The Brownville Concert Series has successfully reorganized itself as an independent not-for- profit organization and has assumed ownership of the Concert Hall through a generous gift from James H. Keene, III and his wife Ruth Haley Keene thus ensuring the operation of the Series in perpetuity. The legal work to establish the Brownville Concert Series as an independent organization with 501c3 tax exempt status is complete. The Southeast Nebraska community will continue to enjoy the benefits of world class music and other events as it has for a quarter of a century.
The mission of the Concert Series is to bring professional live performance to a rural, underserved area of Nebraska. The program is varied and includes classical instrumental, Cabaret performances based on the American Songbook, Jazz (instrumental and vocal), Rock and Roll, Bluegrass, Vocal Recital, Opera and a specially commissioned Christmas Gala. The series presents 10 to 11 events each year. The mission has an added dimension in that the artists who participate are only those who have significant national or international reputations, are leaders in their field of music or, if young and unknown, have won important international auditions. Each performer is required to conduct a student or community outreach event as part of their contract. This may include visits to schools, churches, nursing homes, etc. and free master classes or music workshops.
The Concert Series began in 1990. The Concert Series introduced the Cabaret musical concept to Southeast Nebraska. There are few cities, much less villages, that have any venue that presents and celebrates the American Songbook. The Brownville Concert Series has established a reputation as one of the leading (and more desirable) performance venues in the United States. The roster of past performers includes most all the significant names in the world of cabaret music.
Most of the work of the concert series is done by volunteers. The only persons paid are the Technical crew, primarily high school students who assist backstage and our bartender and waitresses who serve at the Cabaret Evening. We are always looking for volunteers and we hope you will consider joining our team and sharing with us your special talents. It takes a village to produce a show, not to mention a whole season year after year! It’s a fun job but somebody has to do it.
The Concert Series achieves top quality and artistic growth without budget growth. The budget of the Concert is less than $120,000 per year - a fact that astounds those who know about such operations. This has been accomplished by creating an atmosphere, both personal and professional, that artists want to participate in. Many of our performers have never been to Nebraska before. They come because of the now established reputation of our audiences -audiences that respond to and appreciate the talent. They come because of the Brownville Concert Hall - a venue with extraordinary acoustics and has the equipment to produce the concerts. They come because of the way they are treated - we appreciate what it takes for an artist to achieve the level of performance necessary to be invited to perform in the series and the artists sense this attitude.
Several years ago an elderly retired school teacher from Humboldt was introduced to the performances by a friend. She came regularly before her death. Her friend was a Humboldt resident who had traveled worldwide with significant knowledge of all types of music. The teacher confided to her friend that the music was something she never knew she would have a chance to experience and she lamented that her age and financial resources would never allow her to go to places like New York and hear the truly top talent. Her friend replied - “The people you are hearing are the top artists available in New York and other large cities- the music you are hearing in Brownville is as good as it gets”. This story illustrates the mission of the Series.