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date: 17 October 2019


  • George R. Belden
  • , revised by Philip Munger


US state (pop. 721,231; 2010 US Census). Although Alaska’s population grew rapidly from World War II through the end of the 20th century, this growth slowed subsequently with population declines in the rural interior. State support for cultural organizations and for arts education in schools and universities has not remained consistent. A high percentage of corporate gifts to arts organizations has come from oil companies, and, in the early 21st century, from the financial services industry.

The city of Anchorage (pop. 291,826; 2010 US Census) is the main hub for musical activity in the vast yet sparsely populated state. Few records exist of the frontier town’s musical life before 1928, when the local high school engaged Lorene Harrison, a young college graduate from Kansas, to teach music and home economics; she also sang, produced shows, founded groups, and directed the choir at the First Presbyterian Church of Anchorage. For many years she guided virtually all of the city’s musical activities; during World War II, when most civilians were evacuated from Alaska, she stayed on as director of the United Service Organizations, and arranged and conducted concerts at which military personnel and local residents performed....

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