We are now in the final season of our twenty-five year anniversary celebration. It has been a remarkable year, filled with many memorable events. It has also been a very emotional year for me. Many people who played important roles in the shaping of my life have taken their final bow over the past three hundred and sixty-five days – my father (an artist and founding member of the RMS and faithful supporter the orchestra), my uncle Lee Hale (producer of the famed Dean Martin Show and faithful supporter of me and my career), and, most recently, Dr. Richard J. Ernst, former president of Northern Virginia Community College.
On Saturday, I attended a memorial service for Dr. Ernst that was both deeply moving and inspirational in so many ways. I knew Dr. Ernst and his family well, and was reminded throughout the service of the rich legacy that Dr. Ernst left behind. As president of the college for thirty years, Dr. Ernst presided over the period in which the NVCC-Annandale Symphony Orchestra was inaugurated. His life was dedicated to bringing good things to the lives of so many people. As stated in Dr. Ernst’s obituary, “He was proud to open the doors of educational opportunity to all who were seeking it, regardless of their ability to pay or their citizenship.”
As I reflect on Dr. Ernst’s life and work, I am deeply grateful. Grateful for all those who gave so much to establish the NOVA-Annandale Symphony Orchestra, grateful to those who have sustained it throughout its twenty-five year history, and grateful to all of you who in so many marvelous ways continue to cherish and support the orchestra in its mission of bringing joy and beauty to our community. It has been one of the great blessings of my life to be your music director, and I look forward to the many wonderful things that the orchestra will bring to the greater NOVA community and beyond in the years to come.
Christopher E. Johnston,
September 2, 2019