A Brief History Of The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra

The Wheeling Symphony Society, Inc. was established in 1929 by Mrs. Eleanor D. Caldwell and a group of local musicians as the foundation upon which a Wheeling Symphony Orchestra was born. As the Wheeling Symphony enters its 87th season, it continues to operate on the premise of its founders who were “. . .prompted by a love of music and because we believe a larger musical organization could undertake more comprehensive programs for the entertainment of more people.” Mrs. Caldwell, an accomplished musician herself, and local string musicians would gather at her Woodsdale home to perform together. It was this small group of musicians who formed the nucleus that became the Wheeling Symphony.

Over the past eight decades, the symphony has gained national prominence under eight music directors. During André Raphel’s tenure the orchestra has developed a reputation for sending musicians to the ranks of major American orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Houston Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony and the Washington National Opera. Guest soloists with the orchestra have included major artists of our time: Yehudi Menuhin, Artur Rubenstein, Roberta Peters, Marian Anderson, Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Richard Stolzman, Andre Watts, Jean-Pierre Rampal, to name a few.

Today, the orchestra performs seven concerts at the historic Capitol Theatre in Wheeling each year during its regular subscription season. Additionally, two free concerts draw thousands of tri-state area residents for music and fireworks. A July Fourth celebration is held at Wheeling’s Heritage Port Amphitheater while a Labor Day weekend performance is given at the Anne Kuchinka Amphitheater in Oglebay Park. The orchestra also performs in Canaan Valley, Clarksburg and Weirton.

The Wheeling Symphony’s Young People’s Concert Tour brings classical music to life for elementary students and teachers from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. With innovative guest artists and engaging programming, the Young People’s Concerts combine the best in entertainment and education to present an exceptional symphonic experience.