Arts Bug Bit The Boy And Gave Man His Life's Work



Allen Fisher was bitten by the bug as a boy -- thanks to his mother.

"She guided me to classical music and the enjoyment of it," he explained. That joy led him to a career in the business of presenting the performing arts, and it still plays a major part in his life in retirement.


Allen Fisher

Fisher is the man in charge of promoting the performances presented by the Tonto Community Concert Association.

His love of music brought him to his career in a round-about way, though.

"When I was first married, I was working as a Fuller Brush salesman and I absolutely hated it," he said. "I started thinking about the work I would enjoy the most. In high school, I was an usher at the Hollywood Bowl during the summer and eventually worked in the box office. I had loved that." So, Fisher decided to see about going back to work at the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to working at that noted performing arts venue, he was able to join the staff of the Los Angeles Music Center when it first opened, worked for the Los Angeles public television station's subscription department, served as ticket sales manager for the Pacific Symphony and finished his working life at the California Institute of Technology's public events office.

"I've sold well over a million dollars in tickets in the course of my career," Fisher said. There were times when he was working for the Hollywood Bowl he would make bank deposits totaling several hundred thousand dollars from a single performance.

Retiring to Payson about seven years ago, Fisher became a TCCA ticket holder four years ago, then last year, when he learned there was to be an opening on its board of directors, he put his name in for consideration. He did not get to help choose the 2005-2006 artists, but he will be going to Nashville with 10 other board members this August to pick the performers for the 2006-2007 season.

Sometimes called an artists' showcase, the event in Nashville, "Live on Stage," provides representatives from community concert groups from throughout the country an opportunity to see different performers. The community representatives get a sample of the talent available to present to their audiences and have the opportunity to negotiate dates and salaries.

"On Aug. 27, the board will decided which artists we want to have in our 2006-2007 season," Fisher said.

This is his first showcase and the first time he has been east of the Mississippi.

Of all the performances he has seen through the TCCA, he said he most enjoyed the Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats, which had an audience that almost filled the Payson High School auditorium.

Out of all the performances he has seen in his career though, his favorite was Les Misérables.

"It is the only musical I've seen where the audience gave a change of scenery a standing ovation."

His earliest memory of the performing arts is seeing his mother in a play at church in which she was shot. "I cried and cried because they killed my mother," he said.

The first professional performance he saw was The Nutcracker at Hollywood High. During World War II, his father moved the family to California in order to take a job with Lockheed, Fisher explained. The most memorable "arts-related" event of his childhood -- seeing Lassie live at the Hollywood Bowl.

The TCCA performance he is most looking forward to in the 2005-2006 season is the concert by The Coats, an a capella vocal ensemble, which will be in concert Monday, March 6.

He urges everyone to come out to the first performance, single show tickets are only $20 per person and the entire season costs only $60. The season tickets will be available at the first concert, Aug. 21, at 7

p.m. at the Payson High School auditorium. It features the Spirit of Phoenix, an a capella barbershop group which recently took eighth place in an international competition. Season tickets are also offered at the second show, Oct. 14, which features Susan Egan, a vocalist who will bring the sounds of Broadway to the Rim country.

While Fisher has a great love of music, he said he can only play the piano for his own enjoyment, but in high school, he was asked to play several different instruments.

"The instructor would need an instrument played, hand it to me and I could manage it," he said. Among the instruments he played as young man were the bassoon, the baritone horn, and the tympani. He was also a drum major for his high school marching band.

When not working with TCCA, Fisher likes to read fiction, especially mysteries, horror and western novels. Right now he is reading a Louis L'Amour and for the trip back to Nashville, he is taking the latest in the Harry Potter series. "I love those books, I have the whole series," he said.


Name: Allen Fisher

Occupation: Retired from California Institute of Technology public events office

Age: 70

Birthplace: Shenandoah, Iowa

Family: Three children, eight grandchildren

Personal motto: Be as good as I can be and have fun

Inspiration: My mother, Leota Fisher

Greatest feat: Working at the Los Angeles Music Center and helping develop its computer system for ticket sales

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Reading -- mysteries, horror, Westerns -- I'm reading something almost all the time

Three words that best describe me: Kind, helpful, energetic

The person in history I'd most like to meet is: Joseph Stalin

Luxury defined: An extended trip to Australia, New Zealand and the Far East

Dream vacation spot: See above, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon

Why Payson? I was tired of California, the traffic and people and I wanted four seasons again. Traveling throughout the west to find a place to retire, Payson was the friendliest place I found.

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