The Dartmouth Community Concert Association had its organizing meeting on Wednesday, January 30, 1957. Its first president was Dr. Maxwell Brennan; the DCCA presented four concerts in its opening season. There were about 100 workers subscribing memberships at $6.00 (adult) plus 60 cents in provincial tax. The first season, which included a Mozart Opera Festival, was a “palpable hit”. So the founders went on proudly to celebrate the First Anniversary Season in 1958-59; it would be the first of a remarkable series of fifty milestones (with more to come). A yellowing program from the first concert of that year shows that Harry John Brown and the Manhattan Concert Orchestra played selections by Delibes, Mozart, Wagner, and Bizet. After the intermission, the audience at Bicentennial Junior High (first venue for DCCA) was treated to a Broadway Review including Surrey with the Fringe on Top, Hey There! and I Could Have Danced All Night. People loved it, as they loved the Vienna Choir Boys in December of that year

Many of those who attended concerts over the half a century of our history can remember, with remarkable clarity, concerts and even specific selections. One member remembers, over twenty seasons later, the soprano, Jennifer Jones, who swept on stage with an enthusiastic “Hello, Dartmouth” and, with the audience ‘in the palm of her hand,’ proceeded with a program which embraced all musical tastes. Another recalled, from 1964, the thrilling voice of the great Canadian soprano, Teresa Stratus, later a star of the Metropolitan Opera. Yet another still plays the recording by C.C. Ryder, a balladeer, who played and sang folk music including a rousing There’s a Meetin’ Here Tonight, in our second venue, Prince Andrew High School’s auditorium. The sheer choral excellence of The Elmer Iseler Singers, on two different appearances on our stage, greatly impressed one couple. Choirs have continued to be a favourite attraction for DCCA audiences. The presentation of Flanders and Swann selections by Patricia Schreiber and Patricia Rolston impressed one patron as a “fun evening”.

Likely, many concert goers can cite a favourite selection or memorable concert, as DCCA audiences have witnessed more than 190 concert nights over the 50 years! Many recall the unfamiliar and infectious rhythms of the South African choir, Soweto Sings, as well as being amazed by the then young Canadian Brass before they had scaled the peaks of international success. The distinguished Canadian pianist, Robert Silverman, delighted his audience and played two encores, leading music critic, Stephen Pedersen, to write, “...he left us enlightened, entertained, and thoroughly content”. Leaving our audience in that frame of mind might be said to be our aim.

In our 2007-2008 season, as part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, DCCA commissioned Canadian composer, Dr. Mark Sirett, to create a new musical setting for unaccompanied SATB choir. He chose Canadian poet, Archibald Lampman’s poem, Voices of Earth, which received its premiere performance at the final concert of the 50th season, as performed by The Halifax Camerata Singers, in our present venue (since 1993) Woodlawn United Church. In this way, DCCA hopes to further its legacy to the musical world, and to do so well beyond our geographic borders.

Our purpose has always been to present interesting music, well played, sung, and, on occasion, danced! We have striven to present the best of professional musicians, and in so doing, always tried to be supportive of Canadian, and more particularly, Maritime, performers. We are justifiably proud of our achievements.

The premier of Nova Scotia, the Honourable Rodney J. MacDonald, sent DCCA a congratulatory message in which he gave “special thanks to the members…and volunteers who have dedicated their time and effort in delivering 50 years of wonderful family entertainment to the Metro area.” We intend to keep doing that! Please plan to join us!