Voice Concerts & Events

In addition to regular concerts and recitals, the VCU Voice area also hosts a number of community programs and events throughout the year that are open to the public.

Rennolds Series: Leon Fleisher and Katherine Jacobson (January 28)

Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 3 p.m.
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
Mary Anne Rennolds Chamber Concert Series

Duo performances of legendary pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher with internationally renowned pianist Katherine Jacobson have received accolades from music’s most respected critics. The duo performs in recital and with orchestras around the world. Their performances of the Mozart Concerto for Two Pianos in F Major (K. 242) have been hailed in appearances in New York at Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia, Naples, Toronto, Dublin and Tokyo. In recital, the Fleisher-Jacobson Duo captivates audiences with the musicality and brilliance of works by Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Dvořák and Ravel. They can also be heard in four-hand works on Fleisher’s latest album, “All The Things You Are,” released in 2014 on Bridge Records.

$35 General Admission
$32 Seniors (60+) / VCU Employees / VCU Alumni Association members
$25 Children (16 and under)
Available at vcumusic.showclix.com beginning July 2, 2017

Free for VCU Music students and VCU Music faculty/staff – E-mail musictix@vcu.edu to reserve

Rennolds Series: Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet (February 17)

Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 8 p.m.
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
Mary Anne Rennolds Chamber Concert Series

The Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet was founded in 1988 — the first permanently established wind quintet in the famous orchestra’s rich tradition of chamber music. With four original members since inception, they are living musical witnesses to the hugely productive and influential musical partnerships of the Berlin Philharmonic. The Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet continues to astonish audiences worldwide with their range of expression, their tonal spectrum and their conceptual unity. Indeed many listeners and critics agree that the ensemble has succeeded in virtually redefining the sound of the classic wind quintet.

$35 General Admission
$32 Seniors (60+) / VCU Employees / VCU Alumni Association members
$25 Children (16 and under)
Available at vcumusic.showclix.com beginning July 2, 2017

Free for VCU Music students and VCU Music faculty/staff – E-mail musictix@vcu.edu to reserve

Rennolds Series: Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio (March 17)

Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 8 p.m.
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
Mary Anne Rennolds Chamber Concert Series

After 40 years of success, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio continues to dazzle audiences and critics alike. Since making their debut at the White House for President Carter’s Inauguration in January 1977, pianist Joseph Kalichstein, violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson have set the standard for performance of the piano trio literature, consistently bringing technical mastery, expressive depth and magnetism to the concert stage. The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio balances the careers of three internationally-acclaimed soloists while making annual appearances at many of the world’s major concert halls, commissioning spectacular new works, and maintaining an active recording agenda.

$35 General Admission
$32 Seniors (60+) / VCU Employees / VCU Alumni Association members
$25 Children (16 and under)
Available at vcumusic.showclix.com beginning July 2, 2017

Free for VCU Music students and VCU Music faculty – E-mail musictix@vcu.edu to reserve

Welcoming Erin Freeman as VCU Music Director of Choral Activities & Director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts and the Richmond Symphony have announced the creation of the new joint position of director of choral activities at VCU and director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus. The position is being piloted as a one-year, non-tenured faculty appointment for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Pending final approval, Erin R. Freeman, D.M.A., current director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus and holder of the James Erb Choral Chair at the Richmond Symphony, will be named initially to the new joint position, which carries a faculty rank of assistant professor in the VCU School of the Arts Department of Music.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the VCU music department,” Freeman said. “Through my work with the Richmond Symphony, I have had the honor of getting to know and work with the faculty on several occasions. I am pleased to become their academic colleague in the fall.”

The VCU School of the Arts is consistently ranked as one of the top graduate arts schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Darryl V. Harper, chair of the Department of Music in the VCU School of the Arts, said he’s excited about the possibilities created by the new position.

“We are delighted that Dr. Freeman will be lending her formidable talents to the VCU community, and we are excited about the potential of this new collaboration with RSO,” Harper said.

Following Freeman’s tenure as associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony, the new position allows her to continue to contribute significantly to the musical life of the region and to play a major role in the education of young singers in the commonwealth.

“I am thrilled that Erin will be continuing her exceptionally fine work with the RSO Chorus, as well as becoming a leader in this heightened collaboration with VCU,” said RSO Music Director Steven Smith.

RSO Executive Director David Fisk said the partnership marks an important milestone in the long relationship between VCU School of the Arts and the Richmond Symphony, and Freeman’s participation offers both organizations an opportunity to do more together than either institution could accomplish alone.

“We are excited that Erin has agreed to accept this position and continue her commitment to building community and inspiring audiences in Richmond and beyond,” Fisk said.

