February is the long awaited month when we return to work, 11 months after our last Virginia Symphony rehearsal in March of 2020. While the size of the ensemble remains limited, as does the permissible size of our live audience, we are excited finally to be performing again!
Like everyone else, we haven't weathered the storm entirely just yet but we see blue skies on the horizon. While the organization's focus was mostly on the Vision Forward endowment campaign and balancing the operating budgets (with the help of PPP grants), the Musicians took the initiative to organize public chamber music events, finding partners to help partially fill the musical void in the community and our financial holes at home.
A list of some of our efforts follows:
- A virtual 5K race/fundraiser, Vivace 5K, which culminated on October 24 with an outdoor performance
- A residency beginning in late September with OpenNorfolk, performing outdoor concerts on Thursday and Saturday evenings while the weather allowed
- An outdoor benefit concert, in collaboration with the Virginia Arts Festival, at the beginning of October
- A collaboration with an elementary music teacher in Chesapeake to supplement their own virtual content
- An outdoor Halloween concert in collaboration with Emily Brennan and Music Together of Hampton Roads for children, which sold out so quickly that we had to add another performance that same day
- A winter “garage concert”
- WHRO FM Virtual Chamber Music Series (pre-recorded Nov. ‘20) Launched in February 2021 podcast interviews, Video premieres and Radio “A Local Touch”, Concert #6 (Feb 14, 15, & 17) spotlighted Beethoven Sonata in A Major for Cello and Piano, by Assistant Principal Cellist, Rebecca Gilmore, and Baltimore pianist, Dr. Daniel J. Lau, the Chair at Washington Adventist University. WHRO FM Presents Virtual Chamber Music Series
- Christ & St Luke’s Episcopal Church, Norfolk, digital concert series, “Sacred Sounds in a Sacred Spaces”, which involved musicians, Sherie Aguirre, Vahn Armstrong, Amanda Gates, Simon Lapointe, Yun Zhang, Angelina Gandolfo, Jocelyn Smith, Michael Daniels and Rebecca Gilmore.
But now we will join forces with each other and with our reconstituted dedicated Staff (most of whom were also furloughed for many months), returning symphonic music to the big stage and eventually smaller venues & parks around the region and educating our young people in person as soon as we can.
We would be remiss if we did not thank our generous supporters who have sustained us spiritually and in tangible ways - supporters who were not spared the ravages of this pandemic in their own lives.
The VSO is one of less than half a dozen ensembles identified for help by other orchestras whose Boards chose alternative approaches, sustaining their employees. Gifts from our peers around the country totaled tens of thousands of dollars. When added to GoFundMe direct contributions and some peripheral fund raising, our original $50,000 goal was exceeded by over $13,000! While we cannot predict with certainty that these funds will prove sufficient to get us through the current season's travails, we are wrapping up the GFM campaign with gratitude beyond measure to hundreds of local donors and over a dozen orchestras including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Ft. Worth, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Richmond, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Paul, and Utah.
As the VSO begins its second century with a new Music Director in place or at least identified (soon), with a larger endowment and smaller debt than at any time in our history, with superior musical talent in our ranks, and with resolve forged by our sacrifice and fueled our potential, we have every expectation of success.
We were told that the Board's plan for navigating this challenging year and coming out on the other side was to "Survive and Thrive." With the first of those objectives well on the way to completion, we're eager to find out what "Thrive" looks like and sounds like.
Let the Second Century of the VSO begin. We can hardly wait!
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