1870’s: Construction was completed on the Orkney Springs Hotel, part of a grand, mineral springs spa and resort.
1960: The American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL) moved its Eastern Institute of Orchestral Studies to Orkney Springs with Dr. Richard Lert as conductor and artistic director.
1963: The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival Committee was formed by a group of area residents to present classical music concerts to the public.
August 11, 1963: A chamber music concert was presented on the front lawn of the Orkney Springs Hotel (attendance 200).
August 16, 1963: The premier public performance in the Shenandoah Valley by the Symphony League Philharmonic Orchestra was presented at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va. by the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival Committee and the ASOL.
1966: The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival Committee and the ASOL helped to establish the first string program in the Shenandoah County Public Schools from a federal youth education grant. Fifteen students participated in the first workshop.
1970: A Festival chorus, which was later permanently established as the Shenandoah Valley Choral Society, was formed to perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Festival Orchestra.
1975: Musicianship awards — later to be known as the Katharine Benchoff Awards — were established to recognize outstanding band, chorus and orchestra students in Shenandoah Valley high schools.
1976: All Shenandoah Valley Music Festival summer concerts were moved to the Outdoor Pavilion on the grounds of the Orkney Springs Hotel.
1978: Dr. Richard Lert retired and the ASOL Orchestral Workshops at Orkney Springs were dissolved. More than 2,100 people attend one of the final concerts.
1979: The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra played at the Festival for the first time.
1981: The Festival Arts & Crafts Shows were added.
1984: The Festival format was expanded to include big band music, and later jazz, folk and other types of music in addition to symphonic.
1985: The Katharine Benchoff Performance Awards were established to recognize outstanding skill and accomplishments by Shenandoah Valley high school students.
1987: The Festival’s MusicMakers Family Programs were established to reinstate children’s programming and educational activities. The first annual Benefit Ball was held as part of the Festival’s 25th Anniversary season.
1991 & 1992: The Festival was named one of the Top 20 July events by the Southeastern Tourism Society.
1992: The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival Guild is formed to raise money for the Festival.
1994: Attendance for the Festival’s Symphony Weekends topped 5,000. A College Concerto Competition was established. The Festival receives the Shenandoah Bowl, the SVTA’s highest award for contributions to the Valley’s tourism industry.
1995: The first Christmas Brunch was held.
1997: The Festival hits the information super highway with www.musicfest.org. Political “odd couple” James Carville and Mary Matalin narrated Aaron Copeland’s “Lincoln Portrait” with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.
1998: Another record year for total attendance, the third in a row. Internationally known folk legend Tom Paxton headlined the Folk Festival.
1999: The first Festival of Latino Music is presented. Janis Ian is the first Grammy Award winner to perform at the Festival.
The New Century
2001: The Festival begins selling tickets on-line. Emmy award winner Tom Chapin performs.
2002: A new program, SVMF’s ArtReach, is launched. This program was designed to give children and their parents the opportunity to interact with performing arts professionals.
2004 & 2005: Tony award winner, Don Pippin guest conducts the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.
2008: Second largest Festival crowd ever. More than 1,800 people see Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder.
2009: Béla Fleck, Travis Tritt among the Festival’s summer performers. Orkney Springs pavilion transformed into movie house for “Charlie Chaplin at the Symphony.”
2010: The Festival’s most ambitious season to date brought multiple Grammy award winners Ronnie Milsap, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Temptations to the Orkney stage.
2011: Béla Fleck and the original Flecktones make SVMF part of their first full tour in more than 20 years.
2012: Bluegrass legends The Seldom Scene draw a huge Labor Day weekend crowd to the Festival.
2013: The 50th Anniversary of the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival. American Icon Kris Kristofferson highlights the season, which also included Dave Mason, the first Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame member to perform at the Festival.
2014: The Oak Ridge Boys played to a packed venue, proving their popularity has not waned. Other big names of the season were Rhonda Vincent and Rosanne Cash.
2015: After 36 years, the Fairfax Symphony performs at SVMF for the last time.
2016: SVMF enters into a new partnership with the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra. The PSO performs two concerts during the season and co-sponsors a summer strings camp in Shenandoah County Public Schools with the SVMF. The Festival also drew more than 1,300 patrons to see Bruce Hornsby and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and more than 1,000 people came out to see LeAnn Rimes.