Glenwood Springs Community Concert Association (GSCCA) president Sue Ludtke calls her organization “the Valley’s best kept secret.” So secret that since COVID, membership numbers have dipped despite the fact that the association continues to offer five high-quality concerts throughout the year at affordable rates: A $60 membership gets you access to all five concerts — just $12 a ticket!
Pre-COVID, the association had an impressive membership of about 700, with high audience turnout. Concerts are typically held in the Glenwood Springs High School auditorium, which seats 500, and Ludtke notes that the room was often packed. Currently, the association still boasts a loyal membership base hovering around 420, but hopes to raise that number up closer to pre-COVID levels to “ensure their ability to budget and pay for their yearly concert series.” Ludtke encourages any previous members to consider joining again. “If they used to be members and they aren’t any more, they should come back, because they know they loved it when they came!”
The GSCCA was founded in 1947 in an effort to bring live music to the Valley at a time when there was little. The association was loosely an outgrowth of the Chautauqua movements that spread across the country several decades earlier, creating opportunities for people in rural areas to come together and engage with educational and social ideas of the time. Competition with a similar membership series in Rifle forced the organization to pause concerts for several years beginning in 1958. Recognizing the need for live music, enthusiasts rallied together to bring the series back in 1963 and partnered with national concert organizer Columbia Artists.
Presenting high-quality performances across a range of musical styles has been a priority for the series in their 76-year history. Working with a booking agent in Minnesota, the board selects five diverse artists to invite to perform out of a pool of 30 to 40. A highlight of this year’s series will be welcoming back fan-favorite pianist and official Steinway Artist Charlie Albright for a December performance. Albright performs a unique mix of classical piano music interspersed with pop-inspired improvisations.
Vocal music features heavily on this season’s schedule, and Ludtke shares that she is especially looking forward to Camille and Stuie, a husband and wife guitar/vocal duo from Australia who play classic country music. Members can first look forward to The Folk Legacy Trio on Sept. 23. The season will conclude with a spring evening of broadway tunes with Effie Passero of Postmodern Jukebox on April 17.
The first and last concerts of the series will take place at the Glenwood Springs High School auditorium, and the middle three (Charlie Albright on Dec. 6, Divas 3 on Feb. 15 and Camille and Stuie on March 4) will be held at Mountain View Church.
Engaging with a younger audience is a stated goal of the organization, and they offer $15 student memberships for the entire year. In addition to individual and student membership options, the organization also offers a family rate for $130 that includes two adults and unlimited children in the family. The GSCCA also hopes to further their student outreach efforts by connecting with the choir and band programs at the high school in the future.
Ludtke and her family moved to the Valley in the 1970s, drawn by opportunities for outdoor recreation, and she adds that “finding Community Concerts added an extra reason to be glad we lived here.” The family was eager to join the GSCCA and expose their young children to the diverse live music the series presented.
Ludtke says she’s never had a negative concert experience, even when she wasn’t initially thrilled about a performer. “All the concerts I’ve heard have been way more than I’ve ever expected,” she said. “They’ve just been wonderful.”
To become a member, one can simply come to the first concert of the series (Sept. 23 at Glenwood Springs High School at 7pm) and sign up there, or go to the Glenwood Springs Community Concert Association website, gsconcertassn.org
Tickets for single concerts are available at the door as well for $30 each, as long as space is available after members have been seated. Ludtke has a simple pitch for prospective members: “We really do exist, and we really do have fantastic concerts, and we don’t cost very much — join us!”