Knox Concert Series has presented music events in the City of Anniston, Alabama since 1946. It began and remarkably continues today to be a totally volunteer driven organization. Knox has 501© (3) status, a twenty-four-member board of directors, and over 150 volunteers actively involved in various projects and programs.
Performances are presented at the Anniston PAC on the campus of the Anniston High School. The venue was built in 1971 to serve the entire community and seats 1,175.
The Series originally featured four classical concerts a year that included orchestras, ballets, operas, choirs and either vocal or piano soloists. The renowned Metropolitan Opera bass, Jerome Hines, performed in 1957 and 1961. The 1963 performance of Roger Williams and Company introduced “classic pops” to presentations, and today a season can include such diverse concerts as the band Chicago or Willie Nelson, along with the Dublin Symphony Orchestra or Russian National Ballet.
In addition to Series programming, volunteers focus heaily on providing educational opportunities for high school and elementary school children.
In 1976, in an effort to engage children and families in the classical arts experience, Knox presented Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Ballet as an extra event. After almost four decades, the Christmas special continues with a Sunday matinee for the public and two free school day performances for over 1,800 third grade students in a three-county area.
Knox creates opportunities for high school students to attend symphonies, ballets, operas and recitalists. Musicians, conductors and music teachers provide classroom programs to prepare students to attend various concerts. They also have opportunities to engage with the musicians before the performances.
In 1945, Tamae Carns, a piano teacher and Knox Music Club president, attended an all-Chopin concert in Atlanta by pianist, Stanley Fletcher. She was so impressed by the performance and audience response she wanted Anniston area music lovers to hear him. With that conviction, she committed the Music Club to engage Fletcher to perform the same Chopin concert.
The auditorium of the old Anniston High School on Quintard Avenue overflowed for the concert, and the next year, without any financial guarantee but confident Anniston would be supportive, Mrs. Carns and a cadre of club members booked the first Knox Music Club Series. It had the distinction of being the smallest independent concert series in the United States.
Incorporation and a Board of Directors
From 1946 until 1970, the Series was a separate organization under the umbrella of the Knox Music Club. In 1970, Mrs. Eugene E. Turner Jr. became club vice-president and Series Manager. She believed Knox had grown to the point it needed more community involvement than the ladies of The Music Club could provide. With support of longtime volunteers and former managers, Anne Roberts (Mrs. Leonard H.) and Bette Saks (Mrs. Hank), she organized a board of directors – women and men. The board incorporated Knox Concert Series as an independent entity. Mrs. Turner served as board president and Alice Inzer Donald (Mrs. T. C.) as manager for the 1971 and 1972 seasons.
Music in the “Model City”
- 1883 The Anniston Musical Club
- One of the earliest organized groups in Anniston. Members met regularly for musicals in the mid 1880’s at the Wilmer Avenue residence of the J. C. Allens.
- 1917 The Anniston Choral Club
- Organized by Carrie McClure Know. Miss Knox, the daughter of prominent Anniston attorney John B. Knox, was a graduate of Anniston’s Noble Institute, a finishing school in Pennsylvania, and had studied dramatics at Harvard.
- 1923 Anniston Music Club
- 1938 Knox Music Club
- The club, which had ceased to function during the depression years, was started again and named in honor of Carrie Knox who had died suddenly in 1936 n New York City.
- 1946 The Knox Concert Series
- Started by Mrs. George (Tamae) Carns and a group of the music club members.
- 1972 Knox Concert Series, Inc.
- The Series was incorporated in 1971 by then president, Mrs. Eugene (Marguerite) Turner, Jr. A board of directors was formed.