Friday, June 21, 2024

Concertmaster Will Transition Into New Role with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra (WYDaily photo/Courtesy Virginia Symphony Orchestra)
The Virginia Symphony Orchestra (Courtesy Virginia Symphony Orchestra)

HAMPTON ROADS — The Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VSO) announced last week that Vahn Armstrong is stepping down after 31 years leading the ensemble as Concertmaster.

He will remain as Concertmaster Emeritus in the third chair of the First Violin section, VSO said.

Vahn has led the VSO to Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and through countless Young People’s Concerts and opera tours, has been featured as a soloist in a range of concertos over the years, including works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Prokofiev, Barber, and many more, the orchestra said.

“It has indeed been an honor and a privilege to serve as Concertmaster for the Virginia Symphony these last thirty-one years,” expressed Armstrong. “It is a wonderful orchestra, made up of wonderful people. I am so proud of all we have been able to accomplish together artistically over three decades and recall fondly so many moments of camaraderie and friendship, as well as many performances of beauty, excitement, and emotional and sonic power. Any success I may have had in leading the orchestra over the years is entirely dependent upon the abundant goodwill and astonishing commitment to excellence of my colleagues, on stage and off, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

According to VSO, the concertmaster holds the highest leadership position among all of the musicians in the orchestra. They are the leader of the first violin section and they make decisions regarding bowings, phrasing, and articulation for the entire string section. They lead the orchestra in tuning before concerts and rehearsals, and they serve as the conduit between the conductor and the orchestra.

While a conductor may be shaping the contours of a work, the concertmaster helps to lead the ensemble in real-time in the logistics of bringing the conductor’s vision to life, VSO added. They hold a unique leadership position that contributes to the overall unity and cohesiveness of the ensemble.

“The first time I got to work with Vahn was when I guest conducted in 2018; we played Scheherazade, and I think the only thing more impressive than Vahn’s solo on this piece was his clear understanding of leadership with the orchestra! I feel so lucky to have gotten to work with Vahn in an even deeper way over the past several years. I’ve learned so much from him and think it is so thrilling now to get to do one more Scheherazade together in a couple of weeks. Bravo, Vahn!” said VSO Music Director Eric Jacobsen.

Vahn will continue to serve as Concertmaster until a successor has been appointed. A search will begin with an audition Sept. 17-18 and will continue with trial weeks throughout the season. Full information on the audition will be posted to the VSO’s website on June 1.

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