Kim Allen Kluge
“Even though I was born and raised in another part of the country, whenever anyone asks where I’m from or what my hometown is, I always respond ‘Alexandria, Virginia.’” Alexandria Symphony music director Kim Allen Kluge may not be from NoVA, but he certainly represents the area well: Maestro Kluge, the ASO’s “Everyman Conductor” (as he is called by his community) helped create the first El Sistema-inspired program in the D.C. area, composed music for Oscar-winning producers and served as the ASO’s music director for an impressive 28 years.
Kluge initially joined the ASO while working on a double doctorate at the University of Maryland. A faculty member suggested he apply for the music director position, and though the competition was tough, the rest was history. “From the very outset, there was real magic between me and the orchestra and with the community,” Kluge says. “We just clicked, and our relationship kept growing and getting stronger.” Throughout his tenure with the ASO, Kluge also worked as a composer, crafting original pieces inspired by Virginia, such as “River Poem” and “The American Concerto,” as well as works for performers like Branford Marsalis and Midori.
The ASO grew exponentially under the direction of Kluge, and he fondly remembers his time with the group, as well as the legacy he left in NoVA. “After every concert, I stand in the lobby … invariably, I’d hear ‘Kim, this was your best concert yet!’ he says. “After the next concert, the same people would exclaim ‘Kim, THIS was your best concert yet!’ And so it would go, concert after concert … what is closest to my heart and what I’m most proud of is this personal legacy that lives within each audience member.”
Although this is his final year with the ASO, Kluge anticipates even more success within the area in the future. “My musical contacts here are so rich and deep that many local opportunities are presenting themselves,” he says. “Ironically, I may very well end up conducting more concerts in the region than I ever did as music director of the ASO.”