Virginia Symphony’s Associate Conductor Benjamin Rous will lead the orchestra when it performs a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9, in Southampton High School. -- SUBMITTED/ERIC GREEN PHOTOGRAPHY LLC
Virginia Symphony’s Associate Conductor Benjamin Rous will lead the orchestra when it performs a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9, in Southampton High School. -- SUBMITTED/ERIC GREEN PHOTOGRAPHY LLC

Archived Story

Virginia Symphony playing in Courtland

Published 11:14am Wednesday, May 8, 2013

BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Playback58@gmail.com

COURTLAND—Virginia Symphony Associate Conductor Benjamin Rous said audience members planning to attend the concert can look forward to “a mixture of classic and lighter items” on its program menu.

The free event begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9, in Southampton High School on Route 58 in Courtland. Hosted by the Franklin-Southampton Concert Association, the performance is sponsored annually by the Camp Foundation.

Incidental music from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Mendelssohn and “Hungarian Dances” by Brahms are among the works scheduled.

Selections from the musical “Les Miserables” will also be performed. “It’s in the air,” Rous said, referring to both the recent performance in Chrysler Hall, as well as the movie that came out late last year.

In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, a selection of music from that era has been chosen, he added.

Rous, who’s been in his position since 2010, said the concert is “A chance to appreciate the versatility of the orchestra and all the different shapes the sounds can take.”

“We do as much as we can to reach out to specific audiences,” he said in answer to how programs are created for audiences. “In part it’s what we do best and do that always.”

He noted a connection between Courtland and Richmond native John Powell, one of the composers chosen for evening.

“We will be playing Powell’s work “Natchez on the Hill,” which is a collection of three fiddle tunes native to Virginia,” Rouse said. “It is reminiscent of the Symphony in A, but a different work.”

Further, he pointed out the VSO has recorded that symphony, which is subtitled “Virginia Symphony.”

“This recording,” the New Hampshire native added, “was sponsored by Colgate Darden III. His sister, Irene Darden Field, lives in Courtland with her husband, John Field. John Powell was evidently a good friend of the Darden family. Their father, Colgate, was governor (1942-1946). So, Powell had close friends in Courtland, and he and the VSO are connected in the person of former governor Darden.”

“It’s important for Virginians to hear Virginia composers,” Rous said.

When the orchestra is in season, the members are busy playing inside and outside their five regular venues of the Chrysler Hall, Ferguson Center, Sandler Center, Regent University and Phi Beta Kappa Hall.

Then there are approximately two dozen times the orchestra will participate in the educational series for young people at schools such as in Jamestown or other parts of Hampton Roads.

There’s also the annual Virginia Arts Festival, which is ongoing. For example, “Rite of Spring” will be performed on May 29, the 100th anniversary of the renown and controversial work.

Recently, the ensemble played on the Eastern Shore and Kill Devil Hills, N.C. After Thursday’s show, another concert is scheduled for Gloucester County.

“In some of these instances, people will only hear the symphony once a year,” Rous said, remembering how the North Carolina show was “packed to the gills.”

“When people are listening, they’re hungry to get their fill, and it’s a special experience for the orchestra.”

For information, contact Nancy Rowe, association president, at 653-2498.

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