Williamsport Symphony Orchestra (Williamsport, PA)

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Two figures in concert dress.  The director in the foreground and the violinist, in the center is in focus

Guest artist Jeff Thayer plays Brahms's Violin Concerto with the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robin Fountain, for its opening concert in 2004. Photo by Ralph Wilson/Street Light Photography

The Williamsport Symphony Orchestra (WSO) brings live classical music to the rural area of central Pennsylvania, performing five subscription concerts, one free family concert, and one free community concert each year. The WSO also sustains a Youth Orchestra of approximately 90 members, which performs two free concerts annually. 

In FY 2004, the WSO received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000 to support the two opening concerts of the 2004-2005 season and accompanying educational activities.  The first concert occurred in Williamsport on October 12, 2004; 500 free tickets were distributed to people of different age groups. The second free community concert was in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, introducing the orchestra to a new audience. Nearly 2,000 people attended the two concerts.

The orchestra performed Antonin Dvorak's Slavonic Dance #1, Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and Johannes Brahms' Violin Concerto featuring guest artist Jeff Thayer. A former resident of Williamsport and member of the WSO, Thayer's performance received two standing ovations. Robin Fountain, WSO music director since 1992, conducted the orchestra. Audience members had the opportunity to mingle with the conductor and members of the orchestra after the concert.

The educational activities involved students from two middle schools who attended the Williamsport concert, and included a presentation by WSO percussionist Don Fisher. Jeff Thayer joined 50 current and former Suzuki violin students to perform in a Suzuki Celebration on October 16, 2004.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)