Introducing…..Veronica Jackson, DC Strings’ New Orchestra Director
Introducing Veronica Jackson
DC Strings Orchestra New Music Director & Conductor
DC Strings has a new orchestra director! Veronica Jackson, a violinist and conductor with extensive experience conducting and teaching classical music, will be directing the ensemble beginning this fall. Born and raised in North Carolina, she is one of ten children, all of whom played an instrument while growing up. Her initial musical exposure started when she was chosen to participate in her school’s gifted and talented (GT) program. As she relates, all the students in the program took music classes, mostly from the Suzuki method. She notes that her parents “sacrificed” to get her “a brand new violin,” and since that time, Jackson admits that she has “never looked back.” Music would become her life’s calling.
Although she initially started as an architect major at the University of Miami in Florida, she soon decided to pursue music education as a major instead. While in college she minored in music theory and won competitions for her compositions. After transferring to and graduating from North Carolina Central, she taught music and conducted school ensembles in her home state until getting a job opportunity in Virginia.
A classically trained violinist and seasoned conductor, Jackson has directed various musical groups for adults and children over her 30-plus year career. Currently, she serves as the orchestra director at Francis Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia. She is also highly sought after to serve as guest conductor for local, regional, and state ensembles. Additionally, she conducts the Arlington Concert Orchestra, “a full orchestra of adult musicians from the community of Arlington County.”
Jackson, who is African American, states that being a woman of color in a field where few women or people of color are represented is significant. She also recognizes the impact of performing in classical ensembles and being a role model. As she relates, it is “important for students – children and adults, women, and people of color-to see her in this role as music director.” Such visibility helps make classical music open to more people and, therefore, helps it to thrive.
Having worked with many ensembles over the years, Jackson feels that one of the most important qualities to a strong symphony orchestra or ensemble is “open communication.” She explains that there are always learning opportunities in an ensemble setting. As she states, there needs to be an understanding of “what [the musicians] can do,” indicating the musicians should be performing on a level that is appropriate for them. However, she also adds, that “[d]oes not mean that I won’t … push, no, I have to push….” There needs to be an understanding of “where we are starting and this is where we, as an ensemble, need/want to go.”
As the new Orchestra Director, Jackson has definite plans on how to move DC Strings forward. She describes the importance of elevating performances by encouraging even more musical excellence. She notes that “[h]aving heard DC Strings perform in different settings and having participated in concerts with DC Strings, my focus will be to provide a level of trust that is going to sustain and shift the confidence of the ensemble members as a whole. I think [having] a single music director [is important] because there will be a driver at the helm, so as a conductor and music director, I would love to see a level of trust that transcends the music.” She notes that the group is “only as strong as its weakest player.” Thus, encouraging musicians to perform at their highest level, especially those who might not be as experienced as others, will be one of her main objectives.
Regarding her inspirations, Jackson has been influenced by two well-known and respected artists: Leonard Bernstein and Bobby McFerrin. The latter she had to the opportunity to perform under when he conducted a concert cycle. Jackson states that she aims to have the musicality of Bernstein and the love and gift of music McFerrin exhibits. We eagerly look forward to her sharing her gifts as she molds and directs DC Strings during its third season.