Benjamin Rous’ baton danced through the air at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre last night, drawing familiar melodies into the cool evening and enchanting the audience of students, faculty, staff, community members -- and one beloved mascot.
The Virginia Symphony Orchestra, which includes members of William & Mary’s applied music faculty, presented a free concert under the stars at the lakeside venue on Thursday, sponsored by the City of Williamsburg and the College. The concert kicked off a series of five free concerts that the symphony is offering in the area in advance of its new season.
The evening included works by Verdi, Brahms, Rossini and Copeland as well as music from movies including Titanic and Pirates of the Caribbean. Approximately 1,800 audience members filled the theatre during the event, sitting on blankets and folding chairs and enjoying picnic dinners. The William & Mary Griffin even made an appearance at the concert, greeting audience members and posing for photos.
William & Mary President Taylor Reveley welcomed the campus and Williamsburg communities to the concert.
“Few things nourish the spirit more than listening to a live concert in a beautiful venue such as this, played by the very accomplished symphony orchestra,” he said.
He added, “Not only is the VSO really, really good, it also includes among its players, many of the College’s applied music professors who make a great difference in our academic music program here at the College. Also, Akiko Fujimoto, who is the director of William & Mary’s orchestra, has a leadership role with the VSO.
“So, the ties between the VSO and the Tribe are numerous and strong.”
Reveley said he appreciated the Williamsburg community supporting the VSO and the College and helping to kick off the academic year.
“This is the 319th year in which William & Mary has been alive and well,” he said. “There are precious few institutions in the United States of any sort that got started in the late 1600s and are still alive and well, and none of them has been through the vicissitudes that William & Mary has been through.”
Kaveh Sadeghian, president of the student assembly, echoed Reveley’s welcome to community, saying that the concert was “one of the opportunities we really cherish” because it gives the campus a chance to foster relationships with local citizens.
Williamsburg Mayor Clyde Haulman, professor emeritus of economics at the College, noted that the concert kicked off arts month in the city.
“What better way to celebrate the arts than to hear music,” he said.