Looking back, looking ahead

Published 12:59 am Friday, July 8, 2011

In searching through the history of the Beaufort County Concert Association, we discovered a score of interesting things. We never did find out where that first meeting was held, for the birthing of the organization. It could have been in a second-floor room of the Brown Library. Some meetings were held there. Perhaps in the old train station before it became the Beaufort County Arts Council. We did discover that a group of like-minded folks from these parts gathered and expressed a desire to bring classy entertainment to town. We did discover they put their hard work and their money where their mouths were in the year 1976. That was the birth year of the Beaufort County Community Concert Association.

In the intervening years, the name changed, but the entertainment went on. Bands came to town  —  Xavier Cugat, Dorsey, Miller. They packed the house, the house being the old Washington High School auditorium on Eighth Street. Now it’s the new WHS Performing Arts Center on Slatestone Road. And, in gratitude for their willingness to provide a venue for the concerts, BCCA has gifted the high school, on occasion, with stage curtains, spotlights, microphones and a number of courtesy tickets for students, teachers and staff. Without the cooperation of the Beaufort County Board of Education, Washington High School and their support people, these concerts could not take place. A nonprofit organization depends upon this sort of support and that of the numerous businesses in the community that trumpet our cause.

In the early days, memory has it that President Jack Matthews always wore a white dinner jacket to introduce the concerts, and a membership included a free soda in the lobby at intermission. We’ve enjoyed surviving a concert in which the sound system died. Thank goodness the soprano didn’t. She discovered new power even she didn’t know she had. Hosting the performers has always been exciting, too, including the gorgeous Italian pianist who endeared herself to the staff of a local Italian restaurant by conversing with them in their native tongue.

There are too many people who’ve worked passionately even to begin to single out individuals. The magic is your concert board manages to come up with classy entertainment season after season because it cares.

We finally figured out where that first meeting was held … in the minds and hearts of a bunch of Beaufort County folks who had the passion and foresight to begin something wonderful.

To purchase a membership, go to www.gobcca.org or call 252-940-1222.

Gene Geesey is the newly elected president of the Beaufort County Concert Association.