During the summer of 1970, shortly after returning from his success as a contestant in the Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducting Competition in New York earlier in the year, Dingwall Fleary was approached by the directors of the former McLean Academy of Musical Arts, June and Robert (“Bob”) Trayhern, to organize an amateur, grass-roots orchestra in the McLean community. Its purpose was to provide an opportunity for talented, non-professional instrumentalists, including members of the school’s faculty, to perform a variety of music in an organized ensemble. Among the goals the Trayherns sought, and with which Fleary concurred, was to have him develop an orchestra capable of accompanying concerto performances by the growing number of young music students associated with the Academy.

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 the community’s orchestra. 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, all of whom were politically and/or socially recognized, helped to establish the orchestra’s first Board of Directors.

Although it has grown from the original chamber orchestra of 18–25 musicians, an educational component continues to be a vital part of its mission. The growth of the orchestra has led to the presentation of more diverse symphonic repertoire, and an opportunity to invite up-and-coming, as well as established solo artists based primarily in the metropolitan Washington area. Over the years, this group of volunteer musicians has developed into an impressive non-professional volunteer orchestra proudly known as The McLean Symphony!

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