ASO Partnership with Annapolis Opera

ASO Partners with Annapolis Opera

The ongoing partnership between the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Annapolis Opera has benefitted both organizations, and is a model for cooperation of non profit organizations in the performing arts industry.


For many years, ASO musicians have accompanied Annapolis Opera for their full productions. Essentially, musicians from the Symphony join the Opera, providing a trained professional orchestra that is in top form for the Opera’s elite singers. Symphonies and operas across the country and around the world work similarly with each other to create mutually beneficial and economically important partnerships.

ASO Artistic Director and Conductor José-Luis Novo is thankful for the benefit to both organizations and our musicians. “Our musicians are a significant asset for the Opera to depend on. Having our professional orchestra available means the Opera can focus on auditioning singers and selecting stage personnel because they don’t have to worry about the orchestra. At the same time, it allows us to employ our musicians more fully. Consequently the ASO can hire and retain the best instrumental talent in the region,” he said.

Artistic and Music Director of Annapolis Opera, Maestro Craig Kier, values the partnership as well. “As I continue my tenure as artistic and music director of the Annapolis Opera, I greatly appreciate and value the long history of collaboration between the ASO and AOC.  One of the great benefits of our partnership is the opportunity to build long-term relationships with the fine roster of orchestral musicians from the ASO.  This consistency allows both organizations to continue to reach new artistic heights.  I look forward to the countless future productions that are all the more possible because of this important relationship.”

Playing for the Opera is very different from playing for the Symphony. Maestro Novo appreciates these differences and the advantages the partnership brings to ASO musicians. “Most of our repertoire as the ASO is symphonic, and often our Principal musicians perform as soloists in the spotlight. Playing for the Opera allows our musicians to perform the operatic repertoire wherein the music supports the singers as the principal performers. The operatic repertoire brings a degree of flexibility and spontaneity that is difficult to master with the symphonic repertoire alone. It makes them more flexible musicians and better accompanists,” he said.

Kim Valerio, Principal Flute for the ASO, appreciates that playing for the Opera has allowed her to expand her musical horizons in ways that benefit her skills and resume. “As a principal flutist with the Symphony, it’s often my job to play soloistically. When playing for the Opera, it is our job to accompany the singers and let them shine. It takes me out of my comfort zone and makes me a more versatile musician,” she said.

From a business perspective, the partnership between the ASO and the Annapolis Opera is an economic driver for the Annapolis Arts District, the City of Annapolis, and Anne Arundel County. Kathy Swekel is the General Director of the Annapolis Opera. She notes that having ASO musicians support the Opera enhances the overarching quality of her organization’s productions. “The musical accompaniment from the ASO elevates our performance. We’re able to attract and retain high-quality performers because we’re regarded as a respected cultural asset in the region,” she said. Edgar Herrera is the Executive Director of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. His thoughts about the partnership echo Ms. Swekel’s. “We’re helping to keep ASO musicians employed while expanding their musical repertoire and, at the same time, providing Opera patrons with some of the best musicians in the area, if not the nation. Our partnership means every patron will have an exceptional experience and want to come back for more!”

The paths of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and Annapolis Opera are beneficially intertwined, as Jose Luis Novo put it so eloquently. We’re grateful for this partnership. We’re thankful that whether you join us at the ASO or the Opera, you’re supporting local artists, you’re supporting local organizations, and you’re supporting the beauty of music. The ASO looks forward to seeing you at a performance soon.

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