In the fall of 1928, Scranton became the first town in the country to begin a Community Concerts Association, an organization dedicated to presenting the finest and most promising artists from around the world. In the first membership drive alone, 450 people enrolled, and there were often waiting lists. Many American and Canadian cities followed suit. Eventually, over 900 similar associations were formed.
Since then, Scranton Community Concerts has presented over 300 performances, without interruption during the Depression or times of war. There is a rich variety of concerts in our history: symphonies, instrumental and vocal soloists, chamber music, choirs, opera, ballet and most recently jazz. There is a long list of legendary artists in our history, some who appeared in Scranton before they achieved star status. Our commitment to bring such talent to our community continues this year. We hope you will join us in the celebration of this very special season!
Did You Know:
- “Scranton was the first city to appeal to the Community Concert Corporation for…cooperation in organizing local concert associations. Scranton was the first city to try it. There are now more than 30 cities . . . on the same plan.” – Statement by Dr. Spaeth, March 5th, 1929.
- In 1936, the association purchased a refurbished Steinway Concert Grand Piano, with the assistance of a loan from several members. The piano is now located in Scranton’s Elm Park Church.
- Artists who have played on that piano include: Eugene List, Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubenstein and Rudolf Serkin.
- In 1941, when many men and women were being called into war service, membership in the association was protected, and their spot on the waiting list was kept at the top until they returned. There were1,500 members, plus a waiting list.
- Folding chairs were used as extra seating in the Masonic Temple (now the Scranton Cultural Center) for the larger-than-capacity audience until the mid-Forties, when fire laws were enforced.
- Until 1937, members were given the privilege of attending Community Concerts events in other cities.
- “The Society also owns an American Flag, a cyclorama, a steel cabinet for records, and an addressograph system for the membership list.” – from board minutes of February 1951.
- The first concert took place in the Scranton Central High School Auditorium, now The Mellow Theater at Lackawanna College. The theater was recently renovated to its original luster.
- “The plan was born of trouble. Hundreds of cities had no concerts at all.” – Ward French, longtime Columbia Artists Management president, on the history of Community Concerts.
- From 1942 until 1963, Mrs. Harold Brandmore was the association’s secretary, earning her the title of “Mrs. Community Concert.”
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