RUMFORD — A tradition that once brought hundreds of people to the downtown area is being revived by the newly formed Rumford Performing Arts Committee.

The historic, century-old Municipal Auditorium will become the site for a variety of musical and other performances, just as it was decades ago.

The initial kickoff, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, will be a free concert by the 22-piece U.S. Air Force Liberty Jazz Band.

“We want to bring pleasure and diversion and uplifting spirit to the people of Rumford in these hard times,” said Linda Macgregor, a committee member.

In the long term, however, bringing the band and many other performers to the auditorium is one way to boost the local economy.

“We want to support the performing arts in the region and make Rumford’s performing arts series a magnet for surrounding towns. It’s a role in the economy,” Macgregor said.

Having the Air Force jazz band appear is also the revival of another tradition, said committee member Kim Sequoia.

In past decades, when the auditorium hosted numerous performances, military bands often played, she said.

Committee Chairman Jim Rinaldo is expected to introduce the concert as well as discuss why the committee was formed as part of an overall economic development plan.

The town provided $1,000 as seed money for the committee. It is hoped that admission charges will help fund an ongoing series.

“People are starting to call us,” Sequoia said.

The first concert in a series of monthly performances will be free. And although future performances will come with a fee, that amount isn’t expected to be great.

The Dec. 12 performance will charge $3 for anyone older than 12; all others will be admitted for free.

It will be a multi-part holiday program of a children’s Christmas play directed by Thea Dunn, a performance by the Holy Savior Choir, directed by Mark Belanger, and a Festival of Trees.

The Performing Arts Committee joins with the River Valley Chamber of Commerce for the presentation of the January and February programs. On Jan. 13, The Maine Hysterical Society performs, followed by another comedy program on Feb. 13 with the Marden’s lady.

Future performances could include drummers, fiddlers, a yodeler and other musicians.

The renewed use of the Municipal Auditorium is the result of hundreds of thousands of dollars in work completed during the past couple of years to resolve code violations. The balcony can now be used. The auditorium is handicapped accessible, a bathroom is located on each floor of the Municipal Building.

The Air Force jazz band performance takes place the day after the November elections. One of the items on the local ballot is to choose a new name for the auditorium — The Clock Tower Auditorium, The Rumford Falls Auditorium or Chisholm Memorial Auditorium.

In the meantime, the Rumford Performing Arts Committee will continue planning for future performances.

“Maybe we’ll add matinee performances for kids,” Macgregor said.

Anyone who wishes to volunteer to help seat people or other tasks is asked to call Sequoia at 364-7400 or Rinaldo at 364-2983.

[email protected]


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