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Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia looks to attract younger audiences with new conductor

The Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA) just hired a new conductor and he wants to connect to younger audiences.

Ethan Lolley recently started work as SONOVA’s new conductor, and the upcoming season will focus on seasonal and holiday themes. The group of 60 musicians plays four seasonal concerts at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (101 Callahan Drive) every year.

“I am a firm believer that the orchestra should be accessible to everyone,” Lolley told ALXnow. “We want people to be fully engrossed in all five of their senses as they’re sitting on a theater seat at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial theater. We want them to feel like they’re a part of an experience, and we’re trying to make orchestral music relevant and accessible.”

Lolley, who has a graduate degree in music education from Auburn University, recently moved from Florida, where he performed for years with Walt Disney World. He was also the music director and associate conductor of the CFCArts Young Artists Orchestra in Orlando, which is the largest community orchestra in the country with more than 240 musicians.

Lizzie Steele, the executive director of the symphony, said that Lolley was chosen from a large field of candidates.

“Sometimes there’s just an energy in the room, especially with musicians,” Steele said. “There’s an important energy between a music director and the ensemble and then there’s also an important energy between the music director and the audience, and sometimes you just feel what that energy is. We really felt that with Ethan.”

The 2023/2024 season is below:

  • Symphonic Spooks on Friday, October 13, at 8 p.m.
  • Snow Daze, a winter-themed concert on Saturday, December 9, at 7:30 p.m.
  • That’s All Folks: SONOVA Goes Looney on Sunday, March 3, at 5 p.m.
  • Elements of Earth on Sunday, April 14 at 5 p.m.

Tickets cost $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $15 for students. Kids 10 and under can attend for free.

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