You have probably heard the slogan, "Buy Local." It's good advice for music as well.
Long-established musical institutions like the Bakersfield Symphony, Masterworks Chorale, CSUB and Bakersfield College deserve our support as they greatly enhance the quality of life in our community. But there are many other concerts and performing groups that go nearly unnoticed except for the small but loyal audience that keeps showing up.
As adjunct faculty at Bakersfield College, I have taught hundreds of students taking music appreciation courses as part of their general education requirement. With some exceptions, many of these students begin the semester with little or no knowledge of classical music -- some have never even seen a person play the violin -- and they end the semester having attended at least some live classical music events.
It's a shame that so many young people don't have that experience until they become young adults -- a shame because it's so unnecessary, considering how many opportunities are available.
Many of the concerts presented by local groups are free, or may ask for a "free will" donation. But don't let the cheap price fool you: These concerts are lovely, well-performed, and can offer that bit of solace and peace from everyday life most of us are looking for. They are also a great and certainly affordable way to add to your children's education by exposing them to classical music without having to travel. Some concerts are only 30 minutes or so, and collectively, they meet every time frame: weekday lunchtime, Sunday afternoons, weeknights, weekend evenings.
Here are just some of the established concert series available to you:
St. Paul's Anglican Church Lenten Organ Recitals: Presented on Thursdays at lunchtime during the season of Lent, these concerts highlight the organ and also feature other soloists. These concerts are offered in part as a respite from the rush of the oncoming holidays and usually include music from the sacred repertoire. Box lunches are available for a small fee. Website: stpaulsbakersfield.org.
Fred and Beverly Dukes Memorial Concert Series: Held at First Congregational Church, this is a five-concert series endowed by the Dukes family. The season often includes jazz, Celtic and other styles of music in addition to classical. Admission is free. Website: fccbakersfield-ucc.org/dukes.html.
Bakersfield Winds: Performing at Olive Drive Church, the Bakersfield Winds are celebrating their 10th season this year. Led by Stockdale High School band director John Biller, the Bakersfield Winds includes members of the Bakersfield Symphony, music teachers and amateur musicians who really, really love to perform the wind ensemble repertoire, everything from traditional marches to newly composed works. Website: bakersfieldwinds.com.
First Presbyterian Church Advent Recitals: Church organist Meg Wise has been coordinating these concerts for almost 20 years, presenting free, 30-minute noontime concerts on Wednesdays during the Advent season. Performers include organ soloists and small chamber groups, and the repertoire may span hundreds of years, from the Baroque to the modern. For a while, Wise added additional monthly concerts throughout the rest of the year, but that concert series went on hiatus in 2012. She hopes to be able to restore the series. Website: fpbchurch.com.
Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra: This all-volunteer orchestra has been performing for 13 years and offers five free concerts a year, most of them at Country Oaks Baptist Church in Tehachapi. The orchestra also supports the Tehachapi Strings Orchestra, a teaching ensemble for the 200 string students in the area. Website: tehachapiorchestra.com.