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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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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts acquires watershed work by Paul Sérusier

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced this week that it has acquired The Three-Pond Cottage at Le Pouldu, an ambitious painting by Paul Sérusier (1864-1927), a pioneering Post-Impressionist who inspired the Nabis art movement and helped revolutionize 19th-century French art.

RVAHub Staff



The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced this week that it has acquired The Three-Pond Cottage at Le Pouldu, an ambitious painting by Paul Sérusier (1864-1927), a pioneering Post-Impressionist who inspired the Nabis art movement and helped revolutionize 19th-century French art.

During the summer of 1888 Sérusier, a student at the Académie Julian, a renowned private art school in Paris, traveled to Pont-Aven (Brittany, northwestern France), a small artist enclave where Paul Gauguin agreed to take him as an apprentice. Rejecting the approach of Impressionists who focused on the light, color and shading to give visual dimension to a subject, Gauguin had already begun to distill subjects to their essence, formed by bold, flat planes of color and contour lines, a style that came to be known as Cloisonnism. Gauguin also delved into Synthetism, a style which sought to explore and visually convey poetry, spirituality and emotion. Working with Gauguin was a transformative experience for Sérusier, helping him expand his own artistic vision.

Sérusier returned to Paris with an unfinished work, created under Gaugin’s direction, that reduced a view of Aven River and the adjoining wooded area to its elemental components. The result was profoundly innovative, sensational and influential. Several of his peers at Académie Julian, including Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Jean-Édouard Vuillard and Paul-Élie Ranson, exalted the painted sketch, originally titled The Bois d’Amour at Pont Aven before Ranson aptly renamed it The Talisman (now in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris). Aspiring to re-envision painting, these artists formed a group named the Nabis (French: Les Nabis, a derivation of nebiim, Hebrew for prophet), active in France from 1888 to 1900. The Nabis created art that diverged from realism, infusing their art with vivid color and resonating metaphor and symbolism.

The following year, in 1889, Gauguin left Pont-Aven and settled for a time in nearby Le Pouldu, a Breton fishing village in northwestern France. Sérusier joined him there for a few weeks in the fall and further developed his philosophy of painting, pushing beyond Gauguin’s Synthetism and advancing his own work with more confident, intentional and innovative results. Sérusier’s most ambitious work from this trip, The Three-Pond Cottage at Le Pouldu, began as a plein air sketch and took on new life in the artist’s studio. The cottage and surrounding ponds, marsh grasses, wheat fields and haystacks are formed by the dynamic interplay between flat planes of complementary colors—swaths of warm ochre offset by deep blue and patches of russet red against dark green. The undulating compositional elements and repeated use of colors create a continued sense of movement, interrupted by textured vertical lines which effectively root the viewer in the foreground.

“The overall effect of this experiment was nothing less than the total sublimation of the outward appearance of the painter’s surroundings into a landscape inhabited by spiritual presence, a mystical vision rendered onto the canvas with a bold harmonization of color and form,” said Dr. Sylvain Cordier, VMFA’s Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art. The Three-Pond Cottage at Le Pouldu “is one of the earliest works to demonstrate how the Nabis artists would transform the foundations of art and distinguish their work from their Impressionist predecessors.”

“The Three-Pond Cottage at Le Pouldu is an important addition to the European art collection at VMFA as it provides a crucial contextual link between Post-Impressionist paintings by Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh in the museum’s Mellon Collection, as well as later modern artists like Bonnard and Matisse.” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO.

“When situated between the paintings of Gauguin and Van Gogh in the newly renovated Mellon Galleries at VMFA next year, Sérusier’s The Three-Pond Cottage at Le Poulduwill occupy a vital position in the room dedicated to Post-Impressionism,” added Michael Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education. “This work perfectly illustrates the essential nature of Gauguin’s influence on an entire generation of avant-garde painters, while also demonstrating how Sérusier transcended his mentor in conveying the poetic and the metaphysical through his visionary presentation of color and form. We are delighted to add such an important painting to the museum’s collection.”

Dr. Cordier will present a virtual lecture, “Painting Alongside Gauguin: A Masterpiece of the Pont-Aven School by Paul Sérusier” on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m. EST. The online event, hosted on Zoom, is free to attend. Participants can register to access the lecture at Sérusier’s painting The Three-Pond Cottage at Le Pouldu is currently on view in VMFA’s Atrium. Other works by the artist can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston, Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Brest and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.



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Library of Virginia Literary Awards Winners Announced

Cottom, Tilghman, and Kingsley are the 2020 recipients honored by the Library of Virginia.




The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the winners of the 23rd Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards, which were held virtually this year. Sponsored by Dominion Energy, the October 17 awards celebration was hosted by best-selling author and award-winning filmmaker Adriana Trigiani. Awards categories were nonfiction, fiction, and poetry; People’s Choice Awards for fiction and nonfiction; and Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award. Winners in each category receive a monetary prize and a handsome engraved crystal book.

