Newsletter
Fairfax County’s Confederate Names Task Force convenes for a meeting on Oct. 18 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Though they have cropped up with increasing regularity both locally and nationally in recent years, conversations about how to handle symbolic reminders of the Confederacy remain as emotionally charged as ever.

That was evident in the most recent meeting of Fairfax County’s Confederate Names Task Force, which has been charged with determining whether the county should rename Lee and Lee-Jackson Memorial highways.

“We have a nice taste of different people from different parts of Fairfax that want to weigh in,” task force chair Evelyn Spain said. “We value all of their opinions on whether this end result comes to change the name or not change the name of Fairfax streets.”

The two-hour meeting at the Fairfax County Government Center on Monday (Oct. 18) followed the launch of a community survey last week. Postcards advertising the survey are expected to roll out to residents across the county starting this weekend.

Also accepting public comments by email, phone, mail, and at four upcoming listening sessions, the task force will use the input to inform its recommendation to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

“I don’t want people to be back here in 30 years because we made a wrong decision,” one member said.

The Financial Cost of Changing the Names

Changing the names of both highways could cost Fairfax County anywhere from $1 million to $4 million, Fairfax County Department of Transportation Director Tom Biesiadny told the task force.

According to FCDOT, there are 171 Lee Highway signs along the county’s 14.1-mile stretch of Route 29 and 55 Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway signs on 8.4 miles of Route 50.

The cost varies depending on each kind of sign, particularly ones on traffic light mast arms or other overhead structures. If a new street name is longer than the existing one, replacing the signs will require more work due to the added weight, Biesiadny explained.

“What we’re going to replace it with does matter,” he said.

Biesiadny also reported that, based on estimates from neighboring localities that have adopted new highway names, a name change would cost businesses about $500 each to update their address on signs, stationary, and legal documents, among other possible expenses.

Other jurisdictions are looking at providing grants to cover businesses’ costs, according to Biesiadny, who noted that the county would need to conduct a survey of businesses to get a more precise estimate.

What’s in a (Street) Name?

For the task force, however, the question of whether to rename the highways hinges less on money than on what the names say about a community’s values and identity.

In a facilitator-led discussion on street name criteria, several members cited inclusivity and reflecting Fairfax County’s increasingly diverse population as key concerns.

“There’s no reason that we need to keep telling these same limited truths,” Bunyan Bryant from Mason District said. “…We’re not bound forever and ever to that. Yes, there is this history some are wedded to, but that doesn’t represent us today.”

Some task force members said tying street names to history helps create a sense of place, even if that history is less-than-inspiring.

Ed Wenzel, one of four Springfield District representatives, noted that Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway was used by troops during the Civil War, which he said “had a tremendous impact” on Fairfax County.

“Gallows Road is grisly history, but I don’t think anyone would ask to change that name,” Braddock District member Robert Floyd said, citing the common but unproven impression that the street running from Tysons to Annandale once led to a gallows or hanging tree.

Others argued that Fairfax County has overly fixated on the Civil War at the expense of other people and events from its past, noting that the county has many historical sites commemorating that era, such as Ox Hill Battlefield Park.

“Remembering and learning about history is different from glorifying history,” said Dranesville District member Barbara Glakas, a member of the Herndon Historical Society. “I think we need to look at who we’ve been glorifying.”

Should the task force recommend changing the names in its report to the county board in December, a couple of members suggested eschewing people as namesakes, given the potential for controversy.

When asked, Biesiadny confirmed that simply calling the highways Route 29 and Route 50 is an option, pointing to Chesterfield County as an example.

In that case, the local board of supervisors approved Route 1 as the name for its segment of Jefferson Davis Highway in June, seemingly to avoid the moniker defaulting to Emancipation Highway as mandated by the Virginia General Assembly.

