Concert association celebrates 30th year
, 2014


Concert association
celebrates 30th year

Providing the magic of live performances by bringing artists and audiences together—since 1983 this has been the primary mission of Rappahannock Concert Association and 30 years later this goal is still being met.

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RCA began with a handful of volunteers from Essex and Richmond counties who wanted to bring professional live concerts to the rural Northern Neck, said board member Phyllis Neal. They did just that with a season consisting of three concerts. Venues for these concerts included Richmond County Elementary School stages and churches.

Members of the original board represented Tappahannock, Warsaw and Montross. The three-concert season continued until 1998 when the season grew to four concerts and in 2001 to five concerts, said Neal.

The organization’s roots go back to “Community Concerts” which began in the 1920s when there was very little funding for the arts, she said. The idea was to raise money first and then hire the artists instead of trying to make up deficits after artists were hired. Financial risks were eliminated. This humble experiment became the largest and most enduring network of performing arts presenters that has ever existed.

When the stock market crashed in 1929, there were 42 community concert associations in the U.S. Ten years later that number had grown to 335, said Neal. It appeared that people regarded these concerts as a lifeline to normalcy rather than just entertainment.

Student outreach programs have been a part of RCA from the beginning. At first mostly Richmond and Westmoreland primary schools were included. Today the student outreach programs include Lancaster, Richmond, Northumberland and Westmoreland schools, she said.

The 2009-10 season brought a new venue for the concerts, a theater in the new Northumberland Middle and High School complex based on a partnership with Northumberland public schools. This arrangement enables RCA to bring educational outreach programs to students and allows the music department to use the Steinway grand piano for special curricula, said Neal.

The 2012-13 season’s concerts will feature pianist Thomas Pandolfi, September 29; The Jeff Little Trio, October 20; Brooks Tegler Big Band, November 17; Trio Con Brio Copenhagen, March 11; and Duquesne University’s Tamburitzans, April 14.

For season subscription information, visit rappahannockconcerts.org, or call Jan Redfearn at 472-3396.


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