The Rockford Coronado Concert Association was established in 1936 as the Rockford Community Concert Association. It was part of a nationwide arts movement to bring high-quality classical performances to middle America during the Great Depression.

Nationwide Movement

In 1930, at the start of the depression, William S. Paley, the head of Columbia Broadcasting System in New York, created the Columbia Concerts Corporation. It later became known as CAMI, Columbia Artist Management, Inc. Its purpose was to invite cities and towns to book a concert series annually, thereby keeping fine music alive across the country. On the early programs, their logo read, “A Carnegie Hall in Every Town.” At its peak, CAMI had 1000 associations throughout the country.

Rockford at Forefront

Locally, in 1936, some members of Rockford’s Mendelssohn Club saw the potential of the Columbia plan and founded the Rockford Community Concert Association. It was an early member of the nationwide network.

The first season for the Rockford Coronado Concert Association was 1936-37. The early concerts were held at the Shrine Temple in downtown Rockford. Beginning with the 1942-43 season, the concerts were moved across the street to the Coronado Theatre, where they remain.

The name was changed to Rockford Coronado Concert Association for the 2003-2004 season as the association ended its relationship with CAMI and contracted with artists on its own.

Some of the many stellar artists presented by RCCA include notables such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, Isaac Stern, Van Cliburn, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats, Itzhak Perlman and Lang Lang.