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Live on Stage to launch 80th music season

Live on Stage Marshalltown, run by an all-volunteer non-profit board, will celebrate its 80th concert season in September. It recently announced its six-show season line-up.

“It was started by a great group of people 80 years ago, and we managed to maintain their vision and add to it over the years,” board member Bill Fitzgerald said. “We’re just trying to encourage everybody that doesn’t know us, to find out who we are and take a hard look at becoming a (subscriber).”

Formerly known as the Marshalltown Community Concert Association, it was founded in 1940 by a group of citizens interested in establishing a concert series in Marshalltown. At the time, it became affiliated with the headquarters of Community Concerts Association in New York City.

Bill Fisher, Martha-Ellen Tye and Margaret Glick were instrumental in the association’s growth and success.

The first concert performance was by famed piano-duo Vronsky & Babin, who appeared at the Odeon Theater in November 1940, according to the book “The Continuing History of Marshall County.” The association held its concerts at the Odeon until the theater closed in 1956 and soon after was demolished. Later venues have included churches and Miller Middle School. Since 1985, the concerts have been held at the Marshalltown High School/Community Auditorium.

“Martha-Ellen Tye — the Fisher family — was very heavy into the arts, and they ran a business (Fisher Controls) that was primarily engineering-oriented,” Fitzgerald said. “So I think Martha-Ellen’s not-so-hidden agenda was to make sure the engineers that came to town had some entertainment and were exposed to culture.”

Its 2018-2019 concert series wrapped up last month. It included performances by a variety of musicians such as songstress Maureen McGovern, who came to Marshalltown in September 2018.

Fitzgerald said in the early years, the association solely booked classical music acts. But in the late 1950s, it branched out to include jazz combos, guitar and dance groups and international performers.

“There’s a perception out there we’re all classical music, and while we always maintain some classical content to our season, we have swung the needle to something that is more pop-oriented,” he said. “We’re trying to appeal to a broad range of ages.”

The 2019-2020 season kicks off at 2 p.m. Sept. 29, 2019 with a performance by the Celtic Angels, which consists of five female singers, a band and a group of Irish step dancers. At 7 p.m. Oct. 17, 2019, M5 Mexican Brass will perform. Latin America’s most successful brass quintet, the musicians have an international following. Next in the series will be Loren & Mark guitar players, who come to Marshalltown at 7 p.m. Nov. 16, 2019, playing a diverse collection of songs inspired by Americana, jazz, classical, bluegrass, gypsy jazz and more.

Jason Lyle Black’s performance will include piano playing and comedy, slated for 7 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2020.

“In the audition he did for us, he actually laid down on his back and played upside down without looking at the keys, which was pretty amazing,” Fitzgerald said.

The Maxwell Quartet will perform (clad in kilts) at 7 p.m. March 10, 2020. Based in Glasgow, Scottland, they appear regularly on BBC Radio Scotland.

Closing out the 2019-2020 season will be a group that competed on America’s Got Talent — Sons of Serendip, 7 p.m. on April 28, 2020. Using a harp, piano, cello and vocals, the group emotionally expresses popular songs and encourages audience participation.

All these acts will be making their Marshalltown debut.

In most cases, performers will have merchandise available for sale and sometimes are able to sign autographs after the show.

Early Bird Blitz on subscriptions ends May 10. Single person year membership is $50, couples $100 and family $120.

A subscription also allows entry to free shows through a reciprocity program with the Waterloo Metro Music Series and Jasper County Concert Association in Newton.

To subscribe, visit losmarshalltown.org. For further questions, Fitzgerald may be reached at 641-750-5707.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com

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