future bride is portrayed as a paragon of both wealth and virtue.

Although no evidence remains that might attest to the sitter’s identity, recent research has proposed that it could be an early portrait of Isabella Gonzaga (1565–1637). A member of a prestigious princely family of Mantua, Isabella inherited the minor principality of Sabbionetta from her father, and she was an influential presence at the courts of the duke of Milan and the king of Naples.

“Here is a woman’s regard for another woman during an era when the very contours of womanhood were principally being delineated by men. A noble woman in this society had to struggle to affirm her place, her dignity and her authority,” says Dr. Sylvain Cordier, VMFA’s Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art. “This representation of a confident and charismatic young noble woman will play a vital role in the development of the spectacular Grand Portrait Gallery that we are preparing for 2025. This gallery will assist our visitors to interrogate the constantly changing conventions governing gendered representation in European art over the course of several centuries.”

Portrait of a Lady is currently on view in VMFA’s Atrium. For more information about the museum’s collection of Renaissance art, visit



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Library of Virginia’s Weinstein Author Series celebrates Poetry Month in April

The Library of Virginia’s 2021 Carole Weinstein Author Series celebrates April as Poetry Month with a free virtual talk by poet, literary historian, and editor Kim Roberts on April 15 at 6:00 pm.




The Library of Virginia’s 2021 Carole Weinstein Author Series celebrates April as Poetry Month with a free virtual talk by poet, literary historian, and editor Kim Roberts on April 15 at 6:00 pm. Her book By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Great Poems from the Early Days of Our Nation’s Capital uncovers great but hidden literature from lesser-known poets, including women, writers of color, LGBTQ+ writers, working-class writers, and those who were born enslaved.

The Carole Weinstein Author Series supports the literary arts by bringing both new and well-known authors to the Library of Virginia. Free and open to the public, the series focuses on Virginia authors and Virginia subjects across all genres.

2021 schedule:

April 15, 2021 (Virtual) KIM ROBERTS

By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Great Poems from the Early Days of Our Nation’s Capital

June 10, 2021 (In Person/Virtual as pandemic restrictions allow) VANESSA M. HOLDEN

Surviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner’s Community

September 14, 2021 (In Person/Virtual as pandemic restrictions allow)  KAREN L. COX 

No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice

November 17, 2021 (In Person/Virtual as pandemic restrictions allow)  ALEXIS COE 

You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington

To learn more, visit the Library of Virginia website here.



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