Mission and History
The mission of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra is to explore and present the symphonic repertoire, both traditional and modern, for the diverse audiences of the Northern Virginia region while building the musicians and audiences of the future through education and outreach programs.
The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra has emerged over the years as one of the finest metropolitan orchestras in the U.S. Hailed as "the pride of Fairfax County," the orchestra has showcased the greatest works in the orchestral repertoire during its annual concert seasons and through many successful education and outreach programs.
Since its inception in 1957 by a small group of musicians, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra has continued to undergo extensive development and growth on an annual basis. The Fairfax Symphony has attracted outstanding area musicians to its ranks and enhanced the region's cultural life with performances by internationally celebrated guest artists. The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, along with the National Symphony, is recognized as one of the two leading orchestras in the Washington area.
With an annual operating budget exceeding $1 million, the FSO presents a rich menu of programming that consists of a six-concert series at George Mason University's Center for the Arts, a Valentine Pops Gala concert, and an extensive series of outreach programs in area schools. Through the Overture to Orchestra program, ensembles visit individual classrooms in Fairfax County schools to provide an intimate musical experience and give the students an opportunity to learn about the instruments and sounds of orchestral repertoire. The SCORE program offers intensive master classes to intermediate and high school music students, with the intensive learning experience derived from one-on-one partnerships between professional and student musicians.
More than 30 performances by the orchestra's ensembles are presented free of charge in Fairfax County Parks each summer. In addition, each summer since 1979, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra has served as the orchestra-in-residence at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival in Orkney Springs. In all, some 52,000 individuals attend the more than 100 music events each year presented by the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.
Henry Fogel, former President of the American Symphony Orchestra League, recently commented, "I recently heard a concert by the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and, to be honest, I was extraordinarily impressed with the quality of the orchestra. The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra plays at an extremely high level of professionalism, and makes music with a wonderful combination of both technical excellence and passion and commitment."
The FSO was led from 1971 - 2009 by William Hudson, a remarkable tenure of 36 years.
"He made possible this orchestra's success," noted current Music Director Christopher Zimmerman. Under his leadership, the orchestra grew from the small, volunteer, community orchestra he inherited in 1971 to the outstanding professional orchestra it is today - the pride of Fairfax County and one of the finest regional orchestras in the U.S. Theodore Libby* has written that "a large part of the Fairfax success story is having a conductor of William Hudson's caliber." After a performance during his last season with the FSO, Washington Post music critic Mark Estren noted, "Hudson conducted at a leisurely pace, and the orchestra provided ensemble work of great beauty."