Williamsburg Consort celebrates final year

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com

The Williamsburg Consort hopes to end on a high note.

This year, the symphonic band festival's 15th year, will be its last.

"It's been 15 wonderful years," said consort president and founder Sally Craig. "It was an idea that I hatched, and it took off."

But due to aging performers and volunteers, Craig and her husband Darrell decided the time was right to close the consort's run.

"We need to go out on a high," she said.

From Sept. 18 through 23, 101 musicians from across the country converge in Williamsburg, sharing a love of concert band music with each other and local audiences one last time.

The Craigs now live in Florida, but it was during their 16 years spent in Williamsburg that Sally Craig decided to start the festival.

"It's a symphonic band festival for retired professional musicians who all their life have been paid to perform," she said.

Now, these musicians pay to play in the consort. They love it.

"I was absolutely amazed at what I heard and saw and experienced," Randy Abernathy said of his first time at the consort. He plays trumpet and leads the Dixieland Band.

Nearly 10 years later, Abernathy joked he'll have to figure out what to do come next September.

"I guess I'll just have an open week," he said.

The consort's legacy will live on, however. Over the past seven years, Sally Craig said the organization has awarded more than $40,000 in scholarships to high school band students. Once final bills have been paid and the consort closed out, remaining funds will be used to establish a scholarship for Warhill High School band students.

"It keeps it in the community," Darrell Craig said.

The public is welcome to observe any rehearsals throughout consort week – the rehearsal schedule is available online. On Sept. 22, outreach day, the consort presents free performances to the public.

At 9:15 a.m., the German Band performs at Waller Mill Fine Arts Magnet School. Guest trombonist Harry Watters will then deliver a master class at 10 a.m. at Holiday Inn Patriot. At 11 a.m., the Dixieland Band performs at Chambrel and Verena at the Reserve, and at noon, the Chamber Winds will play at the College of William and Mary Bookstore.

The consort week, and 15 years of music, will culminate in the America Alive XV concert in Warhill High School at 7 p.m. on Sept. 22.

"It's such an eclectic mix of music," Sally Craig said.

As guest conductor Brian Worsdale leads the consort in one last performance, selections include patriotic classics, soundtrack favorites, marches and more. Guest soloists Maggie Worsdale and Timothy Stoddard join the lineup.

After 15 music filled years, the Craigs have no regrets.

"We always look forward," Sally Craig said.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

Though free, tickets to the America Alive XV Concert are required. They will be distributed at Union First Market Bank's two Williamsburg locations at 9 a.m. on Sept. 14.

For more information about the consort, contact Sally Craig at 757-258-7798 or visit wmbgconsort.org.

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