The people of North County have no shortage of music in their lives,because they have Eloise Vaughan.
For the last 10 years, this 62-year-old grandmother from Linthicum has worked more hours than she can count to bring symphonies, choirs, dance troupes, ragtime ensemblesand concert pianists to the area.
In 1981, at the urging of two Andover High School art teachers who saw no reason why Annapolis should have a monopoly on culture, Vaughan founded the Performing Arts Association of Linthicum.
In the nine seasons she served as PAAL's president, she helped bring a variety of artists from all over the country to Andover High School (now North County High School) and the Linthicum Methodist Church.
"It was a struggling organization when it began," says Glen Burnie's Jerry Van Airesdale, 67, who recently replaced Vaughan as president. "A lotof members paid for things out of their own pocket."
But Vaughan was "outgoing and highly organized, one who really got things done," and PAAL flourished.
Today, on the eve of its 10th season, PAAL boasts about 650 paid subscribers and the distinction of being North County's principal source of cultural enrichment.
The association sponsors five concerts a year and hopes to bring in even more people bybroadening its range of offerings, says Vaughan, now PAAL's first-vice president.
"One of our goals is to fill North County High School," she says. "It has a seating capacity of 1,180 people, so it's quite a challenge."
As Vaughan sees it, the secret to meeting that challenge lies in attracting more of North County's black and Asian communities without alienating current subscribers, who prefer traditional Western arts.
"We tend to be a little conservative," she explains. Audiences like the familiar classics. They'd rather hear Mozart's"A Little Night Music" than some new, avant garde piece by an unknown composer. And they love lighter fare, like ragtime and folk music.
Last season, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra's contract with PAAL guaranteed that it could perform a new work. "We tried to talk them out of it, but they were pretty insistent. It was a little far out fora lot of people," Vaughan recalls. "Fortunately, it only lasted eight minutes."
Similarly, some ethnic artists are too far from the mainstream to suit this audience. Recently, for example, Vaughan found a group that performed music of China. "I thought, 'That sounds wonderful!' But it was really pretty deadly.
"I've had a little troubletrying to (find minority artists) that would appeal to everybody," she said. Less offbeat artists, like the Morgan State Choir, are probably what PAAL is looking for, she said.
As PAAL's new president, Van Airesdale says one of his goals is to provide a showcase for new local talent. Glen Burnie pianist Douglas Keegan, a Peabody graduate now studying at the Warsaw Conservatory, performed in North County last year and was a rousing success, he noted.
Van Airesdale, a former school principal with a lifelong love of the arts, also wishes PAALcould sponsor one of his favorite cultural events -- an opera. But he and Vaughan agree that while a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta would go over well, a serious opera would be too heavy for this audience tohandle.