History of the Fairbanks Concert Association

FCA new logoIn October of 1947, a piano concert was presented here in Fairbanks. That concert, while not earth-shattering, was the seed that grew to become the longest running concert presenting organization in all of Alaska. At a time when Fairbanks was not quite 50 years old, and Alaska wasn’t even yet a state, residents recognized the importance of arts and culture. In the late 40’s there were roughly 20,000 people in the entire area. The commitment of these pioneers in those very early days and their belief that the arts were an important part of building a community ensured that Fairbanksans would be able to enjoy first-class events from around the world, year after year, a privilege we still enjoy today.

Classical music was a primary focus of those who established the Fairbanks Concert Association. At the time, many of the artists who came to Fairbanks were stars who could be seen and heard on radio and television or in movies.

Today, Fairbanks Concert Association has the most diverse and exciting seasons in Fairbanks. The artists we bring can still be seen in movies or on TV or heard on the radio. Jazz, folk, and classical music; tap, ballet, ethnic and modern dance; comedy and spoken word, acrobats, circuses and family programs; symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles and virtuoso soloists; Celtic, African, and Latin music—you name it and FCA has presented it at some point in the last 64 seasons. No other arts and cultural organization, whether for profit or nonprofit, is as broadly diverse in what it presents. FCA seasons can be full of familiar art forms and at the same time can have lesser-known treasures that become magical discoveries. Because FCA is a community organization supported by its members and business partners through donations, we work hard to find artists that appeal to a wide range of interests and ages.

FCA is also committed to education. When visiting artists come to Fairbanks, FCA partners with local groups for educational presentations, workshops, lectures, and master classes. FCA works with the University of Alaska, local dance groups, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, and other organizations to share the experience of professional artists with our own musicians, dancers and actors, which in turn enhances the arts and cultural landscape of our community. Last season, 7,800 students were able to see performers like Calo Flamenco, Baka Beyond, Cherish the Ladies, Lazer Vaudeville and the Yuval Ron Ensemble.

As Fairbanks has grown and artistic and cultural opportunities have become more diverse, FCA has grown and changed as well. And as our community continues to grow, FCA will be here making Fairbanks a more vibrant and exciting place to live and ensuring that Fairbanksans are enriched and entertained during the cold fall, winter and spring months.

The First Concert

Russian-born pianist Max Schapiro on October 19, 1947, was the first of hundreds of programs that have been presented to audiences over the years by the Fairbanks Concert Association.

Early Organizational Structure

The local chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority sponsored the first performance, and the following year this group was joined by Soroptimists International and the American Association of University Women in forming the Fairbanks Concert Association. Three programs made up the 1948-1949 season, and in the years that followed, Fairbanksans were treated to the sights and sounds of dozens of classical musicians and a variety of dancers. Programs of the 1950s featured performers of the Alaska Music Trail, and in 1958 a reorganization effort led to the establishment of the Fairbanks Community Concert Association and an annual season ticket sales campaign to provide the ongoing financial support needed to bring several artists or groups to perform each year. Volunteer board members generated the manpower necessary to present performances, and the association’s operations were conducted from private homes.

Today, Alaska’s oldest performing arts presenter organization has grown in membership and audience support. In addition to a volunteer board of directors, FCA has two paid staff persons, operates out of a permanent office, and has added jazz, theater, comedy, speakers, and family entertainment to its programming. A typical season now features an average of ten performances attended by a mix of season ticket holders and individual ticket buyers. Thousands of children attend school programs provided each year, and local artists regularly benefit from master classes and residencies. FCA collaborates with the Anchorage Concert Association and other presenters around the state to bring a variety of internationally known artists to Alaskan stages, and is working with its neighbors to bring performers to smaller communities in the Interior.

