Thanks to generous donations from the Dave Matthews Band, local author John Grisham and local businesses, the Charlottesville High School Orchestra is closing in on the funds needed to play in the Heritage Music Festival in London on April 5, 2007.
“We’ve been truly blown away by the level of support that the community has given us,” said orchestra director Laura Thomas. “I think it shows the community’s commitment to the arts and that they value young people and their education.”
The Bama Works Fund, DMB’s charitable group, donated $20,000 to help the orchestra. Former CHS violinist Boyd Tinsley made a personal donation of $5,000. He played when the orchestra was about eight strong; now it has 140 members.
The orchestra’s original goal for all 140 students was set at $320,000, and they’re about $30,000 short. Thomas is confident that they can raise the remaining funds. “My students can tell their grandchildren that these world-class rock stars helped them go on a trip that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” said Thomas, adding that support has poured in from all corners of the Charlottesville area, whether from local businesses or individuals who cut checks.
“They so believe in what we’re doing that they want to see the orchestra represent the community abroad,” Thomas said.
John R. Redick, president of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, which administers Bama Works’ donations, said donors want to help young people raised in the arts community to flourish.
“It’s almost unprecedented for a local orchestra to be invited to this Heritage of Music Festival,” Redick said. “It’s something that has been exciting to a number of our donors.”
The foundation’s advisory board will meet on Monday to discuss the possibility of providing more funds, Redick said.
Car washes, a road race and an online auction have all helped the orchestra get closer to its fundraising target.
The orchestra has planned a “Bon Voyage” concert for 7:30 p.m. March 30, the day before it would leave for England. The show is free and open to the public. Thomas said it will be a musical “thank you” for all those who have helped.