50 Years of the Symphony
During the summer of 1970, the directors of McLean’s Academy of Musical Arts, June and Robert (“Bob”) Trayhern, sought out Dingwall Fleary to organize an amateur, grass-roots orchestra in the McLean Community. He was chosen because of what they had been hearing about his orchestra-building skills. The primary purpose was to provide an opportunity for talented, non-professional instrumentalists – which included teachers from the school’s faculty – was to have an organized ensemble capable of accompanying concertos, and providing the growing number of the academy’s young music students the experience of playing with a live orchestra.
The success of the mission far exceeded the expectation or vision of its founders, and within the first three years it became apparent that the project could no longer be supported by just those families involved with the academy. It was destined to become one of the first community orchestras in Northern Virginia made up solely of amateur musicians.
Among its earliest and most enthusiastic supporters was Washington Post editor and long-time McLean resident, Robert Ames Alden, and his wife, Diane. In the spring of 1971, they, along with news correspondent, Roger Mudd, his wife “E.J.,” and an impressive list of McLean luminaries, many of whom were politically and/or socially connected, came together to establish the orchestra’s first Board of Directors. The rest is history.
Having endured several “speedbumps” since its years as the McLean Chamber Orchestra, it has grown from the original 18–25 musicians to nearly 60 players. A vital part of its mission is to encourage you talent and interest in music and the arts. The expansion of the orchestra has led to broader and more diverse symphonic repertoire, and an opportunity to feature up-and-coming, as well as established solo artists primarily based in the metropolitan Washington area. In addition to its concerts locally, the orchestra has been invited play on the the stages of Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts, The John F. Kennedy Center, and Strathmore Hall, in addition to run-out performances in outlying communities as far as west as the famous Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Over the years, under the continued leadership and guidance of its founding director, the group has developed into an impressive aggregation that proudly bears the name, The McLean Symphony!