Tressie McMIllan Cottom Photo provided by Library of Virginia

The winner of the 2020 Literary Award for Nonfiction is Tressie McMIllan Cottom for her book Thick: And Other Essays.

“The provocative and brilliant chapters hold a mirror to the soul of America in painfully honest and gloriously affirming explorations of contemporary culture,” wrote the award judges. “Streetwise and erudite, Cottom explodes the myth that the ‘personal essay’ is the only genre in mainstream publishing and journalism open for public commentary by female writers of color.”

Cottom, who has just been named a 2020 MacArthur Fellow, is a recipient of the Doris Entwisle Award of the American Sociological Association for her scholarship on inequality, work, higher education, and technology. In addition to Thick, she is the author of Lower Ed and her work has been featured by the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, PBS, NPR, Fresh Air, and The Daily Show, among others. She recently left Richmond, where she had been an associate professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, for a position at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

The other finalists for the nonfiction prize were Erik Nielson and Andrea L. Dennis for Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America and Mary M. Lane for Hitler’s Last Hostages: Looted Art and the Soul of the Third Reich.

Chris Tilghman Photo Credit: Susan Kalergis

Christopher Tilghman won the 2020 Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction for his book Thomas and Beal in the Midi. “This lushly written novel follows an interracial American couple in a family saga after they emigrate to escape bigotry in 1892,” wrote the award judges. “Its evocative descriptions of fin de siècle France and skillfully drawn characters add up to a sensitive and satisfying portrait of a marriage.”

Tilghman is the author of two short-story collections, In a Father’s Place and The Way People Run, and three previous novels, Mason’s Retreat, The Right-Hand Shore, and Roads of the Heart. He is a professor of English at the University of Virginia and lives with his wife, the novelist Caroline Preston, in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in Centreville, Maryland.

The other finalists for the fiction award were Angie Kim for Miracle Creek and Tara Laskowski for One Night Gone.

Naka-Hasebe Kingsley Photo provided by Library of Virginia

Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley is the winner of the Poetry Award this year for his book Colonize Me, which explores the experience of living as a Native American in today’s America. “The poems emerge from overlapping histories of violence and struggle not as fractured identity but as integrated multiplicity” wrote the award judges. “Kingsley uses form and language to indict the micro and macro aggressions of colonization with irony, heartbreak, and joy.”

An Affrilachian author and Kundiman alum, Kingsley is a recipient of the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and Tickner Fellowships. His is also the author of Not Your Mama’s Melting Pot (2018) and Dēmos (coming in 2021). He is an assistant professor of English in Old Dominion University’s MFA program.

The other finalists for the poetry award were Lauren K. Alleyne for Honeyfish and David Huddle for My Surly Heart.

Philip J. Deloria Photo Credit: Jim Harrison

The Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award went to Philip J. Deloria for his book Becoming Mary Sully: Toward an American Indian Abstract. In Becoming Mary Sully, Deloria reclaims the artist’s work from obscurity, exploring her stunning portfolio through the lenses of modernism, industrial design, Dakota women’s aesthetics, mental health, ethnography and anthropology, primitivism, and the American Indian politics of the 1930s. Presented by the Library and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Art in Literature Award recognizes an outstanding book published in the previous year that is written primarily in response to a work (or works) of art while also showing the highest literary quality as a creative or scholarly work. This unique award, established in 2013, is named in honor of Mary Lynn Kotz, author of the award-winning biography Rauschenberg: Art and Life.

The winners of the People’s Choice Awards are The Substitution Order by Martin Clark in the fiction category and Mary Ball Washington: The Untold Story of George Washington’s Mother by Craig Shirley in the nonfiction category. Winners are chosen by online voting.

“The Substitution Order mixes legal expertise and wry humor in a story rich with atmosphere, memorable characters, and surprises right up to the end,” wrote the judges about the novel by Martin Clark, who is a circuit court judge in Patrick County, Virginia.

“Craig Shirley’s sprightly biography suggests that George Washington’s first fight for independence was from his controlling, singular mother—a resilient widow who singlehandedly raised six children on a large farm,” wrote the judges about Mary Ball Washington. Shirley is an author and public affairs consultant who splits his time between homes on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster County and a 300-year-old Georgian manor house in Tappahannock, Virginia.

The evening’s featured speaker was Douglas Brinkley, who was honored for his outstanding contributions to American history and literature as an award-winning, best-selling author and U.S. presidential historian. In addition to our presenting sponsor, Dominion Energy, the Literary Awards were made possible by Liz and Preston Bryant Jr., Christian & Barton LLP, MercerTrigiani, Anna Moser and Peter Schwartz, Kathy and Steve Rogers, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Carole and Marcus Weinstein, Weinstein Properties, and the Library of Virginia Foundation.

