[San Juan Silver Stage | September 2020 | Stacey Ryan, for Valley Symphony Assoc.]
Vivian Cheney, violin. Valley Symphony Orchestra, Montrose CO
The VSA orchestra longevity award easily goes to violinist Vivian Cheney, 93, of Paonia. She has been playing the violin for 86 years and active with the VSA for 43 years (since 1976).
Originally from Troy, KS, Vivian’s orchestra days began at Kansas University. She wasn’t part of a performance group for 15 years during relocations to St. Joseph, MO, and St. Louis, MO. Once she settled in Paonia 43 years ago, she joined the VSA.
Vivian was a school teacher for 50 years and always looked forward to Thursday evening rehearsals. “After teaching middle school all week, my colleague [long-time VSA violinist and VYO founder] Lu Vorys and I thought Thursday night orchestra was the high point of our week!” She now fills her days volunteering with senior citizens, playing church organ, and bridge.
“There is a real satisfaction in being a part of this kind of group,” she said. When asked about the age range of VSA musicians, “It’s a joy to play alongside young people; we really do complement each other.”
Vivian has many fond, funny, and touching memories from her decades with the VSA. “I remember a year when there were only two second violins,” she said. “And then there was the concertmaster who brought her dog to rehearsals!” She also recalled, “…the years with few listeners—and now look at what [VSA founder] Wilma [Lowell] started!”