Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Conductor extends contract to 2027… and gets new job in Philadelphia

Jim Ross, conductor of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, at Alexandria’s birthday celebration at Oronoco Bay Park, July 10, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

For all intents and purposes, Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor James Ross isn’t going anywhere.

Actually, this fall Ross is starting work as the director of orchestral studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He also just renewed his contract in Alexandria another three years. Ross says that his new contract in Philadelphia stipulates that he will be allowed to return to Alexandria the week before a symphonic performance in order to get the orchestra ready.

“I am going to be doing both,” Ross told ALXnow. “I will start at Curtis in the fall and I will continue with Alexandria, and I will just bounce pass back and forth as needed between between the two places.”

Ross is currently in his sixth season with the orchestra, and every show since January has been sold out. The next show will feature renditions of Leonard Bernstein’s dances in “On The Town” on April 20 at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Theater at Northern Virginia Community College.

Ross has been teaching at Curtis for the last two years. He credits Bernstein as one of his principal conducting teachers, as well as Kurt Masur, Otto-Werner Mueller and Seiji Ozawa. He is the founding orchestra director of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA, and also taught at the University of Maryland from 2001 to 2017.

“My whole reason for being and my approach to music has been about what concerts are going to look like 50 years from now,” Ross said. “Orchestras can play movie music, video game music, we can accompany jazz artists, in addition to work from old composers. So, it’s dependent on the orchestra nowadays to be flexible, and the flexible orchestras are the ones doing the best.”

ASO Executive Director George Hanson said that the organization has been infused with energy and creativity since Ross started in 2018. He was hired after a two-year search.

“We are thrilled that Jim is continuing his role as ASO’s music director and are very pleased with the opportunities that his role with the Curtis Institute of Music will bring to our orchestra,” Hanson said.