Group makes it their business to bring classical, jazz music to peninsula

Performing at their best

Posted: Thursday, January 03, 2002

The Performing Arts Society continues its winter season with the Alexander String Quartet concert, the second event the group has sponsored this year.

The Performing Arts Society is dedicated to bringing classical music and jazz concerts to the central Kenai Peninsula, said Jean Brockel, board member of the society. The group also likes to bring as many visiting musicians as possible into area schools.

"Contrasts," an evening of classical and jazz music with flutist Dorli McWayne and pianist Eduard Zilberkant, was the society's first concert of the year. It was held Nov. 3 at Kenai Peninsula College.

Generally, the Performing Arts Society sponsors three concerts between October and April. The next and last concert in this year's season will be the Sitka Summer Music Festival Musicians in February.

"We have had, I think, good success with our programs," Brockel said. "When the Fair-banks Chamber Orchestra was here, people really enjoyed that. We heard a lot of comments about that one. And the Sitka Summer Music Festival Musicians have been coming to the peninsula for, I can't even tell you how many years, and they are always popular."

The Performing Arts Society began about four years ago when the central peninsula had an opportunity to bring musician Linda Rosenthal for a concert, but there was no group available to sponsor the event.

"It seemed like it was going to escape from us," Brockel said. "And I knew it was a shame to not have her concert, so we just put something together and kept our fingers crossed and said 'Let's see if it works,' and it did."

Brockel and fellow society board member Freddy Billingslea used the Rosenthal concert as an impetus to form the society.

"It was by happenstance in a way, but it had been something we talked about among friends," Brockel said. "We kind of said, 'OK, let's jump into this,' and we found all these other people who were perfectly willing to jump in with us."

Once the society got started, the board of directors grew to seven members and donations and grants were received to fund the concerts.

Currently, the board of directors is down to six members, as one just moved from the area. So the society is looking for a replacement member, and Brockel said the group would like to find an additional member, as well, to expand the board.

The society also is looking for new concert venues. Most concerts are held at Kenai Peninsula College or Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna. The society would like to find a venue in Kenai so concert locations can rotate between the two cities and be more accessible to area music enthusiasts.

"There is a group of people on the peninsula who really enjoy classical and jazz music and look forward to having concerts right here in town where they don't have to go to Anchorage," Brockel said.

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