This November, Alexandria residents will experience their annual arts festivals like they have never before. The memories they will take home includes productions of film screenings and live orchestral music showings around the same themes. 

 

Alexandria Film Festival (AFF) and Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) have joined hands to create something new. They bring the Homegrown: American Stories in Music and Film project to life in town. As part of the project, ASO will present works by five American composers on November 7-8. The orchestra will play them in tandem with a short film. The audience will enjoy “live to picture” concerts. AFF will then screen those films during the November 12-15 festival.

 

ASO and AFF have invited filmmakers to submit their concept proposals by April 17th. The selection and review process will take until October 15th when they have to hand in the films they completed. Each successful person will receive a $1000 commission, performance credits in the event program and website, and two tickets to one of the performances in Alexandria.

 

The five pieces ASO will play and filmmakers need to refer to in their requests are:

  1. Jennifer Higdon’s Teton Range from All Things Majestic
  2. Charles Tomlinson Griffes’ Clouds
  3. Aaron Copland’s John Henry
  4. William Grant’s Still Manhattan Skyline
  5. Charles Ives’ Housatonic at Stockbridge from Three Places in New England

 

‘A Big Metaphor’ for Alexandria

According to ASO Director James Ross, those five pieces represent “a kind of big metaphor for the tenderness and danger that our country and world presently faces.” 

Ross imagines the brutal toll a highly contagious virus takes in the U.S. and beyond each day.

First reported in December in China, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. It has claimed nearly 120,000 lives by mid-April worldwide. In the U.S., the outbreak has evolved in weeks into a nationwide health emergency, wreaking havoc on the world’s biggest economy besides a massive human cost.

In Alexandria, there were nearly 250 confirmed cases of the infection by April 13th according to a Reuters tally.

 

The pandemic has forced Americans to take shelter and almost all states, including Virginia, have issued stay-at-home orders. With those conditions, many national and international meetings were postponed or cancelled. 

The November 7-8 concerts by ASO and the following AFF a week later have not seen changes to their previous schedules in the hope that the outbreak will end by fall.

ASO is Northern Virginia’s leading orchestra that is best known for its cross-genre and thematic programming with concerts of both classical and contemporary music since 1943. AFF,  on the other hand, was founded in 2007 and features more than 50 high-quality short and feature-length independent films in advance of their arrival at commercial theaters, streaming services or television.