In 1887, 13 women joined together in Akron to celebrate their love of music and share it with their community. Now 125 years later, Tuesday Musical Club, currently called the Tuesday Musical Association, has grown to 185 members, but the same fundamental passion of its original members remains.
Tuesday Musical Association is a non-profit classical music organization, which provides a premier concert series for the community, educational and scholarship programs for young people, as well as performance and listening opportunities for its members and guests.
Each year, Tuesday Musical brings to Akron world-renowned classical music performers, a tradition that began in 1895. This year’s concert series features a variety of performers, from the Cleveland Orchestra to Yo-Yo Ma. All performances are located at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall on The University of Akron campus.
“Music clubs like this one were prolific at the turn of the century, and ours began with a study and performance paradigm,” says Barbara Feld, Tuesday Musical’s executive director. “The members would meet in homes and perform for each other and would study music.”
While similar music clubs were founded around the same time, very few remain today, and even fewer bring in the same caliber of performers as Tuesday Musical.
Throughout its existence, several famous Akronites have joined the ranks of this group, including the wife of Frank Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
“Gertrude Seiberling was such a force in the early days of Tuesday Musical,” Feld says. “Frank built the Stan Hywet music room for Gertrude and her Tuesday Musical friends, and it was often a gathering place for members, as well as a performance venue for members and Gertrude’s personal and professional musical friends.”
Other famous Tuesday Musical members include Mabel Graham, co-founder of the Akron Symphony Orchestra, and Margaret Baxtresser, an internationally renowned concert pianist.
Since its founding, a key mission of Tuesday Musical has been educating future generations about the arts and encouraging music education.
“As school levies continued to fail and arts budgets were reduced, it became obvious to Tuesday Musical that we had to be proactive and help promote the arts to students throughout Northeast Ohio,” Feld says.
Doing its part, Tuesday Musical offers free student tickets for all of its performances. Nearly 2,000 students, from middle school to university-age, attended last season’s concert series. The artists who appear in the series often visit schools, teach master classes or give private lectures and performances.
“These opportunities can be pivotal in a student’s life, especially as they’re making college decisions or career choices,” Feld says. “Recently, I met a young woman who had attended the Renée Fleming concert, and that was the inspiration she needed to go forward and pursue a degree in vocal performance.”
In addition to enhancing music education, Tuesday Musical also provides scholarships for students pursuing careers in music. Since its scholarship program began in 1955, Tuesday Musical has awarded 500 scholarships, each ranging from $500 to $2,000.
While Tuesday Musical is built on a foundation of classical music, the organization has also showcased cultural and dance troupes throughout its history.
“From the very beginning, Tuesday Musical has had variety and balance in its seasons,” Feld says. “The unifying thread with whoever we present is that the artist must be artistically excellent and recognized in his or her field as one of the best there is.”
For the members of Tuesday Musical, who Feld says are like a “large extended family,” this year’s 125th milestone anniversary is all about preserving a history of excellence, including bringing in performers people wouldn’t expect to see in a town this size.
“Time and again, people will say, ‘How do you get these performers to Akron?’ “ Feld says. “Tuesday Musical has always been known for presenting the ‘Best of the Best,’ and while many use that tagline, it really summarizes the success behind this organization.”
Though years have passed and members have come and gone, the organization’s mission has remained consistent for 125 years, and Feld says the original 13 members would be proud to see what their organization has become.
“These women were the ‘movers and shakers’ of their day, and I think they had high expectations of their music club,” Feld says. “I believe all would be proud and honored to realize that what they started has grown, evolved, kept pace with societal changes and that it has continued to represent the ‘Best of the Best.’ ”
/ Freelance writer Leighann McGivern is a senior at KSU working on her bachelor’s in journalism.