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Morning Notes

New Early Voting Sites Open Today — “Fairfax County will open an additional 13 early voting sites starting Thursday, Oct. 21. In total, there will be 16 voting locations available across the county until the last day to vote early on Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. Early voting began last month starting with three sites open.” [Fairfax County Government]

Gallows Road Bridge to Be Demolished This Weekend — “Southbound Gallows Road travel lanes will shift to a new Gallows Road bridge over I-66 during the daytime hours on or about Thursday, October 21. Pedestrian access across I-66 will shift to the sidewalk on the east side of Gallows Road, with detours using the crosswalks at Cottage Street and Avenir Place/Bellforest Drive.” [VDOT]

Local DJ Brings New Restaurant to Tysons Corner — A new Spice Road-inspired restaurant from D.C.-based DJ and music producer Bikram Keith will open at Tysons Corner Center in early November. Located by Nordstrom’s, the 210-seat venue will serve cuisine from the Middle East, Persian Gulf, and Northern India in a 5,000 square-foot dining room, lounge, and patio. [Patch, Northern Virginia Magazine]

FCPS Allows for Limited Snow Days — “FCPS has announced updates to its inclement weather policy for the 2021-22 school year. The first five inclement weather days will be traditional inclement weather days…Once these five days have been taken, FCPS will use the flexibility provided by the General Assembly to have unscheduled virtual learning days, wherever possible, to maintain continuity of learning.” [FCPS]

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Fairfax County Public Schools

School-based COVID-19 vaccination clinics for elementary school-aged children could be set up as soon as mid-November, Fairfax County Public Schools officials say.

As reported to the Fairfax County School Board at a work session yesterday (Tuesday), these targeted vaccination clinics will be available in evenings or weekends and have a parent or guardian present.

FCPS is also working with the Fairfax County Health Department to provide vaccination clinics during the school day that would require advance parental consent for students to participate. Those clinics are expected to be available after winter break, officials said.

With COVID-19 vaccine eligibility potentially expanding to children aged 5-11 in early November, FCPS is currently developing plans for providing testing and vaccinations to students.

Most families who responded to an FCPS survey of their vaccination plans intend to get the vaccine for their young children, according to results that school officials shared with the school board.

Of the 85,302 surveys sent to parents and guardians of children who will be in the 5-11 age range on Nov. 1, 35,801 (36%) were returned with responses. The survey was designed to determine what supports, if any, families need to access vaccinations for their children.

Survey results indicated that 76% of parents or guardians plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine for their child, with 80% of that group planning to do so as soon as it’s available. 12% of those surveyed are undecided, and 10% do not plan to get their child vaccinated.

According to Superintendent Scott Brabrand, “common reasons” cited for not getting vaccinated include “personal beliefs” regarding vaccinations, followed by the vaccines’ emergency-use authorization status. So far, federal health officials have only officially approved the Pfizer vaccine for individuals 16 and older.

The survey also revealed an even split on the challenges of obtaining a vaccination appointment, with 45% indicating that wait times have been a challenge and 44% indicating there were no challenges.

49% of those surveyed would not let their child get vaccinated during the school day without a parent or guardian present, while 35% would consider that possibility.

FCPS Department of Special Services Assistant Superintendent Michelle Boyd emphasized that, on top of the information provided by the surveys, officials will look at data on community transmission, vaccination rates, and other factors to guide their plans.

“We’re also using that health data to inform what might be the best locations and also taking into consideration what local vaccination opportunities are available in close proximity so that we can make sure that we’re building those bridges for folks who don’t have readily available resources that are within accessible distance,” Boyd said.

While FCPS has not mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for students, except those involved in athletics and some other extracurricular activities, school officials have strongly encouraged them for those who are eligible and are developing a plan for providing testing and vaccinations.

In addition to the school-based clinics, vaccinations will be made available through mass vaccine sites at the Government Center, South County Government Center, and Tysons Community Vaccination Center.

FCPS says it will provide transportation support for families to mass vaccination clinics, along with supervision and emotional support for students at clinics that take place during the school day.

Inova will provide pediatric vaccination clinics at the Inova Center for Personalized Health and Inova Cares Clinic for Children & Families. The nonprofit health system will also have informational packets and videos on vaccination available for families in multiple languages.

COVID-19 vaccinations for children are also expected to be available at many community sites, including medical homes, local pharmacies, and local health department offices. 80% of the 20 practices that the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics identified in the county as serving children plan to vaccinate in some capacity, according to FCPS.

FCPS will also offer optional screening testing starting next month to “promptly identify and isolate cases and quarantine those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 who are not fully vaccinated,” according to Boyd.

The optional screening testing for students who aren’t fully vaccinated will start with elementary students during the week of Nov. 8 before rolling out to middle and high school students the week of Nov. 15.

FCPS has partnered with third-party vendor Longview International Technology Solutions (LTS) to conduct the screenings.

All student testing will require parental consent. Parents and guardians will receive a link to register their child for testing, if they wish to do so.

