VSO Extends JoAnn Falletta’s Contract, Announces Five New Musicians

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This season marks Music Director JoAnn Falletta's 25th year with Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
This season marks Music Director JoAnn Falletta’s 25th year with Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Southeastern Virginia’s only full-time professional orchestra is welcoming five new musicians on board for the 2015-16 season.

Virginia Symphony Orchestra is opening its 96th season later this month under the guidance of music director JoAnn Falletta, who has been with the organization for the past 25 years and recently signed a contract extension through the 2020-21 season.

“During her 25 years as Music Director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta has taken a good regional orchestra and raised it to the highest level of professional accomplishment with a national reputation,” VSO Board Chairman Steve Test.

Michael Ashton, VSOMichael Ashton, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, joins the orchestra as a double bass player. He has performed as a soloist at renowned venues such as England’s Ely Cathedral, Great Saint Mary’s and Saint Ives.

In addition to his positions with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Ashton is the assistant principal in the Greensboro Symphony and plays in numerous orchestras up and down the East Coast.

Lee PhilipsLee Philips, another double bassist, received his bachelor’s degree from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. He later went on obtain his master’s string performance and pedagogy from Northwestern University.

Philips has toured with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Baltimore, Grand Rapids and Singapore Symphonies. He is currently contributing faculty of the Dickinson College and the Performing Arts Institute.

David Bruestle, VSODavid Bruestle, the symphony’s new trombonist, is a native of Ohio and previously studied at the Eastman School of Music before going on to receive his master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music.

Bruestle has studied with Dr. John Marcellus, international recording artist and former principal trombone of the National Symphony Orchestra, among other leading trombonists. More recently he returned to Eastman to obtain a doctorate of musical arts, from which he graduated this past May.

Colin Weyman, VSOColin Weyman, the symphony’s new principle horn, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He resided for a time after school in New York City, where he was regularly engaged by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New Jersey Symphony, American Ballet Theater Orchestra and the New Haven Symphony.

Prior to New York, Weyman lived in Miami, where he played with the Florida Orchestra, Sarasota Orchestra, Florida Grand Opera, and the Palm Beach Symphony.

Jacob Wilder, VSOJacob Wilder, a horn player, completed his bachelor’s degree and an artist diploma in french horn performance at the Colburn Conservatory of Music. While in Las Angeles, Wilder was a substitute French horn with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the Santa Barbara Symphony.

Wilder has also served as a full-time section member in the Colburn Orchestra, American Youth Symphony, the Industry Opera Company, Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo and Colorado College Music Festival.

“We are thrilled with the new musicians who are joining us this season,” Falletta said. “They bring their extraordinary talent and vibrant energy to our Orchestra, and we know that their artistry will increase the enjoyment of our audiences.”