The WSO was founded in 1996 as the Waynesboro Community Orchestra under the baton of Eric Stassen. In its debut concert, 23 musicians performed works by Lully, Bach and Haydn. During the final concert of the 2005-2006 season, which celebrated the orchestra’s 10th anniversary, the organization officially adopted its current name, the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra. In 2006 Jean Montès succeeded Eric Stassen, leading the ensemble for a single season. In May 2007, Peter Wilson was appointed the WSO’s 3rd Music Director and continues to lead the orchestra in its 21st Season.
Over the past decade the ensemble has grown significantly, having over doubled its core size and often tripling the original personnel for some repertoire, which now includes works by Beethoven, Copland, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, and Wagner. The ensemble has consistently programmed more challenging literature with each season, growing a repertoire that includes works from all centuries of the classical tradition.
Highlights from recent seasons include performances of Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto, “The Emperor,” and 5th and 6th Symphonies as well as Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” and more recently, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Waynesboro’s Schola Cantorum.
The WSO has welcomed members from many communities outside Waynesboro, including Staunton, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, and Richmond, while also performing concerts in Staunton in partnership with Mary Baldwin University as well as fundraising events in Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater. In addition, the orchestra regularly collaborates with professional soloists while remaining deeply committed to the WSO String School, which provides after school lessons to young string players. The String School now provides free violins and free weekly lessons to local Boys and Girls Club members throughout the school year.