Virginia Symphony Orchestra

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The Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VSO) is an American orchestra administratively based in Norfolk. The VSO performs concerts in various venues in Virginia, including:

The VSO also works closely with Virginia Opera and the Virginia Arts Festival. The VSO's current president and chief executive officer is Karen Philion.


Walter Edward Howe, Marian Carpenter and Robert C. Whitehead founded the orchestra in 1920 as the Norfolk Civic Symphony Orchestra.[1] The orchestra gave its first concert on 21 April 1921, conducted by Howe, who was the first music director of the orchestra. At the time, the Norfolk Civic Symphony Orchestra was the only American orchestra between Baltimore and Atlanta.

In 1949, during the music directorship of Edgar Schenkman, the Norfolk Civic Symphony Orchestra merged with the Civic Chorus to form the Norfolk Symphony and Choral Association. During the subsequent music directorship of Russell Stanger, the orchestra hired its first African-American musician, and took up residency in Chrysler Hall, which had opened in 1972. During the 1970s, the orchestra began collaboration with the Virginia Opera. During the US economic crisis and recession of the 1970s, the Virginia Symphony assumed its present form in 1979 with the merger of the Norfolk Symphony, Peninsula Symphony Orchestra, and the Virginia Beach Pops Symphony.[2]

In May 1991, JoAnn Falletta was appointed the orchestra's eleventh music director, the first female conductor to be named music director of the VSO. In April 2018, the VSO announced that Falletta is to stand down as its music director in June 2020.[3] Falletta now has the title of music director laureate of the orchestra.

In 2018, Eric Jacobsen first guest-conducted the VSO. In June 2021, the VSO announced the appointment of Jacobsen as its next music director, effective with the 2021-2022 season.[4]

Music directors[edit]

  • Walter Edward Howe
  • W. Henry Baker
  • Bart Wirtz
  • Arthur Fickenscher
  • Frank L. Delpino
  • Henry Cowles Whitehead (1934–1948)
  • Edgar Schenkman (1948–1966)
  • Russell Stanger (1966–1980)
  • Richard Williams (1980–1986)
  • Winston Dan Vogel (1986–1990)
  • JoAnn Falletta (1991–2020)
  • Eric Jacobsen (2021–present)


  1. ^ Yana Ginburg (2020-07-13). "Virginia Symphony Orchestra, 100 years | Anniversary Issue". Inside Business. Retrieved 2021-06-02.
  2. ^ Allan Kozinn (17 April 1997). "A Consolidated Orchestra That's Thriving". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  3. ^ "Beloved Msestro JoAnn Falletta To Bid Farewell in 2020" (Press release). Virginia Symphony Orchestra. 17 April 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  4. ^ "The Orlando Philharmonic's Eric Jacobsen accepts additional position as Music Director of Virginia Symphony Orchestra" (Press release). Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. 2 June 2021. Retrieved 2021-06-02.

External links[edit]