While participation is optional for most students, it will be required for student athletes who are not fully vaccinated beginning the week of Nov. 1. Student athletes aged 12 to 15 will be tested every week, as will all student athletes 16 and older with a medical or religious waiver.

If a student athlete that is not fully vaccinated fails to participate in a weekly screening testing, they will be ineligible for participation in future activities until they provide a negative test result.

FCPS confirmed that its vaccination mandate for employees will take effect on Nov. 1. Staff that have not provided documentation of being fully vaccinated by then will be tested weekly.

According to a survey of FCPS staff, 97% of respondents said they are fully vaccinated. 92% of contracted employees responded to the survey. Those who have not responded will be included in the weekly testing, alongside those who are not fully vaccinated.

Brabrand said FCPS will continue to follow its 14-day quarantine guidance at this time, but will revisit the quarantine length in consultation with public health experts after a vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11.

“Our plan to ensure the continuity of safe in-person learning is working, and it is my intention and that of our leadership team, working with our health partners, to continue to follow our public health guidance,” Brabrand said.

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The Vienna Oaks Office Center, where Leroy Bazzarone’s chiropractic office was located (staff photo by David Taube)

A local chiropractic doctor recently surrendered his license after allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with six patients.

The move came just under a year after the Virginia Board of Medicine voted to suspend Leroy Bazzarone’s license after he reportedly engaged in sexual contact or conduct that a reasonable patient would consider lewd or offensive.

A consent order from the board alleges that Bazzarone, who ran a chiropractic practice in the Vienna area, would provide services to receptionists for free and that he touched some of the women inappropriately when working with them.

The board’s doctors unanimously determined his actions were problematic and agreed on Sept. 2, 2020 to suspend his license following the incidents, which took place from 2013 to 2020.

“The Board determined that Dr. Bazzarone’s ability to practice constituted a substantial danger to the public health and safety and voted to summarily suspend his license,” meeting minutes said.

With a notary present, Bazzarone signed the consent order prepared by the board on Aug. 27, stating that he neither admitted nor denied its facts.

As part of the settlement, he waived his right to a formal hearing and his right to contest the report’s facts and legal conclusions in any future court or administrative proceeding involving the board.

For half of the patients involved, he had no record of treatment, and for others, he didn’t document all of the treatment he provided, according to the report.

Department of Health Professions spokesperson Diane Power said the settlement involves a permanent surrender of the license.

In a letter through an attorney to a Department of Health Professions investor, Bazzarone said he was retiring as of June 30, 2021. The board recorded his license as surrendered as of Sept. 1.

The reported behavior involved Bazzarone offering free treatment to women he employed as receptionists and massaging their breasts and genital areas. Sometimes, he removed their clothes or took off his own.

The Fairfax County Police Department said it has several reports involving Bazzarone on file.

According to Fairfax County General District Court records, he was arrested on Sept. 4, 2020 and charged with misdemeanor sexual battery for a Sept. 14, 2019 incident. He was found guilty and sentenced on March 11, 2021 to six months of jail. The prison sentence was suspended. Read More

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(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) Police say they’re looking for help after a shooter tried to rob and then attacked a man this morning in West Falls Church.

The 73-year-old man was on his way to work about 5:20 a.m. when he was shot in the chest, taken by police to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, and had surgery completed that morning, police said.

The man stopped by an ATM to get cash when a young man attacked him. A passing cyclist noticed the victim in the parking lot around 6:14 a.m., and officers later responded to the 2900 block of Annandale Road.

Police closed Jefferson Avenue from Annandale Road to Madison Place and told people to avoid the area.

Police are releasing surveillance footage, and FCPD Chief Kevin Davis shared information on the attack during a news conference that streamed on Facebook.

Davis said the gunman was a young man with distinctive tennis shoes and backpack who attempted to rob a 73-year-old victim.

“It’s despicable to even say,” Davis said.

The chief added the community is praying that the victim will survive, noting despite the emergency surgery, he’s still in very critical condition.

“We will leave no stone unturned to identify and capture this coward who shot a vulnerable senior citizen at an ATM machine this morning,” Davis said.

It’s unclear how the suspect fled the scene.

Police are urging the public to call 1-866-411-TIPS.

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Fairfax County’s logo on the government center (via Machvee/Flickr)

For the first time in decades, Fairfax County workers have collective bargaining powers.

