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Education Virtual Connections

Experience VAF virtually, from home.

While it’s no substitute for gathering together to experience the beauty and power of live performing arts, we hope you’ll enjoy this curated selection of Virginia Arts Festival content.

Below you’ll find information on how to view past events that have been produced by Virginia Arts Festival, with Education Guides to accompany each show, as well as offerings from some of our Festival Friends – artists who have been part of Virginia Arts Festival Education Programs in years past.

We can’t wait to see you again soon.

Dancing of the Shoulders of Giants

In 2019, together with 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, Virginia Arts Festival commissioned a new ballet from Dance Theatre of Harlem. The work was created by an all-female creative team including award-winning choreographer Claudia Schreier and composer Jessie Montgomery. For months, WHRO film crews documented the process of bringing the new work to the stage, from the earliest rehearsals in the New York studios of Dance Theatre of Harlem, where the choreographer shaped the steps for each dancer, to the dress rehearsals with full orchestra in Chrysler Hall, to the triumphant world premiere performance. Complemented by interviews with the creative team and leaders of the history-making ballet company, this documentary gives a rare behind-the-scenes look at the making of a new ballet—equal parts inspiration, perspiration, frustration and joy.

Rappahannock County

  • Sunday, June 14, 5:30-7:00pm on WHRO TV 15—Check Local Listings
  • Education Guide

In 2011, Virginia Arts Festival co-commissioned (with the Virginia Opera, Modlin Center for the Arts at University of Richmond, and Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas at Austin) a new work by award-winning composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Mark Campbell, to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. A theatrical song cycle, the piece is drawn from diaries, letters and personal accounts and explores the impact of the war from secession to defeat, on a community of Virginians, black and white, rich and poor, soldiers, nurses, widows and survivors. Enhanced by projections of Matthew Brady’s renowned Civil Wr photography, illustrations, documents and other visuals, the performance features five principal singers performing more than 30 roles, backed by an orchestra of 17 musicians. Opera Today hailed the work as “profound and poignant;” the premiere performance was recorded live, captured by WHRO (and also later released as an audio recording on the Naxos label).

Virginia International Tattoo

Pageantry and patriotism, spirit and spectacle, talent and teamwork combine in this awesome display of music and might – one of the highlights of the Virginia Arts Festival. Over 1,000 performers from all over the world fill the Scope Arena – a truly spectacular springboard for classroom explorations of history, geography, and more!

Rhythm Live Video Broadcast 

This performance incorporates the energy of Caribbean and West African music with brilliant choreography to deliver the story of Trinidad steel pan and calypso in a manner that is mesmerizing. The combination of narrations based on historical facts, with color, movement, and sound makes for an educational experience that students of any age will remember for a long time.

This dynamic storyteller breathes life into traditional and contemporary tales from African and African-American traditions, weaving in music performed on traditional African instruments. Meticulously researched and told with flair, Alston’s stories transport young people to other cultures and other times and provide unforgettable lessons in history that translate easily into classroom connections.
In addition to serving as featured artist and host of Carnegie Hall’s Family and Education Concert Series and the resident storyteller and librettist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ms. Alston travels the world telling her stories...and travels to Virginia Arts Festival once a year to spend a week in our local schools. 

Festival Friends: New England Conservatory

A recognized trailblazer, the New England Conservatory's Community Performances and Partnerships Program is one of the premier programs in the nation for engaging conservatory students with their community through robust, meaningful partnership activities and high quality training.
This program provides NEC students with a crucial opportunity to explore what it means to be a musician living in and contributing to community life, within an atmosphere of supportive mentoring, professional development, and experiential learning.
Virginia Arts Festival has partnered with the innovative NEC Community Performances and Partnerships program for over a decade to bring amazing student-citizen-musicians to work in Hampton Roads schools - sharing a wide range of repertoire and teaching students lessons about history, teamwork, and dedication along the way.

Festival Friends: Akropolis Reed Quintet

The Akropolis Reed Quintet was founded in 2009 at the University of Michigan and is the first ever ensemble of its makeup to win seven national prizes including a Fischoff Gold Medal (2014) and Fischoff Educators Award (2015). Hailed by Fanfare Magazine for its “imagination, infallible musicality, and huge vitality”, Akropolis has performed from Juneau to Abu Dhabi and delivers more than 120 annual performances and workshops annually. A maverick of new wind music, Akropolis has commissioned over 70 reed quintet works and recorded three albums, including its 2017 release, The Space Between Us, which the San Francisco Chronicle calls, “pure gold”.

They were a big hit at our local schools in 2017. Looking forward to having them back in January 2021!

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Support From

Corporate Sponsors

Clark Nexsen, Enterprise Holdings Foundation, Nordstrom, USAA, Wells Fargo


D. Baker Ames Charitable Foundation, East Beach Institute, Leah S. Wohl Musical Arts Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, ODU Hixon Community Engagement Fund, Ruth Brown Memorial Fund

Government Support

The following cities and/or their Arts and Humanities Commissions: Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg.