Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Green Bay cultural group plans ‘a little more ambitious’ future

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April 13, 1932 photo and April 13, 2019 event in same place_1555422503226.jpg.jpg

Photo caption: The photo shows the same organization gathering in the same location 87 years apart to the day. On April 13, 1932 – in the black-and-white photo – Brown County Civic Music Association held a membership meeting in the Crystal Ballroom of the Northland Hotel in downtown Green Bay. On April 13, 2019 – the main scene – association members met in the Crystal Ballroom to hear plans for the organization’s coming concert season. (Warren Gerds photo)

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Brown County Civic Music Association will be a bit more active in the year ahead as it continues to bring cultural programming into the Green Bay area as it has done since the 1920s.

“We have stretched our budget a little bit,” Christopher Sampson, association president, told a gathering the all-volunteer group Sunday. “We are doing things a little more ambitious.”

Attended by approximately 150 people, the luncheon meeting was notable for its location, the Crystal Ballroom in the refurbished Hotel Northland in downtown Green Bay. The organization gathered in the same architecturally fecund room 87 years earlier to the day.

The 2019 event included displays of the array talent that Civic Music booked for performances in its main venue over the years, Ralph Holter Auditorium of Green Bay West High School.

Civic Music is an all-volunteer group. It organizes seasons of five concerts by performers from many parts of the world, including Siberia recently.

The focal point of Sunday’s gathering was the 2019-2020 subscription season, which is thus:

“The Classical Season”

+ Saturday, Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m. at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts: Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

The ensemble will be on a world tour as it marks its 50th anniversary. “The program is a celebration of American music,” Sampson said. Included are Harry Burleigh spirituals, an Antonin Dvorak quintet, a Leonard Bernstein sonata and Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.”

In introducing this attraction, Sampson said, “We’re upping the talent budget this year.”

+ Saturday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m. at West High School: The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass.

Rodney Marsalis was a student of his famous cousin, Wynton. The 10-member ensemble covers the waterfront of styles, including the music of Johannes Bach, Giacomo Rossini, Peter Tchaikovsky, Harry James and Duke Ellington.

+ Saturday, March 14, 7:30 p.m. at West High School: Maxwell Street Klezmer.

The music of the Jewish tradition is exotic, colorful and lively.

+ Saturday, April 18, 2020, 7:30 p.m. at West High School: Washington Saxophone Quartet.

The players are from the realm of highly disciplined military bands.

+ Thursday, May 7, 2020, at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts: Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

A guest artist will be included in this now-traditional visit by the respected orchestra.

Subscription information is at bccivicmusic.org.

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Sunday’s meeting covered other topics.

The current season is yet to be completed. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the Weidner Center. Featured will be Camille Saint-Saen’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” with guest artist Catherine Lan.

Civic Music will offer a summer opera program for a second year. “Opera at the Hill” will be presented at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at Heritage Hill State Historical Park in Allouez. Featured will be Green Bay area natives tenor Scott Ramsay and soprano Mary Arendt.

Sampson said discussions are under way for a possible future concert at WBAY Auditorium in downtown Green Bay, where the association offered concerts in the past. The auditorium is headed toward its 100th anniversary.

Performing as part of Sunday’s luncheon was The Griffon Quartet, a professional group in its first year of performing primarily in Door and Brown counties. The brainchild of Midsummer’s Music, a concert-making organization, the quartet has ties to St. Norbert College and Green Bay High School Arts Institute. Sampson said he expect further ties to the quartet in the future.

Sampson said Civic Music will have more of a presence coming up through TV commercials and spots on Wisconsin Public Radio.

He also noted Civic Music has a reciprocal ticket arrangement with River City Concert Association in Menominee, Mich.

People are sometimes confused by the two local “Civic” organizations. Civic Symphony of Green Bay performs orchestra concerts. Brown County Civic Music Association does not perform but hires in musical groups for mostly classical music concerts.

Contact me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays. My latest book, “I Fell Out of a Tree in Fresno (and other writing adventures),” is available in Green Bay at Neville Public Museum and Bosse’s.

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