Next year’s Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration will be held on October 16, 2021.



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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts acquires 19th-century work by Cheyenne artist Howling Wolf

The purchase breaks the world record price for a Native American ledger drawing.

RVAHub Staff



The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced today that it acquired a major work by a 19th-century Native American artist Honanistto or Howling Wolf. The acquisition entitled A Southern Cheyenne Ledger Drawing is a watercolor and ink drawing dating to circa 1875. Howling Wolf’s long life, circa 1849 to 1927, spanned the most tumultuous periods in the history of the Southern Cheyenne (Chian) people. He was an exceptionally talented artist who depicted the Plains people and documented significant events and changes in Cheyenne society, while also portraying an individual’s place within this volatile period of American history. The work is the first Native American ledger drawing to enter VMFA’s collection. An original and rare stereograph portrait of the artist was also acquired by the museum.

VMFA’s growing Native American art collection includes two- and three-dimensional works dating from prehistoric times to the present day. Compelling artwork by modern and contemporary artists such as Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Salish/Kootinai), Troy Sice (Zuni), Wendy Red Star (Crow), Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo), Eudora Montoya (Santa Ana Pueblo) and Holly Wilson (Delaware/Cherokee) as well as the beautiful and intricate objects by unnamed aboriginal artists from the Arctic North, Northwest Coast, Plains and Southwest regions provide testament to the skill and aesthetic care of their makers.

“VMFA continues its efforts to grow this important collection—the museum has acquired more than 200 works by Native American artists within the last five years alone,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “We are committed to collecting and exhibiting Native American art and recognizing the contributions of the Native communities here in Virginia. Adding Howling Wolf’s drawing to the collection enables the museum to tell his fascinating story and document the history and artistry of the Cheyenne people.”

Howling Wolf was the son of Eagle Head, a successful warrior and leader who became a council chief of the Southern Cheyenne around 1874. Both father and son were members of the Bowstring Society, the strongest warfare group within Southern Cheyenne society in the 1870s. Howling Wolf and his father survived several clashes, one of the earliest was an attack on their encampment at Sands Creek by the Colorado Militia in 1864 when he was only fifteen years old. By the time of his death Howling Wolf was both a revered warrior and one of the most recognized masters of the Native American art form of ledger drawing.

A Southern Cheyenne Ledger Drawing was acquired by VMFA at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas. Michael Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education, successfully acquired the work for the museum for $106,250 after a vigorous bidding war resulting in a world-record hammer price for a single ledger drawing. “Ledger drawings are important to the history of Native North America both as an art form and as historical documents,” said Dr. Johanna Minich, VMFA’s Assistant Curator for Native American Art. “Acquiring a ledger drawing for the Native American collection has been one of my priorities. When this work by Howling Wolf came up for auction Michael Taylor and I discussed it and decided that if we wanted a ledger drawing for VMFA we should do what we could to obtain one of the best. I think we got it.”

Ledger art grew from the traditions of visually recording individual exploits and tribal histories as testimonials. Pre-reservation ledger drawings emphasized battle scenes or horse raids. Reservation drawings dating from around 1870 to 1890 documented tribal histories and traditions. In 1875 the War Department acted to remove men they deemed “criminal offenders” in battles from their own people and send them far away to Fort Marion, a prison in Saint Augustine, Florida. Howling Wolf and his father were among the seventy-two men from Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho and Caddo tribes who were forcibly removed. A Southern Cheyenne Ledger Drawing is a reservation drawing made during his captivity.

While at Fort Marion the men, surprisingly, could move freely about, work for wages and pursue artistic endeavors. With access to new materials like paper, watercolor paints, crayons and ink, Howling Wolf began to vary his themes and compositions and the resulting art demonstrates his powerful individualism.

A Southern Cheyenne Ledger Drawing depicts a meeting of the Bowstring Society with its leaders arriving on horseback. The chief, a famous Cheyenne warrior named Roman Nose, is shown with an elaborate headdress featuring a bird design. Intricately detailed tipis flank the sides of the composition with one placed in the foreground to suggest their circular formation around the main activity. Seven other society members, with their backs to the viewer, bear feathered and bent lances indicating their membership in the Bowstring Society. The inclusion of the American flag indicates that even though this warrior society continues the members have acquiesced to the new leadership of the colonizers.

“The composition is so bold and complex,” said Taylor. “The outline is firm and confident and the colors are vibrant and exuberant. We knew we had found an incredible Native American ledger drawing for VMFA and are delighted to share it with our visitors. Our goal in the coming years is to build a world-class collection of Native American art at the museum and this purchase, along with many others that Johanna has made in the past five years, signals our intent.”



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