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Professor's retirement from VSO garners mayoral proclamation

William & Mary music faculty member John Lindberg received a surprise during his final performance with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra recently: a proclamation from the mayor of Norfolk thanking him for his near-half-century of service to the Hampton Roads music community.

The proclamation was presented to Lindberg by the VSO Music Director JoAnn Falletta during the symphony’s final classics concert of the 2011-2012 season on April 14 at Chrysler Hall.

John LindbergThe proclamation recalls Lindberg’s years of service and says in conclusion: “Now, therefore, I, Paul D. Fraim, mayor of the City of Norfolk, do herby extend congratulations and well wishes to John Lindberg on the occasion of his retirement and with thanks and appreciation for all he has done, recognize him for over four and half decades of dedicated service to the citizens of the City Norfolk and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.”

“The proclamation was a total surprise,” said Lindberg, an instructor of percussion and director of the percussion ensemble at William & Mary. “After 46 years, one kind of has an idea that the gremlins may be up to something, but my reaction was one of shock.  It was a humbling experience.”

In addition to the proclamation, Lindberg received a piece of custom glass artwork from the Chrysler Museum’s glass studio, inscribed with “46 years of beautiful music, with gratitude and affection, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.”

Lindberg first joined the symphony in 1966 as its principal percussionist. A decade later, he began teaching at William & Mary, and, in 1985, he became the symphony’s principal timpanist, a role that he would play for the next 27 years.

During his time with the symphony, Lindberg premiered two works, including Johan Franco’s “Concerto Lyrico #4 for Percussion and Orchestra” and Thomas Rice’s “Concerto for Timpani and Chamber Orchestra.”

In addition to his work with the symphony and at the College, Lindberg has served as the president of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 125 for 18 years. He has also been the vice president of the Labor Federation of Eastern Virginia.

Lindberg also worked at the Armed Forces School of Music as a percussion instructor during the Vietnam War era.

After announcing his intention to retire from the symphony this year, Lindberg asked that nothing be done to mark the occasion. However, during the presentation of the proclamation, he saw Falletta break into tears.

“That is when I realized not only would I be missed but that I had just quit the job I had dreamed of since I joined my first junior symphony orchestra at the age of 11,” he said.

Still, Lindberg said he has always believed that smart people leave before they are asked to leave.

“I made that pledge to myself, and I truly believe it is the right time for my departure from the orchestra,” he said.

However, Lindberg plans to stay at the College for the foreseeable future, he said.

“Being part of an institution like William & Mary has been an incredible honor for me, and I plan to put more time in with and for my students now that my schedule will have less of a time commitment from the orchestra,” he said.