Virginia Symphony’s New CEO

Dr. Andrea Warren says their music’s for everyone.

Dr. Andrea Warren knows a thing or two about cultivating talent. Her daughter Adrienne rocked Broadway, originating the title role in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Her dead-ringer portrayal of “the Queen of Rock and Roll” won both a Tony and Drama Desk Award in 2021. Since then, roles in theatre, television, and film—including The Woman King, with Viola Davis—have followed. “She’s the reason why I’m involved in the arts,” says Warren, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s new president and CEO, of her daughter.

It was Adrienne who convinced her mother to accept the Symphony role. Warren had devoted 13 years to Norfolk’s Governor’s School for the Arts. As the school’s executive director, she’d ushered it to a new location, expanded a string of youth arts programs, and turned a century-old building into the new Perry Family Arts Center. When she retired, Warren says, “I felt like I had done everything that I came to do.”

The “retirement” was brief. The news of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s search for a successor to fill Karen Philion’s shoes stirred a feeling in Warren: “there was work I could do there—I felt a calling then,” she says. 

“We are incredibly thrilled to welcome Dr. Warren’s leadership of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra,” says Mike McClellan, the Symphony’s board chair, who adds that she quickly impressed the search committee. “Her record of leadership in the performing arts will be an invaluable asset to the Symphony Orchestra.”

“I want to be the biggest cheerleader for the symphony,” says Warren, midway through her first year. She cites the essential role of the arts in communities—and recalls taking five-year-old Adrienne to see The Princess and the Pea, the show that ignited her love of performing. “I think it’s really important that creativity becomes a part of every young person’s life,” she says. 

Music director Eric Jacobsen will kick off an exciting fall season in Norfolk with a vibrant mix of concerts that includes Beethoven, Totally ’80s, Star Wars, gospel, Sinatra, and a celebration of soul singers including Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross—and Tina Turner. 

“I don’t want the symphony to be a secret anymore,” Warren says, laughing. “We’re providing music for everyone. When we sit in these dark theaters together, listening to these songs and stories,” she says, “it’s music that brings us together.”

  • Around the World with the VSO: Aug. 31-Sept. 5
  • Community Concert: Sept. 10
  • Beethoven Festival: Sept. 14-15
  • Vela Fleck & Gershwin: Sept. 21-22
  • Totally ’80s: Oct. 5-6
  • Rachmaninoff Pinao Concerto Festival: Oct. 20-22
  • From the Realms of Fantasy: Oct. 28
  • Halloween Spooktacular Heroes & Villians: Oct. 29
  • And more.

This article originally appeared in the August 2023 issue.

Konstantin Rega
A graduate of East Anglia’s renowned Creative Writing MA, Konstantin’s been published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Poetry Salzburg Review,, the Republic of Consciousness Prize (etc.). He contributes to Publisher Weekly and Treblezine.
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