The county Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance 9-1 yesterday (Tuesday) allowing unions to negotiate for pay, benefits, working conditions, scheduling, and more. The lone opposing vote came from Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik called it a historic day, marking the first time in 44 years that collective bargaining is allowed for county government workers.

Collective bargaining will improve the county’s ability to retain employees and result in better services for the community, Chairman Jeff McKay said after the vote.

“Approving this ordinance allows us to go to the next step to work on and establish a collective bargaining agreement, something that I know our employees have been asking for for a very long time,” McKay said.

Virginia had banned collective bargaining for government workers since the state Supreme Court ruled against the practice in 1977.

That changed last year when the General Assembly passed legislation giving local governments the option to create ordinances recognizing their employees’ labor unions and allowing collective bargaining for public workers.

The ordinance doesn’t affect the county’s 24,000-plus public school employees. The school board would have to adopt its own collective bargaining ordinance for Fairfax County Public Schools. But the ordinance could act as a model for other local governments and the county’s school board.

The new state law and Fairfax County’s ordinance still restrict workers’ ability to strike. If government employees do so, they will be fired and prohibited from working for a governmental body in Virginia for one year.

In response to the state law, Fairfax County created a collective bargaining workgroup on Sept. 29, 2020 that included elected officials, employee group representatives, and county government and school staff.

The board’s personnel committee received its first draft of the ordinance on May 25 and spent the summer working to refine it. The board held a public hearing on Oct. 5 but deferred a vote on the matter to its next regular meeting.

David Broder, president of SEIU Virginia 512, which represents over 2,000 Fairfax County general government workers, celebrated the vote as a historic victory achieved after years of advocacy.

“Our union is thrilled to usher in a new era where employees and management collaborate to solve workplace issues, where workers have a real voice to improve their pay, benefits, and working conditions, and where every constituent in this community gets the quality public services we all deserve,” Tammie Wondong, president of SEIU Virginia 512’s Fairfax chapter, said in a statement. “Together, and with meaningful collective bargaining rights, we will transform Fairfax into a place where every working family can thrive.”

Other unions for groups ranging from firefighters and police to public works employees had advocated changes to the ordinance, including at this month’s public hearing.

Since then, the county made several changes to the proposed ordinance, such as having a labor relations administrator who assists with certifying elections and other matters be nominated by unions with 300 or more dues-paying members.

The administrator will be appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the Board of Supervisors.

The approved ordinance also extends collective bargaining abilities to more temporary employees than previously proposed. Rather than issuing a blanket exclusion, the ordinance only bans workers from participating if they’re employed by the county for four consecutive months or less.

In a move to appease unions, the ordinance will also allow employees to use county electronic systems to communicate employee organizing activities and other matters.

Another revision clarifies that the county would “at all times retain exclusive rights to establish the County budget and any tax levies,” where changes are in the sole and unfettered discretion of the board of supervisors.

But David Lyons, executive director of the Fairfax Workers Coalition, said his group remains dissatisfied with the final ordinance.

“None of the substantive changes we requested were addressed,” he said. “The bargaining units still are tilted towards wealthier white employees.”

In a letter to the board, Lyons argued that the changes to the ordinance, which he said were made last minute from Friday (Oct. 15) through Tuesday, “severely erode the labor/management relationship.”

Herrity argued in a statement after the vote that the ordinance is “particularly bad and will limit the ability of the County to provide quality, flexible, cost-effective service to our residents.”

He also alleged that influential unions wrote the ordinance in back rooms, a sentiment echoed by Lyons, who suggested that “corporate” unions and one unnamed large group unfairly influenced the process.

McKay dismissed those sentiments, saying his staff welcomes communication from all and detailing how the process lasted over a year with numerous meetings to gather input, from employee town halls to sessions with labor group representatives and stakeholders.

