Tuesday Musical Association’s 125th Anniversary Gala, which will be held on the stage of E.J. Thomas Hall Sept. 7, has already sold out but the public can still participate in honoring the venerable classical music organization.
The new Barbara A. Feld Educational Experience Fund of the Akron Community Foundation will be launched that day in honor of Feld, who recently retired as the executive director of the organization that presents renowned classical musicians and has a strong educational component. Feld worked 24 years with Tuesday Musical.
The purpose of the fund is to enhance guest artist master classes and workshops for local music students with Tuesday Musical performers, as well as support the organization’s other outreach programs. Over the summer, the fund has raised more than $60,000, with a leadership gift of $30,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Other top donors giving from $2,500 to $10,000 are Marion Goetz Aron, the Betty V. and John M. Jacobsen Foundation, Cynthia Knight and the Gertrude F. Orr Trust Advised Fund of Akron Community Foundation.
To date, 45 donors have contributed to the new Feld fund. New Executive Director Jarrod Hartzler said the goal is to allocate $7,000 to $9,000 annually for master classes or student workshops.
The organization, whose chamber music series is one of the longest-running in the country, was founded as Tuesday Musical Club in 1887 by 13 young women whose goal was to share their love for music. Among the early members was Gertrude Penfield Seiberling, wife of rubber industrialist F.A. Seiberling, who offered Stan Hywet Hall as a venue for the club’s activities.
“These ladies were all sitting around wondering what to do. Their husbands, who were the stallions of business and industry, were downtown carving an incredible community, an incredible industrial life” in Akron, gala co-chair Mary Ann Jackson said.
Many chamber series presenting organizations have died out in the last decade because of skyrocketing costs for booking performers. Other long-standing music series such as those at the Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington have run for seven decades but don’t come close to Tuesday Musical’s longevity, according to Hartzler. Akron’s series is older than many of the nation’s major orchestras and museums.
In the early days, Tuesday Musical members performed for each other. The concert series began in 1895 but full record-keeping didn’t start until the 1926-27 season, which began with soprano Marion Talley. Over the years, Tuesday Musical has presented legendary performers including Vladimir Horowitz, Van Cliburn, Isaac Stern, Luciano Pavarotti, Itzhak Perlman, Renee Fleming, Joshua Bell and Yo-Yo Ma, just to name a few.
Tuesday Musical has never had a gala fundraiser in its 125-year history. Organizers have dubbed this party, which caps off the organization’s 2012-2013 anniversary year, a “once-in-125-years event.’’
Gala co-chairs Jackson and Dan Dahl, executive director of E.J. Thomas Hall, have planned an evening of full music immersion to reflect the richness of the group’s performance offerings.
“It’s all about the variety of Tuesday Musical throughout its history. It has had just a panoply of different kinds of artists in its series and that is what’s made it such an unusual, diverse series,” Jackson said.
Music will run the gamut from strings to brass, classical, Broadway, jazz and opera, with performers ranging from UA Steinway artist Joe Augustine to former Carousel Dinner Theatre owner Prescott Griffith and songstress Karen Starr.
Jackson and Dahl are comparing the gala’s entertainment experience to a flash mob, with various entertainers popping up in surprising places. Much of this will be happening as guests eat a five-course dinner.
“You’re going to be sitting on the stage right in the middle of the show going on around you,” Dahl said.
The gala performances and presentations are so elaborately intertwined, a dress rehearsal will be held Sept. 6 and a stage manager will run the event. (See my upcoming live coverage for how this party of the century unfolds.)
A 125th anniversary video and commemorative program also will provide retrospectives of the organization’s history.
Dahl, who has been at the helm at E.J. Thomas Hall for 23 years, said it’s fitting for E.J. to host Tuesday Musical’s 125th anniversary party on its stage, in honor of one of the hall’s original tenants from its opening 40 years ago. Gala events are rarely, if ever, held on the E.J. Thomas Hall stage, which is celebrating its own milestone anniversary this year.
Over the last two decades, Dahl has watched Tuesday Musical evolve from a club into a prestigious presenting organization that also has educational components. Much of its evolution as a presenter is due to Feld’s leadership over her 24 years working for the organization, he said.
“I observed her [Feld] from being a club member and a committee member to being a respected colleague and a respected professional in the industry” as executive director, Dahl said.
The organization’s history is captured in the book Rave Reviews, to be released by the University of Akron Press Sunday.
Tuesday Musical historian Marcianne Herr worked with author Abe Zaidan, a former Beacon journal staffer, on the book, which will be available at future Tuesday Musical concerts. The season will begin Sept. 24 with Cantus, a nine-member male a cappella vocal ensemble.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.