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Kindred Arts Concert prepares for 24th season

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Kindred Arts Concert prepares for 24th season

The Cyprus String quartet will perform Sunday, Oct. 10, at 3 p.m.

Photo contributed/

POSTED September 1, 2010 2:33 a.m.
The genesis of Manteca Kindred Arts is a classic example of the power of a small idea whose time has come.

The non-profit concert association, which is now setting the stage for its 24th anniversary next year, started with an idea planted by the late Robert Camden in a column he wrote for the Manteca Bulletin sometime in 1985. Kindred Arts board member and artist selection chairman Don Peterson still vividly remembers reading that column. It was the catalyst that started the ball rolling for a handful of classical-music lovers in Manteca.

“I saw this article in this paper written by Mr. Camden about something missing in Manteca – genuine musical concerts,” Peterson recalled.

It was evident the former Bulletin columnist had enjoyed such a concert “somewhere” and was wistfully thinking that this is what is lacking in Manteca, Peterson said.

A few who read the column acted on the idea and started meeting in the Fireside Room of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Powers Avenue and East North Street “and sort(ed) out what we wanted to do as a group,” said Peterson, reminiscing about those planning meetings that gave birth to Kindred Arts.

The group decided on the name Kindred Arts after an “in-house” recital-type of program that was offered at one time at St. Paul’s.

The first concert featured “a young fellow” named Tony Ubaldo who was teaching piano at the University of the Pacific.

Kindred Arts was, at that time, rich in enthusiasm but poor in terms of financial backing. Recognizing that fact, Peterson said Ubaldo (who succumbed to complications of diabetes years later but not before he performed an encore performance) “donated his time because we didn’t have a dime.”

While St. Paul’s today is the permanent venue for the Kindred Arts concerts, three concerts during the early years of the association were hosted by two other churches in town – St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church where two of the programs were held, and the other at the former First Church of the Nazarene on Argonaut Street.

One of the concerts at St. Anthony’s on East North Street featured Ubaldo at the piano and tenor Enrico Saboren. That concert also featured the church’s newly acquired Rodgers pipe organ.

The artist who performed at First Nazarene was Neal Lo Monaco who, at that time, was the principal cellist of the Sacramento Symphony and a member of the Sacramento String Quartet. Not long after his performance in Manteca, the cellist died on Feb. 12, 1987 at the age of 41.

“We didn’t have a good piano at St. Paul’s yet (at the time), and (Kindred Arts member) Carol Hughes went to First Nazarene at that time. They had a nice Yamaha piano, not as big as we have now at St. Paul’s, but it was a nice piano,” Peterson said, recalling the time the Kindred Arts played at the Nazarene church.

Performers who have graced the pages of the Kindred Arts’ brochures are highly regarded in the classical music industry, Peterson pointed out. But unlike most “commercially oriented” performers, these are artists “who didn’t go into (the classical music) because they wanted to become millionaires.

“It would be nice to make money, but they’re not thinking that they are going to make $10 million in a recording. That’s not why they are doing it; it’s a different world all together. The groups we have admire the sophistication of our series. They really respect what we are doing, and so we’re all on a mission for good music,” added Peterson, explaining why a small-town concert series like what Kindred Arts is offering continues to attract big names in the world’s classical music industry.

A launching pad for the world’s stage
The Kindred Arts has helped launch the career of many artists to the national and international stage. Peterson cites the Cypress String Quartet as a perfect example. Returning to the Kindred Arts Series for the second time in the 2010-11 concert season, the quartet now juggles 90 concerts each year at venues in the United States and all over the world. Just as impressive, the members of the quartet play on “exceptional instruments: violins by Antonio Stradivari (1681) and Carlos Bergonzi (1733), a viola by Vittorio Bellarosa (1947), and a cello by Hieronymus Amati II (1701).

Two of the five concerts featured during the 2010-11 season are also encore performers. They are pianist Frank Wiens (Sunday, Nov. 21, at 3 p.m.) and the perennially popular Opus Handbell Ensemble which is scheduled to perform during the holiday season on Sunday, Dec. 19, at 3 p.m. The Cypress String Quartet will make their encore appearance on Sunday, Oct.  10, at 3 p.m.

“The series this year is sort of in preparation of our 25th in that we’re featuring three of five artists we had before. We will continue that somewhat next year,” in the 2011-12 concert season, said Peterson, the Kindred Arts’ publicity person.

“They put on very successful concerts,” he said of this season’s returning artists.

This is actually Wiens’ third appearance in Manteca, said Peterson of the former professor of piano at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. For his performance, Wiens will play an “all Chopin” program in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Chopin.

Supported solely by donations
Just as Kindred Arts has continued to earn the respect and loyalty of the world’s top classical performers, the non-profit organization has also managed to hold on to the loyalty of those who take care of its purse strings.

“A lot of local donors have held with us firmly because they also firmly respect the organization for its mission. So, we’re lucky in that way. It’s not that it’s been easy. We’re very lucky. A lot of non-profits are having a lot of trouble, but our donations have held pretty well,” Peterson said.

What’s really a miracle, though, is “the hard work of our local people that have been on our board for years. I tip my head off to (board president) Judy Byer because the position really is a full-time job,” Peterson said.

Byer is not just the current president of the association, she has held that post as well for many years. The rest of the board has been just as loyal to the organization, toiling countless hours to make it a success. They include Carolyn Tatum, vice president; Barbara Meyer, secretary; and Peterson, artist selection committee chairman and publicity person.

The group meets “traditionally” three weeks before each concert during the season, and holds period meetings and budget meetings in the summer.

Augmenting donations from supporters are proceeds from the only major fund-raiser held every year called The Great Options.

Volunteers wanted  for Kindred Arts
One thing that has helped the concert association a lot in the past year was the lauching of the Kindred Arts web site.
“This is our first full year of having our web site, and that has made a big difference,” said Peterson, especially in the procurement of potential future performers.

But like any organization, Kindred Arts is in need of volunteers to help in a lot of what Peterson calls “gut work.” This year, the association launched an auxiliary group that hopefully will take some of the burden off from the board members.

They need people to help in preparing a hard-copy newsletter or an e-mail version of it that would be sent to members and prospective members, as well as volunteers willing to pound the pavement and distribute concert flyers throughout the city.

They are also looking into the possibility of obtaining assistance in grant writing for the organization.

For information on how to help the Kindred Arts, or about future concerts and how to obtain season tickets, call (209) 823-2570 or (209) 239-2194. You can also log on to for further details.

Memberships are $45 each for adults; $55 for one adult plus family (under 18), and $100 for two adults plus family (under 18). Donations, which are tax deductible, may be sent to: Manteca Kindred Arts, P.O. Box 4201, Manteca, CA 95337.

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