History of The Concord Orchestra

The Concord Orchestra was founded in 1953 at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. White of Concord, by a group of musicians who met informally to play chamber music in the Carlisle office of physicist N. Grier Park, an oboist. Incorporators  included Margaret L. White, president of the governing board, David S. Huston, Nancy H. Hosmer, Henry B. Hosmer, David T. MacLane, Robert W. White, Bert C. Chambers, and Joan R. Huston.

Other original playing members were Olga Pertzoff, Mary Fellows, Elizabeth Darling, Sophie Sears, Roger Crafts, Alexander Pertzoff, Joanna Crawford, Edith Hammond, Albert Norris, Donald Wetmore, Edward Brennan, Deter Straub, Ruth Porter, Edith Mar, Alexander Macone, and Patricia Hamilton. George Brown was the orchestra's first conductor.  

After a successful first concert at the Unitarian Church, The Concord Orchestra established a schedule of two concerts a year, one for adults, and one for children.  Members paid $1 a rehearsal to pay the conductor and to purchase music.  Rehearsals were held at Fenn School and later at Emerson Junior High School (now the Emerson Umbrella).  Beginning in 1966, rehearsals and concerts were held at the new Concord-Carlisle Regional High School and continued there until 1974, when the orchestra moved to its present home at 51 Walden.

During the formative years there was no admission charge at concerts and the checkbook balance at the first annual meeting on June 4, 1953, was $7.50.  In September of 1953, the first annual fund drive for charter sustaining members was held and by April 1954, there were more than 50 donors.

By September 1954, the number of playing members had grown to 40 and the budget had increased to $1000.  A modest sum of $165 was in the bank account by the second annual meeting.  Concerts were still free until 1957, when $1 was charged for the adult concerts.  Today the orchestra has an operating budget of about $72,000; 20% of its income is from contributions, and 50% comes from subscriptions and ticket sales.

In 1955, the first Young Artist Competition was held, a contest open to students of high school age and younger.  Each year, the winner performs a concerto with the orchestra. Many of these talented young musicians have gone on to professional careers in music.

When Attilio Poto was hired as conductor in 1960, he began to include ballet and opera in the orchestra's repertoire.  The first ballet was performed "with fear and trembling" in 1962 before 1400 people on two nights.  Concert opera continues to be one of the more popular program offerings. 

The first Pops concert was held at the Veteran's Building (now 51 Walden) in May 1963.  There were no programs--large signs were held up to announce the pieces.  Since then the Concord Pops has become an annual spring social event in Concord, filling the house for four performances.

When Attilio Poto resigned as conductor in 1969, Richard Pittman was hired as music director of the Concord Orchestra.  With his special interest in twentieth century music in addition to the traditional classical repertoire, he has been a major influence on the quality of the concerts that the orchestra performs.  In 1986, The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) conferred an award on The Concord Orchestra for "its adventuresome programming of contemporary music composed since 1945." 

The orchestra has also commissioned several new works. Joyce McKeel's "Toward the Source", was composed in 1975 in honor of the Bicentennial. In 1986, John Huggler composed "Continuum for Orchestra" in honor of Concord's 350th Anniversary.  "Concerto for Piano and Orchestra" was written by Bernard Hoffer in 2001.  Randall Hodgkinson was the pianist at the premier performance.

The Family Concert held in December is geared to the education and enjoyment of all ages and is often a child's introduction to live classical music in a concert hall setting.  Typically, a Boston television personality such as Joyce Kulhawik or Jack Williams is the narrator.

During the 70's and 80's there was an active Friends organization initiated by Peg Purcell, which assisted in off-stage tasks and helped with the Pops concerts.  The Friends are no longer active as an organized group, although many dedicated community music lovers continue to support the orchestra with volunteer services.

In the summer of 1998, the orchestra took its first international tour to Eastern Europe, performing in historic concert halls in Prague, Brno, and Budapest to enthusiast audiences. Accounts of the trip were written by cellist Bill Ossmann and Bobby Wayland.

The new millenium brings both new and world-class concert artists to the local community to perform the standard classical repertoire, as well as more adventurous programming for our concert audiences. The orchestra has grown in size to a 70-member volunteer ensemble complete with brass, winds, percussion and string players who perform concerts for the enjoyment of the surrounding communities.