Special Reports

MA Top 30 Professional: Valentina Peleggi

December 5, 2023 | By Hannah Edgar

Music Director
Richmond Symphony

The Richmond Symphony made headlines earlier this year when it announced that its musicians would do away with its traditional ties and tails in favor of sleek, sweat-wicking blue and black uniforms. In a statement, Music Director Valentina Peleggi said the point of the wardrobe change was not to break with tradition but to “include innovation” as one of the orchestra’s trademarks.

Innovation has been a throughline of her tenure so far, even though, unluckily enough, the 2020-21 season was her first in the job. But streaming, for many merely a temporary salve during the pandemic, is now a core part of the Richmond Symphony’s operations, even offering video links to live ticket-buyers. She’s also diversified the orchestra’s concert formats, offering a Symphony (mainstage), Metro (offsite), Pops, Choral, and Chamber series, the last of which includes  performances at local breweries, a nod to Richmond’s craft beer industry. The orchestra has just named its first composer-in-residence: the fast-rising Damien Geter, a Richmond-area native. Geter’s residency culminates in his operatic retelling of the landmark civil rights case Loving v. Virginia, a co-commission with Virginia Opera.

In a sense, being forced to think existentially right away was an asset to Peleggi’s directorship. To go national, she realized, the orchestra had to dig in locally. Even the blue on those uniforms is a nod to the James River, which runs through the city.

“We started thinking about all the questions that came up with COVID. Like, for whom are we playing? And in what way is the Richmond Symphony the Richmond Symphony? What makes us different from anybody else?” Peleggi says.

It’s paid off in a big way. Ticket sales are booming—so much so that Peleggi is almost sheepish to report to peers in industry meetings that Richmond’s COVID era has been its most successful. She’ll be around to watch her efforts bear fruit: just a few months ago, the orchestra extended her contract through 2028.





Law and Disorder by GG Arts Law

Career Advice by Legendary Manager Edna Landau

An American in Paris by Frank Cadenhead



Search Musical America's archive of photos from 1900-1992.