WSO: In concert with the community

Bringing a live orchestra experience to the community for over 45 years, The Williamsport Symphony Orchestra provides a variety of programs for the area.

The WSO encompasses 70 professional musicians lead by Gerardo Edelstein, music director. The 25 board members also support the Billtown Brass, The Williamsport Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Junior Strings, which all put on a number of performances throughout the year.

“The Williamsport Symphony is a true gem of this city and I am very proud to be part of it,” said Edelstein. “The quality of the performances are no doubt due to the caliber of musicians in the area, and with a great staff and support from the board of directors and community, we are thrilled to enlighten audiences of all ages to the joys of orchestral music.”

The WSO displays its talent during five performances a year, which Janet Harris, executive director, said is a combination of classical, pop, and country musical numbers. Musical selections also will be from Broadway shows, she added.

The various ensembles have musicians from around the region, which Harris said she’s particularly excited about. The Junior Strings, which began last fall, sees students come from the Sunbury area. Musicians also have come from Wilkes-Barre, Bloomsburg and State College to participate.

“That’s what I’m very proud of is that we drew a circle around the region,” Harris said on how far a reach the organization has.

The organization offers educational opportunities as they hold a Young Artist Competition and host school groups before each performance to give tutorials. The about 50 students who perform in the youth orchestra also are given a experience that encourages their music education.

The youth group also is given the opportunity to play along side the WSO.

But besides the educational and cultural experiences, the organization said it benefits local businesses, as well.

The WSO said restaurants, hotels and area printers are some that benefit from performances. But the organization also assists in “hyping” the area for new businesses and those looking to attract new employees.

As only 28 percent of its budget is made up from ticket sales, fundraising is important for the community organization. As Veronica Muzic, board member, described the organization: “It is big city entertainment close to home.”

As Muzic explained, the WSO brings a lot to the community and it’s lucky to have it.

“It’s rare for a community this size to be able to field an orchestra,” she added.