Summer 2014 VCU Music Programs and Upcoming Events

Orchestra Project
June 22-27, 2014

The VCU Orchestra Project, a joint venture between VCU Music and the Richmond Symphony, is a unique orchestra camp. Staffed entirely by some of the most talented players and teachers in Richmond — VCU professors and full-time musicians from the Richmond Symphony — it is designed to immerse young players in the magic of great music making. The mission of the VCU Orchestra Project is to bring about transformative growth in young musicians in one week’s time.

Vocal Arts Project
July 7 – 11, 2014

Join VCU Music for the Vocal Arts Project — a summer music camp designed for singers entering grades 6 through 12 in fall 2014. This week-long camp provides singers with a comprehensive choral experience. Singers will be placed in choirs according to voicing and ability level.  Throughout the week they have classes in theory & sight-singing (by level), drama, vocal technique and world drumming.

Guitar & Other Strings Series

Stephen Bennet to perform on 2014 Guitar & Other Strings Series

Stephen Bennet to perform on 2014 Guitar & Other Strings Series

The Guitar and Other Strings Series, held every July, features all styles of music — jazz, bluegrass, folk, Celtic, flamenco, classical and blues.

Begun in 1992, the series has presented nationally and internationally acclaimed artists in concerts and workshops. Artists who have performed on this series include Leo Kottke, Mark O’Connor, John Hartford, John Jackson, the Washington Guitar Quintet, Charlie Byrd, the Tony Rice Unit, the Del McCoury Band, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Pierre Bensusan and Stephen Bennett. The VCU Community Guitar Ensemble also performs annually on this series.

July 11: Banjo Masters featuring Tony Trischka, John Bullard, and Adam Larrabee
July 18: Quatro na Bossa
July 25: Stephen Bennett
July 27: VCU Community Guitar Ensemble

Purchase tickets here

Summer at CenterStage

Summer Series at CenterStage.

Summer Series at CenterStage.


In partnership with CenterStage and University of Richmond, VCU Music presents a new summer concert series starting in July 2014. In its inaugural season, the eight one-hour long recital style concerts will feature the complete sonatas of Johannes Brahms as well as other works for piano and solo instrument.  Summer at CenterStage is perfect for those new to the classical music experience, as well as for the most die-hard listeners and offers fantastic music in a relaxed environment.

Learn more here


Music Education Graduate Studies Programs

The summer masters in Music Education is intended to be completed in three consecutive summer sessions and is structured into three cognate areas: Music Education, Music Pedagogy and Professional Education. The structure of a summer-only program presents a challenge to the creation of a tradition learning community of scholars.

Global Summer Piano Institute
August 3-10, 2014

GSPI is an intensive program that is specifically tailored to talented young Chinese-speaking pianists who are curious about being exposed to a unique set of hybrid Eastern and Western cultural learning. The institute provides valuable feedback from multiple faculty while simultaneously allowing for immersive instrumental experiences in a supportive environment. Participants enroll in activities such as daily piano lessons, master classes, workshops, concerts, English language groups and an excursion to Washington, D.C., the nation’s capitol.

A “work” of art: VCU Opera & VCU Symphony present The Merry Widow


Backstage, students assemble parts for the upcoming opera.


Students practice care measuring and cutting parts for The Merry Widow’s scenery.

It’s no surprise that the origin of the word “opera” in Italian is “work.” Planning a full-scale opera production for VCU Music is, in fact, a lot of “work.” Melanie Day and Kenneth Wood, Co-Directors of VCU Opera, face considerable challenges that could easily keep opera from being part of VCU’s artistic heritage. But each year, the directors prevail. For two days, the Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall is transformed into a Richmond opera house where undergraduate instrumentalists and singers move into the spotlight as virtuosos, charming audiences with delightful drama and music.

Unlike some institutions, many students come to VCU Music with no previous exposure to opera. To audiences and aspiring performers, the art form can be a mystery with its ascending arias, complex costumes, and showy scenery. Opera’s origins are traced back to great composers like Mozart, Rossini, and Strauss who wrote for professional performers of the time. “Opera was not written for amateurs,” quipped Kenneth Wood. As a result, vocal students must undergo a theatrical journey learning stage movements, advancing their acting skills, and refining their own singing abilities.

Students in the orchestra must quickly adapt to “life in the pit” and challenge themselves to follow a series of dramatic, vocal, and conducting cues while carefully counting measures as Daniel Myssyk, Director of VCU Symphony, conducts for both the orchestra and singers on stage. Even those who aren’t performing in the opera are challenged, assisting with demanding behind-the-scenes roles including scenery design, set building, lighting, choreography, costuming, makeup and hair application, and stage management. For all students involved, their “opera journey” comes in tandem with learning music for other ensembles and recitals, and balancing classes and jobs.

