Virginia Symphony Orchestra
150 Boush Street, Suite 201
Norfolk VA 23510-1625
Mission Statement
The Virginia Symphony Orchestra's mission is to inspire, educate and connect audiences of all ages. We do this by providing world-class musical and educational services for the enrichment, inspiration and enjoyment of Hampton Roads communities.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Karen M. Philion
Board Chair Patrick McDermott
Board Chair Company Affiliation McDermott Ward
Contact Information
Address 150 Boush Street, Suite 201
Norfolk, VA 235101625
Telephone 757 213-1403
Fax 757 466-3046
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1920
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $6,276,508.00
Projected Expenses $6,276,509.00
The Virginia Symphony Orchestra's mission is to inspire, educate and connect audiences of all ages. We do this by providing world-class musical and educational services for the enrichment, inspiration and enjoyment of Hampton Roads communities.

In the past twelve months, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VSO) has furthered its mission to provide access to world-class musical and educational services to Hampton Roads communities. The VSO strives to engage and educate a broad audience and help ensure South Hampton Roads remains a vibrant, culturally rich community through orchestral performances, community engagement initiatives and educational programs. This past year, the VSO performed for over 100,000 people throughout Hampton Roads and served over 45,000 people with education and community engagement programs.

  • Individual Contributions
  • Foundation and Corporate Grants
  • Corporate Sponsorships
The Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VSO) was founded in 1979, when three symphonies from Norfolk, Virginia Beach and the Peninsula merged together. However, the legacy of the VSO dates back to 1920, when the Norfolk Symphony was the only American orchestra between Baltimore and Atlanta. Now in its 95th season, the VSO has become southeastern Virginia's preeminent professional symphony orchestra. Each year, the VSO strives to engage and educate a broad audience, performing for over 100,000 people throughout Hampton Roads and serving over 45,000 people with our education and community engagement programs. Led by Grammy Award-winning conductor JoAnn Falletta, the VSO performs more than 150 concerts and 100 educational and community engagement activities per year.
Areas of Service
Areas Served
Southside Virginia
Gloucester County
Mathews County
Hampton Roads
The Hampton Roads metropolitan area consists of nine cities and seven counties with a population of over 1.6 million in southeastern Virginia, boasts one of the world's largest natural harbors and the world's largest navy base, and attracts millions of tourists for the historical and cultural significance of the area and the beaches of the coastline. It's also one of the largest geographical markets in the country served by a single professional orchestra. The VSO and VSO Chorus are the foundation of the performing arts community in southeastern Virginia and regularly collaborate with other arts organizations, providing the professional musicians for groups including the Virginia Opera, the Virginia Arts Festival, and the Richmond Ballet.
Board Chair
Board Chair Patrick McDermott
Company Affiliation McDermott Ward
Term July 2017 to June 2019
Board of Directors
Board Members
Bert Aaron Community Volunteer
Vahn Armstrong VSO Musician
Ray Breeden Community Volunteer
Kate Broderick Community Volunteer
Cyndi Brown VSO League President
Minette Cooper Community Volunteer
Nancy Creech Neptune Festival
JoAnn Falletta Virginia Symphony Orchestra
Tim Faulkner The Breeden Company
Barry Fletcher Newport News Shipbuilding
Leslie Friedman Community Volunteer
Susan Goode Community Volunteer
Howard Kern Sentara
Michael W. Lee Independent Lighting
Mike McClellan Norfolk Southern
Patrick McDermott McDermott and Ward
Rachel Ordaz VSO Musician
Robert Petterson Community Volunteer
Karen Philion Community Volunteer
Carolyn Pittman Newport News Shipbuilding
Asa Shield KPMG
Jane Short U.S. Trust
Rony Thomas LifeNet Health
William Van Buren IIIKaufman & Canoles
Barbara Vollmer VSS President
Richard Waitzer Waitzer Properties
Don Winchester PNC Bank
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 28
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 14
Female 9
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 90
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 95
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director Ms. Karen M. Philion
As the President and CEO of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Karen Philion brings a wealth of experience across a broad spectrum of arts and cultural assignments to her position. While Karen has significant experience in strategic planning, fundraising and marketing, she credits her management success to identifying resources and matching them to organizational needs.
While earning her graduate degree at the University of Mississippi, Karen joined the editing team of the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, hailed by the Washington Post as an invaluable guide to southern life, culture and history. Contributing more than twenty entries, her work includes articles on subjects as diverse as the Tidewater coastal region, to musical legends Patsy Cline and Dizzie Gillespie.
