Community Concerts bring culture to Ranch

RANCHO SANTA FE — Ranch music lovers enjoyed a harmonious smorgasbord of bluegrass, jazz and classical tunes when Pianafiddle entertained a sold-out crowd of 300 at the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club on Nov. 5. Pianafiddle is a musical twosome comprised of Adam DeGraff on violin/fiddle and Lynn Wright on piano. Both DeGraff and Wright hail from West Virginia; however, these days both musicians call the road their home as they tour the country with their families in recreational vehicles. Pianafiddle is just one of four musical events that will be happening this year thanks to the efforts of the Rancho Santa Fe Community Concerts.
Now in its ninth year, the local branch of Community Concerts had humble beginnings. It all began when Ranch residents Holly Wilson and her husband Tony mailed out a flyer wondering if others were interested in bringing concerts to the Covenant. Approximately 30 people responded. The small group rolled up their sleeves and, on a shoestring budget, began booking musical acts that performed at the Garden Club, thanks to the cooperation from that organization as well.
Over the years, as membership has grown — it’s currently at about 300 members — so has the quality of performing groups. “When we first started, we could only afford about $1,200,” President Jan Clark said. “Now we are up to $7,000 per concert and have a bigger talent pool to choose from.”
Choosing which musical groups or acts will perform at Community Concerts around the country and ultimately in the Ranch is an involved process. First, groups and acts from all over the world audition to become part of Community Concerts, now in its 75th year. “The auditions used to be held at Carnegie Hall in New York City, but that all changed after 9/11,” Clark said. These days auditions are held in the music capital of Nashville, Tenn., at the renowned Acuff Theatre, next door to the Grand Ol’ Opry. Out of the nearly 1,000 acts auditioning, only 48 to 50 of the very best are chosen. Regional boards can then choose from those 50 acts, depending on their needs and budgets. “Last July, five board members and their spouses went to Nashville,” Clark said. “We chose four concerts, trying to get a wide variety of music.” Clark and other board members try to not only get top-notch talent but performers that relate to audience members. “That’s a top priority,” Clark said. “It makes it a much more personal concert.” Performers with difficult reputations are also skipped over. “We often invite these people into our homes. We don’t want difficult performers. We want those who are willing to do outreach programs with the school. People we can relate to.”
The next concert will be Jan. 21 at the Fellowship Hall. Performing will be Pavlo, a Canadian Greek whose flamenco guitar has been heard in more than 47 countries, with more than 500,000 albums sold worldwide. A concert April 29 will feature Rachel Price, a jazz singer in the style of Ella Fitzgerald. “Both of these acts are wonderful,” Clark said. “People are in for a treat.”
For more information regarding single show tickets or season tickets, or for more information about Community Concerts, contact President Jan Clark at (858) 756-4000.