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The organization that replaced a decades-old cultural outlet in Havre is holding its membership drive, capping off its first season and preparing for a second.

Cindy Keim, president of the Hi-Line Concert Association, said the membership drive ended $400 short of the cost of its concerts for this season, and the association had to tap some reserves.

But considering that the organization had to reinvent itself last year, she said it was a good start.

"We're actually very happy with how it turned out," she said.

The attendance at the first three concerts, presented by Canadian fiddler April Verch, the Festival of Four, and Italian pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi, was good, Keim said. She added that encore performances for Havre school children drew students from several other schools in the Golden Triangle.

The organization quietly went through a behind-the-scenes shuffle last year after the national Community Concerts organization, which provided a selection of artists for local Community Concert groups, had financial difficulties and member groups believed it could no longer provide access to performers.

Trawick Artist Management had bought Community Concerts in 1999 from Columbia Artists, which had owned the organization since 1929. Three years later, Trawick began laying people off.

People who had worked for or been involved in Community Concerts formed a new organization, Live On Stage, last year to provide access to performers for local groups. Members of the board of the Havre Community Concert Association, which was created about 1940, disbanded and reorganized as the Hi-Line Concert Association.

Keim said the Hi-Line Concert Association has raised its rates this year, with a discount offered to people buying their memberships before May 1. The season membership rates had not been raised for years, but the cost of bringing artists has gone up, she said.

The increase also will give the association an opportunity to select from a wider variety of artists, she said.

Before May 1, memberships will cost $15 for students, $35 for adults and $85 for families. On or after May 1, the rates will be $20 for students, $40 for adults and $100 for family memberships. Family members are for parents and children under the age of 18.

People buying new season memberships can join current members to attend the final concert of the season on May 22. The husband-and-wife duo of Sherry Overholt, soprano, and Lee Velta, baritone, will perform a mixture of opera, Broadway songs and chamber music. Memberships will be sold at the gate if any are still available.

Keim said the concert association is having another fund-raiser in conjunction with the Overholt and Velta performance. A social will be held at Keim's home after the performance, with beverages and hors d'oeuvres served and an opportunity to meet the performers. The social costs $10 a person, and she asks that people make reservations.

The Hi-Line Concert Association has four performances scheduled for the 2003-2004 season, billing the artists as "The Entertainer," "The Performer," "The Quintet" and "The Pianist."

The season opens with "The Pianist," Juilliard School graduate Alpin Hong, on Oct. 18. Hong, who made his first orchestral performance at age 10, has received numerous awards including first prize at the 2001 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, the 1989 Stravinsky Piano Competition, the 1993 Southwestern Youth Music Festival Competition, and the 1994 Los Angeles Spotlight Awards Competition.

The Thuringer Salonquintet follows on Nov. 5. The five musicians, one from the United States and four from Europe, are acclaimed by critics for combining musical ability with spontaneous, fun and innovative programming. The quintet uses two violins, a cello, a bass and a piano in their performances, which are described as transcending the notions of classical and popular music.

"The Performer" - musician, songwriter, playwright and actor Jim Post - is scheduled for Jan. 23, in his 59th year as a performance artist. Post, known for his depiction of Mark Twain in his plays "Mark Twain and the Laughing River" and "Mark Twain Out West," is also noted for his other plays, songwriting, and children's books he writes with his wife, Janet Post. She will accompany him on cello and piano.

Keim said area schools have already contacted the organization to see if they can schedule encore performances by Post. She said the association is checking to see if he can be scheduled for a second day of encore performances.

Robert Sims, "The Entertainer," closes the season on April 19, 2005. Sims has toured the United States, Europe and Asia, giving performances that include African-American spirituals and opera. Some of the locations where he has performed are the Smithsonian Institution, the Los Angeles African-American Museum and the Chicago Historical Society. He recently toured Japan with the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra.

Hi-Line Concert Association memberships will be sold through May 22 or till all memberships are sold out.

To make a reservation for the social, call Keim at 265-8347.


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