We held our first WHRO Classical Open Mic night on Thursday, July 27, at Norfolk’s Starving Artist Café, and it was so much fun that we’ll be doing it again on August 30! It was my honor to host the evening, and also to put on my flutist hat and give a short performance with Duo Thalassa.

This event was my brainchild – I thought there would be an interest in our community, and that classical musicians, especially young musicians, would be excited about an alternative venue to play and listen to this music – but thanks to all of you, it exceeded even my own expectations! It warmed my heart to see the evening unfold, with such strong presentations of a wide variety of classical music, from Bach and Mozart to contemporary composers, and the enthusiasm of the audience packed (standing room only!) into the café, enjoying food and drinks and supporting the musicians. I was blown away by the truly excellent performances, and by the warm feeling of community (not just caused by the hot and humid evening!).

More than twenty local musicians of all ages performed at the open mic. The youngest was a ten-year-old pianist who played Mozart’s “Rondo Alla Turca.” We also heard from a current student and several alumni of the Governor’s School for the Arts, students and alumni from Old Dominion University, and professional musicians and teachers including members of Tidewater Opera Initiative and the USAF Heritage of America Band. The open mic was capped off by a surprise performance from violinist Brendon Elliott, who graced us with a gorgeous Bach movement to finish the night. Brendon’s name will likely be familiar to many in this area, and beyond: he grew up in Newport News, has won numerous competitions and appeared on NPR’s “From the Top,” and is currently a graduate student at Juilliard. Brendon also performs in the Elliott Family Quartet with his mother Dannielle Weems-Elliott, sister Justine, and brother Sterling, and we’re so glad he could stop by while he was home for the summer. 

Thank you to all of the musicians and listeners who came out and made this such a special evening! Mark your calendars and join us for the next WHRO Classical Open Mic on Wednesday, August 30, again at the Starving Artist Café. If you’d like to perform, signing up in advance is recommended – we also suggest arriving early to get a seat!

For more details, or to sign up:

Visit our Facebook event page, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 757-889-9474.  

More Photos from the Event:

ODU student Michael Russo
Violinist Brendon Elliott
GSA alum Malachi Brown
Dwight Davis (right) with WHRO supporters  The packed house!  GSA alum Noemie Chemali and pianist Sylvia Chapa

All photos courtesy of Chuck Doud