of concert series
Havre Daily News
After more than six decades of providing entertainment, a Havre institution is in danger of disappearing.
Residents have until the end of the month to save the Hi-Line Concert Association from extinction. Organizers say they need to raise most of the needed $14,000 in memberships by May 31 in order to schedule next year's round of entertainers.
“We need to have $14,000. Right now we have $49 to our name,” association treasurer Pam Hillery said Tuesday. “We are skating on incredibly thin ice.”
The association has seen diminished membership and support in recent years, she said.
If the concert group goes under after 67 years in existence, it won't only be a loss to those residents who attend each year's batch of shows, which include comedians, pianists, vocalists and other entertainers. The group's extinction would leave Havre Public Schools students without a unique educational experience. Each year, the Havre PTO pays at least one entertainer a little extra to put on a show for students. This year, Sunnyside Intermediate School and Lincoln-McKinley Primary School students were able to see the Khac Chi Ensemble, a group of Vietnamese musicians who use traditional bamboo instruments to make their sound.
On Thursday, comedian Robert Post will teach an acting class for Havre High School students before taking the HHS auditorium stage at 7:30 p.m.
The concert association is making Post's show free to anyone who purchases tickets for next season, Hillery said. Tickets also are being sold at the door for $15.
The practice of selling tickets at the door is something new to the association, Hillery said, and it's a practice organizers would rather do without. The association sold door tickets at a few shows this year in order to raise money for printing costs and fees. Typically, the association only sells season ticket packages.
Next year, the association plans to bring Russian pianist Alexandre Moutouzkine, The Gateway Trio - a mix of vocals, guitar, bass and banjo, the harp and vocal pair of Bronn and Katherine Journey, and the ShaeLaurel family band. Season tickets start at $15 for students. Adults pay $40 for four concerts, and families pay $100. The tickets will got up in price - a $5 increase for students and adults, and a $15 increase for families - after May 31, if enough have been sold to ensure a new season.
The association has sold a few hundred dollars' worth of memberships so far this season, Hillery said, but she's not counting that money until the group gets enough to bring in next season's performers.
Sunnyside fifth-grade teacher Marge Suek said the association's loss would be a blow to the community and to the schools.
“The quality of the concerts is excellent. It gives us in Havre a chance to see what's going on out in the world,” she said.
“The concert association has offered us a very nice experience for the kids,” Suek added. “I'd hate to see that lost.”
The association's loss also would leave Suek without the chance to take individual students to shows like The Coats, a Seattle a cappella group, or the Khac Chi Ensemble. Association patrons have donated tickets to Suek and another fifth-grade teacher at Sunnyside. The women take a few students to each concert during the season, Suek said.
“It's been a really fun time,” she said. “It's a special night out away from school. The kids are exposed to music and entertainment that they may never otherwise get to see.”
Fifth-graders Marlee Kirchgasler, Taylor Hobbs, Jacob Degele and Nevada St. Marks all said they thought the Khac Chi Ensemble was cool. The kids all said they enjoyed learning Vietnamese words, including the name of their school and the names of various instruments. The ensemble also showed kids how to play the instruments, and how to mimic the instruments' sounds using their hands and mouth.
“It wasn't anything like we have today,” Kirchgasler said.
“We thought it was really interesting,” Hobbs said. “We liked the people and how they were dressed.”
“It's a bunch of fun,” St. Marks said.
Degele said it would be “disappointing” if the concert association wasn't around next year.
Fifth-graders Kalynne Hammond and Nikki Shulund agreed.
The two girls, also in Suek's class, got to see The Coats in March. The pair bought CDs and posters and got autographs, they said.
Of the six fifth-graders interviewed Tuesday, only one said their parents had bought association tickets, meaning five of the students would not have experienced the opportunity if it were not for the concert association, the PTO and community donors.
That is the exact point of the “outreach” events put on by the association, Hillery said - the students “who would otherwise not get exposed to this.”
Hillery said she has high hopes for the association's future.
“I am going with the assumption that we are going to raise money,” she said. “I think it's going to happen. I truly believe people support this concert series.”
To purchase tickets, contact Hillery at 265-4455 or Keri Woodwick at 265-1533.