MARCH 28, 1956
NEW YORK—I motored to Hyde Park Sunday and in the afternoon we had a rehearsal at 3:30 p.m. and a concert at 5 p.m. for schoolchildren—a preview of the one to be given tonight by the Dutchess County Philharmonic Orchestra.
The orchestra has been lucky to find in Kingston a conductor, Ole Windingstad, who is remarkably good—a professional with professional standards. The orchestra presented two selections and "Peter and the Wolf," for which I read the text, was the filling for the "sandwich!"
An explanation of the instruments and the composers was given for the children, and I thought the whole concert was well arranged for them. My two grandchildren brought two other playmates and all seemed to enjoy it. And since the concert was free to all schoolchildren in the neighborhood, we had a well-filled hall.
In other words, parents would send their children and be rather glad to have them out of the house and safely supervised for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon, but would not bother to buy tickets for themselves so they could go and learn to enjoy that kind of music.
Part of the reason for this is that they can get very good music on radio and television. But it is never quite the same as seeing people perform and hearing them on the stage.
Furthermore, these small symphony orchestras are of great value for any community, giving pleasure to those who play in them as well as to the audience. I think it means much to a community when its residents take an interest in developing music in which they and their neighbors take part, either as performers or as an audience educated to appreciate the orchestra's performance.
I was shocked to hear that when a booth to sell tickets for tonight's performance of the concert was opened for a whole day in Poughkeepsie's largest department store, only two tickets were sold the entire day! And I believe this was on Saturday when the whole county comes there to shop.
This opportunity to buy tickets was advertised in advance and the tickets were not expensive. When you figure what this country spends a year on cosmetics, movies and other entertainment, it does not seem unreasonable to ask a community, growing as fast as Poughkeepsie, to support a local symphony orchestra.
I wonder if all other small community cultural efforts meet with such indifference.
Europe has fostered these community orchestra efforts for years and has produced a public familiar with good music and able to enjoy it. In this country, it was understandable that, when times were very hard, people could not afford to spend money on this—or any—type of entertainment. But it is not understandable now and it is sad to find this is so.