Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Symphony takes 'Big Tent' to East End

The Richmond Symphony’s first venture into the city’s neighborhoods under its “Big Tent” – a portable concert stage that the orchestra acquired last year – will be the RVA East End Festival: the Gift of Music, May 6-8 in Chimborazo Park.

The orchestra will be joined by the No BS! Brass Band, singer Desirée Roots, musicians from the symphony’s Youth Orchestra Program and Richmond Public Schools, and other local artists in the free event. 

Bon Secours Richmond Health System, which operates Richmond Community Hospital in the East End, has joined festival partners as a sponsor toward a pledged goal of $100,000 to provide musical instruments and related materials to students at eight city schools in the neighborhood.

Other sponsors include the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, City of Richmond, Richard and Caroline T. Gwathmey Memorial Trust and Stone Brewery.

The festival will be the first of an ongoing series of outdoor events using the portable stage, purchased so the symphony could perform and anchor other performances outside its downtown home venue, the Carpenter Theatre of Dominion Arts Center (formerly Richmond CenterStage), and other concert halls.

The stage was first used last fall in the opening ceremony of the UCI Road World Championships.

“This new festival in the East End is exactly the type of outcome we envisioned with the Richmond Symphony’s acquisition of their new ‘Big Tent,’ ” Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones said in a statement announcing the festival. “Expanding the symphony’s footprint into neighborhoods like the East End is only the beginning of the wonderful partnerships and community engagement that this mobility will continue to inspire.”

David Fisk, the symphony‘s executive director, said the portable stage is “an opportunity to foster community pride, and showcase what the Richmond area, and its people, have to offer by using music’s power to unite and entertain.”

The RVA East End Festival will open on May 6 with a concert by the symphony, No BS! Brass Band and Roots. On May 7, students from the schools and Youth Orchestra Program will give a variety of performances. On May 8, the festival will conclude with performances by church choirs and spoken-word and gospel artists.

A “Kids Zone” will offer arts and crafts activities, a community mural project and other hands-on features. Food, beverage and other vendors will be on the festival site, as well as other businesses and non-profit groups.

Artists, businesses and community groups wishing to participate in the festival can file an interest form and obtain more information by visiting the festival’s website, http://www.rvaeastendfest.com