By Audrey Harman | Photos by Mark Gilvey
For nearly four decades, Woodbridge Music Club (WMC) has stayed true to its original mission. “In 1976, the Woodbridge Music Club was organized and federated— affiliated with the National Federation of Music Clubs and the Virginia Federation of Music Clubs—by a group of trained musicians and music lovers who wanted to share music with their community and were seeking musical outlets and opportunities for their students,” said Lana M. Bailey, a founding member. The club continues to provide a musical outlet for area musicians, as well as an educational experience for the community, by hosting master classes and performances.
A nonprofit organization, the club is funded through membership dues, donations and grants from the the Prince William County Department of Parks and Recreation. All performances are free to attend, allowing community members to be engaged in the arts without having to break the bank.
“The Woodbridge Music Club envisions and strives to create a community alive with music and with opportunities for students and professional musicians to grow through performance and interaction,” said Bailey. From classical, to jazz, to contemporary music, WMC offers concerts that include vocalists as well as instruments such as piano, solo violin, solo cello, string quartet, brass quintet and organ.
A Musical Menagerie
This mix reflects the welcoming nature of club membership. The only boundary for musicians is that they must be high school aged or older. “WMC membership is open to all musicians, professional or amateur, and people who appreciate music and want to further the arts in our community,” explained Bailey.
The club accepts membership applications online at WoodbridgeMusicClub.org, or they can be delivered to any club member. Musicians come in at the “Regular Member” level for $52 a year. This entitles them to benefits such as performance and competition opportunities, special programming, a vote in club matters and listing in a teacher referral service.
Non-musicians may join the club too, as “Associate Members,” for $42 annually. Their benefits include being able to participate in committees and access to the special programming.
Woodbridge Music Club concerts are designed to showcase the diverse talents represented by its members, and have a relaxed, in-house approach. Each year, one show is built around the full club playing together and another will feature pieces composed by members. Three concerts showcase its youth musicians, and still others are built around various instrument combinations. Examples include solo and duo piano concerts, Navy Band Consort, a violin/piano concert and a brass quintet.
In addition to facilitating performance opportunities for its members, Woodbridge Music Club hosts free shows performed by local musicians and other guest artists. Club shows are held at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Woodbridge and Westminster at Lake Ridge.
WMC Vice President Suzan Kiepper Krannich quoted Serge Koussevitzky, the world-famous former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in explaining the importance of maintaining this open environment, and of the club’s free performances: “More than any other art, music has the driving force, the facility and freedom of crossing social, political, geographic, racial and religious barriers, and speaks a language accessible to all. … music alone can still tame the beast in man—it is our comfort and hope.”
Opportunities for Musical Growth
The club extends this “hope” to all who seek it. One way it does this is through its scholarship programs, the Kiki Thomaidis Piano, WMC Vocal, WMC Instrumental and Senior Scholarship competitions. Musicians up to age 19 who live or study music in Prince William are eligible, with applications available through the member newsletter and the club website.
Additionally, Bailey said that through the club’s affiliation with the National Federation of Music Clubs, “young musicians and adult members are eligible to apply for scores of additional competitions and awards which include summer music center opportunities.”
Club members also receive assistance in their professional growth. WMC offers workshops, master classes and roundtable discussions. An October workshop on pedagogy taught attendees “what every musician needs to know about their body,” according to a club calendar. Another taught elements of conducting music.
The club also acts as a referral service, connecting its members who teach music with potential students. This directly nurtures musical talent while allowing members to earn money doing what they love.
“Music provides an avenue for developing an appreciation for beauty in our fast-paced daily schedules,” said Bailey. “To experience the arts promotes harmony, beauty, and a sense of well-being not only for the performers but for the audience as well.”
Through its free concerts and resources for musicians, this is the gift that Woodbridge Music Club gives the community. A place of music. A place of beauty.
Author Audrey Harman has lived in Woodbridge since 1988. She has a B.A. in English and Spanish from Hollins University and an M.A. in Publications Design from the University of Baltimore. Harman also works as an instructional designer, and as a long-time violinist and bassist, she loves learning about musical opportunities in Prince William. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through audreyharman.com.