Missoula’s Own Heart and Soul

Sixty years ago, the Missoula Civic Symphony performed its first concert. On that evening, UM alumna Virginia Vinal played the principal second violin. 

Virginia Vinal poses with her violin. Photo by Daniel Dickey

Today, after nine music directors, countless concertmasters, the creation of the Missoula Symphony Chorale, a move to a different theatre and then back again, Vinal still plays violin for the Garden City.

“She is really the heart and soul of the orchestra,” says John Driscoll, executive director of the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale. “Through all of the changes, Virginia has been there as our rock—always elegant, quick to laugh and ready to chat, but serious about the music.”

After a lifetime of enriching others through her love of music—as a performer, teacher and mentor—Vinal has made a provision in her will to leave 20 percent of her estate to the UM College of Visual and Performing Arts School of Music. It is estimated that the gift will provide enough for a full-tuition scholarship for an undergraduate student.

“Music is everything to me,” says Vinal. “The University of Montana was such an important part of my education. I never had my own children whom I could educate, so I always wanted to help teach others. I hope that these resources will help students who also love music continue on their educational paths.”

It is a legacy that Vinal is proud to support and that is part of her own history. Vinal’s mother, though never attaining a degree in higher education, forged the path through her own planned gift to the UM School of Music.

“My mother felt that education was so important,” says Vinal. “She instilled that commitment and belief in me.”

Thank you, Virginia, and see you at the next concert!

Photo by Daniel Dickey