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New year, new you: Supporting the arts in the new year

By Staff | Jan 4, 2019

The Charles Washington Symphony Orchestra is one local arts organization in need of community involvement. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — For some people, the first day of the new year is just another day. For others, it is a chance to reevaluate how they have lived their lives, and consider how they can improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

One way community members can make a positive difference in 2019, is by becoming involved in the local music community. In the case of the Charles Washington Symphony Orchestra, community involvement can either be through auditioning for and joining the orchestra, or through becoming a board member or sponsor of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

According to CWSO flutist Andrea Diggs, the auditioning process for the orchestra is simple. After contacting CWSO Conductor Camilo Prez-Meja, interested musicians can choose to privately audition for him or can show up to an orchestra rehearsal to see how they fit with the current orchestra members, who number about 50.

“We have regular members who are professions, semi-professionals and amateurs,” Diggs said, mentioning the orchestra concerts often have between 30-40 members performing. “We have so much fun, we are the goofiest orchestra in America. We’re serious about working on our music, but it’s light-hearted and fun. We’re a family that gets along.”

Because the orchestra’s primary goal “is to provide a place for local musicians of all ages and abilities to rehearse and perform quality music for the benefit of the individual, this organization and the entire community,” it does not charge membership dues.

“We don’t want it to be a burden for our orchestra members,” Diggs said, mentioning students and younger orchestra members would be less likely to participate with the group if they had to pay dues.

The orchestra was founded in Nov. 2012, according to Diggs, who is CWSO’s current and founding board president. Along with playing in the orchestra, Diggs helps the CWSO behind the scenes, arranging concert details and encouraging sponsorship growth.

“We are trying to grow our donor base,” Diggs said, mentioning monetary contributions help the orchestra rent performance venues and pay for other CWSO expenditures and projects within the community, supporting arts awareness and education.

Above all, Diggs hopes orchestra members, sponsors and board members will realize the value of their contributions.

“Community music is as old as community — it’s fundamental to human connection, because it pulls at one’s sense of identity, sense of self. Music effects the brain positively,” Diggs said, mentioning the orchestra fills a void many communities leave empty in the modern day. “Communities don’t get together as much anymore for music.”

To learn more about the CWSO, visit cwsymph.org.