Sunday, December 4, 2022

The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra: New year, big changes

Guest artist, Tessa Lark, performs with the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra during a concert in May 2019. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Tessa Lark)
Guest artist, Tessa Lark, performs with the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra during a concert in May 2019. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Kim Kiely Photography)

It’s a year of transition for The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra.

Now in its 36th season, the WSO, previously known as the Williamsburg Symphonia, is undergoing more than a name change.

Historically having performed at the Kimball Theatre, an intimate 410-seat venue, this season the WSO will have the majority of its concerts at the Williamsburg Community Chapel, a fully functional church that seats nearly 1,200.

The venue change, prompted by Colonial Williamsburg’s announcement to close Kimball in July 2017 and its subsequent leasing to the College of William & Mary, is an opportunity for growth, said Carolyn Keurajian, executive director of the WSO.

“We wanted the opportunity to invite more people, add new subscribers, and have more flexibility,” Keurajian said.

With a larger venue, the WSO can now sell more single tickets, a plus for concert-goers as oftentimes concerts are largely sold out, Keurajian said.

“One big change [however], is that we’ll be going from performing two performances of each concert, to only performing one time. One night,” Keurajian said.

Despite that, the WSO will still offer crowd-favorite performances, including: the Masterworks Concert Series, Holiday Pops, Cabaret and Cocktails, and the Side-by-Side: Williamsburg Youth Orchestra concerts.

“This year is a trial to see if it works for us,” Keurajian added.

In addition to the new venue, the WSO is also undergoing a national search for a new music director. From a pool of nearly 200 applicants, five candidates have been selected to audition for the position, each having the opportunity to win over Williamsburg’s music fans during their individual Masterworks Concert performances. The audience of each concert will be an active part of the feedback and selection process.

So, what’s next for the WSO?

“Our goal is not to become a huge orchestra,” Keurajian said. “We are a small community and we want to continue doing what we do well, to serve our community, and to remain financially stable. The new music director will in large help determine [our] next steps.”

The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra and its 50 members prepare for an evening performance. (WYDaily/Courtesy of The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra)
The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra and its 50 members prepare for an evening performance. (WYDaily/Courtesy of The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra)

The new director will be announced in May of 2020, but until then, Keurajian hopes the WSO will continue to entertain, inspire, and educate. The WSO “brings people together to experience something extraordinary, [to] experience beautiful music among friends. And we do our very best to make this music accessible to them.”

RELATED STORY: Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra announces 2019-2020 concert season

Season subscriptions to the Masterworks concerts range from $210-$258 per subscription depending on section preference, while single tickets start at $48. For students, tickets are $10.

For more information about the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra, click here.

For ticketing information, click here.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzohttp://wydaily.com
John Mangalonzo (john@localdailymedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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