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Fairfax Symphony Orchestra: Wikis


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The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (FSO) 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 transformed into the finest "per-service" professional ensembles in the area. The FSO attracts outstanding area musicians to its ranks and enhances 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 consisting of a six-concert series at George Mason University's Center for the Arts, a Valentine Pops Gala concert, a Holiday Pops or family concert, and an extensive series of outreach programs in area schools. Through the Overture to Orchestra and SCORE programs, various smaller 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 also 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 small group performances are presented free of charge in Fairfax County Parks each summer. In addition, 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 League of American Orchestras, has 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 mission of the FSO 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.

Music Director

From 1971 to 2008, the orchestra was led by William Hudson, whose retirement at the end of the 2007-2008 season sparked an intensive two-year search for a successor. On May 21, the FSO announced that its new music director will be Christopher Zimmerman, beginning with the 2009-2010 season.

Maestro Zimmerman is currently at the Hartt School in Hartford, CT, and plans to spend about 12 weeks in Fairfax in 2009-2010. In addition to conducting rehearsals and concerts, the duties of a music director include planning the repertoire and soloists for each season, auditioning new players, and serving as the public face of the FSO. He or she also shapes its education and outreach programs, and embodies the overall philosophy and artistic direction of the organization.

Music Director Emeritus

The 2007-2008 season honored William Hudson, whose remarkable 36-year tenure as Music Director made possible this orchestra's artistic success. Under his leadership, the orchestra grew from the small volunteer community orchestra into the outstanding professional orchestra it is today - the pride of Fairfax County and one of the finest regional orchestras in the U.S. as noted in The New York Times by music critic Ted Libbey, "The Fairfax Symphony is in a league by itself."

Theodore Libby, former music critic of The New York Times, now with Musical America, has written that "a large part of the Fairfax success story is having a conductor of William Hudson's caliber." In November, 2001 he was invited to be guest conductor of the Taipei Symphony in Taiwan.

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