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Wheeling Symphony’s Efforts Strike Chord With Gov. Justice

photo by: Photo by Eric Ayres

Wheeling Symphony Orchestra Maestro John Devlin leads the symphony through holiday favorites during Symphony on Ice in December. The WSO recently was given the West Virginia Governor's Award for Resiliency in the Arts.

The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra’s quest to keep performing even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic earned it special recognition from West Virginia state government.

Earlier this month, the WSO was presented with the West Virginia Governor’s Award for Resiliency in the Arts at a ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston. The award recognizes a West Virginia organization that demonstrated creative solutions and leadership in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions.

WSO Music Director John Devlin and Executive Director Bryan Braunlich accepted the award on behalf of the orchestra. Randall Reid-Smith, Curator for the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, served as master of ceremonies. Sen. Owens Brown, D-Ohio, and Del. Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, were on hand to congratulate the WSO and the other award recipients.

“Bryan and I were very honored to accept this award on behalf of all the people who made our work possible over the last two years — our musicians, staff, Board of Directors and the entire community who supported our effort to deliver performances and educational content despite the many restrictions and obstacles that confronted our organization,” Devlin said. “Reflecting on the last 24 months, I am often in awe of the many things our team accomplished. I am proud that we were able to offer our musicians opportunities to perform and create beautiful music at a time when many orchestras were not able to do so.”

Beginning in May of 2020, the WSO performed at least once each month. Performances ranged from virtual and televised concerts to the WSO’s SoundBites Series which combined a gourmet dining experience with a chamber orchestra concert. In February, the orchestra finally welcomed patrons back to its home base, the Capitol Theatre, for its first performance there in more than two years, a presentation of “Disney in Concert.”

“Though our staff was faced with many challenges, we also grew together as a team, mastered some new skills and even designed a concert series — SoundBites — that was so popular, it will continue into what we hope will be a pandemic-free future,” Braunlich said.

WSO Board President Roanne Burech is thankful for the support of the Wheeling and Ohio Valley communities throughout the pandemic, in the present and into the future.

“We are fortunate to have devoted Board Members who support our staff and a community that continues to applaud our efforts both literally and through their generous donations,” Burech said. “Now that we have returned to performances in the Capitol Theatre, it is a true pleasure to reconnect with our family of WSO friends and supporters.”

The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented biennially to celebrate the state’s creative spirit and the talents of the people and groups that produce art. They also recognize those whose willingness to support arts organizations and artists help ensure the arts maintain an important place in the state’s communities and schools.

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