April 4, 1965, is a very important date in the cultural life of Ridgefield.  That day, the fledgling Ridgefield Symphonette played its very first performance at Cleves Auditorium at West Park School.

Fifty years later, on March 22, at 4:30 pm, at the Visual and Performing Arts Center at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra takes the stage in a special gala benefit performance to honor its proud history and the individuals whose efforts have nurtured five decades of great music and incredible growth.      

The March 22 musical program is magnificent, replete with audience favorites — Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Violin Concerto #3 with RSO Concertmaster Jorge Avila as soloist; Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring in its original chamber version; and Johann Strauss Jr. immortal Blue Danube Waltz.              

The new Concert Hall at WestConn's Visual and Performing Arts Center.

The new Concert Hall at WestConn’s Visual and Performing Arts Center.

Magnificent also is the venue.  WCSU opened its new Visual and Performing Arts Center on the Westside Campus in autumn 2014 and it was recently rated ninth nationwide among all university performing arts complexes.  Architecturally stunning and acoustically perfect, it is a perfect complement to the world-class music of the RSO.

But March 22 is much more than just a concert.  A cocktail hour will open the celebration, with sumptuous hors d’oeuvres along with displays of historic RSO memorabilia.  And as this is a benefit for the orchestra, a select number of exclusive, enticing silent auction items will be available.      

Mostly, however, March 22 is a celebration of the myriad people whose contributions have been invaluable in the growth of the RSO over the past five decades.  Specific honorees include RSO Board Presidents, past and present; Harold Spratt, dedicated RSO patron and philanthropist; and Susan Goff, long-time musician with the RSO, celebrating her 40th year with the orchestra in 2015.

And in an unprecedented show of support for the RSO, Music Director Jerry Steichen, musicians and staff of the orchestra are donating their services in support of this special event.  Their total in-kind donation to the RSO totals more than $10,000!  Without this generous support, this concert would not be possible.    

World-class music performed in a world-class venue.  Gourmet hors d’oeuvres and exclusive auction items.  An opportunity to honor 50 years of music and those who made it possible.  And all proceeds benefit the RSO.  Truly, an event not to be missed!  Tickets are $100/person, with limited availability, and are available through the WCSU Box Office, by phone at 203-837-8499, or online at www.wcsu.edu/tickets.