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Fairfax Symphony Orchestra honors late chairman with new fund

James McKeever, former chair of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (via FSO)

The Merrifield-based Fairfax Symphony Orchestra has launched a new fundraising outreach in tribute to one of its leaders, James McKeever, who died on Oct. 30 at age 75.

The McKeever Legacy Fund will support the symphony itself and expand its existing education programs that work with local students.

“The Fund will support Jim’s vision to further the FSO’s high-level artistry and expand its innovative education programs, while strengthening the symphony’s role as an invaluable cultural resource and artistic ambassador for our region,” the orchestra said in a statement. “Contributions will help carry Jim’s legacy forward in support of the music, artists, and arts education initiatives he so enjoyed.”

Programs supported by the new fund will include:

  • FSO Link Up, a partnership with Carnegie Hall that uses music to teach math, literacy, and other skills to students at Title 1 schools in Fairfax County and the D.C. region
  • Fairfax County All-Stars Young Artist mentorship program serving high school student musicians
  • Fairfax Symphony Diversity Fellowship program serving underrepresented college-age students

McKeever was a prominent figure in Fairfax County’s arts scene, with a stint as chair of the Arts for Fairfax County (now known as ArtsFairfax) and, most recently, as chair of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend,” FSO Executive Director Jonathan Kerr said in a statement. “We are forever grateful for Jim’s leadership and support of the FSO…His unwavering commitment and dedication to excellence in the arts and music education helped the FSO expand its programs to better serve our community.”

Kerr praised McKeever for helping the FSO navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, which he calls “one of the most challenging times in the organization’s 64-year history.”

McKeever grew up in New Jersey, served in the Army during the Vietnam War era, and worked in the construction industry as president and CEO of McKeever Services Corp., which assisted with permit processing in the D.C. region.

His obituary highlights his love for the arts and leadership in the county and Commonwealth:

His love for music was influential throughout his life. His high school choir had the opportunity of touring in Europe. In college he performed as a folk singer and was a long-time member of the Sanctuary Choir at Providence Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia.

In addition, Jim served as the Chairman of the Arts for Fairfax County, Commissioner of the Arts for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Chairman of the International Children’s Festival at Wolf Trap, and Chairman of the Board for the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra. He was also a member for Fairfax Lions Club. At Providence Presbyterian Church, he spearheaded the project to design, fund and install a new Lively Fulcher Pipe Organ for the Sanctuary Choir. He was ordained as an Elder and taught Sunday School for many years.

FSO Vice Chair Jose Figueroa, who is taking over as the orchestra’s new chair, says McKeever’s impact lasted from his time as a board member in the mid-1980s through his return in 2014. He was elected chair in 2016.

“The Fairfax Symphony family lost a great leader with the passing of Jim McKeever,” Figueroa said in a statement. “We will continue to strive for excellence, creativity, and energy in our future performances…I invite everyone to help celebrate Jim McKeever’s life.”

The FSO says its upcoming concert of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony — scheduled for May 14 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts — will be dedicated to McKeever.

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