West Virginia - Music and Performing Arts


In West Virginia, music is part of life. Here, Mountain Stage, the state's live radio show, brings an eclectic blend of traditional and contemporary international musicians together weekly to share the wonders of music with a national Public Radio audience. Here, on a busy Labor Day weekend, the Olympia Brass Band brings its New Orleans jazz sound to the streets of downtown Charleston for a colorful funeral parade only hours before the West Virginia Symphony provides classical music accompaniment to the city's fireworks display on the Kanawha River.

Whether your taste runs to Appalachian traditional music that echoes the strains of the state's Celtic, Scotch and British ancestry or the wonderful rhythms of African-American hymns and southern Gospel harmonies or the driving beat of true country and bluegrass sounds, there's a place for you in West Virginia. Chances are you'll find what you are looking for any time of the year.

Mountain Stage
Since 1984, Mountain Stage has brought a unique brand of musical entertainment to listeners of National Public Radio throughout the world. The longest-running program of its kind, Mountain Stage presents contemporary music mixed with traditional and grassroots performers on every live two-hour program. It showcases well-known artists while providing an exciting international forum for new and lesser-known performers.

Theatre West Virginia (Grandview)
Grab a sweater and head to the Cliffside Theatre at Grandview on the New River Gorge National River for a breathtaking view and a lyrical perspective on West Virginia history. Each summer for more than 40 years, Theatre West Virginia has produced two captivating outdoor drama performances. Honey in the Rock retells the story of West Virginia's tumultuous birth during the Civil War. Hatfields and McCoys recounts the bloody feud between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky.

Augusta Heritage Center (Elkins)
The Augusta Heritage Center, located on the campus of Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, is dedicated to making traditional music, crafts, dancing and folklore available to visitors and residents alike. Since 1973, thousands of people of all ages and from around the world have visited this picturesque mountain town where they learn, share and enjoy the interesting and valuable heritage of West Virginia. From April through October, the Center offers more than 200 weeklong classes in traditional arts and music. These programs include a mix of classes, public performances and jam sessions guaranteed to have participants loving what they are learning. In addition to West Virginia and Appalachian artists, the Augusta Heritage Center offers an expanded program that includes Irish, Cajun, Swiss, Native American and African American workshops and public presentations.

Capitol Music Hall (Wheeling)
If your taste runs to country, then Wheeling is the place for you. Jamboree USA, America's second oldest live country music program featuring nationally known and local artists, is heard over WWVA Radio every Saturday night. Presented year-round at the historic Capitol Music Hall, this is a must-see for country music lovers.

Carnegie Hall (Lewisburg)
West Virginia's own Carnegie Hall was built in 1902 as part of the Greenbrier College for Women and was a gift from Andrew Carnegie. Today, the Hall, located in Lewisburg, sponsors a diverse performing arts series, concerts and musical programs that bring the best of national and local talent to the historic Greenbrier River town.

The Wheeling Symphony and the West Virginia Symphony (Charleston)
The Wheeling Symphony and the West Virginia Symphony offer programs that blend the best of traditional symphonies with local and guest performances, pop concerts and special programs. In the summer, both symphonies offer outdoor performances around the state. The West Virginia Symphony's “Symphony Sunday” is set on the University of Charleston campus, just across the river from the State Capitol and the Wheeling Symphony's concerts at Oglebay Park are a local favorite. For a breathtaking weekend of symphony and scenery, consider the summer symphony weekend at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Artist series performances at Marshall University in Huntington and West Virginia University in Morgantown bring eclectic programming to these two university campuses.

When it's show time in West Virginia, there's plenty going on.

Contemporary American Theatre, Shepherd College
In the Eastern Panhandle, the Contemporary American Theatre at Shepherd College offers its audience some of the best in contemporary drama during its annual summer program. Recognized for its edgy performances and introduction of new playwrights and materials, the summer program draws audiences from the East Coast who are looking for new theater works.

The Greenbrier Valley Theatre in Lewisburg and Tamarack in Beckley bring fine theater performances to their towns, as do local theater groups and organizations around the state.

In Charleston, performances on the intimate stages of the Cultural Center on the State Capitol Complex and the local churches-turned-stages of the Charleston Light Opera Guild and Kanawha Players bring audiences and actors closer together. The state-of-the-art performance theaters of the Clay Center in Charleston and the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center in Huntington include performance and experimental theaters.

Get the latest Travel & Culture stories in your inbox.