LIVERMORE — Orchestra aficionados, friends and colleagues are mourning the loss of a longtime resident and kindred spirit.
Virginia McFann, 88, died on Dec. 26 following a brief illness.
Serving as one of the longest-running members of the Livermore-Amador Symphony (LAS) — playing in its first concert in 1963 — McFann was a violinist and the symphony’s orchestra manager. She also was hired as a teacher with a degree in history from UCLA, a special education aid in Livermore, a proud member of the American Association of University Women and a founding member of the LA Symphony and the Association of California Symphony orchestras.
But it was McFann’s spirit, spunk and independence that her loved ones remember most.
“She was a great companion and a real firecracker,” said longtime friend and fellow symphony member Judy Eckart. “When I first became involved with the LAS, I was told, ‘If you have any questions, ask Virginia McFann. She has all the answers.’ And she did.”
Alan Frank, president of the LAS Association, agreed that McFann’s trademark grin and no-nonsense approach to symphony protocols, won her the enduring support and admiration of her colleagues.
“When I first joined the orchestra in 1975, Virginia was a violinist in the orchestra and officially the orchestra manager,” said Frank. “She welcomed me into the orchestra with a big smile and everyone else, too. At every dress rehearsal, she would give instructions on proper concert dress and admonish us not to wear red socks.”
Committed to the growing City of Livermore, McFann was strong and determined in her vision for the community and the future of its arts culture.
“I can only express how much I loved spending time with her; how important she was to the formation and growth of the Livermore Amador Symphony Orchestra,” said Lara Webber, music director and conductor for LAS. “She was such a catalyst for good in our community, beloved by all.”
She was such a popular force in the orchestra that many of her relationships, which began on the symphony stage, extended beyond the limelight and remained strong throughout the years.
“Virginia was such a good friend. To strike up a friendship, I invited her out to Chinese lunch in Dublin, 25 plus years ago. That was before I knew she was terrible with driving directions,” longtime friend Denise Leddon said, while laughing. “For years as night owls, Virginia and I would meet after orchestra rehearsal for ice cream at the old Buttercup Pantry in Livermore. Virginia would go out of her way to find me at my Saturday volunteer commitment for another group to help deliver symphony mail. All my friends at that volunteer post got to know Virginia very well.”
It has been a particularly challenging season for members of the LAS, who have suffered the loss of several colleagues including Walt Davies, Marie Ruzicka and most recently, McFann.
“It has been a difficult year for the symphony,” said Frank. “We have now lost three old-timers who strongly supported the symphony from the earliest days up to their deaths … Virginia was the heart and soul of this orchestra for most of the existence of this symphony. I will miss her dearly.”
McFann is survived by her husband Charles and four sons: Greg, Brian, Gary and Kent.