Event benefits West Virginia Symphony Orchestra

VIENNA – A fundraiser was held Sunday to help raise money and continue to bring the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra to Parkersburg for regular concerts.

Around 80 attended a special brunch at the Parkersburg Country Club in Vienna put on by West Virginia Symphony Orchestra-Parkersburg.

“This event is to help supplement our regular budget,” said Sally Harris, WVSOP board member. “It was a spur of the moment thought about having some friends, food and music.”

Organizers wanted to see if such an event would work as a fundraiser and they were pleased with the initial results. There was an initial cost per person, from which half would go towards the budget and people were free to make additional donations if they pleased.

The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra-Parkersburg organization raises money and pays for the West Virginia Symphony to come from Charleston to Parkersburg five times a year to perform concerts for the whole community at Blennerhassett Middle School.

“We fund four concerts a year, plus the Christmas concert, and we raise the money to do that,” Harris said. “We are an all volunteer board.

“It is a matter of getting grants, sponsorships and doing fundraising to make this possible.”

Some of the sponsors include a number of businesses and individuals from throughout the community.

The West Virginia Symphony regularly performs in Charleston.

“People aren’t going to travel that far oftentimes,” Harris said. “The symphony is also now limited in their seating since they moved to the Clay Center and they have to have two concerts on Fridays and Saturdays.

“They come here on Sundays for matinee shows.”

Mary Ann Osborne, chairwoman for WVSO-P, said Parkersburg is the symphony’s second home. It costs around $26,000 to put on each concert locally.

“With grant moneys becoming less and less, we want to have some fun ways to start raising money to bring the symphony to Parkersburg from Charleston,” Osborne said.

The final concert of the 2013-2014 season in Parkersburg will be “Wicked Divas” at 3 p.m. April 13 at Blennerhassett School. It will feature a number of Broadway songs presented in a pops-style concert.

“I think we will be filled to the max,” Osborne said. “Hopefully, Mother Nature will finally cooperate with us.

“It is always a lot of fun.”

Sunday’s event was the first time the WVSO-P held a fundraising meal, organizers said. A final tally had not been done yet on what was raised on Sunday. The Trillium Piano Trio performed for those in attendance Sunday.

It is important to bring the West Virginia Symphony to Parkersburg to allow people to experience a different type of music, organizers said.

“It is important because it helps the mind expand and rest,” Osborne said. “It gives your heart joy. Music is a good way to express yourselves.

“It doesn’t matter what genre it is, whether it is classical, pops, blues or bluegrass – it is a form relating pleasure.”

With each concert, a bit on the history of the music is explained to the audience. Also, a number of talented young artists have performed with the symphony and have come to West Virginia to perform as they establish themselves.

Many people may not feel like they would enjoy symphony orchestral music, but Osborne said they have enjoyed it more times than they might realize.

“If they go to a movie they hear it all the time in the scores composed for the film,” she said. “The soundtracks are done by symphony orchestras.

“They hear it and don’t realize it and they enjoy it. Some of those scores are very impressive.”

The scores for the “Star Wars” films, composed by John Williams, are a prime example.

The Parkersburg area has a thriving arts community, including the Actors Guild of Parkersburg, the Parkersburg Art Center, the Smoot Theatre and more, Harris said.

“We feel having the symphony in the community draws people together and it keeps the arts alive in Parkersburg,” she said. “Everything can’t be done in Charleston.

“We need to build our own art community. I think it is a real vital part of this community and the symphony is a part of that.”