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Richmond Symphony announces celebrated Italian conductor as first female Music Director

Peleggi’s engagement comes after a two year search to replace former Music Director Steven Smith, who stepped down at the end of the 2018-19 season after a distinguished decade of service.

RVAHub Staff

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Even amidst these turbulent times, the Richmond Symphony is looking to the future and the return to a sense of normalcy when the music will once again play. The symphony has announced the appointment of award-winning Italian conductor Valentina Peleggi as the organization’s next Music Director. Peleggi will begin her role on July 1, 2020, for an initial four-year period conducting at least ten weeks a season, making Peleggi the sixth Music Director, and first woman in that leadership role.

Peleggi’s engagement comes after a two year search to replace former Music Director Steven Smith, who stepped down at the end of the 2018-19 season after a distinguished decade of service. The Search Committee, comprised of symphony musicians and board members, unanimously selected Peleggi after she spent two weeks with the Symphony in early March, garnering overwhelming support from the orchestra.

Peleggi’s repertoire for the masterworks concert included Rossini’s Overture to La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie), Tchaikovsky’s  Francesca da Rimini, Opus 32, Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, No. 2, C. Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Opus 7 and Respighi’s Pines of Rome with guest artist Angela Cheng, pianist.

Peleggi will conduct eight weeks of concerts in the 2020/21 Season, including opening the Symphony’s season with a ‘Big Tent’ open-air community festival, four Masterworks concert weeks, and chamber orchestra concerts in the Symphony’s Rush Hour and Metro Series.

“The passion, enthusiasm and profound musical sensitivity of the musicians of the Richmond Symphony impressed me enormously from our very first rehearsal,  said Peleggi. “Making music with these wonderful artists is truly a privilege. I look forward to creating exciting new projects, sharing inspiring music with our community, and working with the Symphony’s staff and the orchestra’s innovative educational and choral programs. We will get through these challenging times as we focus on shaping and imagining the future together. I believe we will be a great team and I can’t wait to call Richmond my new home.”

Described by the BBC Music Magazine as “rising star”, Peleggi has led orchestras from around the world, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Orchestra of Wales, Norrkoping Symphony (Sweden), Orchestra della Toscana and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and will shortly release her first CD on Naxos.

Originally from Florence, Peleggi was the first Italian woman to enter the conducting program at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and was recently honoured with the title of Associate. Currently a Mackerras Fellow with the English National Opera and Guest Music Director with the Theatro São Pedro in São Paulo, Brazil, Peleggi previously served as Resident Conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the São Paulo Symphony Chorus and as Music Director for ten years of the University Choir of Florence, where she now holds the position of Honorary Conductor after receiving a special award from the Italian Government in recognition of her work. She won the 2014 Conducting Prize at the Festival International de Inverno Campos do Jordão, the Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation Conducting Prize at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California, and the 2015-2017 Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship under Marin Alsop.

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