On December 7th a meeting of the orchestra began with a 50-minute dialogue with James Webb, a decorated Marine, former Secretary of the Navy & former United States Senator from Virginia, and author of ten books and at least one screenplay. This was not the first time his path intersected with the Virginia Symphony.
In the early spring of 2000 he got to meet a man whose work following WWII he had admired and written about when the VSO toured to northern Virginia with the Virginia Opera (when that man was driven to Webb's home by his son who plays in the orchestra). But for the VSO, that momentous meeting never happens - as A. Frank Reel died unexpectedly in his sleep in Virginia Beach about 10 days later at age 92.
In 2007 Senator Webb heard the Virginia Symphony perform at the quadricentennial Jamestown celebration and in 2011 he was instrumental (!) in securing a letter from First Lady Michelle Obama congratulating JoAnn Falletta on her 20th anniversary season with the VSO.
On the 79th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, the Senator spoke with the musicians, including an extended Q & A about effective communication with Congress, advocating for change in bureaucracies, and some commonalities between playing in an orchestra and writing - both requiring disciplined practice and sometimes relinquishing artistic control (to a conductor or a movie director).
A proud advocate for organized labor, including the arts, James Webb was a refreshing and motivating presence for the early December Zoom meeting of the orchestra. Thank you, Senator!