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Community Music Association moving to cozier venue

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston's Community Music Association has a new home: the University of Charleston's newly renovated Geary Auditorium.The announcement was made, along with other details regarding the group's 79th season, Monday morning in the rotunda of Riggleman Hall.University of Charleston President Ed Welch said he is proud the school could join with the Community Music Association and thinks the two have a lot in common."Just as higher education has changed, Community Music has changed," he said.Trudy Oliver, the music association's president, said her organization was glad to be bringing its shows to UC and that Geary Auditorium was a better fit for them."It's a more intimate venue," she said.Geary Auditorium seats 962. The Municipal Auditorium, the CMA's former venue, seats almost 3,500.Attendance at CMA events has dwindled over the years. The nonprofit volunteer group has long struggled with filling seats, and few shows over the past decade have come close to capacity.On Monday, Oliver highlighted Community Music's long history with the Municipal Auditorium and noted that the organization was responsible for getting the hall built in the 1930s. Times have changed, she said, and Geary Auditorium better suits the types of performances the group is bringing to Charleston. She hoped the new location might encourage new people to attend their shows, particularly UC students. She also hopes this year's schedule will attract a broader audience than in previous years."We offer great things for families and some great culture," Oliver said.The season opens Sept. 30 with "Liverpool Legends: The Beatles Tribute." Louise Harrison, the sister of deceased Beatles guitarist George Harrison, manages the Grammy-nominated tribute band, which performs in character as John, Paul, George and Ringo. The group tours extensively but has been a mainstay in Branson, Miss., since 2006.On Nov. 11, pianist Mac Frampton will perform "Fanfare for the American Hero." The Veterans Day-themed show will include patriotic selections as well as some popular music. The show will feature several singers and a full orchestra.The Jan. 20 show features "The Water Coolers," a comic musical troupe that takes on daily life with jokes, parody songs and original music.
March 17 brings "From Galway to Broadway," a St. Patrick's Day-themed show with Broadway performers Ciaran Sheehan and Kimilee Bryant. Sheehan, a tenor from Dublin, made his Broadway debut in "Les Miserables" and later took on the title role in "Phantom of the Opera." Vocally versatile Bryant is a former Miss South Carolina.
The season closes on April 14 with "History You Can Hear," a two-part program of Civil War music presented by Saxton's Cornet Band. The brass ensemble will perform in period costumes.All shows begin at 3 p.m.The group also announced it would continue the GoodNight Celebration, which takes place annually on New Year's Eve at various locations around Charleston.While CMA shows will be at a new hall, Oliver stressed that ticket prices would remain the same."We want to offer the best entertainment in the area for the best price," she said.Season tickets are $90 for adults, $30 for full-time college students and $10 for ages 18 and younger. Single-show tickets are $30.
Oliver said she was glad to have people buy single tickets, but box office Chairman Dick Freer added that a season ticket is still the better value by far."Even if you only go three times, you still come out ahead," he said.Oliver said the organization is changing and growing. Along with a new home for shows, CMA unveiled a new logo and website and announced four new board members: Lynda Smith, Kate Gibson, the Rev. W.I. "Bill" Hairston and Pat Schillings.Oliver believes that with new people, an updated online presence and a new theater, Community Music is going forward in a positive direction."It's smaller," she acknowledged. "But we'd love to have standing room only."For information, call 304-744-1400 or visit Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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