WAYNESBORO - The Waynesboro Community Concert Association is marking its 80th year of bringing live concerts to Waynesboro and the region.
Following organizational meetings in 1936, on February 1, 1937 the fledgling concert association signed a $925 contract - which would be about $5,000 per concert in today’s dollars - with the Cooperative Concert Service to offer a three-concert season beginning in September of that year.
Talk about optimism: it was three months before the first $3 subscription was sold - and that would be about $50 in 2016 dollars. Every fall since then, WCCA has brought three, and then four or more, concerts a year to the area.
WCCA is the oldest of the four community concert associations in the area - the others are in Gettysburg, and in Hagerstown and Westminster, Maryland - and Waynesboro is the only community concert association remaining in Franklin County. WCCA has never failed to host a season.
Way back when
The last 80 years have seen many changes, not only in the way we live but also in the music that we experience. In the 1930s many people did not own a radio, and television for most people did not exist. Today, we have music at our fingertips with our electronic devices. The first WCCA concerts were usually classical in nature, but that gradually changed to a variety of artists and music to meet the changing desires of the audiences.
Not all WCCA concerts happened as organizers had planned. In Season 16 (1952-53), mezzo-soprano Mildred Miller swallowed a fly while she was performing, and in Season 74 (2010-11), John Davidson “rested” on the floor of the stage for an entire intermission. In 1943 the Trapp Family Singers performed, and in 2002 Elizabeth Von Trapp appeared. Other notable concerts have included The Side Street Strutters, the Artie Shaw Orchestra, Wildcat Regiment Band, The Four Aces, Billy Dean and Hal Linden.
Growth and change
In the early years, all of the performers came from the Cooperative Concert Service.Today, WCCA books many performers from Live On Stage, but also features artists from the local area. Many are invited based on recommendations made to board members.
For 33 years WCCA presented three concerts per season. For 43 years four concerts were offered, and through careful management the group has been able to present five concerts annually since 2013.
The growth and success of the nonprofit WCCA can be credited to countless hours put in by the volunteer board of directors, a loyal subscriber base, and generous support from donors, advertisers and friends.
In a further effort to give back to the community, the Joseph Bowers Music Scholarship was established in 1987. Since then, WCCA has made 28 scholarship awards to graduating Waynesboro Area High School students planning to study music in college.
WCCA’s 80th Anniversary Season will be both its most expensive and its most exciting. Two of the concerts will be shared with Hagerstown Community Concert Association, with one of those concerts at the Maryland Theatre (with bus transportation offered) and one in Waynesboro.
WCCA's full schedule for 2016-2017 season includes:
- David Burnham’s Broadway, Broadway tunes by a young star - 3 p.m. Sunday, September 18
- Ronnie Kole Trio, New Orleans Jazz - 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 22
- Next Generation Leahy (at the Maryland Theatre) - 7:30 p.m. Friday, November 18
- Tenorė, a three-tenor spectacular - 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29, 2017
- Equinox Little Big Band, big band music - Friday, May 12, 2017.
An adult subscription is $55. Admission is free for students in grades K-12; students in grades K-8 must be accompanied by an adult ticket holder.
Individual concert tickets are available at the door, or online two weeks before the concert.