The day the music died? Concert Association could fall silent

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Over 75 years, the Brockville Concert Association has hosted an impressive list of performers, many of whom would go on to become major figures in the world of classical music.

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But now, the storied organization is on the brink of dissolving, unless more people come forward to help.

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“Financially, we’re doing well. We had a great season. But if we don’t have new volunteers we’re going to have to wind down,” Samia O’Day, the association’s president, said Thursday.

The concert association is to hold its annual general meeting on Monday. With almost no one left to run it, there was talk of dissolving it at that meeting, but O’Day is not ready to give up yet.

“I just wanted to put one last feeler out there before we dissolve,” she said.

“People may just not understand that this is it.”

For that reason, O’Day is waiting another 30 days as of Monday to see if new volunteers come forward to sit on the Brockville Concert Association’s board.

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“We need at least three to four solid people,” she said.

“It’s a fun group. It’s easy to do if it’s something that you love to do.”

Known for much of its existence for bringing magnificent classical music to Brockville, the concert association has, over the decades, hosted Glenn Gould, Yo-Yo Ma, Anton Kuerti, The Canadian Brass, and Angèle Dubeau and La Pietà.

More recently, it has expanded its horizons to expose locals to music from around the world.

It opened its 75th season last May with Sultans of String, a Toronto-based group dedicated to reflecting Canada’s multicultural mosaic by combining music from many cultures. Then Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell was the guest of honour for that opening night at the Brockville Arts Centre.

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Last year’s milestone season also included the Barnes & Woldemichael Ethio-Jazz Quartet at Wall Street United Church, and “Tangorium!,” a concert by Bridge and Wolak and the Queen’s Symphony Orchestra, at the arts centre.

O’Day said the concert association’s mandate is to bring high-quality music to the community, as opposed to more familiar and popular music, giving people an opportunity to see performances that would not otherwise be available here, while keeping it affordable.

Once people are exposed to this music, they are drawn in, said O’Day. She recalled an afternoon concert on that May opening day by Sultans of String for local students that proved a hit with the kids, some of whom came back for the evening show.

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“They were cheering as if they were at a rock concert,” she added.

Brockville Concert Association
Then Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, second from left, poses with students David Yang, Manaka Yabe, and Delaram Akhavan, as well as Brockville Concert Association president Samia O’Day at the Brockville Arts Centre on the opening night of the association’s 75th season on May 26, 2023. (SUBMITTED PHOTO) jpg, BT, apsmc

The association makes it a policy to admit people under 18 free.

The concert association’s work is a valuable part of the community’s cultural fabric, and plays a role in attracting new residents, O’Day believes.

“I think that when people come to Brockville and they discover what we’re doing, they’re very excited about it,” she said.

In order to continue, the association needs people who can step in for such volunteer work as managing its social media feeds, maintaining its website, communicating with artists and other jobs, said O’Day.

The board of directors also needs a vice-president and a secretary.

“This is a call for people who really want to be part of something really quite beautiful,” said O’Day.

Anyone interested can contact the Brockville Concert Association at [email protected].

[email protected]

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