“That’s one of the reasons our students aren’t divas,” Day said. From being involved in all aspects of the more than 60 year-old opera company, students have learned to respect the hard work it takes to put together such a monumental production. “[VCU Opera] has tremendously enhanced their understanding of what it takes to put it all together,” Day continued.

So, why The Merry Widow? Franz Lehar’s hit take on a rich widow inspired seductive corsets, glamorous hats – even cocktails and cigarettes. As the 20th century’s most famous widow, Hollywood made three films about the lead Sonia Glawari and Broadway couldn’t get enough. Flirtation, glamour, and high finance are featured as Prince Danilo is ordered to marry the rich young widow or risk the country’s bankruptcy. Audiences will enjoy as the ever-familiar plot, For love or money?, is tested.


Quiet contemplation. A student reads a score during the first day of “Tech Week.”

In taking consideration of students’ vocal range, Day noticed the puzzle pieces of a perfect production fitting together in her search of this year’s opera. “Our singers had the vocal range available to sing these parts. [There were] a lot of a medium-sized parts,” she said, allowing many students to share the spotlight. Day also pointed out that an opera like The Merry Widow “gives singers the chance to learn how to do dialogue,” offering a specific type of training for the ambitious performer. In the case of this spring’s opera, The Merry Widow, students must stretch their usual performance boundaries, learning dance moves like the Viennese waltz and the Can Can!

About eight years ago, members of VCU Opera performed The Merry Widow in Rome as part of Operafestival di Roma, a nonprofit summer opera program in Italy, where Day served as Principal Coach and Artistic Director. Because of that, many of the costumes were available in VCU Opera’s extensive collection. Luck prevailed and the Department already had access to orchestral parts, cutting one of the many fees. Between the basics of royalty and costuming fees, financing an opera is expensive.

Not mentioned yet are the technical, stage demands of the show. As many know, VCU Music’s concert space, the Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall is technically not a theatre. Switching from an embassy ball to a garden party to a ballroom might be “par for the course” for an opera or theatre company, but these maneuvers push VCU Opera to its limits. Simply building on campus can be difficult because of storage, sound, and space issues. Technical Director Roland Karnatz has to envision building scenery in small, storable components that can be put together in one day with minimal access to tools. Whew!

With all these pieces in mind, the research process is lengthy. Day and Wood spend the summer researching all of these financial aspects and considering the “big picture” of VCU Opera. “A lot of schools select the show they’re going to do the spring before,” Day said. Day and Wood elect to do their process differently, allowing many students a chance to be involved and holding auditions in the fall.

“We go through all types of effort to do our best,” said Day. And audiences are glad they do. The Merry Widow opens Friday, April 25, with a second performance on Sunday, April 27.

Friday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 27 at 4 p.m.

General admission tickets are $10 in advance and $15 on the day of the performance. VCU students with ID are free.

View more backstage photos on our Facebook page!

Quick Q&A: Jose Simbulan, keyboardist for “Wicked” at Altria Theater

It’s that time again – Broadway’s most “popular” Broadway musical “Wicked” is headed to Richmond’s newly renovated Altria Theater. “Wicked” is the tale behind Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West, the witches of the mystical land of Oz. Apart from all of the majesty and ruby slippers on stage is the music behind the groundbreaking songs. For each stop on their tour, “Wicked” invites nine local musicians to play in their orchestra pit. Jose Simbulan, a 1992 VCU Music piano performance alumnus, is taking to the task for the musical’s stay in Richmond. Read more »

April 2014: Emerson and Kathy Hughes

While students at VCU Music, Emerson and Kathy Hughes’ musical friendship evolved into something more and the college sweethearts wed their senior year of college. Kathy served as accompanist for Emerson, a vocalist, and in spring 1965, the two Music Education majors graduated from VCU Music. In the past 50 years, the two have nurtured a family, a business, and their respective careers in and out of the music field. Post-graduation, the two began music education careers in Henrico County, but a new venture soon presented itself.

In 1972, after a talk with a friend and local veterinarian, the two set off like many enterprising entrepreneurs. Recognizing a need where other Richmond-area businesses were lacking, the two began Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. What began simply as a space for clients to leave their pets during vacations has now turned into a premier resort for pets. Holiday Barn has even received national notoriety from the Travel Channel as one of the “Top 10 Places to Pamper a Pooch.” Now, the couple’s quest for a family business has expanded to two locations with 125 employees and their son Michael (VCU c/o 1997, M.B.A.) at the helm. Read more »