Skip to main content

Tom Reel Papers

Collection ID: MG 124

Scope and Contents

This collection contains material collected and created by Tom Reel concerning the Virginia Symphony Orchestra strike in 1988 and its aftermath. Included in the collection are a scrapbook, newspaper articles, correspondence between the musicians and the Board of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and newsletters concerning the symphony.


  • 1986-2018, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 03/26/2012


1.50 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Biographical or Historical Information

Tom Reel is an active member in the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and became a leading proponent for the musicians during the strike in 1988. After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1970, Tom received two degrees in music from the University of Kansas and joined the Virginia Symphony in 1984, as a double bassist. Quickly filling a role in the Symphony, he was among the first musicians to join the Symphony Board in 1989. He became the Secretary-Treasurer for the Local Musicians’ Union in 1989 and served briefly as Vice-President and President. Tom Reel was a large part of the Virginia Symphony and his role in the bettering of the organization cannot be overstated. Beginning in 1965, the Virginia Symphony quickly became a cultural landmark in the Hampton Roads area. It serviced multiple cities with its performances and became the thirty-third ranked symphony in the nation, yet the musicians of the symphony were some of the least compensated in the industry. In spring of 1988, the musicians of the Virginia Symphony advocated for more benefits and better wages which, with little success, resulted in a six-week long strike starting in late September. Tom Reel became the president of the musicians’ organization and worked with the Symphony Board to come to an agreement. Much of the issue was caused by the Symphony’s financial strife, which lasted much of the 1980’s and the 1990’s, as they directed majority of their funds towards marketing instead of the players. The six-week strike gained a large communal backing and in November of 1988 the Symphony settled on a small increase in wages and benefits.

Note written by Joe Smith

Language of Materials



Tom Reel is a bassist and active member in the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and became a leading proponent for the musicians during the strike in 1988. This collection outlines the strike and its aftermath and incudes a scrapbook, newspaper articles, correspondence, and newsletters.

Arrangement Note

The collection is organized into four series: Series I: The Musicians’ Strike; Series II: Aftermath and Symphony Legacy; Series III: Scrapbook; and Series IV: Artifacts.

Source of Acquisition

Thomas P. Reel

Method of Acquisition


Related Materials

Virginia Symphy Orchestra Records (MG 81-A)

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Melissa Erlandson, Special Collections and University Archives Student Assistant, in 2016.

A Guide to the Tom Reel Papers
M. Erlandson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the ODU Community Collections Repository

3000 Perry Library
4427 Hampton Blvd.
Norfolk VA 23529 US