Photo via Machvee/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Fairfax Connector Offers Metro Alternatives — With Metrorail service limited throughout the rest of the week, Fairfax Connector is reminding commuters that it offers express service to the Pentagon or downtown D.C. from five sites, including the Vienna Metro station on route 698. [Fairfax Connector]

Proposed Redistricting Maps Now Available — “The Board of Supervisors authorized a public hearing on Nov. 9 to consider proposed redistricting plans…There were 64 plans submitted in total by the board-appointed committee established to recommend new maps and the public, and these plans may be reviewed through an online dashboard.” [Fairfax County Government]

International Earthquake Drill Coming Tomorrow — “Every year, ShakeOut Day is the largest earthquake drill ever…What we do to prepare now before the next big earthquake will determine how well we can survive and recover. ShakeOut will occur in houses, workplaces, schools and public spaces at 10:21 a.m. local time on Oct. 21.” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

County Opens Graham Road “Traffic Garden” — Fairfax County recently introduced a traffic garden near the Graham Road Community Center in West Falls Church to promote traffic safety education. The facility features an intersection with crosswalks and two-way lanes, mimicking real-life street conditions so kids can learn the rules of the road free of hazards. [Fairfax County Health Department]

Wolf Trap Accepting Grant Applications from Local Arts Teachers — “The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is accepting applications for this year’s Grants for High School Performing Arts Teachers Program. The grants are available to teachers across the D.C. area. The grant application deadline is Nov. 15, and grantees will be named in December for the 2021-22 school year.” [Patch]

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The proposed Lincoln Street extension will connect Old Meadow and Magarity roads in Tysons East (via Fairfax County Department of Transportation)

(Updated at 9 a.m. on 10/20/2021) Fairfax County is currently developing an initial design for a new street envisioned as an alternative route into McLean from Tysons East that bypasses Route 123.

The Lincoln Street extension will connect Old Meadow Road with Magarity Road just east of the Dolley Madison Boulevard and I-495 interchange, crossing Scott’s Run Trail and cutting past Westgate Park and Westgate Elementary School.

Part of a larger grid of streets planned to accommodate the development expected to come to Tysons, the extension will help alleviate traffic congestion on Route 123 and give residents new access to neighborhood sites, such as the park and elementary school, as well as the McLean area, according to Fairfax County Department of Transportation Capital Projects Section Chief Michael Guarino.

“That provides a benefit to commuters by just relieving some pressure on those main thoroughfares and allows trips within Tysons to not always need to get on the main road that tends to have very heavy volume, especially during rush hour,” Guarino told Tysons Reporter.

The Lincoln Street project has been underway since at least 2019, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved $7 million to fund preliminary engineering work and a feasibility study.

Guarino confirmed that FCDOT has completed the feasibility study and is now updating a preliminary design in preparation for the first public meeting, which the project website says was previously expected to take place in the fall of 2020 but is now scheduled for January 2022.

While the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t directly contribute to the delay, county staff have been using the past year to coordinate with the Virginia Department of Transportation, which will ultimately own and maintain the new road.

Staff also revised the design to enhance the proposed bicycle and pedestrian amenities, Guarino says.

Improvements planned in the project include:

  • Traffic signals at both the Old Meadow Road and Magarity Road intersections
  • A 10-foot-wide asphalt, shared-use walkway on the northeast side of Lincoln Street
  • A 6-foot-wide sidewalk on the south side of Lincoln Street
  • Walkways along Magarity Road, which will connect to the Lincoln Street walkways
  • A bridge over Scotts Run stream

According to Guarino, the design fits into Fairfax County’s “multi-modal” vision for the Tysons street grid, meaning it accommodates pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit, not just cars.

“We have design standards in place in Tysons that do give less weight to vehicular delays than we do in other parts of the county or statewide,” he said. “That’s to balance the needs for the other modes of transportation for a more urban environment.”

Guarino says he hasn’t heard any concerns yet about the new street contributing to cut-through traffic in the residential neighborhoods between Old Meadow and Magarity, though he acknowledged they could crop up at the upcoming public meeting.

The goal of the Tysons street grid is to address those issues by dispersing traffic throughout the area instead of concentrating it on just a handful of streets, which sends drivers looking to avoid the resulting congestion onto neighborhood roads, he explains.

“If you’ve got your major roads like Route 123 that are consistently getting backed up, that does tend to create a lot of cut-through traffic from other roads,” Guarino said. “So, if we can fill out the network, it distributes traffic…Lincoln Street itself won’t be cutting through the neighborhoods, but kind of connecting the neighborhoods, so I’m hoping it will be a benefit.”

The Lincoln Street project carries a total estimated cost of $39.9 million, according to county staff.

The Board of Supervisors voted on Sept. 14 to request $6.8 million from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s fiscal years 2027 and 2028 revenue-sharing program, which gives localities matching funds for highway construction, improvement, and maintenance projects.

The final design and right-of-way acquisition processes are expected to begin after the public meeting in January, with construction currently projected to start in late 2023 or early 2024.

