Virginia Arts Fest Announces a Sensational Season for 2023

by | Nov 16, 2022

The region’s largest performing arts organization has just launched another legendary lineup of events. The Virginia Arts Festival’s formally announced the 26th season; with its reputation, you should be paying attention. Each year VAF hosts over 110,000 attendees across over 250 performances, with visitors from nearly every state and a dozen different countries. It’s a massive affair responsible for more than $25 Million in economic impact and a litany of national recognitions.

The 2023 season of shows includes the likes of critically acclaimed ballet, internationally renowned costume designs, grammy-award winning guitarists, gold-medal pianists, next-generation jazz artists, iconic banjo masters, and famed broadway music. It represents a well-rounded and diverse offering of phenomenal performing arts.

It’s important to note that Virginia Arts Fest isn’t just scheduling acts and booking venues. VAF is commissioning (and co-commissioning) several works this season and is serving as the world-premiere stage for many others. They’re fueling performing arts at a truly remarkable level.

If you’re wondering how VAF can bring this sheer number of shows to fruition, it’s by way of a packed-out calendar. Shows are already on deck for November and December, but they pick up the pace to weekly, daily, and at times multiple per day as the Festival culminates in May. There is a time, genre, and crowd for everyone.

Here’s a look at what to expect this season:

One of the most astonishing and captivating performances set for the season is “Tzuzumi,” by the Japanese drummers KODO on their One Earth Tour. KODO, which translates to “heartbeat” in Japanese, performs a rhythmic traditional drum show reverberating deeply with audiences. The troupe strikes at something primal and childlike in everyone.

The keystone event this season is the Virginia International Tattoo, which VAF has organized for all 26 seasons. The Tattoo is a spectacular showcase of military bands, drill teams, and the cultural works of more than 800 performers.

The Virginia Arts Festival’s Artistic Advisor, Rob Fisher, leads one of the season’s most sizzling shows. Rob, a famed broadway music director in his own right, is leading the concert version of the Tony-, Oscar- and Grammy-winning Broadway smash hit Chicago the Musical. The show includes a roster of broadway singers and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

One act garnering a lot of excitement across the region is Chris Thile. The Grammy Award-winning musician and composer is bringing the world premiere of his Mandolin Concerto to Norfolk. The work, which is in part commissioned by Virginia Arts Fest, spans genres as disparate as bluegrass and classical alongside the talented Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Another commissioned work by VAF is Jessie Montgomery’s Five Freedom Songs. In honor of Black heritage and written in the tradition of the Negro spiritual, this collaboration with the highly praised soprano singer Julia Bullock will be a one-night-only show.

The critically acclaimed Philadelphia Ballet will bring its talent to the Festival’s Opening Weekend Celebration. They’ll be performing one of the most popular ballets: Swan Lake. The season includes more dance performances, including the Ballet Hispánico, which reflects the music, myths, and traditions of Spanish-speaking cultures in an electrifying performance.

You can check out the full lineup and grab tickets to shows here. Be sure to follow Virginia Arts Fest on Instagram as they drop more updates ahead of the 2023 season.

Paul Stetson Rice

Chelsea, NFK

Paul is the creator of He was born and raised in Norfolk, graduated from Virginia Tech, and narrowly avoided law school. Chat with him about economics, entrepreneurship, hip-hop, and hiking. When he's not working on five different projects, you'll catch him sharing a beer with friends at a local brewery.

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