Brownville Concert Series Supporters Discuss What It Needs to Continue
About 25 supporters of the Brownville Concert Series came to the Brownville Concert Hall Tuesday night, Oct. 18, to present suggestions for the future of the series.
Several supporters who were unable to attend sent letters and made various suggestions. Some of those who wrote letters said that they would continue to do whatever they can to help.
Mary Goebel-Lundholm of the Nebraska Business Development Center moderated the session. She also is a professor in the department of professional studies at Peru State College. Goebel-Lundholm said that she grew up in Lincoln but she has always loved Brownville.
“Any effective small community has a core of people who are active in almost every activity. Some great ideas were presented,” Goebel-Lundholm said.
Concert Series Has No Paid Staff
The Brownville Concert Series is a program of the Brownville Fine Arts Association. It is managed and promoted by a volunteer committee. The concert series has no paid staff. The only persons who are paid are the high school students who assist backstage and waitresses who serve at the cabaret performances.
John Lauber, marketing chairman of the concert series’ executive committee, said that the mission of the Brownville Concert Series is to bring professional live performances to Southeast Nebraska. World class performers have performed at the concert hall, he said.
Jim Keene, executive committee program chairman, called the Brownville Concert Series “a treasure for Southeast Nebraska.” He said that the executive committee called the Oct. 18 session to seek input for the series’ future.
Barbara Moore, longtime chairman of the executive board, has had to step aside because of health issues. Keene called Moore “the moving spark plug that made everything work.”
Audiences, Financial Issues
The Brownville Concert Series committee operates with a budget of less than $100,000 annually. Keene said that many people have supported the series since it began in 1990. There are 10 or 11 events presented annually. He said that many supporters have made their own unique contributions to what the concert series is today. Most of the support comes from the immediate area, Keene said.
Support comes from ticket sales; advertising sales; concessions; contributions from sponsors; public and private grants; art councils and patrons who support the annual fund.
The concert series committee has been challenged in audiences and income from ticket sales. The 2011 Missouri River flood caused a significant reduction in ticket sales, he said.
Performers From Many Musical Genres
The concert series committee has the goal to bring the best of American music to Southeast Nebraska in a professional setting, Keene said.
The Brownville Concert Series has included performers from a wide range of musical genres. It has included instrumentalists, vocalists, soloists and ensembles, vocal recitals and opera, cabaret and jazz vocalists and jazz instrumentalists. There were performances of bluegrass, Western and folk music as well as the Great American Songbook. June 2011 brought the first performance of rock music on the Brownville stage. There is an annual Christmas gala, which is especially conceived and cast for Brownville audiences. There were shows featuring music of particular composers and lyricists, such as Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Cole Porter and Kurt Weill.
Cooperated With Other Musical Organizations,
Introduced Cabaret Concept to Southeast Nebraska
For more than 20 years, the committee has collaborated with Young Concert Artists, Inc. Founded in 1961 in New York, Young Concert Artists has discovered and launched the careers of many internationally celebrated musicians.
Keene said that the committee has cooperated with representatives of other musical organizations, such as the Omaha Symphony. The series has included quartets from the Omaha Symphony and performers from Opera Omaha.
The concert series captured the imagination of Marilyn Horne, who presented her proteges in vocal recitals, Keene said. He said that Horne, through her foundation, paid the entire bill and was involved with the presentation. The performers included promising young artists of American opera, theatre and stage who were considered outstanding in that art form. The programs were presented for 10 years until Horne gave up her foundation because of health issues, he said.
The Brownville Concert Series also introduced the cabaret musical concept to Southeast Nebraska.
“We’ve developed a high sense of hospitality. The community has done things with the performers. That has made us one of the places where people want to come, especially in the cabaret world. Anybody who has been anybody has been here because they want to come here. They’re amazed at the response of the Brownville audiences,” Keene said.
Cabaret shows performed at Brownville have been televised nationally, while concerts have been broadcast nationwide, such as on National Public Radio, he said.
Keene said that the committee has never dictated what is presented on the Brownville stage with one exception. The committee has requested that performers at the Christmas Gala perform both secular and sacred music, Keene said.
Remaining 2011 Schedule
There are two remaining presentations in the 2011 Brownville Concert Series season.
Todd Murray, crooner, will perform Friday-Saturday, Nov. 18-19, in cabarets and Sunday, Nov. 20, in concert.
The Christmas Gala starring Eric Michael Gillett, Valerie Lemon, Raissa Katona Bennett, T. Oliver Reid and Jeff Cubeta is Friday-Sunday, Dec. 9-11, all concerts.
Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. Sunday performances are at 2 p.m.