The Community Concerts Series began in 1927 as a way to allow people living in small and medium-sized areas across the United States to see high-quality entertainment that, at the time, was mostly available in large metropolitan areas. With the added backing three years later of the Columbia Broadcasting System, the new entity, the Community Concerts Corporation, was complete. After setting up hundreds of nonprofit audience associations made up of local subscribers, Community Concerts, originally owned by Columbia Artists Management, Inc. (CAMI), delivered performances to stages all over the United States. Affiliated artists and programs were also played simultaneously through radio broadcasts, increasing the widespread appeal of the performances.
The Warren D. Allen Music Library has been given a full run of Community Concerts programs. These programs span over seventy-five years of American musical history, and feature such diverse acts as Van Cliburn competition medalist Antonio Pompa-Baldi, Elisabeth Von Trapp of the Von Trapp Family Singers, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, and the Dixie Chicks.
At its peak the company was one of the country’s most well-known concert presenters, and it is largely responsible for making membership subscriptions into a viable method for presenting performances. The organization peaked after World War II, when it included about 1,200 nonprofit associations that scheduled performances by performers such as Marian Anderson, Rosa Ponselle, Beverly Sills, Leontyne Price, Samuel Ramey, the Brothers Four and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
In 1999, Brenda Trawick purchased Community Concerts from Columbia Artists Management Inc. According to press reports, at the time of the sale Community Concerts was presenting about 1,800 concerts a year to 350 audience associations across North America. The concert series continued until the 2002-2003 season, when financial difficulties ended the program. The last Community Concert performance was in April of 2003.
These programs can be found in our general stacks at the call number ML 42.C66.