Women’s Symphony Committee Officers
E. Emilie Park
The Women’s Symphony Committee’s History
In 1953, the board of what was then a young Kingsport Symphony Orchestra (now Symphony of the Mountains) elected Elizabeth Harper Vaughn to form a Women’s Symphony Committee. With the interest of 40 women who responded to an open invitation placed in the newspaper, the Women’s Symphony Committee held its first official meeting on March 19, 1954. With membership dues set at $1, the ladies set out on a mission to raise funds and take on the clerical and publicity work of the symphony. Within two months, they raised an astounding $3000 by hosting a Peddler’s Fair, their major fundraiser, and soliciting funds through private and business donations. This new committee proved to be vital to the Kingsport Symphony Orchestra.
With both the Symphony Orchestra Association of Kingsport and the WSC growing, new Youth programs were added. In 1963, a Scholarship fund was established to help students who participated in the Kingsport Youth Orchestra or the Kingsport Symphony Orchestra. In 1971, an annual Concerto competition began for professional students. The winner has the distinct privilege of returning the following year to perform with the Symphony. The WSC was asked to establish a fund so that a stipend could be given to the winner. Again, this goal was accomplished with great success, so it was fitting that in honor of their founding President, the competition was aptly renamed Elizabeth Harper Vaughn Concerto Competition. Mrs. Vaughn served as president for five years and holds the title of Honorary President. To this day, WSC continues to support the Symphony of the Mountains through contributions of time and funds.
Another time-honored tradition that highlights many WSC members and their children is the honoree program. Established as the Symphony Belle program to honor long-time contributors and their daughters, the Symphony Ball was founded. In 1982, the WSC decided to allow young men to participate, and hence the name was appropriately changed to the Honoree program. This is a magical evening where those members who have given at least four years of service to the WSC have the honor of their children being presented and the pleasure of family and friends joining them for a formal dinner and dance. The Symphony Ball has become one of the most memorable events in the life of a senior honoree.
With over 50 years of service and more than 100 members, including men, the WSC continues its dedication to serving the Symphony of the Mountains (SOTM). Over the years, the WSC has continued to grow, and committees are added as needed. WSC members manage the box office and ushering for the concerts, and the WSC annual fundraiser is no longer the Peddler’s Fair, but the Prom & Mom Expo held at the MeadowView Convention Center. Times have changed, but the motivation and dedication by which the WSC was founded remain true today; to aid in the development and continued success of the Symphony of the Mountains.