A little-known piece of Erie Philharmonic history, discovered in archives

Posted on: November 18, 2016

“A chance discovery by the executive director of the Erie Philharmonic showed that back in 1950, the philharmonic was singled out by the U.S. Department of State as a ‘model of musical culture in America,’ ” reads an article accompanying a video story on Thursday (11/17) at YourErie.com (Pennsylvania). “Members of the State Department [and Voice of America radio] actually came to Gannon’s Hammermill Center (then the Gannon Auditorium), to record an album to be used for propaganda purposes in December of 1950. The recording would probably be lost—maybe forever—if it were not for the philharmonic’s executive director Steve Weiser. Weiser was cleaning out old archives when he found several boxes of old LP records [and] an old … newspaper article [with] the headline … ‘Erie Philharmonic to pierce the iron curtain.’ … The recordings were to be used to counteract Soviet Union propaganda showing that the United States’ sole concern was with money and wealth. ‘We were one of the first orchestras to do expansive youth concerts and that was one thing the article mentioned,’ Weiser said. ‘They wanted to show we weren’t just a country creating money and wealth, but educating youth through arts and music.’ ”

Posted November 18, 2016