In 2001, West Hartford resident, local teacher and music director Richard Chiarappa contacted another local resident and businessman, Jim Kilian, regarding the creation of a town orchestra. With Chiarappa as the eleven year music director of the Bristol Symphony Orchestra, and Kilian as a former music producer in the Boston area, they collaborated to create the WHSO with the goal of enabling it to begin performing in the fall of the 2002-2003 season.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony with town officials and invited guests was soon held at a local restaurant announcing the formation of the orchestra as well as upcoming auditions. Local and regional newspapers graciously covered the upcoming “birth” of the non-profit music organization, announced auditions and did follow-up articles on accepted members to the orchestra.
Word spread by mouth through area music teachers and music students. With no real guarantee of finding the necessary number of players, two sets of auditions, one for string players and the other for wind players, were held in the early spring of 2002. Given the unique and unusually strong music program in the town’s school system, hopes were high.
The turnout for the auditions was exceptional, and by the beginning of summer the orchestra was in place. The first rehearsal took place on September 11th, 2002 on the one year anniversary of the attack on our country. Emotions and excitement ran high as the orchestra played its first piece: The Star Spangled Banner.
That opening number, on that special evening, was the real moment of the birth of the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
– Richard Chiarappa, Founding Music Director