Hitting the High Notes

Hitting the High Notes

John and Susan Adney are among the Best of Reston.

This story is one of a series detailing people and businesses honored as the Best of Reston.

Two years ago in March, the Reston Chorale debuted “A Journey to Freedom, Honor and Glory,” an original choral and orchestral work that tells the story of civil rights activist and martyr Jonathan Daniels.

The Reston Chorale performance, which was accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra at the Northern Virginia Community College concert hall, drew 850 people, the largest crowd in Reston Chorale history.

But the music never would have been written if it weren’t for Restonians John and Susan Adney, members of the Reston Chorale.

Through a gift from the Adneys, the chorale was able to commission Julius Williams, composition professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., to compose the music for “Journey.”

“The Daniels commission means the most to me,” said Susan Adney, reflecting on some of the music she’s commissioned. “I think it was a good story to tell, a story that was important to know.”

BECAUSE OF SEVERAL contributions to the arts like “Journey,” the Adneys were named 2006 Best of Reston award winners last January.

The Best of Reston awards are given out each year by Reston Interfaith and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and presented to businesses, individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond in their service to improving the quality of life of those in the Reston community. The Adneys and this year’s other award winners will be honored at the 15th Annual Best of Reston Gala on April 20.

“We’re willing to accept this award as an honor of the musical arts in Reston,” said John Adney, a tax attorney at Davis & Harman in Washington, D.C.

For the Adneys, music has always been a source of inspiration and enthusiasm. In return, they have added to the library of music by commissioning original musical works.

“We did that for a couple of reasons,” said John Adney, “To promote the local music organization and to enhance the body of choral work, to enlarge it, basically.”

For instance, “Journey” was commissioned in the name of the Reston Chorale, which adds prestige to the group.

It isn’t hard to miss the couple’s commitment to music and the arts.

“We have recognized people in so many aspects of our community life, but it seems to me we hadn’t done the same for cultural arts,” said Del. Ken Plum (D-36), explaining why he nominated the Adneys for the award. “John and Susan have played such a huge role in the community through their musical activities. They’ve done it as volunteers, but they’ve also been willing to make major financial contributions.”

OVER THE YEARS, the Adneys have commissioned 12 choral and orchestral works of music for the Reston Chorale, the Wolftrap Opera Company, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, and their church, the United Christian Parish of Reston.

“This is a tremendous service to the community,” said Fred Wygal, Reston Chorale’s conductor. Wygal said that with the Adney’s help, the chorale has been in negotiations this year with nationally-acclaimed composer, David Ott, to commission a work to celebrate the quadricentennial anniversary of Virginia. “It would be a choral work that reflects the history of Virginia in music,” said Wygal.

The couple is also active as singers for their church choir. Susan Adney plays the oboe for the Reston Chamber Orchestra. John Adney serves as the chairman of the board of trustees for his alma mater, Milliken University.