A New Era

Relocated and revamped for a younger generation of music lovers, the Williamsport Community Concert Association will hold its upcoming performance at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St. After decades spent at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, the move coincides with the WCCA’s updated programming.

“We have over 500 season ticket holders,” Cynthia Staiman Vosk, WCCA president, said, adding that many of these folks have been members of the organization for decades. “We want to (offer programs) that they still like but we do want to draw in younger people. We’re trying to come up with slightly different programming that everyone can be interested in. We always do some classical (music), but this is a really good cross-section this year.

This year’s lineup, beginning in October, will give attendees a chance to travel through both time and space, visiting different eras of music in the U.S. and also offering eclectic styles from abroad. The performers, in order, include Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, The Dali Quartet, Franc D’Ambrosio, The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra and The Jim Guttmann Band.

“We’re doing the gilded age, with the silent films, and then we have big bands, which is the ’40s, and we have the Dali Quartet, which is classical but they’re also contemporary Latin – and then we have the Jim Guttmann Band’s Klezmer music, they’re European, and then Franc C’Ambrosio, the longest-running Phantom (from ‘Phantom of the Opera’),” Staiman Vosk said.

The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra (PRO) will make its first visit to Williamsport since the late ’80s or early ’90s, Staiman Vosk said. The group, founded and directed by musician Rick Benjamin, of Lewisburg, presents an unforgettable program of musical theater music played before projections of the silent films for which the songs were written.

“They will appeal to a very broad section of people, age-wise,” Staiman Vosk said. “It’s the silent films – this one will be comedy like Charlie Chaplin.”

Staiman Vosk has seen the PTO perform several times, and said the audience will quickly become absorbed in the film and the music.

“You get so involved,”?she said. “You watch (the film) with this group and it’s almost like you become a part of the film yourself. It’s just really an engaging presentation. (Benjamin) is a very enigmatic conductor. It’s really a wonderfully entertaining evening.”

Following the PTO is the Dali Quartet. The Philadelphia-based foursome puts a Latin twist on traditional string quartet music. The quartet is named after artist Salvador Dali, according to its website bio, which states: “In the spirit of famed Spanish artist Salvador Dali, the Dali Quartet embraces imagination and excellence as central to its art form.”

“They usually present a concert that’s a mix of classical, Romantic and passionate contemporary Latin music,” Staiman Vosk said.

In spring 2015, “The Iron Man of the Mask” Franc D’Ambrosio will present a performance called “Franc D’Ambrosio’s Broadway,” in which he will sing as well as regale the audience with tales from his life. In addition to holding the title of longest-running Phantom in the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of “Phantom of the Opera,” Ambrosio is a frequent guest in many major American orchestras and symphonies and has been touring continuously for 10 years as a solo artist. “He basically does story and song,” Staiman Vosk said, adding that one of the most popular numbers is a medley of songs from “Phantom of the Opera.”

The “world famous” Glenn Miller Orchestra has been around in various incarnations since 1937, and boasts a repertoire of more than 1,700 songs. The CAC audience will be among the more than 5,000 people who attend the group’s concerts each year.

To quote Miller, from the band’s official website, “A band ought to have a sound all of its own. It ought to have a personality.” The Glenn Miller Orchestra has carved out its own special niche in the jazz big band genre, a sound that has guaranteed its longevity.

The season will close with the Jim Guttmann Band, another group boasting a repertoire of truly unique offerings. The Jim Guttmann Band is part of a revival of Klezmer music, a genre that fell to the wayside after World War II and began to return in the 1980s thanks to the Klezmer Conservatory Band. Gutmmann, an original member of the band, continues to tour the world performing a nontraditional spin on Klezmer music, and adding a Klezmer flair to jazz, gypsy and flamenco music. Guttmann has performed with such renowned artists as Isaac Stern, Eartha Kit, James Cotton and Itzhak Perlman.

In addition to a new lineup and new location, this year the WCCA is updating its online offerings, found at “We are totally redesigning our website and Facebook page. They should be done by mid-June,” Staiman Vosk said. Patrons will be able to purchase tickets online with a credit card for the first time this year, through the CAC website, WCCA subscribers can buy tickets between June 12 and July 18, with seats offered in order by date of purchase. New subscribers will be offered a pre-sale option from July 22 through Aug. 22. Public sale for individual concerts will open Aug. 25. For ticket pricing, a season brochure and other information, visit the WCCA website.