18th Annual Virginia Arts Festival Features Lang Lang, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and More in 2014 Season, Beg. Today

18th Annual Virginia Arts Festival Features Lang Lang, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and More in 2014 Season, Beg. Today

The Virginia Arts Festival will explore worlds far and near, past and present, real and imagined in its spring 2014 season, with more than 50 performances by world-renowned artists, on stages throughout southeastern Virginia. Fans of music, dance and theater will travel from across the United States and around the world to see performances in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Williamsburg, Newport News, and James City County.

A spring tradition, the Virginia Arts Festival gets an early start in 2014 with a special performance by the classical pianist superstar Lang Lang, tonight, February 13 in Norfolk's Chrysler Hall. Hailed by The New York Times as the "hottest artist on the classical music planet," this young virtuoso has thrilled audiences across the globe, including his performance in the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics before a worldwide audience of more than four billion.

In April, audiences will share a thrilling Festival?commissioned world premiere-another coup in the Virginia Arts Festival's history of "see?it?here?first" opportunities. Stewart Copeland-famed drummer for the landmark rock band The Police-will debut his new score for the epic 1925 film Ben?Hur. One of Rolling Stone's greatest drummers of all time, Copeland is also an accomplished composer who has written for orchestra, ballet and film (including Francis Ford Coppola's Rumblefish and Oliver Stone's Wall Street). Copeland himself will perform his new score with the Virginia Arts Festival Orchestra, to a 90 minute edited version of Ben?Hur, April 19 in Chrysler Hall.

Music lovers can always count on the Virginia Arts Festival to showcase the greatest artists from around the world, and the 2014 Festival continues the tradition. The fabled Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will perform April 2, bringing the kind of "passionate and assured" (The New York Times) performance for which the ensemble has been acclaimed. Founded in 1936 and composed at first of Jewish musicians fleeing Germany and other Nazi?occupied countries, some of its most famous and moving concerts have been performed while its homeland was under attack.

May 2, 3 and 4, the great violinist Joshua Bell returns to the Festival as part of a stunning program with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. Bell, who in addition to worldwide acclaim for his artistry has been named "One of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World" by People Magazine, will perform Lalo Symphonie espagnole. Then in a spectacular finale, the Orchestra takes the audience on an aural and visual journey with Strauss's An Alpine Symphony, with breathtaking images by German photographer Tobias Melle projected above the stage.

The Virginia Arts Festival takes pride in creating opportunities for audiences to experience great artists, and also in creating opportunities for artists to perform. When the beloved Dance Theatre of Harlem fell on hard times decade ago and ceased touring, audiences around the world mourned. Now this beautiful, powerful company is back on its feet-and the Virginia Arts Festival will be among the first to present these phenomenal dancers outside of New York since 2004. At the centerpiece of this jubilant return engagement May 16?18 is Robert Garland's new work, Gloria, a tribute to the spiritual history of Harlem, performed for the first time to live music with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Virginia Chorale.

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by Barnett Serchuk