Not unlike the way a successful community relies heavily on an intricate system of give and take, a symphonic orchestra, too, depends on the delicate balance between each of its components—from winds to percussion, strings to the conductor. Because of the complementary attributes between communities and symphonic orchestras, it makes sense that the cultural enrichment an orchestra provides perfectly augments a thriving community. Featuring the homegrown talents of the area it serves, it not only furnishes an artistic outlet, it also reflects the community that supports it.
For 43 years now, the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra (WSO) has been breathing vitality into the Port City’s artistic sphere. In order to maintain their local presence, WSO upstarted a Beethoven 15k and 5k last year. They will hold their second annual run/walk this Sunday, January 25, at Brunswick Forest.
Currently, WSO is headed by conductor Dr. Steven Errante, who has held the position since 1986. As well, he is the founding conductor of the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra for members in grades 9 through 12. Annually, the WSO hosts a the Masterworks Series, the Symphony Pops concerts, a free family concert, the annual Richard R. Deas Student Concerto Competition, and the Wilmington Symphony Birthday Club, as well as coordinates the artist-in-residence programs in area schools.
“A vibrant local symphony is one of those quality-of-life indicators,” Reed Wallace, WSO executive director, expresses. “It is one measure by which we can distinguish mature communities from those that just get by. A symphony orchestra is a civic asset and community resource and is a part of a community’s sense of shared identity, pride and prestige.”
Support from locals poured in from last year’s inaugural event, bringing in a net income of just over $6,000. “The success of our inaugural Beethoven 15k exceeded our expectations,” Wallace tells. “We had 376 registrations for the event, including those running the 5K and some walking either the 5K or 15K. We are on track for even greater participation this year.”
With ticket sales covering only 50 percent of production costs, WSO constantly is seeking new ways to garner interest and funds. The run/walk was conceptualized in order to broaden the scope of incoming support. Traditionally, black-tie galas make up fundraisers for symphonic orchestra; however, incorporating a festive, outdoor event seemed like the perfect way to attract and enlighten a new group of WSO enthusiasts.
“We’ve been fortunate to strike the right balance, too, in offering both a great distance event for serious runners, as well as a fun event for those who just want to come out and enjoy a run or walk for the occasion,” Wallace comments. “The age range of participants was 8 to 78.”
Funds collected from the Beethoven 15k and 5k go toward WSO and Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra concert production. Expenses include facility rental, technical staff, music rental or purchase, musician stipends, promotion, advertising, and ticketing.
As well, the WSO looks to use funds to further their expansion. In 2014 they bolstered their Symphony Pops concert format to host internationally known folk legend Noel Paul Stookey (Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary), who performed with WSO in November. They intend to work toward similar events in 2015. Their Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra now takes on participants from across six counties in the region, and even has broken off to include the Junior Stings Program for youths in grades 6 through 8.
“Because of recent successes we have been able to provide more youth orchestra scholarships,” Wallace informs. “At new-member auditions last week, we added 25 new members to our Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra (now at about 75) and our Junior Strings program (now over 40).”
Participants also are encouraged to don innovative attire to get into the spirit of things. There will be an awards ceremony for those dressed in Beethoven-themed attire.
“[Last year] a few folks got into the spirit of the event and showed up in tuxedo T-shirts and formal, long-evening jackets,” Wallace describes. “There were a few wigs, and some instruments, including a trumpet and a cello. There were also some fantastic costumes that had nothing to do with Beethoven but definitely added to the fun and carnival atmosphere.”
The run will be followed by an afterparty at the Brunswick Forest Fitness Center in the Leland Room. Adult beverages, food, vendors, and exhibits will be present. Costume contest winners and medals will be doled out, too.
Folks can register for the race at www.wilmingtonsymphony.org. Registration is $50 for the 15k and $35 for the 5k. Participants can register as an individual or as part of a four-person (up to eight person) team for the 15k, and registration packets can be picked up on Saturday, January 24 at Trysports in Mayfaire (925 Town Center Dr.)from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or at the Fitness Center in Brunswick Forest from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Or participants can pick up packets on race day from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. For out-of-towners, the Holiday Inn Express in Leland is offering a discounted rate of $81 per night.
All runners/walkers will receive a Finisher Medal. Athletes also can get a head start on the race with the 15k early start, which kicks off at 8:15 a.m. The shotgun sounds for regular-time racers at 9 a.m. Those wishing to volunteer or sponsor the event can call 910-791-9262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Second annual Beethoven 15k/5k
Brunswick Forest, 1007 Evangeline Dr.
Sun., January 25, 9 a.m.