WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra is calling on its audience to hold conversation usually discouraged at the dinner table: the crossover of politics and music. 

​​​​​Through the first-of-its-kind Festival of Ideas, they want to transport you to conversations that were had in 1890 Germany or in 1930 Chicago. 

Throughout the month of May, they are examining three starkly different composers, all whose works will be featured in their concert come May 20th

Florence Price was a Black woman of the 20th century. Many of whose pieces were not performed because of the prejudices against her.  

Richard Wagner, who may be the greatest operettic composer ever, but a horrible anti-Semite, will be examined under the light of Rabbi Joshua Lief. 

And Dimitri Shostakovich, a 20th century composer, oppressed by the Soviet government under Joseph Stalin.  

“When we organized the Festival of Ideas, we had no idea how temporally significant this would be because the same thing is happening in Russia to its artists right now under Vladimir Putin. We’re looking at a world that is volatile, where cancel culture is going on, where governments are feeling it’s okay to disrespect the autonomy of its artists.”

John Devlin, Music Director of Wheeling Symphony Orchestra

May 3rd kicks off the Festival of Ideas, starting at noon at Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church. 

All these discussions are free for the public, leading up to the masterworks concert on May 20th at 7:30 PM at the Capitol Theatre. 

For a full list of dates and times, head to Wheeling Symphony’s website