Opinion: Roanoke Symphony heads into 70th year in 2022-23 with optimism

Posted on: August 1, 2022

“As David Stewart Wiley reflected on his 25th season as conductor and music director of Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, he had a lot to be thankful for—especially for the support shown by patrons and concertgoers as the symphony undertook ‘a journey of reemergence and reopening,’ ” writes Don Peterson in a letter to the editor in Wednesday’s (7/27) Roanoke Times (VA). “The culmination of a quarter century with the symphony happened to coincide with RSO’s return to live concerts after the long, financially perilous pause in live performances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Performing arts organizations all over had hanging over them the question of whether audiences would return once restrictions were lifted…. The answer turned out to be a resounding yes. ‘We had full houses, knocked it out of the park with our pops season,’ Wiley said…. RSO was [hard] hit by the pandemic, with operating budget reductions and layoffs of full time employees that exceeded 60%. These cuts, though painful, were necessary to keep the symphony viable without revenue coming in…. A Shuttered Venue Operators Grant allowed the nonprofit symphony to rehire staff … for a return to live venues in 2021.” Included is a brief history of the orchestra from 1953 to the current day.