Overture Concerts Association
Overture Concerts Association. Vancouver-based concert agency, founded in 1955 by George Zukerman (who was still president in 1990) to present live performances in small or remote Canadian centres. The association began with four concerts in Nelson, BC, on a budget of $1800. By l977 over 5000 concerts, with a total budget of $4.5 million in artists' fees, had been presented in some 70 communities in western Canada, the Arctic, and as far east as northern Ontario. In the early years, almost half the artists involved were Canadian; in the 1970s the percentage became higher. The association made a practice of working with community groups, which launched membership drives among local citizens. The success of the drives determined the range of presentations, which could include soloists, chamber and choral groups (eg, in the Arctic, the Vancouver Radio Orchestra, a touring version of the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra, in 1969) and opera (including the COC touring company in 1976-7).
However, the 1970s saw Overture Concerts Association move from sole affiliation with local groups to become one of the largest tour-planning organizations in Canada. Its role amid the smaller communities in British Columbia, which Zukerman continues to regard as important, is carried out by Celebrity Concerts Society (of which Zukerman is executive director), which operates under the aegis of Overture Concerts Association. By 1990 the association operated from coast to coast and had presented, since its inception, some 11,500 concerts with a total budget of $7 million in artists' fees. The bookings frequently involve major international ensembles in large centres, eg, the Moscow Philharmonic, USSR State Symphony, and the Shostakovitch and Borodin Quartets, but remote regions are not neglected; for instance, in 1989, under Celebrity Concerts Society, the Vancouver Wind Trio toured the Stikine area (including Telegraph Creek) in British Columbia, the Cassenti Players undertook a coastal schools tour to remote communities and, under Overture Concerts Association in 1990, Party Fever (a Vancouver a capella vocal quartet) performed in the Northwest Territories. The nature of the tours, however, has changed: in the 1960s and early 1970s a group might give 20 to 30 concerts, while in the 1990s the usual number ranges from 5 to 10. Nevertheless, the association's impact on the national scene is impressive, and there is an average of 500 concert bookings per year.