Setting the stage: InConcert Sierra continues to bring world class entertainment to Nevada County |

Setting the stage: InConcert Sierra continues to bring world class entertainment to Nevada County

InConcert Sierra Artistic Director Ken Hardin stands beside the organization's Grotrian piano Thursday in Grass Valley. InConcert Sierra is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its first concert (back then known as Twin Cities Community Concert Association), Oct. 10, 1946 at the Veterans Memorial Building in Grass Valley.
Laura Mahaffy/ |

Amid headlines of post-war government shifts, outreach for veterans and a news of a growing economy, it might have been easy to overlook a brief meeting notice published by The Union newspaper in June 1946, announcing the formation of a new concert association.

But it wasn’t overlooked. And 70 years ago today, the Twin Cities Community Concert Association — now known as InConcert Sierra — presented its first performance before a capacity audience of 1,000 in Grass Valley.

Under the auspice of a new era in the country following World War II, the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce sponsored a gathering of Nevada County residents interested in attracting top musicians to perform in the community. From that gathering at the Bret Harte Inn, the Twin Cities Community Concert Association was formed to “… afford citizens of both Grass Valley and Nevada City a talented group of artists and entertainers of national fame.”

The newly appointed board of directors set off to establish the association’s first season through the national Community Concert Service. Within three months Twin Cities had sold 1,100 memberships to its inaugural series, exceeding expectations by 300 subscribers, according to reports in The Union.

On Oct. 10, 1946 famed metropolitan opera tenor Charles Kullman performed with accompanist John Holt and “… brought prolonged and spontaneous applause from tense listeners,” according to an article in the Oct. 11, 1946 edition of The Union.

“That première performance truly set the stage, so to speak, for InConcert Sierra today,” said Artistic Director Ken Hardin. “We continue to attract the best in classical music from top emerging artists and world class musicians from around the globe to perform in Grass Valley — from violinist Joshua Bell to pianist Emanuel Ax to the Vienna Boys Choir.”

Through the decades, Twin Cities Concert Association continued to present classical music performances at the Veterans Memorial Building in Grass Valley, at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City and some special performances at Miners Foundry Cultural Center. Those concerts featured the Harvard Glee Club, Viennese cellist Wolfgang Herzer, Chanticleer and many more.

The organization has traveled many paths, from a Community Concerts Program, a large series of concerts, to a small chamber ensemble presenter. In the mid-1990s, the nonprofit arts organization hired Hardin as artistic director. Julie Hardin joined in shortly after as executive director and the organization has grown steadily ever since. In 2010, Twin Cities Concert Association’s name became InConcert Sierra to increase name recognition.

InConcert Sierra’s Third Sunday Series features chamber, orchestra and choral music from September through May each year. Performances are at the Seventh-day Adventist Church off Highway 174 in Grass Valley. The 2016-17 season features nine concerts, including a return by the Vienna Boys Choir Nov. 20. They also present special performances, more intimate house concerts and educational seminars/concerts.

“What I am most proud of with InConcert Sierra is that we don’t just present performances, they are really experiences for our audience and musicians alike. By all accounts, Charles Kullman’s concert was met with ‘extreme enthusiasm,’” Hardin said. “We want that same reaction at our concerts today. From our pre-concert forum where the patrons get to know the artist through on-stage interviews, on through to the encore, it’s go gratifying to watch peoples’ intrinsic reaction to the music. Our audience truly embraces great classical music!”

The same vision that brought the Twin Cities Concert Association in to being — a desire to have high-quality entertainment in Nevada County — remains a fundamental element of local audiences today and one that is felt by performers who visit.

Following his performance in Grass Valley, Kullman was quoted in The Union complimenting the crowd.

“It is a delight to have an audience like this. I like Grass Valley and I would rather sing here than in Vienna and I really mean this,” he said.

Based on the strong support for InConcert Sierra performances today, Twin Cities Concert Association’s first president, Phillip Bradley, perhaps said it best 70 years ago, “… these are the people who will see that music is carried on in Nevada County.”

For more information about InConcert Sierra, please visit or call 530-273-3990.

Brett Bentley is the associate director for InConcert Sierra. She can be reached at

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