I’m using Ardour 2.8 and the VST synths all load and show up fine. What I cannot do is actually play them. I have my keyboard routed into Ardour using jack and the note messages are being picked up in the console when I turn on the trace incoming midi option. How do I get Ardour to send these signals to the softsynth?
Ardour2 does not support VSTi at all, there is no MIDI support for this purpose, you will need to wait for A3 for this which is not yet released. The MIDI support that does exist in A2 is for control surfaces only.