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  • Writer's pictureBA Ciccolella

Virginia Arts Festival Adds More Events to 2021 Season

Featuring world-class regional and national artists, local arts community partnerships, and the all-new outdoor performance venue The Bank Street Stage.

Words and Image courtesy of the Virginia Arts Festival.

Virginia Arts Festival has announced more details of its 2021 season of performances, including concerts, live theatre, and opera. Virginia Arts Festival Perry Artistic Director Robert W. Cross summarizes the season as an exercise in hope and resilience. “As we passed through the pandemic, we were reminded every day of how vital the arts are to our quality of life. Our audiences are longing to share the thrill of great performances again; artists are eager to return to the stage. It’s our mission to bring them together, and we are honored and thrilled to be a catalyst for the arts’ return.”

The 2021 season will once again mark the Festival’s longstanding broad embrace of genres, and will present artists acclaimed around the world, in addition to co-presentations with area arts organizations hard hit by the restrictions of the pandemic.

Tickets are available online at or by calling the VAF Box Office at 757-282-2822.

New performances just announced and on-sale now include the following.

Catalyst Quartet performs April 15 at the Attucks Theatre, exploring the unity that can be achieved through music–and they imagine their programs and projects with this in mind, redefining and reimagining the classical music experience. This performance at the Attucks will continue the tradition of the historic venue’s vital role: honoring the innumerable contributions of Black artists.

A soaring evening of arias you won’t soon forget! Suffolk-native Ryan Speedo Green performs April 17 at Chrysler Hall. The story of Ryan Speedo Green’s journey from a bleak childhood that included a stint in juvenile detention to an internationally acclaimed opera career reads like a fascinating book–and in fact it has become one, with Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Music and Family getting features on “CBS This Morning” and public radio’s “Fresh Air” and making the recommended lists of The New York Times and The Washington Post. Green’s life was changed forever when he went on a field trip to the Metropolitan Opera with The Governor’s School for the Arts. Today he is a headline-making voice at the Met, along with being an ensemble member of the legendary Vienna State Opera. Hear this powerful singer perform opera favorites with young singers on the rise from the Virginia Opera Emerging Artists Program, backed by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra conducted by Adam Turner, the Artistic Director of Virginia Opera.

Three of the most beloved pieces in the repertoire will be featured April 22 as the VAF Chamber Players perform on the Festival’s Bank Street Stage. Villa-Lobos’ lyrical Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 joins the human voice with the instrument most often compared to the voice, the cello—eight cellos, in fact, providing a dramatic underscoring for the sensuous soprano tones. Dvořák’s classic Serenade for Wind Instruments showcases the rich sounds of the oboe, clarinet, and bassoon; and Gounod’s Petite symphonie bewitches the listener. Virginia Opera Artistic Director Adam Turner conducts this concert that features members of Virginia Symphony Orchestra along with other gifted area musicians, and soprano Simone Harcum from the Virginia Opera’s Emerging Artists Program.

April 30 & May 1, audiences can delight in the rare opportunity to hear Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) Septet with Wynton Marsalis in a small group configuration that will leave audiences inspired and uplifted with the full vigor, vision and depth of America’s music. Under Music Director Wynton Marsalis, JLCO performs a vast repertoire, from rare historic compositions to Jazz at Lincoln Center‐commissioned works, including compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, and many others.

One of the region’s best-known jazz artists is Jae Sinnett, beloved for his performances and recordings, and avidly listened to by thousands of fans in his acclaimed programs on WHRV-FM. For jazz fans looking for a great Saturday night show, this outdoor concert May 15 by the Jae Sinnett Trio - featuring Allen Farnham on piano and Terry Burrell on bass - is just the ticket!

More performances will be announced soon.

Tickets are available online at or by calling the VAF Box Office at 757-282-2822.

A Note About Patron Safety, Seating and Ticketing

The Virginia Arts Festival will continue to observe CDC Covid-19 protocols including social-distanced seating, mask requirements, temperature checks and hand sanitizer stations. For the safety of patrons, tickets to outdoor performances will be sold in socially-distanced “pods;” pods will be assigned based on best availability for the size of the patron party. For safe, touchless entry, rather than distributing physical tickets, patrons will receive email confirmations to be printed or displayed on a device. The Box Office will also have a complete list of ticketholders at the point of entry.

Virginia Arts Festival 2021 Performance Calendar (as of March 25, 2021)

Oliver Wood, singer-songwriter Monday, April 12, 7:30pm Bank Street Stage

Zakir Hussain and the Masters of Percussion Tuesday, April 13, 7:30pm Bank Street Stage

August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned Co-produced with Virginia Stage Company and Norfolk State University Theatre Company Wednesday, April 14, 7:30pm Thursday, April 15, 7:30pm Friday, April 16, 7:30pm Saturday, April 17, 2pm Saturday, April 17, 7:30pm Sunday, April 18, 7:30pm Tuesday, April 20, 7:30pm Wednesday, April 21, 7:30pm Friday, April 23, 7:30pm Saturday, April 24, 2pm Saturday, April 24, 7:30pm Sunday, April 25, 7:30pm Bank Street Stage

Catalyst Quartet Thursday, April 15, 7:30pm Attucks Theatre

Ryan Speedo Green, bass-baritone And Singers from the Virginia Opera Emerging Artists Program Virginia Symphony Orchestra Adam Turner, conductor Saturday, April 17, 7:30pm Chrysler Hall

Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Players Adam Turner, conductor Simone Harcum, soprano Thursday, April 22, 7:30pm Bank Street Stage

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet with Wynton Marsalis Friday, April 30, 7:30pm Saturday, May 1, 7:30pm Sandler Center

Trouble in Tahiti Co-presented with Virginia Opera Friday, May 7, 6:00pm Friday, May 7, 8:30pm Saturday, May 8, 4:00pm Saturday, May 8, 7:00pm Bank Street Stage

Brentano Quartet Monday, May 10, 7:30pm - Bank Street Stage, Co-presented with the Feldman Chamber Society

Manuel Barrueco, guitar Co-presented with Tidewater Classical Guitar Society Thursday, May 13, 7:30pm Bank Street Stage

Jae Sinnett Trio Jae Sinnett, Allen Farnham, Terry Burrell Saturday, May 15, 7:30pm Bank Street Stage

Additional performances will be announced soon. Watch the Festival’s website for more information and keep up with VAF on social media @VaArtsFest.

About Virginia Arts Festival Since 1997, the Virginia Arts Festival has transformed the cultural scene in southeastern Virginia, presenting great performers from around the world to local audiences and making this historic, recreation-rich region a cultural destination for visitors from across the United States and around the world. The Festival has presented numerous U.S. and regional premieres, and regularly commissions new works of music, dance, and theater from some of today’s most influential composers, choreographers and playwrights. The Festival’s arts education programs reach tens of thousands of area schoolchildren each year through student matinees, in-school performances, artists’ residencies, master classes and demonstrations. For more information, visit

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