The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra's extensive education and outreach programs have delighted thousands of young people and earned the praise and gratitude of parents and teachers. Orchestral leaders and teachers alike believe that music encourages children to be more creative and strengthens listening and language skills. Each year our Symphony orchestra members go to area schools to perform great music, and master classes are held for accomplished students.
Professional guest artists who are featured in the Williamsburg Symphony’s Masterworks concert series often volunteer to teach a masterclass that is open to the public. At no cost, area students have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play for a renowned professional artist and to receive individual instruction in front of an audience.
In addition to masterclasses, The Williamsburg Symphony offers instrumental coaching. We believe that our professional musicians should be an inspiration to young musicians. The WSO arranges for musicians to meet with small groups of students in school orchestra and band programs to work on technique and mastery of the instrument. These classes are free of charge, with 25 classes offered in area schools each season (Grades 5-12).
View our most recent masterclasses below.
Williamsburg, Va. (Sept.17, 2018) – On September 10, the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) opened its 35th season with a bang, featuring internationally recognized violinist Stefan Jackiw. But just two days before the initiation of the season,the Symphony sponsored a masterclass with the acclaimed artist, continuing its long tradition of educational outreach in the community.
The masterclass, which was free and open to the public, allowed five talented young violinists—Jaysen Kang, Matthew Fan, Yunseo Chung, Caleb Song, and Marco Sun—to perform solo pieces for Mr. Jackiw. Thirty observers were also present. For the young musicians who played, the masterclass was a rare opportunity to receive individualized instruction from a seasoned touring professional. “It was a life changing experience,” wrote Matthew Fan, “I learned a lot about how to improve my bow control...[and] not to over exaggerate my body movement.” Beyond learning techniques for specific circumstances, the musicians received invaluable critiques and recommendations on their musical interpretation, which is the main purpose of masterclasses. Nuance is what ultimately sets the most celebrated soloists apart from the many technically adept musicians in the world,and the WSO’s free masterclasses are helping inspire local musicians to attain a higher level of mastery of their instrument.
Five years ago, Stefan Jackiw performed with the Symphony and gave a masterclass. Caleb Song, ten years old at the time, participated in the masterclass. Jackiw was a major inspiration motivating Song to continue his musical journey and improve rapidly. Song, who is now fifteen years old, has gone on to be co-concertmaster of the Williamsburg Youth Orchestras and to lead his own professional ensemble,the W Quartet. Caleb also participated in this month’s class and had the chance to meet his mentor once again. “It was an honor to play again for Mr. Jackiw, 5 years later,” Song wrote. “I still have his autograph with him addressing me as‘[his] fellow violinist’ which inspired me even more as he recognized me despite my young age and ability…I remain as his admiring fan.”
The WSO’s free masterclasses are just one of its many educational initiatives. The Symphony’s“Instruments for Kids” program provides free instruments to local students unable to afford them for as long as they play the instrument. It also strives to perform Peter and the Wolf at every elementary school in the area once every five years thanks to the generosity of the late John Jamison. The WSO also holds a Side-by-Side concert in which Symphony musicians perform alongside the Williamsburg Youth Orchestras, a wonderful and inspirational experience for budding artists. The Symphony also offers music teachers at local schools the opportunity to request professional musicians to teach instrumental coaching sessions with their students. All of the educational programs of the Williamsburg Symphony are provided at no cost and are underwritten by donors, foundations and WSO League support. It is eternally grateful to its generous donors, without whose support these projects would not be possible.
The Williamsburg Youth Orchestras, established in 1995 by local musicians and parents, gives area students the opportunity to play in a full orchestra. Thanks to support from arts commissions as well as private and corporate donations, WYO has expanded to include a string orchestra, a chamber music program and a Side-by-Side concert with the Symphony. The first Side-by-Side was presented in May 2013; the second took place on April 26, 2015, at 4 p.m., at the Ferguson Center in Newport News.
The WYO Symphony Orchestra remains the only full orchestral experience available to school-age musicians in the Williamsburg area. The WYO String Orchestras build ensemble musicianship and playing skills. These groups perform a minimum of three concerts together each season.
To learn more about the WYO, visit www.wyomusic.org.
Executive Director: Tanya Song
Music Director: David Grandis
The mission of the Williamsburg Youth Orchestras is to help talented and motivated young musicians in the region develop their full potential as orchestra performers by providing them with the music education programs and performance opportunities that they need.
To meet its mission, the WYO has the following goals:
Donate your retired instruments to deserving young musicians and help them fulfill their dreams of making beautiful music. Donations of instruments are tax deductible.
The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra is collaborating with the Williamsburg Music Club and other organizations to expand our supply of musical instruments for students in need throughout the greater Williamsburg area. Our Instruments for Kids program has found happy homes for many devices.
WSO Executive Director Carolyn Keurajian is shown accepting a new violin for LIKE from Dave DeBlass of Schmidt Florist, Inc. Thank you!
WSO VP - Education Jack Wagner is heading this program and will be pleased to provide more information or to pick up your donation. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Thanks for coming and performing for our students. Your team was awesome, and the kids and staff really enjoyed it. I heard a lot of them humming the songs throughout the day in their classrooms.”
Gary Black - Principal, Stonehouse Elementary School
A generous grant by John C. Jamison enabled hundreds of elementary level children in the WJC system and area private schools to hear a live performance by The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra of Prokofiev's charming tale set to music in 2017. Between Jan. 12 and Jan. 23, 2017, Music Director Janna Hymes conducted an ensemble from Williamsburg's own professional orchestra to the delight of the students and the appreciation of teachers and parents.
Mr. Jamison first heard Peter and the Wolf as a four-year-old pre-school student attending a performance by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. This seminal experience was the beginning of his life-long devotion to Sergei Prokofiev's 1936 composition as a teaching tool. When Mr. Jamison narrated the score six years ago, he observed how the students became mesmerized by the characters' sounds as portrayed by the instruments in the orchestra. "Exposure to classical music and musicians creates an indelible link in a child's mind," he says.
Narrating the tale of Peter and friends this year was Kelly Kennedy, a featured musician and vocalist with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation as well as an actor well known to regional theater audiences. Ms. Kelly and Ms. Hymes introduced the "characters," and the musicians gave an impromptu solo to demonstrate the instruments' sounds. A lively Q&A session ended the program.
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An educational concert which takes place during the school day. Musicians from the Symphony, usually a trio or quartet, visit Williamsburg / James City / York County elementary schools providing students with an overview of classical music, terminology, and a concert. The students have the opportunity to interact with the musicians, play an instrument following the concert, and ask questions.