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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

Blue background with wavy stripes that says Virginia Arts festival with a white logo that looks like 3 overlapping triangular sails.

Words and Images 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.

Grammy-award winning organist Nathan Laube performs April 18 at St. Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg, co-presented with the Tidewater Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Known for his brilliant playing, gracious demeanor, and creative programming of repertoire spanning five centuries, fans will delight in this Sunday evening performance from Laube, who is on the organ faculty at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart, Germany, where he succeeded his mentor, Ludger Lohmann, at his alma mater.

Broadway comes to Bank Street Stage on Sunday, May 2 as Festival friend, conductor/pianist Rob Fisher performs with Tony Award nominee, actress Laura Osnes. Osnes is best known for starring roles on Broadway in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Anything Goes, and Bonnie and Clyde, and has recently made a name for herself appearing in TV/film work for the Hallmark Channel.

May 10, the Festival will co-present, with the Feldman Chamber Music Society, the famed Brentano Quartet at Bank Street Stage. May 11 at 10:30 am, the Quartet will perform at the Sandler Center, much to the delight of fans of the Festival’s longtime Coffee Concerts. “Passionate, uninhibited and spellbinding” (London Independent), this brilliant ensemble has drawn praise around the world for more than 25 years. Internationally recognized for his moving performances, innovative programming and extensive catalogue of recordings, American conductor Gerard Schwarz appears with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Chesapeake native, Grammy Award-winning soprano Aundi Marie Moore on Friday May 14 and Saturday May 15 for works by American Composers Copland, Barber, and Still. Schwarz serves as Music Director of the All-Star Orchestra, Eastern Music Festival, Palm Beach Symphony and Mozart Orchestra of New York, and is Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of the Mostly Mozart Festival.

Jazz fans will welcome this Friday evening concert! Soulful New Orleans native Kenny Washington joins the John Toomey Trio to perform on vocals for an evening of jazz standards, May 21 at the Bank Street Stage. Washington has been hailed by Wynton Marsalis as, “...a consummate professional, with impeccable intonation. He’s a real improviser who brings depth to everything he does." Famed for their performances at the Festival’s Attucks Jazz Club, the John Toomey Trio will light up the the stage featuring John Toomey on piano, Jimmy Masters on bass, and Brian Caputo on drums.

The Festival’s Connie & Marc Jacobson Director of Chamber Music, Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Olga Kern will perform throughout the Spring 2021 season. For the first time, she has curated the Olga Kern Trio featuring Canadian violinist Lara St. John, described as "something of a phenomenon" by The Strad and a “high-powered soloist” by the New York Times. Canadian Juno award winning cellist Amanda Forsyth, former principal cellist of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ontario, will also join the trio as they perform at Bank Street Stage May 25 and a Morning Concert May 26 at the Sandler Center. Norfolk State University Theatre Company alumni will be featured in A Musical Tribute to Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston at the Bank Street Stage Friday, May 28 – Sunday, May 30. Directed by NSU Producing Artistic Director Anthony Mark Stockard, this performance is sure to bring the audience to their feet!

For the past few years, North Shore Point House Concerts has partnered with the Festival to present incredible artists in the VAF Courtyard and Robin Hixon Theater, Clay & Jay Barr Education Center. For 2021, North Shore Point Downtown will present Folk/Blues singer songwriter Chris Smither June 4 at the Bank Street Stage and Bluegrass/indie-folk band out of Chapel Hill, Mipso June 27. Chris Smither is a national treasure, a unique artist whose blend of blues and folk is timeless. This will be his fifth appearance as part of the North Shore Point concert series, the most of any performer over 21 years. During a career that spans five decades, he has created an enduring catalog of classics. Just check his double album, "Link of Chain," featuring newly recorded versions of his songs with friends including Allen Toussaint, Loudon Wainright III, and Kris Delmhorst. Mipso's sixth album, "Mipso," on Rounder Records finds the modern string band showcasing their increasingly deep songwriting chops and their finely layered harmonies mostly over a fiddle, acoustic guitar, mandolin, and upright bass, trading vocals seamlessly among the four principals. The North Carolina-bred band, which topped Billboard's Bluegrass chart, played Norfolk to a sold out crowd at North Shore Point a few years ago. Rolling Stone named Mipso a new artist you need to know. The magazine said they sounded like "a back-porch hootenanny set not in an Appalachian holler but in a city, where the songs performed draw from Bill Monroe to David Bowie" and recommended to to fans of The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell, and Old Crow Medicine Show. 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 April 1, 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 Nathan Laube, organ Co-presented with the Tidewater Chapter of the American Guild of Organists Sunday, April 18, 7:30pm St. Bede Catholic Church, Williamsburg Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Players Adam Turner, conductor Symone 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 Rob Fisher and Laura Osnes Sunday, May 2, 2:30pm Bank Street Stage 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 Tuesday, May 11, 10:30am - Sandler Center Manuel Barrueco, guitar Co-presented with Tidewater Classical Guitar Society Thursday, May 13, 7:30pm Bank Street Stage Virginia Symphony Orchestra Gerard Schwarz, conductor with Aundi Marie Moore, soprano Works by Copland, Barber, and Still Friday, May 14 at Ferguson Center, Newport News Saturday, May 15 at Chrysler Hall, Norfolk Jae Sinnett Trio Jae Sinnett, Allen Farnham, Terry Burrell Saturday, May 15, 7:30pm Bank Street Stage Kenny Washington, vocals with John Toomey Trio Friday, May 21, 7:30pm Kenny Washington, vocals John Toomey, piano Jimmy Masters, bass Brian Caputo, drums Bank Street Stage Olga Kern, piano Lara St. John, violin Amanda Forsyth, cello Tuesday, May 25, 7:30 pm, Bank Street Stage Wednesday, May 26, 10:30 am, Sandler Center A Musical Tribute to Aretha and Whitney Co-produced by Virginia Arts Festival and Norfolk State University Friday, May 28 - Sunday, May 30 at 7:30 pm Bank Street Stage Virginia International Tattoo Thursday, June 3, 7:30pm Friday, June 4, 10:30am (Student matinee) Friday, June 4 at 7:30pm Saturday, June 5 at 7:30pm Sunday, June 6 at 2:30pm Old Dominion University’s Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium Pre-show entertainment: Thursday - Saturday 5:45 - 7:15 pm; Sunday 12:45 - 2:15 pm North Shore Point Downtown: Chris Smither Friday, June 4, 7:30pm Bank Street Stage North Shore Point Downtown: MIPSO Sunday, June 27, 7:30 pm 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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