When Corinne Kraft rekindled her love of the violin, the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra gave her a place to play with others. Now the president of the organization — and part of the second-violin section — she says the same is true of many of the orchestra's 70 volunteer musicians. While some are professional musicians, there are also business owners, doctors, teachers, engineers and students, "people from all walks of life," Kraft says.
"I think if you had to do the average profile, it would be we've all played since we were children and still want to do it. And that's what the Edgewood Symphony allows us to do: to play with people who share the love of music with us."
This year, the ESO celebrated its 25th season, which comes to a close Sunday with performances of Shostakovich's Festive Overture, Grieg's Piano Concerto — performed by music director and concert pianist Walter Morales — and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.
The group's roots actually extend back longer than 25 years — to the 1940s, when violinist Eugene Reichenfeld founded the Wilkinsburg Civic Symphony. In 1987, in search of a new home, the WCS was taken in by nearby Edgewood. Morales became music director in 2005 and, Kraft says, "He's really brought our orchestra to new heights, to where we don't feel like we're amateurs anymore." Unlike many community orchestras, which select symphonic movements, the ESO often plays full symphonies. "I think that's very special for a community orchestra," Kraft says. "That's what our members like to do. We like to challenge ourselves."
Not surprisingly, such organizations are not common in small suburbs: With a population of a little over 3,000, Kraft says, Edgewood is one of the smallest communities in the country to have its own symphony orchestra — if not the smallest.
"We pride ourselves on not just being a community orchestra," she says. "We try to reach out into the community, particularly in educating young people on the beauty of live classical and symphonic music.
"We want classical music and the orchestra music to live on."