Interview with Conductor Naima Burrs (Petersburg Symphony Orchestra)

Interview with Conductor Naima Burrs (Petersburg Symphony Orchestra)


Rob interviewed Naima Burrs, Violinist, educator and Music Director of the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in Petersburg, Virginia, and they discuss her career, process and the arch of a conductor
Naima Burrs , M.M., is a violinist and conductor from Richmond, VA. Burrs studied at the University of Northern Iowa where she received a Master of Music degree in violin performance while serving as a Graduate Assistant during her studies. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Naima was featured as a guest on NPR's show "With Good Reason", where she discussed her upbringing and career, and performed works celebrating the contributions of African American composers and musicians.  

Burrs has performed as a section violinist with many ensembles including the Richmond Symphony Orchestra,  the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra, and the Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra as well as serving as principal second violin with Opera on the James and as concertmaster of Summer Garden Opera.

Naima was one of twelve violinists chosen internationally to participate in the 2014 Scotia Festival of Music, a chamber and orchestral music festival held in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she performed with the legendary cellist Lynn Harrell. Also in 2014, Burrs served as concertmaster for Steven M. Allen's new opera The Poet, starring mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, in Washington, DC. In addition, Burrs served as concertmaster of a chamber orchestra for a PBS documentary about the life and work of Paul Lawrence Dunbar, also featuring the compositions of Steven M. Allen. In 2019, Naima participated in the Colour of Music Festival (COMF) in Columbia, South Carolina as part of the festival orchestra and as a member of the festival’s all-female virtuosi ensemble.

She was one of four conductors chosen to participate in the 2021 Wintergreen Music Festival, as a Summit Conductor, where she worked with master teachers James Ross and Erin Freeman. This July, she will travel to Quebec, Canada to study with Yannick Nézet- Séguin and Thomas Rösner through the conducting academy of Domaine Forget at Charlevoix.

Naima was recently appointed Music Director of the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in Petersburg, Virginia. During the 2021-22 season, she served as conductor of the Hopkins Concert Orchestra and the assistant conductor of the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.  Beginning in the Fall of 2022, Burrs will also serve as the orchestra director at the University of Richmond.

Burrs is a full time instructor at Virginia State University (Petersburg,VA). She has also served on the faculty at Longwood University (Farmville, VA) and Hampden-Sydney College (Hampden-Sydney, VA). Naima is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree (D.M.A.) in instrumental conducting at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

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Creators and Guests

Rob Lee
Rob Lee
The Truth In This Art is an interview series featuring artists, entrepreneurs and tastemakers in & around Baltimore.
Naima Burrs
Naima Burrs
Violinist, educator and Music Director of the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in Petersburg, Virginia