Notable Guest Artists

  • Isaac Stern
  • The Chicago Symphony
  • The Vienna Symphony Orchestra
  • Chamber Orchestra Kremlin
  • Van Cliburn
  • Jean-Pierre Rampal
  • The Juilliard String Quartet
  • The Dave Brubeck Quartet
  • Dizzy Gillespie
  • Wynton Marsalis
  • The Paul Taylor Dance Company
  • The Martha Graham Dance Company
  • The Alvin Ailey II Dance Company
  • Pilobolous
  • The Chieftains
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo,
  • Eileen Ivers
  • Bonnie Rideout
  • Riders in the Sky
  • Garrison Keillor
  • David Sedaris
  • Chicago City Limits
  • The Capitol Steps
  • The Peking Acrobats
  • Imago Theater
  • k.d.lang
  • Martin Short
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Parsons Dance
  • Lyle Lovett
  • Ramsey Lewis
  • Chick Corea
  • Mark O’Connor and Sharon Isbin
  • Ira Glass
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band
  • Suzanne Vega
  • Bela Fleck
  • Esperanza Spalding
  • Tanya Tagaq
  • Eddie Izzard

Past Seasons

60th Season (2007-2008)
Riders in the Sky
ZUM Gypsy Tango Passion
Chicago City Limits
Moscow Circus
Chamber Orchestra Kremlin
The Wailin’ Jennys
Turtle Island String Quartet
Sarah Vowell
Anonymous 4 w/Darol Anger & Scott Nygaard
Shidara Taiko

61st Season (2008-2009)
Garrison Keillor
Calo Flamenco
Baltimore Consort
Baka Beyond
Capitol Steps
Cherish the Ladies
Cuarteto Latinoamericano
Lazer Vaudeville
Yuval Ron Ensemble

62nd Season (2009-2010)
Esperanza Spalding
Lakota Sioux Dance Theatre
Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul
Imago Theatre’s ZooZoo
Street Beat
Les Yeux Noirs
Sharon Isbin & Mark O’Connor
Ira Glass

63rd Season (2010-2011)
Chic Gamine
Calo Flamenco
Alpin Hong
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Reduced Shakespeare Company
Suzanne Vega
The Calder Quartet
Acoustic Africa
Tomas Kubinek

64th Season (2011-2012)
k.d. lang
Brasil Guitar Duo
Te Vaka
Sweet Plantain
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Capitol Steps
New Shanghai Circus
Tito Puente Jr. Orchestra
Le Vent du Nord
Lily Tomlin

65th Season (2012-2013)
Parsons Dance
Riders in the Sky
New York Polyphony
In the Footsteps of Django
Metta Quintet
Pink Martini
Cirque Mechanics
Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas
The Good Lovelies
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
The StepCrew
Bruce Adolphe & Friends

66th Season (2013-2014)
Hot Club of Cowtown
Martin Short
Quixotic Fusion
Manhattan Transfer
California Guitar Trio & Montreal Guitare Trio
International Blues Express
Chick Corea & Bela Fleck

67th Season (2014-2015)
Lyle Lovett
Masters of Hawaiian Music
Black Violin
Split Knuckle Theatre’s Endurance
The Intergalactic Nemesis
TorQ Percussion
African Guitar Summit
Ramsey Lewis & John Pizzarelli

68th Season (2015-2016)
Postmodern Jukebox
Martha Redbone Roots Project
Letters Aloud
Eddie Izzard
Blind Boys of Alabama
Capitol Steps
Jake Shimabukuro
Dublin Guitar Quartet
Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn

69th Season (2016-2017)
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Jamison Ross
Women of the World
Tanya Tagaq
Cherish the Ladies
The Intergalactic Nemesis
Versa-Style Dance Company
Portland Cello Project
Rhythm Future Quartet
Shane Koyczan
David Sedaris

70th Season (2017-2018)
Melissa Etheridge
Postmodern Jukebox
Storm Large
La Santa Cecilia
Sweet Honey in the Rock
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Squirrel Nut Zippers
The Wailin’ Jennys
Pink Martini

71st Season 2018-2019
Tig Notaro
Stephan Wolfert- Cry Havoc!
Black Violin
Broadway at the Palace
Derina Harvey
Across the Great Divide: Hot Club of Cowtown/Dustbowl Revival
The Second City
Improv Festival with Tracy Silverman/Roy “Futureman” Wooten, Sirius Quartet, SEVEN)SUNS
The Imago Theatre: Frogz
The Hot Sardines

72 Season 2019-20
We Banjo 3
The Rad Trads
Whose Live Anyway?
International Guitar Night
Capitol Steps
Scott Silven – Wonders at Dusk
An Evening with Jenn Colella and Caitlin Warbelow
Eileen Ivers
Ensemble Mik Nawooj
Meow Meow
Fairbanks Flies with Tomas Kubinek