By Executive Director Debra J’Anthony
Not too long ago, about four years back, the Academy offered free afternoon classical concerts during the lunch hour on stage. We brought in local professional chamber musicians from all over the valley to perform works of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and others. Likewise, in the year 1915, free afternoon orchestra concerts were presented on the Academy stage to the public and featured local musicians. The Gazette ran a critique the following day, February 1, 1915:
“The first of the free Sunday afternoon concerts, inaugurated by Mayor W. H. Feiker, was held in the Academy of Music yesterday afternoon and there was a large attendance for a stormy day. There was a crowd of 600 or 700, which filled the lower floor and partially filled the balcony. With the exception of some groups of boys, the audience was attentive and seemed to appreciate the efforts of the entertainers. The program consisted chiefly of selections by an orchestra of professional and semi-professional musicians from Northampton, assisted by two or three Holyoke players, and conducted by Oscar Field, the well-known Northampton violinist. It was hardly possible to judge of the grade of work the players could do under more favorable circumstances, but with little or no rehearsal, the playing suffered seriously from uncertainty and roughness. However, the audience was pleased and was reasonably generous in its applause.”
I think that Mayor Feiker would be pleased to learn that we now have as one of our resident companies, a well rehearsed community-based orchestra – the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra.
Help restore the Academy! We’re replacing the seats in the auditorium, repairing and repainting the ornate plaster, insulating and replacing the stage roof, and adding aisle lighting. Learn more.