2012 Alex Arts Awards to be presented at City Council Meeting Tuesday, April 24

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For Immediate Release: April 13, 2012

2012 Alex Arts Awards to be presented at City Council Meeting Tuesday, April 24

At the April 24 Alexandria City Council meeting, the Honorable Mayor, members of City Council and the Commission for the Arts will present three 2012 Alex Arts Awards.  The presentation will be made in the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 301 King Street at 7 pm. The annual Alex Arts Awards, presented by the Alexandria Commission for the Arts, recognize Alexandria citizens or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to Alexandria’s vibrant arts community and cultural life.

The 2012 Alex Arts Award winners are the Ulysses S. James, Music Director, Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, the Little Theatre of Alexandria and Leah Valtin-Erwin, Senior, TC Williams High School.

Ulysses S. James, Music Director, Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic is known for his innovative musical programming and performance of new, accessible works. He initiated a summer chamber music series at the Lyceum in Alexandria that will celebrate its 20th consecutive year this summer. In 1984, the Washington Metropolitan Youth Orchestra was a small non-auditioned group of string players; it now has 60 auditioned members from across the metropolitan area. Known as “Ul” to many, he volunteers his time and energy in support of the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic and its associated youth orchestra.  Ul also chairs the Alexandria Arts Forum, a coalition of area artists and arts administrators, advocates, and patrons who work together to advance the arts in Alexandria.  In this role, he has forged stronger partnerships with the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association, the Office of the Arts, and the Alexandria Commission for the Arts.

The Little Theatre of Alexandria is the oldest community theatre in the Washington metropolitan area, begun in 1934 as a small play-reading group. Since then, it has staged more than 350 full productions. Productions have garnered many awards, including the Ruby Griffith and WATCH (Washington Area Theatre Community Honors) awards, and received 43 WATCH nominations this past year. In addition to its productions, the theatre’s programming includes: two sessions of theatre classes; a children’s summer camp; a One-Act Playwriting competition; and PAN (Partners in Art Night), an opportunity for organizations or businesses to partner with the Little Theatre for a specific performance as a fund-raising resource, a membership activity, or expression of appreciation for clients and employees. 

Leah Valtin-Erwin, a senior at TC Williams High School, is a life-long resident of Alexandria.  She has studied dance locally (with the Choreographers Collaboration Project and The Ballet Studio, both in Del Ray) since 1998.  When TC Williams High School was renovated, the school gained a beautiful dance studio—but no dance program. Responding to this unmet need, Leah founded the Modern Dance Society at TC Williams.  The company offers free classes after school to all TC Williams students, regardless of prior experience or training.  The company focuses on improvisation, partnering, and incorporating other styles into a modern dance curriculum. Through this program, Leah has introduced the entire TC Williams community to the world of modern dance.

Mayor William D. Euille will present the 2012 Alex Arts Awards recipients with a beautiful ceramic window bowl created by Karin Abromaitis.  The recipients will also receive a brass star created and donated by David Martin of Gold Works. The Alexandria Commission for the Arts and Office of the Arts are pleased to recognize Ulysses S. James, the Little Theatre of Alexandria and Leah Valtin-Erwin for their contributions to our community and for inspiring others to do the same.

For more information about the Alex Arts Awards or other Arts Commission programs and services call 703.746.5588.