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Concert Association celebrates 50 years
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By Dawn Kiefer

The Richland Concert Association is noting a milestone this year  –  its 50th anniversary.

Longtime board member David Kopitzke states that there have been organizational changes over time, but what has remained constant is the desire to provide quality entertainment at an affordable price right here in Richland Center.

He said early and longtime board members include Dr. L.M. Pippin, Shirley Steiner, Roy Dingle, Doris Hall, Alice Miller, Emilia Augustine, Rose Spear, Jim Aagaard, Barb Duerksen, Jerry and Alice Shaw, Joe and Anne Koelsch, Elaine Stafford and Dr. Dale Sinnett, although he says he likely is forgetting to mention some.

The current board of directors is Sabrina Lewallen, Jerry and Alice Shaw, Tobin Schucha, Dr. Dale Sinnett and Elaine Stafford.

Kopitzke said the original arrangement was that all artists  –  four concerts per year  –  were booked through Allied Arts of Minneapolis, with the requirement that admission only be by season tickets sold in advance, so to insure that costs would be covered.

However, he said, during the 1970s the board decided to book concerts independently; with that policy continuing to the present time.

Back then Kopitzke did bookings through universities, in cooperation with concert associations in Prairie du Chien and Baraboo. At that time, the association continued offering four concerts per season; corresponding with the school year.

When Elaine Stafford retired from teaching at Ithaca she took on the booking and continues to do that. When Stafford took over booking the board decided to offer six concerts per year; still during the school year.

“We’ve always tried to make sure prices are affordable, especially for students and families,” Kopitzke says. “Especially when compared to big cities, it’s astonishingly affordable.”

He says that one advantage to live music is that students and other attendees often have an opportunity to talk to the performers. They can learn how the musicians study and who with, as well as their techniques. “You can’t do that by listening to CDs or the radio,” Kopitzke says.

Another advantage, he says, is the rapport between the audience and musicians, who know how to milk emotions.

The Richland Concert Association (RCA) has booked acts ranging from soloists to smaller-form orchestras from Madison and Milwaukee. Some acts are perennial favorites, returning for repeat performances, including the UW-Madison Fine Arts Quartet and Wingra Wood Quintet.

The concerts are held at various locations in Richland Center, including churches  –  Town & Country Presbyterian, Trinity United Methodist, St. John’s Lutheran and Seventh Day Adventist  –  as well as the municipal auditorium and the UW-Richland Coppertop Theatre.

“All the churches have been supportive, by providing a venue or putting an announcement in their bulletins,” Kopitzke says. “And we always get wonderful support from The Richland Observer, WRCO, and the community.”

Kopitzke states that a lot of work goes into presenting concerts: soliciting sponsors, booking acts and venues; getting printing done. Everything is done by volunteers.

The 2015-2016 concert series includes the following acts: Sept. 13, Otis Murphy; Nov. 1, Oliver Henderson; Nov. 15, Karkowska Sisters duo; Feb. 7, The Kat Trio; March 13, Norman Lee; April 10, Sinnett-Kraus.

For more information, contact Dr. Dale Sinnett at 608-647-6249 or Elaine Stafford at 608-538-3145.