How We Began
In 1996, Williamsburg resident Bert Aaron (pictured here with his wife Gladys) saw that the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VSO) was struggling in Williamsburg. Fearing that the community might soon lose the opportunity to experience and enjoy the symphony’s first-class, live orchestral music, Bert endeavored to do something about it.
Together with Gladys, Bert worked with a small group of friends that included Dr. Les Dubnick, Dr. Mil Maloney, Dick Hanley and others to create the Virginia Symphony Society of Greater Williamsburg (now the Virginia Symphony Society) – a local support arm for the VSO. From a small gathering of five in Bert’s home in 1996 to today, the society’s numbers have swelled to well over 300 members.
The Vision Grew
In 1998, The Jefferson Legacy Year, the society arranged for James City County, York County, the City of Williamsburg and the Governor to proclaim Sept 5-12 as Virginia Symphony Week. That year, the VSO toured the Commonwealth. Members traveled with the VSO as it performed in Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C..
As society membership and volunteer commitments grew, the board became increasingly poised to expand its efforts to conduct music outreach in our community. Thanks to a board initiative headed by Alice Herring, the society coordinates and funds yearly student outreach events that bring professional symphony musicians into area elementary, middle, and high school music classrooms to offer local student musicians high-level enrichment experiences.
The Virginia Symphony Society Today
The Virginia Symphony Society brings local music lovers together for a variety of fellowship and live performance events year-round and has raised over $200,000 to date through hugely successful annual fundraising galas that have helped secure the Symphony’s continued presence in the greater Williamsburg area. Thanks to the hard work of the VSO’s Dan Hart, Society members Larry and Eileen Mitchell, and many others, concert attendance soared. Seats filled at performances at William & Mary’s Phi Beta Kappa Hall, St. Bede, and Crosswalk Community Church. Free performances at the Williamsburg Regional Library and the Lake Matoaka Ampitheatre became widely attended.
An integral part of the local arts community, the VSS remains an entirely volunteer organization. We pay no fees to our officers and Board. Our membership offers their varied talents to help us in our mission of furthering the VSO here in Williamsburg. We have a great time together enjoying private and public performances, personal interactions with talented VSO musicians and conductors, and planning events that support the symphony while building of friendships among residents who share a love for professional orchestral music. We are always looking for new friends to join us!