The Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1953, is the largest professional orchestra in Virginia west of Richmond. In 1986 the Roanoke Symphony hired its first full-time, resident music director, Victoria Bond; established its professional status; and made a public commitment to artistic excellence and meaningful educational programs. Since that time, the orchestra has been recognized nationally for its artistic achievements, its innovative education programs and its unique outreach to diverse audiences.
A NEW ERA
The orchestra and chorus have entered a new era in artistic growth under the baton of Music Director & Conductor David Stewart Wiley. Wiley took the podium begining in the 1996-97 season following a two-year conductor search which drew 198 applicants from around the world. Maestro Wiley's inaugural season resulted in sold-out performances and stellar reviews. This success has continued in the subsequent seasons, and into the new millennium.
The Roanoke Symphony Society's mission is to enrich lives, to educate, and to entertain diverse audiences in western Virginia with the highest quality instrumental and choral concerts, and to enhance traditional performances with innovative programming in a welcoming acoustical environment.
A diverse roster of guest artists have performed with the orchestra, including: classical artists: pianists Awadagin Pratt and Norman Krieger, clarinetist Richard Stolzman, violinists Livia Sohn and Judith Ingolffsohn, soprano Leontyne Price, and cellists Julie Albers and Zuill Bailey pop artists: jazz greats Dr. Billy Taylor and Marian McPartland, guitarists Liona Boyd and Chet Atkins, trumpeter Doc Severinsen and vocalists Roberta Flack, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson, Bruce Hornsby, Al Jarreau, Olivia Newton John, Michael McDonald, Wynonna, Aaron Neville and Art Garfunkel, among others.
Milestones for the orchestra include: a performance with the Moody Blues, a public performance and private recording of Quincy Jones' Black Requiem with Ray Charles, the orchestra's first (live) recording, Beethoven's Symphony No.9 in 1997, followed by "American Piano Concertos" - a special recording project involving two works by American composers, which began national distribution in 1998, as well as the RSO's 2007 Delos International release of "Zuill Bailey Live with the RSO." Participation in commissions and world premiere events have earned the Roanoke Symphony national recognition in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, on "NBC Today Show," and "NPR's Performance Today." As the only professional orchestra in western Virginia, the RSO serves the largest geographic audience of all orchestras in the state. The orchestra tours to many locations and has gained significant support and new audiences from communities throughout western Virginia, making it "Virginia's Orchestra."
The 2011-'12 season includes a Masterworks Series
, a Picnic at the Pops Series
, as well as Regional & Touring Performances
and Special Events