The York River Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1984 with the help of the York County School Board. Since then membership has grown from a small chamber orchestra to that of a full-instrumentation symphony orchestra. The orchestra is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to provide an opportunity for dedicated avocational musicians to perform on a volunteer basis in a first-class musical organization, providing high quality, low cost musical entertainment for our community at large.
The original reason for forming the orchestra was to give the string students with advanced abilities a challenging opportunity for playing orchestral repertoire along with other members of the community. The York County School System provided rehearsal space and access to a music library at Yorktown Middle School. Newport News Shipbuilding furnished large equipment and percussion instruments. Founding members Peggy Hadden, Jean Kirkham, Warren Redhair, Marge Fricke, Marion Bowditch, and Florace Arnold were among those who supplied the essential hard work, dedication, and perseverance.
The York River Symphony Orchestra began under the umbrella of the Yorktown Arts Foundation, from whom they have received much support. Members of both groups along with Waterman's Museum volunteered for a fund-raiser that involved providing catered meals for 100 actors and crew during the filming of an historical movie to be shown at the Yorktown Visitors Center, a venture that afforded the new orchestra a sound financial footing.
Since the first concert in April, 1984, there have been an array of performances including the Commissioning of the Battleship Yorktown, concerts in the Hampton Air and Space Museum, and concerts in a number of different venues and for an assortment of events. During the past twenty four years, the York River Symphony Orchestra has had the benefit of the following conductors: Marge Fricke, Jim Paschall, Jim Allison, Edgar Williams, Ann E. Argodale, Dennis Malfatti, Jim Herbison, and Eric Reiff.
The York River Symphony Orchestra has about fifty performing members, a board of directors consisting of thirteen voting plus ex-officio members, a board of advisors from the professional community, and countless volunteers who help to produce four programs, each performed twice, at varying locations in Hampton Roads throughout the year.