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Worcester Wonders: The Show Goes on for Music Worcester

Music Worcester hits the right notes for 160+ years.

By Kevin Litwin on September 21, 2021

Dancer in mid jump during Music Worcester performance

The Worcester County Music Association (WCMA) debuted in 1858 as an organization to present live music events to the public at a new venue that opened a year earlier, Mechanics Hall.

In the mid-1990s, the WCMA changed its name to Music Worcester, Inc. Still; its work has remained the same: booking performances throughout the city that run the gamut, from world-class orchestras and guest soloists to chamber music, ballet, jazz concerts, choral masterworks and world music and dance.

“We are a performing arts presenter. Our focus is solely on scheduling and presenting musical productions for our audiences in and around the city,” says Adrien Finlay, executive director of Music Worcester. “We book and bring in the most amazing talent that our resources can buy, and we are very proud of that fact.”

Performances take place at various sites throughout Worcester, including The Hanover Theatre, Tuckerman Hall, the Jean McDonough Arts Center and even the 164-year-old Mechanics Hall, which was renovated in 1977. Finlay says the organization is looking forward to scheduling events at a number of outdoor venues in the years ahead.

“Every year varies, but we usually schedule about 10-15 main public events per season,” Finlay says. “We entertain about 15,000 audience members during every season, and besides in-person attendance, several of the concert performances can be viewed via live streaming.”

Standing ovation for Yo Yo Ma at Music Worcester

Big-Name Talent

Musicians who have performed in Worcester, thanks to Music Worcester bookings, include pianist Van Cliburn, recording legend Ray Charles, conductor Antonin Dvorak, pianist and composer Duke Ellington, violinist Itzhak Perlman, opera stars Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and jazz superstars Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis.

“We also ran an annual Worcester Music Festival for several years and are now looking to also schedule more dance troupes and occasional theatrical presentations,” Finlay says. “And even though scheduling events is what we mostly do, Music Worcester does have its own Worcester Chorus that dates back to 1858. The chorus presents Handel’s ‘Messiah’ every December and other small concerts throughout the year.”

Finlay adds that the organization has a robust relationship with Worcester Public Schools, including a free ticket program called Tickets to Opportunity that is subsidized by several corporate sponsors.

“Tickets to Opportunity allows everyone to enjoy the artistic benefits of the shows we offer,” he says. “Our mission as a community-minded organization is to generate interest in music and enhance its understanding among people of all ages, including outreach to children in schools. I hope that by late 2021 or early 2022, we might all be elbow-to-elbow again, enjoying the many performances presented each year by Music Worcester.”

Symphony performs Messiah at Music Worcester

Music Worcester, Inc. By the Numbers

Hosts a podcast called

Conductor in Sweatpants


15 Scholarships

Has Give

6,500+ tickets

to Tickets to Opportunity

Has obtained

100 Awards/Prizes


60 Volunteers

For the 2021-22 season, the entertainment lineup includes Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar, The Hot Sardines, Dorrance Dance, The Knights with Aaron Diehl, Polish Baltic Philharmonic, Grammy-winning orchestra Apollo’s Fire, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, and American Ballet Theatre. Exact dates will be announced closer to each performance. Visit musicworcester.org/concerts21-22.

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