JoAnn Falletta has just completed her 25th season as musical director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Her work here has been exemplary, and it has not gone unnoticed.
Falletta, who is also musical director of the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra, learned last month that she has been elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She will be formally inducted Oct. 8 in Cambridge, Mass.
How esteemed is her company? Well, the Academy dates back to 1780. Its members include several presidents, about 250 Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners, and random folks such as Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Graham Bell and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Academy president Jonathan F. Fanton, in a news release, noted that contemporary inductees "represent today's innovative thinkers in every field and profession."
Falletta is a very impressive lady, and if all you know about her is her work with the Virginia Symphony, you're only getting part of the story. To learn a little more about her musical chops, go to Norfolk Academy 8 p.m. May 18. As part of the Virginia Arts Festival, she will be playing guitar along with the Tidewater Classical Guitar Orchestra. Admission is $35.
Speaking of the symphony. The Virginia Symphony Orchestra has some top-notch shows coming up. On May 19 (at William and Mary's Phi Beta Kappa Hall) and May 20 (Regent University), the orchestra will perform a show built around the Phillip Glass Violin Concerto No. 1.
And don't forget the symphony's shows playing the music of David Bowie (June 3 at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk) and the music of "Star Wars" (June 5 at the Ferguson Center in Newport News). Resident conductor Benjamin Rous will handle both of those shows.
Magic moment: Speaking of the Virginia Arts Festival, the indie pop violinist Kishi Bashi (real name: K Ishibashi) played at Work|Release in Norfolk (his hometown) on April 28. Backed by two band members and a string quartet culled from the Virginia Symphony, he delivered a wonderful night of music — with an especially memorable finale.
After completing his set, Ishibashi told the crowd he wanted to "do something crazy" for the encore. He had the audience move back to form an open circle on the floor so that he and the string quartet could come down from the stage and perform amid the crowd — totally acoustic, no microphones.
With the guests packed tightly around them, Ishibashi sang and conducted the quartet through a cover of the Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place" and his own glorious love song "Manchester." (Mike Savino, who plays banjo in the backing band, told me this is something Ishibashi does "once in a blue moon, when the room feels right.")
Quite simply, it was one of those breathtaking concert moments that will never be forgotten by anyone in attendance.
LAVA flowing. There is still no official explanation for the recently announced decision to move this year's LAVA Music Festival from the Suffolk Executive Airport (where it debuted last year) to the grounds of O'Connor Brewing Co. in Norfolk.
The inaugural event was a resounding success, and the promoters immediately established plans to grow from one day to two this year, with a camping option to add to the festival experience. A lineup was announced for May 27-28 and tickets went on sale. But now producer Justin Billcheck has pulled out (he's not commenting on why) and the event has been scaled back to one day and moved to a new location. (O'Connor Brewing, while smaller than the airport runway, still has a good facility for a music festival.)
It's possible that the LAVA organizers bit off more than they could chew by expanding the festival in just its second year. Again, no explanation has been given, but the reasons for such moves, especially late in the game, most often have to do with money. Last year's LAVA was a great addition to the local music scene. Hopefully it can build on that success and remain an annual event, at whatever location works out.
Young musicians. The Academy of Rock, a local training grounds for young rockers that has a location in Newport News, will host its second annual Rock Fest on May 21 at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
Sixteen bands affiliated with the Academy of Rock will perform. Guests can donate money toward their favorite acts, with the donations going to Eggleston Services. The bands that bring in the most donations will win prizes. There will also be fundraising raffles, including one for a guitar signed by all the members of Pearl Jam.
For info, go to varocks.com or call 757-947-4774.
Wooten Hall. Denbigh High School in Newport News celebrated its 50th anniversary last weekend, and the musical portion featured the local band Slapnation with special guest Joseph Wooten, a Denbigh grad and longtime keyboardist for the Steve Miller Band.
Wooten's brothers — Roy, Regi and Victor, all acclaimed musicians — were not in attendance, but they were honored just the same. The school named the band room's hallway in honor of the Wooten Brothers. It's a fitting tribute to a musical family that remembers its roots.
Hurrah. The Hurrah Players, the acclaimed youth theater troupe from Norfolk, makes one of its periodic appearances on the Peninsula next weekend. The group will present "Sing Out America" at the American Theatre in Phoebus 2:30 p.m. May 15.
As the title suggests, the show is a patriotic song-and-dance tribute with tunes from many different eras. All seats are $10. And if you want to plan ahead, the Hurrah Players will be back at the American on July 16 for two performances of "All Shook Up," a musical fantasy about a certain guitar-wielding, hip-swinging hillbilly who arrives in town and sets toes tapping with songs such as "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Don't Be Cruel."
For the veterans. Laura Rice, the country rock singer from New Kent, has signed on as a musical ambassador for HeartSongs for Veterans, a nationwide community of musicians who make it a mission to use their music as a means to raise money and awareness for military veterans.
Specifically, the volunteer organization works with groups that help veterans and wounded warriors in a wide variety of ways. Rice, who spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, is the lead vocalist for the country band TypeCast. Check out their new single "Blame it on the Fireball" on the band's Facebook page.
Congratulations: A quick note to congratulate Cole Layman, guitarist and senior at Warhill High School in Williamsburg. He was accepted at Boston's esteemed Berklee College of Music and has decided that is where he will attend. Berklee is considered to be the nation's top school for the study of contemporary music.
If you haven't heard Cole play, check out "Tangled," the new CD by In Layman terms, his duo project that also features his younger sister Logan on bass and vocals. They also play in a Peninsula-based blues quartet called The UnXpected. ...
Another Warhill senior, Haley Griffith, earned a $2,000 scholarship from the Virginia Choral Society. She is a soprano with the Warhill Honors Choir, has attended District Choir every year since 2011, and was a 2015 and 2016 delegate for All-Virginia Chorus. She was awarded the annual scholarship last weekend at the choral society's final show of the season.
Gettin' ROO'D. Anthony Rosano and the Conqueroos, one of the region's top blues rock bands, has a new live CD coming out May 17. "ROO'D Awakening," recorded at the Broadberry in Richmond, will feature nine tracks showcasing the incendiary energy that has made this band so popular.
The live album will be available on iTunes and Amazon and already is available for pre-order at the band's website (conqueroos.com). In the meantime, the group has already launched an IndieGogo fundraising campaign to finance its next studio album.
Rosano announced earlier this week that the studio album will be made with musician-producer Mike Zito of the Royal Southern Brotherhood.
Special engagement: Pop singer-songwriter Amanda Raye, a former Gloucester resident who moved back to her hometown of St. Louis recently for family reasons, will visit Hampton Roads this month and she's got at least one gig lined up.
Raye, whose 2015 album "Rules" revealed a strong voice and a nice way with melody and lyrics, will be playing on the evening of May 15, at the Steel Pier Café in Virginia Beach. She will be backed by the Outstanding Band.
Northern (Virginia) exposure: It's a local video for a local song, crafted by a local singer and a local filmmaker — and now it is getting seen outside of Hampton Roads.
Skye Zentz wrote her deliriously catchy song "The Tide" as an ode to her hometown of Norfolk, and director John Abrahams of Jpixx worked with her to create a video that serves as a travelogue of the city. The video won local awards, but it moved outside the region last month when it was screened in Fairfax as part of the Northern Virginia Film and Music Festival.
Holtzclaw can be reached by phone at 757-928-6479..