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1660 International Drive in Tysons (via Google Maps)

While many return-to-office plans have been put on hold, companies seeking to bring workers back in person might face a challenge of an unexpectedly furry nature: employees reluctant to leave the pets they acquired during the pandemic.

A new business, Connected Canine, aims to help businesses alleviate that potential conflict. It operates out of the coworking space Industrious (1660 International Drive, Suite 600) in Tysons as well as out of Boulder, Colorado.

“We provide an HR toolkit with resources such as a health and behavior assessment used to understand a dog’s history before inviting them into the office and hands-on support to make the process of establishing a dog friendly office as simple as possible,” Jeff Skalka, founder and CEO of Connected Canine, said in an email.

Skalka said the company provides largely free resources and employs a team of veterinarians, an architect, and human resources professionals who have found ways to ease the process.

“Once a company establishes their dog friendly office, we charge a low, variable fee based on the number of participating employees and dogs to provide software and other services,” he wrote. “For example, our software allows employees to schedule time to bring in their dog, take pictures of their dog’s vaccination records to ensure offices remain healthy and safe for everyone, and gives employers the ability to track who is bringing in a dog and how often and ensure only approved dogs are allowed onsite.”

Skalka formed Connected Canine in December after talking with friends and fellow dog owners who shared concerns about leaving their pets back at home when they returned to the office.

Over 11 million households acquired a pet during the pandemic, The Guardian reported, citing a survey by the American Pet Products Association.

“One thing companies really like is that our solutions are customized to their exact needs which we uncover through employee surveys and conversations with senior leaders,” Skalka wrote.

The surge in pet ownership coincided with the pandemic-prompted shift to remote work for office-based employees across the U.S., many of whom say they would quit rather than go back to the office.

Though some companies have shifted back to in-person work, telecommuting may continue to prevail, with research and consulting firm Gartner projecting that over half of U.S. workers will be remote in 2022.

Photo via Google Maps

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Pianist Brian Ganz will perform at Capital One Hall on Oct. 23 (photo by Jay Mallin/Virginia Chamber Orchestra)

The Virginia Chamber Orchestra is on the move.

After decades at Northern Virginia Community College’s Ernest Center in Annandale, the professional nonprofit orchestra will shift its base for performances and dress rehearsals to Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) in Tysons.

While the group has played outdoors during the pandemic, VCO will kick off its tenure at the new performing arts venue with a 50th anniversary gala and a concert on Saturday (Oct. 23) — its first indoor event since March 2020.

“This move illuminates a trend to large, impressive, acoustically excellent arts venues outside of the city center,” a news release says.

The concert, titled “An Evening in Italy,” will be held at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $40 plus fees.

The gala will be held at 6 p.m., featuring cocktails and dinner as part of fundraising for the organization’s operations. The event will recognize donors as well as the Tysons McLean Orchestra, which announced in June it was ceasing operations after half a century.

“They thought it would be nice to recognize us,” said Ann Page, former TMO president and executive director. “This orchestra, 50 years ago, started out with volunteers.”

Joan Braitsch, former VCO board of trustees president and the gala’s chair, said that as part of event, sponsors and donors will each be given a plaque consisting of a signed copy of the music as a memento.

The VCO shared the following details on the event:

Marking the first appearance of Music Director David Grandis since receiving an International Conducting Prize, the concert will feature guest artist pianist Brian Ganz, one of the leading pianists of his generation, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488. Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 (“Italian”) will be another program highlight. …

Ganz commented: ‘You sometimes hear talk that classical music is in decline. I’ve been thrilled to see how people are flocking to concerts as live performing returns, and the opening of this gem of a concert hall in northern Virginia is part of that testament to the vital importance of classical music in our lives. The exact opposite of decline!’ …

For the orchestra’s first concert following the shutdown, David Grandis selected a program ‘particularly soothing and uplifting. Rossini’s overture will bring joy, lightness and excitement, and Brian Ganz’s interpretation of the Mozart’s K.488 will be an absolute delight, not to be missed. The program will conclude with Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, a joyful recollection of Mendelssohn’s travel in a sunny place and in better times.’

Braitsch says the move to Capital One Hall reflects a general push in the arts world to expand outside of city centers.

“More and more, there is this trend of trying to bring arts into the communities,” she said. “We wanted to move to Tysons because the population is anticipated to grow so much.”

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