In 2004—on a mission to bolster its community’s wellspring of art, creativity, and education—the nonprofit Bergen Performing Arts Center took over the former John Harms Center, an art deco–style movie and vaudeville palace built in 1926. Today, in the same antique theater where Shakespeare screened his first car-chase movie, the Bergen Performing Arts Center hosts 150 yearly events that bring dance, music, and theatrical productions to an estimated 250,000 annual audience members. Networks like HBO, PBS, and MTV all have filmed international broadcasts on Bergen Performing Arts Center’s stage, which has seen the likes of Tony Bennett, Woody Allen, and the Dixie Chicks.
Before the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts was even built, the idea for its Chamber Music Society was born. American composer and Lincoln Center President William Schuman helped specially design a recital hall in which the chamber group could play more than three centuries worth of musical compositions. But the Chamber Music Society didn't stay contained within its venue. Throughout the following half century, its musicians collaborated with dance companies, jazz projects, and festivals, helping to spread awareness and appreciation of their craft throughout the city.
For more than half a century the American Symphony Orchestra has hewn to founder Leopold Stokowski's original vision: "to offer concerts of great music within the means of everyone." That means its shows aren't just financially affordable, they're also demystified by conductor lectures and never held inside biodomes. In recent years, the organization has added a new facet to its time-tested strategy: curated concerts built around a theme. Shows might explore a particular place and time, examine a literary motif, or delve into the interaction between music and visual art. This strategy has attracted a lot of attention, and not just from audiences: such greats as Yo-Yo Ma, Deborah Voigt, Sarah Chang, and Carnegie Hall's mask-wearing Phantoms of the Barbershop Quartet have all vied to play with the Orchestra.
The Greek Theatre, one of Los Angeles' most iconic music venues, was built in 1929 as a gift from wealthy immigrant Griffith J. Griffith, who wanted to give back to his adopted city. With a stage that evokes an ancient Hellenistic theater, modern sound systems, and clear sightlines, the venue combines old and new, much like cell phones made of Nintendo controllers.