Carolyn Borchardt, president of Lakeshore Community Concerts, describes the last week of September as “the big meeting week.”
The Sept. 25 gathering of board members of her organization results in fine-tuning which six entertainment headliners will fill the brochure panels of the 2024-25 Lakeshore Community Concert Subscription Season.
“I’m in my second term as president since I joined the organization board in 2015, and our decision making about who to book never gets any easier,” Borchardt said.
“We are blessed to have so much talent and so many opportunities to bring to our local stage.”
The “local stage” of Lakeshore Community Concerts is their longtime performance venue, the 1,000-seat auditorium at Munster High School.
On Sept. 18 the audience spotlight was on Vox Fortura, the classical vocal quartet and 2016 finalists of “Britain’s Got Talent,” when they launched the new 2023-24 season for the Lakeshore Community Concert series, which features five more concerts scheduled through April 2024.
“This special concert programming began in Northwest Indiana after a group formed to think of ways to offer both affordable and entertaining musical concerts at a time when our region, like the rest of the country, was leaving the Great Depression and the World War II years,” said Christine Small, past president of the nonprofit Lakeshore Community Concert organization, which is entirely volunteer.
“So much of our subscriber base comes from returning subscribers and word of mouth.”
Small, who now assists with the organization’s publicity and weekly communication emails with subscribers, said Lakeshore Community Concerts originally began as Hammond Community Concerts. Over the years, the concerts were held at Hammond Tech High School and then Morton High School before Munster High School became the home.
The variety of talent showcased in recent decades has ranged from singer Maureen McGovern to the Four Freshman as well as Daniel Rodriguez, the latter who became known as ‘the Singing Policeman’ because of his former work with the New York Police Department and the popularity of his opera tenor voice singing ‘God Bless America’ after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The remainder of the 2023-24 season stars Mexican opera singer Bárbara Padilla in concert on Oct. 24; The Suits’ fusion of doo wop, pop and rock on Nov. 13; The Starlets trio, featuring hits from 1950s and 1960s and Motown favorites on Feb. 13, 2024; concert pianist Mia Vassilev on March 11, 2024; and Bennie and the Jets musical salute to Elton John on April 13, 2024.
“I’m proud to say we have never raised the price of our subscription to all six concerts in the past seven years I’ve been with the organization,” Borchardt said.
“We have more than 600 subscribers. New patrons learn quickly it is much more economical to just purchase the entire season rather than the individual tickets at $30 each.”
When narrowing down the options for which entertainment to hire for the new season, Borchardt said the programming committee wants to appeal to both general audience interest and also challenge ticket holders to experience new stage artists.
“Some years we travel to an annual entertainment expo which gathers stage booking agents and organizations like ourselves to see an onstage sampling of what entertainment is available for hire,” Borchardt said.
“Other years, such as this one, we watch zoom links sent to us to see the sampling. From that step, each member of our programming committee selects their personal top 20 favorites, which we narrow to the top 10 from gauging the most interest. Finally, and after much discussion, we find our final six and then investigate if we can book them for our desired dates.”
Borchardt said last season included a country music concert artist but audience response was only lukewarm.
“We want everyone to keep an open mind and come to all of the concerts, even if some of the themes might not seem to have appeal,” Borchardt said.
“We all expand our minds and creativity by new experiences. After our big September meeting and then securing the needed dates, we will work on the new brochure and be announcing our 2024-25 season lineup by August.”
76th Season Lakeshore Community Concerts
When: Now through April 13, 2024
Where: Munster High School Auditorium, 8808 Columbia Ave., Munster
Cost: $75 season subscription, $30 per concert
Philip Potempa is a freelance reporter for The Post-Tribune.