It Began in 1981
The "Virginia Beach Symphony Orchestra" started in the summer of 1981 when a group of 35 musicians, under the baton of David S. Kunkel, met together to provide challenging performance experiences for musicians and high-quality, low-cost concerts for the Virginia Beach community. Since then, the orchestra has stayed true to its purpose, but is now known as Symphonicity (combining “city” with “Symphony”) to reflect the growth, reach and quality of the organization. In 2017, upon the retirement of our founding director and after an international search, Maestro Daniel W. Boothe took the podium as our Music Director and Conductor.
Though we have garnered local and national nominations and awards for contributions to the arts and effective programming, we are most proud of our members who volunteer thousands of hours to create enriching and memorable experiences for our community.
Symphonicity is a success story built upon the love of music and a desire to share it. However, none of it could be done without the generous and growing support of our patrons, corporate sponsors, and grants from local, regional and national resources.
Our Founding Maestro
David S. Kunkel
As its founding conductor in 1981, David S. Kunkel managed the growth of Symphonicity (formerly the Virginia Beach Symphony Orchestra), taking it from a modest group of volunteers to a professional quality orchestra. Under his leadership, the orchestra performs four subscription concerts annually, a children’s concert, a Messiah Sing-along, and five summer concerts at the Virginia Beach oceanfront, including the 4th of July Spectacular.
Mr. Kunkel is a native of Pennsylvania and began conducting in high school. He graduated from the Navy School of Music and served as pianist in Navy bands in Boston and Iceland. Mr. Kunkel’s other positions in the Navy include Director of the Navy’s premier jazz band, The Commodores; Associate Conductor of the United States Navy Band in Washington DC; and Conducting Instructor at the Armed Forces School of Music. After 35 years at the baton, Maestro Kunkel has retired and is now Music Director and Conductor Emeritus. Symphonicity will be showcasing the five finalists next season as part of the process of selecting a new conductor.
In 1984, Mr. Kunkel retired from the Navy. He has since served on the Virginia Beach Public Schools’ Advisory Committee for the Gifted and Talented, and as Dean of the Tidewater Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He held the position of Music Director of the Virginia Musical Theater for five years, and Music Director of the Virginia Savoyards for six years. Mr. Kunkel was instrumental in coordinating the “grass-roots” community support of the construction of the Performing Arts Theater in Town Center. Currently, he is a member of the Virginia Beach Performing Arts Theater Advisory Committee, serving on the Design sub-committee. Presently, Mr. Kunkel divides his time between positions as Music Director and Choirmaster of the First Presbyterian Church of Virginia Beach and Music Director and Conductor Emeritus of the Virginia Beach Symphony Orchestra.