Alexandria, VA – The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2023, and in concert with this milestone, the ASO has embarked on a major fundraising effort labeled ‘Making Music Together’ to raise $2 million to ensure the ASO lives on in perpetuity.
“The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra went 80 years without having (an endowment), so this endowment will guarantee that we are still around 80 years from now” explained ASO Executive Director George Hanson. “We want the orchestra to be around for your children’s children.”
While it was an ambitious goal initially, Hanson believes the goal is now within reach. In a statement released by the ASO regarding the campaign, ASO noted that as of September 2023, it had secured $1.4 million in pledges and gifts. With over 20,000 patrons a year, Hanson and the ASO hope public donations can secure the rest.
As many Alexandrians may already know, having a fully professional orchestra can help put the city on the map. Hanson stressed, “There is no such thing as a great American city without it having a great American orchestra.” He added that a city’s symphony orchestra is a cultural draw and can even influence potential residents who are looking to purchase real estate. “Your favorite music may be hip-hop or country, but if you’re invested in Alexandria, you want this city to have this incredibly important cultural element.”
Hanson hopes to use approximately 25% of the endowment to create enhanced ASO programs such as its recent family concert and to increase compensation for its pool of professional and talented musicians. Most ASO musicians come from the various armed service’s orchestras in the DMV and Hanson highlights that “the people who get the jobs with the bands and the orchestras in the military are among the finest in the country.” Hanson would like to provide them with better compensation when serving ASO.
ASO also wants to focus the endowment on education and community outreach. In recent years, the ASO introduced more diverse themes to its performances. As an outreach to Alexandria’s growing Afghan community, last year ASO Music Director James Ross incorporated Afghan music and musicians with ASO’s traditional orchestral music during one of its performances. The performance also included poetic readings from Afghan women. As part of the outreach, the ASO gifted over 150 tickets for members of the Afghan community to attend, many of whom had never seen a concert. According to Hanson, the concert was a wonderful success.
In addition to the Afghan outreach and to encompass more of Alexandria’s diversity, ASO recently commissioned several new compositions from young Native American and African American composers.
In early November 2023, ASO is also excited to perform Czech composer Antonín Dvorák’s New World Symphony. The concert will incorporate Appalachian musical tones and renowned dulcimer soloist Stephen Seifert will accompany the symphony on the mountain dulcimer. The concert will provide a narrative on America’s cultural melting pot and the music derived from it.
To contribute to ASO’s fundraising campaign or to learn more about the ASO, please visit its website here (https://alexsym.org)