In its 46th year, the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the most successful organizations on campus, boasting approximately 80 members from the student body and the community. True to its liberal arts roots, membership in the orchestra is open to all UMW students, regardless of major, and any community musician through auditions.
Founded in 1908 and named for the mother of our country’s founding father, the University of Mary Washington has built a rich history of traditions and academic excellence. The institution has evolved from its beginnings as Fredericksburg’s State Normal and Industrial School for Women to one of the nation’s premier, selective public liberal arts and sciences universities today.
In 2009, the orchestra was honored by the American Prize as being among the top 9 college orchestras in the country. This prestigious honor, based on recordings of the group, was particularly special considering that most of the other honorees were large Division I programs. Maestro Kevin Bartram was at the same time honored with a prize as a top conductor in the college orchestra conductors division.
In 2012, the Philharmonic was featured on a national PBS broadcast, seen by more than 1.7 million households. The show was titled “A Fiddler’s Holiday” and featured renowned fiddle player Jay Ungar, Molly Mason, and the Family Band.
The show was produced by 4-time Emmy Award winner Jim Brown and aired during the Holiday season as a national hour-long pledge show. Rounder Records, an internationally-known label who represents Alison Krauss, produced a DVD and CD package of the concert for distribution and sale across the country. For information on how to purchase this DVD or CD, click here.
Along with a vibrant touring program, generous scholarship opportunities, and high quality performances, the UMW Philharmonic will continue to make a difference in the lives of students and its community.
The Celebrity Series is an annual event that features world-class artists performing with the UMW Philharmonic orchestra. No other college orchestra in the country has such a program. Now in its 14th year, the Celebrity Series is the longest running concert celebrity series in the region. In 2004, the first artist was the renowned (and late) Broadway maestro Marvin Hamlisch. Other celebrities have included the Canadian Brass, singer Judy Collins, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, and the Kingston Trio. In May 2009, the Philharmonic shared the stage with the legendary conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, Keith Lockhart. In 2010, they hosted TV’s legendary Wonder Woman, singer Lynda Carter, followed by Miss America Caressa Cameron in 2011, and Kenny Rogers in 2012. The 10th Anniversary Celebrity Series concert, in March 2013, was “The Man with the Golden Flute”…Sir James Galway. In 2014, the Philharmonic performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman.
Recently, they hosted famed singer Michael Feinstein in a Tribute to Frank Sinatra’s 100th year, and performed with legendary tenor José Carreras. The concert was Carreras’ only show in the U.S. during 2015, and his only appearance in America in nearly a decade. In Spring 2016, the Philharmonic shared the stage with violinist Joshua Bell. In spring 2017, the orchestra will share the stage with Kristin Chenoweth.
A History of the Celebrity Series
2005- The Canadian Brass
2006- Judy Collins
2007-Ramsey Lewis Trio
2008-The Kingston Trio
2011- Miss America Caressa Cameron
2013-Sir James Galway
2015-Michael Feinstein, José Carreras
2016-Joshua Bell, Tony Bennett
I n May 2006, the UMW Philharmonic kicked off its touring program with a trip to Europe. The group traveled to the Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany on a “Mozart Tour,” which mirrored the travels of the young Mozart as a child prodigy. In May 2008, the orchestra toured England and France, and featured performances of Faure’s Requiem with a French choir in Paris. In 2012, the group toured Italy, with performances in Venice, Florence, and Rome. In 2015, the orchestra toured Ireland. Both students and community musicians in the group, and their families, participate in these tours.
Music for the Community
The orchestra has performed the “Independence Day Spectacular” at Pratt Park for the past six years, kicking off the city’s fireworks display to over 6,000 people. In 2011, the group added a second concert on July 3rd at Fredericksburg’s Historic Market Square. With innovative and creative programming, which Keith Lockhart described as “extraordinary”, the Philharmonic’s concerts are always well-attended.
The Philharmonic enjoys remarkable community support, with a 250-member “Friends of the Philharmonic” and financial support that has generated over $1.3 million in endowments to finance student scholarships. This past year, the Philharmonic awarded more than $45,000 to orchestra students. The Philharmonic’s Board of Directors are comprised of talented and engaged community citizens who manage the fundraising, advertising, operations, and public relations for the group.
The Philharmonic’s outreach organization, Fiddlestix, sponsors several children’s programs each year, including an “Instrument Petting Zoo,” and other children’s concerts. With the help of the Philharmonic Scholars program, called by the College Orchestra Directors Association as “one of the most progressive scholarship programs in the nation”, our students give back to the community through service projects that they create themselves. This past year, Philharmonic students worked in area schools, performed for city and University events, and organized talent shows at retirement homes, among other activities.
With an established record of excellence, vision for the future, the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic will continue to add prestige to the university and to the Fredericksburg region.