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Virginia Symphony Orchestra -- Oral History Collection

VSO Archives at ODU Libraries


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The Virginia Symphony Orchestra, now recognized as one of the nation's leading regional symphony orchestras, has enriched the Hampton Roads region and enhanced the quality of life for its citizens for more than 85 years. In August 2000, the symphony was accepted into the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, signaling its entrance into the “major league” of symphony orchestras. The path to reach this level of artistic achievement and professional recognition has been arduous for the symphony's community leadership, as well as for the musicians who led and played in the orchestra. Now, when the symphony has reached this milestone, the records documenting its development are being secured for historical purposes. The Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony League, in cooperation with the Old Dominion University Libraries, have established a process to preserve archival resources for scholarship about the symphony, its history, and its rise to national recognition.


Through the joint efforts of the university library, the symphony's leadership, and members of the symphony league, organizational and musical records have been collected and organized and are being preserved for research in the ODU Library's Special Collections. Archives from the VSO and its historical antecedents are consolidated with records of the symphony league.


Oral Histories:  In order to enrich this collection, beginning in 2006 the library undertook a series of oral history interviews with key musicians and local supporters of the symphony, people whose work on behalf of the orchestra has been instrumental during much or all of the last half century. Interviews were secured with board members from every period of the orchestra's existence from the mid-1950s forward. Members of the Symphony League and its historical antecedents were interviewed as well to chronicle the significant commitment and contributions of members of this group of supporters over time. Musicians with long tenure as members of the orchestra added their critical perspectives to the record with interviews. Audio and transcripts of the interviews are presented here.


Board Members
Babcock, James
Baldwin, Winnie Maddock
Barr, Clay
Cooper, Minette
Edwards, Betty Harmon
Friedman, Leslie
Hart, Dan
Marshall, Eleanor
Middleton, Ernestine
Ryan, Louis
Thrasher, Mary
Ware, Guil
Werth, Matt
White, Edith

Orchestra Members
Bailey, Carroll
Chapman, Barbara
Cross, Rob
Falletta, JoAnn
Lindberg, John
Pedersen, Fran
Reeves, James
Stanger, Russell

League Members
Babcock, James
Baldwin, Winnie Maddock
Cooper, Minette
Kirchner, Terri
Koltun, Helen
Marshall, Eleanor
Middleton, Ernestine
Motekat, Ula
Robin, Ann
Sonenshine, Helen
Stewart, Martha
Thrasher, Mary
Walsh, Cathy
White, Edith


Technical Information: Interviews were recorded on a Sony Digital Recorder.  Within 2 days, the digital audio tapes were converted to .wav and .mp3 files using Audacity [CoolEdit Pro (at  44100 Hz [22050 Hz for #1-14], 16-bit, mono) was used for first 10 interviews with MP3 files created through MediaCleaner Pro.]  Some of the mp3 access files were edited to enhance volume or delete lengthy pauses and extraneous noise. Analog tapes were then created for transcribing; later, we used cds with a cd transcriber.


Files were transcribed by Digital Services Center staff, other library staff, and members of an ODU Linguistics graduate course. Some transcripts were edited to include interview introduction (people, date, place). Original transcription was in a Word file which was then converted to PDF-A.

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