The Blue Hill Concert Association's History
The Blue Hill Concert Association, formed in 1978, held its first concert on January 13th, 1979. What began as a "hit or miss" organization to promote musical groups throughout Maine and New England, has expanded into a solid tradition, a benchmark for fine classical music performed by nationally and internationally know artists. Because Blue Hill and surrounding areas have and have always had a strong interest in music among summer people and year-round residents, the impulse to create an organization that would support and sustain this interest seemed logical.
This year marks the Association's 35th year of holding concerts at the First Congregational Church on Main Street in Blue Hill. Dottie Hayes began the tradition of presenting shows of local artists to accompany the concerts with work displayed downstairs in the Jonathan Fisher Hall. Early on a tradition was established that the board and friends, take care of the musicians, providing all housing, meals and transportation. Invariably, musicians comment on the fine acoustics of the hall, the astuteness of the musicial audience, and the warmth of their reception into the community.
The Blue Hill Concert Association has always made a big effort to encourage the appreciation and enjoyment of music for the children and young adults. Children under 18 are admitted free. The "Music in the Schools" program provides winter workshops to local institutions, free of charge. Master classes are also offered to enrich opportunities for local instructors and their students, and the public is always welcome to attend.
There were many people who contributed to the founding and organization of the BHCA. It is a difficult task to recognize them all, but of note are: musicians Masanobu Ikemiya, Claude Monteux, Gillian Shaffer, Curtis Beech, minister of The First Congregational Church of Blue Hill, early program director BG Thorpe and Doug Damrosch, artist Dorothy Hayes, and David Witter who assumed the presidency early on and held to it for over a decade. Others who were fundamental to sustaining the organization over the years were Mary Chase, Vernon Gotwals, David Hall, Tom Schroth, Dominic Mercadante, Marjorie Yesley, Ruth Davis. Recent board members have included Phillip Osgood as program director, Liffey Thorpe as president, Lydia Osgood as secretary and visual arts coordinator, and board members Bill Petry, Mary Howe, Farnham Blair, Bill Doak and John Moyer.
Four concerts were held that first year, and four to five every year thereafter. The series was and is intended to help the community thrive and celebrate despite the hardship of a Maine winter.
Community support has, and we trust will continue to provide the funds necessary for the Blue Hill Concert Association to survive. Historically ticket prices have never come close to covering the costs of programming. It has been the concert association's philosophy to keep the recommended admission donation as low as possible. The association has always been run by volunteers. Essentially, all donations and contributions go to providing funds for programming.