Terrace Concert Society welcomes new president

TERRACE CONCERT Society president Karen Birkedal, left, is passing the job over to Lisa McLeod. - MARGARET SPEIRS
TERRACE CONCERT Society president Karen Birkedal, left, is passing the job over to Lisa McLeod.
— image credit: MARGARET SPEIRS

THE PRESIDENT of the Terrace Concert Society is stepping down after 18 years, but she won’t disappear entirely.

And she knows she’s leaving the society in very capable hands.

Karen Birkedal is done her long tenure as president at next May’s general meeting for the society.

“It’s been a wild ride but I need to move on,” she said, adding she’s likely the longest running president in the society’s 45 years. “Eighteen years is a long time and I found someone willing to take it on.”

The society is thriving and has sold more season tickets this year than in past years – about 200 season tickets sold already compared to only 54 last year. One reason was the decrease of season ticket prices to half price and another change is general seating instead of reserved seating.

And after this season, Birkedal will step into the past president position and still be around if someone needs help.

“I’m not disappearing, I’m just not around so much,” she said.

Birkedal says there have been many memorable moments in her time as president.

“I’ve had agents making the most insane travel arrangements because nobody has an idea in New York, Florida, or Texas of the geography here,” she said.

Thanks to friends like George Clark, at Elan Travel, performers have been put up, had their cars fixed and even been taken to the hospital, she said.

Entertainers like Terrace because of the great hospitality here and they have a good time, she added.

“I’m not going to miss worrying about the money,” she said.

“I’m going to miss seeing the new exciting things coming up the pipe. We always try to grab a touring artist before they hit the big time.”

The city has seen many Juno winners and nominees and been lucky to get them when they’re still affordable.

“I always try to get them to come back and get it written in blood if I need them for a major fundraiser,” she said, adding she’s made some longstanding friends and had a lot of good times.

And just about anything that can go wrong in the theatre has happened, but they’ve got through it all.

“We’ve had everything happen so I just want to be able to go to the show and not worry,” she said.

Birkedal got started with the concert society after a friend, who was a member, wanted to host a party but needed a bigger house.

She offered her house and went to a show and liked it.

Then she bought season tickets so she and her husband could go out and have a date night.

The board later needed a secretary so she took on that role for a couple of years and then became president.

And thanks to her successor, Lisa McLeod, the society’s vice-president and the first vice-president in 10 years, Birkedal was able to take a vacation in August without having to worry about press deadlines because she knew people were handling it.

McLeod has been with the society for about two years and is very capable, said Birkedal.

With this season underway, Birkedal been working with McLeod to plan next season.

“I’m still president and she’s vice-president but she is planning the 2012/2013 season and that is her baby,” said Birkedal.

“We did this one (2011/2012 season) together so I could show her the ropes. I couldn’t just leave somebody [with the job] and say ‘good luck.’”

Birkedal is showing McLeod how to do things as there aren’t any hard and fast rules to the job and it isn’t as easy as it looks.

“There’s always an assumption that you just pick an act and open the curtain, but it’s way more complicated than that because you have to work with other communities and tours and coordinate a logistic nightmare, especially in the north because of the travel and weather,” said Birkedal.

McLeod brings a new energy to the job.

“She’s got some new ideas and she’s started to do some different things this year and I think it’s panning out,” said Birkedal.

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