From Mississippi, Karen headed north where she managed the day-to-day operations of the 28-member station statewide Alaska Public Radio Network. Major highlights there included successful initiatives with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.
Karen joined the orchestra industry at the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, where she planned and implemented all marketing and fundraising activities for this statewide touring orchestra in 26 communities. She also helped create a statewide network of regional boards, an important mechanism that supported and positioned that Vermont Symphony Orchestra as a popular and successful attraction for residents and thousands of tourists throughout the state.
As Director of Development for the Buffalo Philharmonic, Karen was recruited as part of a new senior management team to secure and rebuild the Orchestra's fundraising efforts by growing support for expanded programming, world-class artists and critical stabilization initiatives – including the appointment of the orchestra's then new music director – JoAnn Falletta. During her tenure, the BPO enjoyed record-breaking fundraising campaigns, which represented more than 60% of all income. Karen was recruited to the Virginia Symphony as VP of Development in 2011, where her relationship building and collaborative style resulted in an increase in contributed income of twenty percent over three years. Karen was asked to serve as interim President and CEO last September, and was appointed formally to the position by the VSO Board of Directors in January 2015. Karen spends her spare time with her family – two daughters, Laura and Libby, and her husband Tom Philion, another arts management veteran.
Senior Staff
Dr. Christy Havens Director of Education and Community Engagement
Teresa Kraus Chief Financial Officer
Brittany Lavalleur Director of Development
Monica Meyer Director of Marketing
Monica Meyer Director of Marketing
Denise Olivieri Director of Operations
Full Time Staff 20
Part Time Staff 215
Volunteers 2000
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Date Strategic Plan Adopted 2014
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
League of American Orchestras2000
Award for Adventurous ProgrammmingAmerican Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)2010
Description The Classics series showcases musical works spanning centuries, from masters such as Beethoven, Mahler and Mozart, as well as contemporary music. Every year, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to have the opportunity to present quality concert performances at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach, the Ferguson Center in Newport News and the Chrysler in Norfolk. Also, the VSO has classics concerts at Phi Beta Kappa Hall and Crosswalk Community Church in Williamsburg.
Description The Young People’s Concerts (YPCs) are the cornerstone of the VSO’s education initiative. YPCs provide area school-day concerts to more than 25,000 third- through fifth-grade students each year. The VSO provides teachers with a Young People’s Concert Guide containing pre- and post-concert activities that support Virginia State Standards of Learning (SOLs) in multiple subjects. The students are bused in to hear a live, interactive symphonic performance by professional VSO musicians. The YPCs introduce students to symphonic music, selected composers, the instruments of the orchestra, orchestra history and the geography of world music. As a result of participating in these classroom and concert activities, children demonstrate a deeper appreciation and knowledge of classical music. 
Description The Pops! concert series delights long-time patrons and attracts new audiences with entertaining fusions of orchestral arrangements and popular music. The 2015/2016 season consisted of creative and fun concerts like “An Innocent Man – the Music of Billy Joel” and the “Frank Sinatra Centennial” featuring Steve Lippia.
Description  The School/Orchestra Artistic Residency (SOAR) program supports public school band and orchestra programs by providing expert instruction and mentorship through year-long artist residencies. VSO musicians are assigned to partner schools and visit classrooms frequently to enhance students' musical education, give students individual attention to help them reach their full potential and inspire confidence and a life-long love of music. The VSO has partner schools in six cities, including Chesapeake, Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach.
Description The Small Ensemble Specialty Program features up to five VSO musicians and provides themed concerts especially for families with young children. Each forty-five minutes long concert has a theme such as Meet the Families, Big Bad Musical Wolf, Aesop’s Fables and From Bach to Beatbox. 
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $6,276,508.00
Projected Expenses $6,276,509.00
Endowment Value $5,043,255.00
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$470,950$459,249$468,250
Individual Contributions$3,178,282$3,344,684$2,864,825
Investment Income, Net of Losses$36----
Membership Dues------
Special Events--$53,820--
Revenue In-Kind$3,900----
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$4,515,341$4,614,336$4,409,757
Administration Expense$1,409,976$1,728,344$1,419,439
Fundraising Expense$452,407$479,576$348,182
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.011.000.95
Program Expense/Total Expenses71%68%71%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue12%12%10%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$1,409,327$1,462,773$1,392,825
Current Assets$849,838$932,087$813,457
Long-Term Liabilities$483,735$344,734--
Current Liabilities$3,486,198$3,681,287$3,899,938
Total Net Assets($2,560,606)($2,563,248)($2,507,113)
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities0.240.250.21
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets34%24%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 5/2018View