Posts Tagged ‘Springer’

Musical Chairs Make a Big Difference

November 20, 2017

Cameron Bean, Executive Director of Development for Columbia s State University, with Col. (Ret.) Hal J. and Marie A.Gibson standing by the new display for their donation of the Distinguished Chair in Conducting for the Schwob School of Music.

No doubt, one of the main reasons that the Schwob School of Music attracts extraordinarily talented student musicians from all over the world is that it has world-class instructors. And one of the main reasons is they are paid well, thanks to a large number of endowed chairs funded by generous benefactors.  Faculty members who are honored with Chairs in Music get significant supplements to their salaries.

Schwob Wind Ensemble conducted by Jamie L. Nix, The Hal J. Gibson Distinguished Chair in Conducting,

The latest faculty member to receive that honor is Jamie L. Nix, Conductor of the Schwob Wind Ensemble, thanks to Hal J. and Marie L. Gibson.  Cameron Bean, Executive Director of Development for Columbus State University, announced the addition of the Hal J. Gibson Distinguished Chair in Conducting at the Schwob Wind Ensemble Kick-off Concert for the 20th Anniversary CSU Conductors Workshop.  Bean said that Col. (Ret.) Hal Gibson is a retired Schwob School of Music faculty member, who, after leading the U.S.. Army Field Band and the United States Armed Forces Bicentennial Band, came to then Columbus College in 1976 to develop the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, gaining national recognition and acclaim for the Columbus State University band program. He retired from CSU in 1991. The Legacy Hall audience gave the Gibsons a standing ovation.

Col. Gibson and I had a nostalgic conversation during intermission. I got to know him when I accepted an invitation from him to emcee one of his Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s concerts. On June 1st. 1981, he reenacted a John Phillip Sousa concert at the Springer Opera House.  That was special for me because my mother, Sara McMichael, was in the audience. I informed the audience that she had actually attended  Sousa’s last concert at the Springer on February 18, 1922.

The 2nd balcony is used now for lighting, but it was built as a segregated balcony for African-Americans back in Jim Crow days. There was a second box office and flight of stairs that led to it.

The only seats left when her father decided to take her – she was about 11 years old – were in the second balcony, which was called the “peanut gallery” back then. That balcony was actually for “colored” patrons at that time.  However, for the Sousa performance, the high demand for tickets by whites led the Springer to close the second balcony to African-Americans and open it for whites. That was the way it was prior to 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress, ending racial segregation in public facilities.

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You Don’t Need to Go Anywhere Else to Get Great Live Entertainment, but You Might Need to in Order to Afford It

September 25, 2011

Bill Bullock, Executive Director, River Center

No, you don’t have to go to Atlanta or New York to get first-rate live entertainment anymore. With the River Center, the Springer, the Schwob School of Music and Drama Departments at Columbus State University in full swing, you can get it right here and right now.  And a lot of people are doing just that.  Those who can afford it. And a lot can’t because Columbus is a low-pay, high- unemployment and poverty-rate town.

Bill Bullock,  Executive director of the River Center told Columbus Rotarians that during its just-completed season , the  River Center attracted 99,000 patrons. “Over, 5,000 performers, technicians, ushers, and other participants attended the needs of those patrons. About 3 million dollars was spent in the process.”

Since its opening in 2002, almost a million patrons were entertained, with 50 thousand participants at a cost of over 37 million dollars.

People who  go to plays and concerts and other cultural events also spend money eating out, staying in hotels and doing other things. Bullock says a survey of the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley taken in 2009 shows that annually “local arts and culture groups generate 51 million dollars of revenue and almost 5 million dollars in taxes; spend 21 million dollars directly and leverage another 30 million dollars of expenditures in local businesses; and employ 1500 workers.”

Just look at some of the nationally successful performers and plays and musicals that have graced the stages of the River Center over the past 9 years:

Bill Cosby, Anne Murray, Loretta Lyn, Frankie Valli, Wynton Marsalis, Mannheim Steamroller, BB King, Travis Trit, Lilly Tomlin, The Smothers Brothers, Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, The Russian National Ballet, The Music Man, Camelot, Cats, 42nd Street, Annie, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Rent, Miss Saigon, Chicago, Stomp, David Copperfield, and a live NPR broadcast of A Prarie Home Companion, to  mention a few.

Then, of course, there are those great local performances by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Schwob School of Music concerts featuring the world-class Schwob School of Music Philharmonic Orchestra, Wind Ensemble,  and other groups and individual performers including faculty who have performed with some of the world’s most prestigious music groups.  And the plays and musicals at the Springer compare favorably with the best regional theaters in the country.

At one time Columbus may have been a sleepy Southern cotton mill and Army town with little to offer in the way of first-class live entertainment, but it is certainly not that any more.  It’s definitely still an Army town, one that’s proud of it, but, with one exception, is no longer a cotton mill town.  Virtually all of those jobs were shipped overseas where pay is even lower than in Columbus.

The city is on the Interstate now – kept off for decades by the politically powerful locals afraid of higher wages and retail competition in Atlanta  – and it has a growing and respected public University,  and just about all of the first-rate live entertainment that most of us can afford.  Admittedly, there is a problem in the number of people who can afford it, because the city is notorious for low pay; poverty is a critical problem, and unemployment is higher than the national average, but just below the state average.

Bottom line, yes we do have need for improvement when it comes to the city’s declining middle class and the poor, but when it comes to entertainment, we can compete with just  about any metropolitan area.