Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra has been honored by The American Prize for sustained excellence, the first time a symphony orchestra has received the honor since the award began in 2014.
The American Prize, a national nonprofit competition in the performing arts, recognizes and rewards “the best America produces.”
Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra is among six others who received an Honored Artist distinction, given to those who “have proven themselves to be artists of sustained excellence over a number of seasons as laureates in the competitions.”
“In Waynesboro, it’s so refreshing to see even with varying degrees of experience that everyone is so supportive of everyone else,” said Peter Wilson, who has been the conductor of WSO since 2007. “The real reward here is seeing their faces when we get to a performance day and seeing their smiles when it’s, ‘OK, we’re doing this’ along with the wonderful response from the audience.”
The other honorees for 2020 include composer Jennifer Bellor of Las Vegas, Nev., composer and conductor Gerald Guss of St. Paul, Minn., conductor Wes Kenney of Denver, Colo., arts producer Christine Steyer of Chicago, Ill., and soprano Clare Demer of Tucson, Ariz. They join a list of 20 previous honorees.
No other individual, ensemble or orchestra from Virginia has received the honor from The American Prize before.
Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra has been finalists in The American Prize competition since it began applying in 2012-2013, winning third place awards in 2014 and 2015. Wilson said they intend to continue to compete in The American Prize’s annual competitions and enjoy the feedback judges provide.
“For a community orchestra like ours that’s in a small city, this kind of thing can be really beneficial for the organization and the community at large by kind of putting us on the map,” Wilson said.
The group will be broadcasting a performance at the end of the month, as well as a Feb. 28 broadcast performance of Black American composers in honor of Black History Month.