Innocent Impresarios


Innocent Impresarios

  • 248 Pages
  • 7 x 10
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 978-1933197-944
  • Copyright 2012

By George W. Houk

On Saturday, October 27, 2012, chamber music lovers took their seats in the Dayton Art Institute’s Renaissance Auditorium to hear the Concertante Sextet from New York open Vanguard Concerts’ 2012-2013 season. It was a musical milestone: fifty years earlier, on October 20, 1962, those innocent impresarios, Vincent and Elana Bolling, had welcomed the audience to their first Vanguard concert. Determined to bring to their Ohio city the finest chamber music ensembles and soloists from around the world, the Bollings had achieved in six months what everyone told them would take three years.
“Why isn’t anyone presenting a regular season of chamber music here?” they’d wondered. “Why not start one ourselves?” Vince recalls: “We went to New York to hear the Metropolitan Opera. I strolled up to 57th Street, talked to some of the artists’ management firms, told them I was thinking of starting a chamber music group in Dayton, Ohio, and could they help?” He admits to being naïve—“They must have doubted we could do it in a town this size.” Nevertheless, the Bollings returned with contracts—unsigned—for six concerts, starting with the New York String Sextet and closing with the acclaimed Juilliard String Quartet.
Vince went to see his friend and fellow music lover, Dayton Art Institute Director Tom Colt. “The great American museums all have chamber music. Why not Dayton?” he asked. “The Renaissance Auditorium is an ideal venue.” Colt was skeptical: no amateur musicians in this museum, thank you. “Then,” says Vince, “I showed him the unsigned contracts. He was astonished!” 
Six months later, on October 20, 1962, despite those who said that it would take three years of preparation, Vanguard Concerts launched its first season with a full house and raves from the critics. Today, fifty years and 260 performances later, the Bollings’ commitment to musical excellence continues. 
Innocent Impresarios tells how Vince and Elana created Vanguard Concerts without an audience, a venue, a marketing strategy, or an iota of experience, and how they have kept the promise for fifty years: the finest chamber ensembles and soloists from wherever in the world we can find them. Meet the remarkable people who helped, the speed-bumps along the road, the artists who became close friends while bringing the music that thrilled them.

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