Associate Professor of Music History Matt Baumer gave a paper titled "Who Benefits from a Benefit Concert? Music and Philanthropy in 1980s Pittsburgh" at the Allegheny Chapter of the American Musicological Society at Chatham University on March 19, 2016.
The paper addressed the venerable and reciprocal relationship between music and charity. In the U.S., the opera and symphony have nearly always required charitable contributions beyond ticket sales to survive, but musicians are also frequently asked to donate their services for charity. The all-purpose vehicle for charity for and from musical organizations is the benefit concert, an institution with multiple and overlapping meanings.
High-profile benefit concerts in mid-1980s Pittsburgh given by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra reveal many shadings of the word "benefit." Far from being special or unusual, the benefit concert is an important part of the strategy for marketing, supporting and legitimizing cultural institutions.
Department of Music