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  • Writer's pictureLynn Lovegreen

The Re-enactment of Anchorage’s First Classical Concert

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

A Longfellow Evening photo montage

Anchorage is a young town. Although the indigenous Dena’ina people have been living and subsistence hunting and fishing in the Anchorage area for thousands of years, settlers weren’t common until the early 1900s and the city itself was not incorporated until 1920. So Western classical music is a relatively recent phenomenon there.

The Anchorage Festival of Music (AFM) often hosts performances of classical music and encourages young people to pursue the field. Recently, they hosted a project that also taught us a little Anchorage history.

On April 11, 1921, the Anchorage Choral Society presented “A Longfellow Evening” including readings of Longfellow poetry and classical music related to the poet’s work. Local residents with professional experience and others with self-taught skills began a tradition of classical music and literature performances that continues in Anchorage today. AFM artistic director and local historian Laura Koenig stumbled across a mention of that presentation in a newspaper article, and researched the whole event. The AFM brought people together to portray each performer and staged a virtual re-enactment of the concert on the 100thanniversary, April 11, 2021. The Anchorage Museum and the Cook Inlet Historical Society also helped AFM host a virtual lecture where Koenig and others gave information about the original performance and the people involved.

Learn more at the AFM website at

And watch the performance on YouTube at

Thanks to the AFM for bringing this slice of Alaska history to life!

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