Dingwall Fleary Jr. (1940-2022)

Dingwall Fleary Jr., longtime conductor of orchestras in Northern Virginia, died on New Year’s Eve at 82.

A native of St. Louis, Fleary was appointed in 1972 as the first conductor of the McLean Chamber Orchestra, now the McLean Symphony, and since 1996 had led the Reston Community Orchestra. A pianist, harpsichordist and organist, he was music director of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Bethesda, MD.

A graduate of the University of Kansas and Northwestern University who also studied at L’Accademia Musicale di Chigiana in Siena, Italy, Fleary taught at Bennett and Vassar colleges in New York in the 1960s.

He was the playwright and star of “The Measure of a Man: the Life of Paul Robeson,” which was premiered in 1987 and subsequently staged on a US tour.

Fleary had served as music director and coordinator of the International Children’s Festival at Wolf Trap and as a four-term board member of the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

An obituary in the Tysons Reporter:

McLean Symphony founder and longtime conductor Dingwall Fleary dies

An Italian classic comes to the symphony

The Richmond Symphony’s concertmaster, Daisuke Yamamoto, will be playing a classic Italian violin in future concerts, thanks to a permanent loan from an unnamed investor, supporting what the orchestra describes as “Music Director Valentina Peleggi’s vision to develop the sound” of the ensemble.

The violin, labeled as having been made in 1705 by Giovanni Battista Rogeri, was selected by Yamamoto, Peleggi and Ellen Cockerham Riccio, the orchestra’s principal second violinist, from a group of instruments offered by international dealers and brought to Richmond for tryouts.

The Rogeri was selected for its “playability, depth, sound quality and resonance,” according to a news release from the symphony.

Rogeri (c. 1642-c. 1710) learned his craft from Nicolò Amati, one of the most influential luthiers in the violin-making center of Cremona, Italy. (Andrea Guarneri was among other apprentices of Amati’s; reputedly, he also taught Antonio Stradivari.) After his apprenticeship, Rogeri set up a workshop in Brescia, another northern Italian town famed for its stringed-instrument craftsmen. Rogeri’s finest instruments, like those of Guarneri and Stradivari, were based on “Amati style” design, construction and finish.