Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

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Chamber Music Society artists perform in Alice Tully Hall. Photo by Tristan Cook.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) is an American organization dedicated to the performance and promotion of chamber music in New York City.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) is one of eleven resident companies of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the largest performing arts complex in the world. Through its performance, education, and recording/broadcast activities, it draws more people to chamber music than any other organization of its kind.

CMS presents annual series of concerts and educational events for listeners ranging from connoisseurs to chamber music newcomers of all ages. Performing repertoire from over three centuries, and numerous premieres by living composers, CMS offers programs curated to provide listeners a comprehensive perspective on the art of chamber music. The performing artists of CMS, a multi-generational selection of expert chamber musicians, constitute an evolving repertory company capable of presenting chamber music of every instrumentation, style, and historical period. Its annual activities include a full season of concerts and events, national and international tours, nationally televised broadcasts on Live From Lincoln Center, a radio show broadcast nationwide, and regular appearances on American Public Media’s Performance Today.

In 2004, CMS appointed cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han artistic directors. They succeed founding director Charles Wadsworth (1969-89), Fred Sherry (1989-93), and David Shifrin (1993-2004).[1]

History[edit]

In 1965, as plans for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts were in the final stages, the distinguished American composer and President of Lincoln Center, William Schuman, first conceived of an organization dedicated to performing the finest chamber music. This organization, to be housed in its own specially designed recital hall, would take its place among the finest ballet, symphonic and opera companies at Lincoln Center. Charles Wadsworth took on the challenge of the creation and artistic direction of the organization. With the patronage and inspiring leadership of Alice Tully, the plan was brought to fruition. On September 11, 1969, Alice Tully Hall opened with the first performance of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, beginning a new era for chamber music in the United States. The eager audiences that filled Alice Tully Hall welcomed the opportunity to hear over three centuries of music written by history’s great composers.

In addition to its ability to regularly program an enormous variety of chamber works, the achievements of CMS include innovative projects such as collaborations with the Bill T. Jones/Arne Zane Dance Company and Jazz at Lincoln Center, thematic “series within a series” such as two “Musical Evolutions” examinations and specially focused Winter Festivals, and the highly successful “Great Day in New York,” which brought together New York composers in all genres of music for a festival in collaboration with Merkin Concert Hall. With its success, the Chamber Music Society helped inspire phenomenal growth in the field of chamber music.[2]

Mission and Commitment to Artistic Excellence[edit]

The Chamber Music Society’s numerous activities—from concerts and education programs, to commissioning projects and young artist development programs—are informed by this vision, which was articulated in 1969 when the Chamber Music Society was founded. The purposes for which The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is created are to stimulate and support the appreciation, performance and composition of chamber music:

  • By presenting chamber music concerts at which the public may hear works deemed worthy of performance and performed by artists selected by the Chamber Music Society,
  • By commissioning and performing for the public and by sponsoring or arranging for the publication of new chamber music works written by composers selected by the Chamber Music Society,
  • By sponsoring or arranging for the reproduction, by mechanical, electronic or other means, of chamber music performances presented or chamber music works commissioned by the Chamber Music Society for television, radio, recording and other like means of public presentation and dissemination,
  • By presenting, sponsoring or providing for programs and activities designed to stimulate and encourage exposure to and understanding, knowledge and appreciation of the literature, history and performance of chamber music, and
  • By acquiring and maintaining collections of material pertinent to the performance and appreciation of chamber music, including literature, manuscripts, scores, recordings, tapes and to other forms of reproductions, and by making any or all of the foregoing available to others by whatever means deemed appropriate by the Chamber Music Society. [3]
(Left to Right) Chamber Music Society artists Erin Keefe, Richard O'Neill, and Andreas Brantelid. Photo by Tristan Cook.

As the nation’s premier repertory company for chamber music, CMS is committed to bringing audiences the finest performances of an extraordinary body of repertoire, dating as far back as the Renaissance and continuing through the centuries to the finest works of our time. As a compelling and dynamic means of artistic expression, chamber music has always inspired composers to create some of their finest works. Today, CMS actively supports composers’ efforts. In its history, CMS has commissioned over 150 new works from a formidable array of composers, including Bruce Adolphe, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, John Corigliano, George Crumb, Lukas Foss, John Harbison, Alberto Ginastera, Morton Gould, Keith Jarrett, Oliver Knussen, Frank Martin, Gian Carlo Menotti, Darius Milhaud, Peter Schickele, Bright Sheng, Joan Tower, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. [4] CMS also supports the work of living composers by awarding the Elise L. Stoeger Prize, a cash award given every other year to an outstanding composer of chamber music.[5]

Artists of the Society[edit]

When CMS was founded, live performance of chamber music was dominated by the string quartet. CMS drew together a small repertory company, nine of the finest string, wind, and keyboard artists, and started performing a rich array of repertoire not often heard on the concert stages of New York City. Since that time, the world of chamber music has grown and changed dramatically, with large numbers of ensembles across the country in varying instrumental combinations performing all imaginable kinds of chamber music – and CMS has grown and changed with it. CMS is now a company of some thirty-five artists with guest artists performing a wide range of concerts and education events. Among these artists are veteran favorites of CMS; newcomers to the core group of artists; young talents joining CMS through Chamber Music Society Two (a highly competitive three-year residency program); and guest artists who contribute to special repertoire projects.

Chamber Music Society Two[edit]

Dedicated to developing the chamber music leaders of the future, CMS created CMS Two, the highly regarded and rigorously competitive three-season residency for the most important chamber music ensembles and individuals that fully integrates CMS Two artists into every facet of CMS activities. Each year, a number of CMS Two alumni are invited to become CMS Season Artists and Guest Artists, and many of the world’s leading artists, such as pianist Lang Lang, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, violinist Hilary Hahn, and many others are alumni of the program. A Season Artist with CMS since he completed the program in 2011-12, CMS Two alumnus cellist Nicholas Canellakis wrote: “There isn't a single musical organization in the country that helps young musicians like the Chamber Music Society does with its CMS Two program.”[6]

The Escher String Quartet performing in the Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Studio. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Season Programming and Venues[edit]

  • Alice Tully Hall hosts CMS' mainstage performances, including the annual Baroque and Winter Festivals. The complete Brandenburg Concertos are performed each December, and have been called a "New York holiday staple" by The New York Times. [7]
    Chamber Music Society artists performing the Brandenburg Concertos in Alice Tully Hall. Photo by Tristan Cook.
  • The Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Studio is one of New York's most intimate listening spaces, and hosts the popular Rose Studio and Late Night Rose concerts. [8] The Rose also hosts the Art of the Recital series, which features programs curated by the performers,[9] Inside Chamber Music, a series of lectures by education director Bruce Adolphe,[10] and frequent master classes by CMS artists. Most Rose Studio Events are also streamed online to a worldwide audience. [11]
  • The Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse showcases CMS' New Music Series, concerts centered around modern composers of chamber music. [12]
  • The Naumburg Bandshell and Naumburg Orchestral Concerts presented a free CMS concert, open to all, in the beautiful Central Park in August 2013. In August 2014 CMS artists take center stage to perform works by Haydn, Schoenfield, and Weber as part of this beloved summer classical music series.[13]

Education[edit]

Thousands of children and adults attend the educational programs of the Chamber Music Society through multiple points of entry into the world of live music making. From school-based programs, family concerts, and a specially designed teen concert series to pre-concert composer chats and intensive lectures on the season’s repertoire for adults, the CMS education department is dedicated to restoring the art of listening and to presenting the vast body of chamber music repertoire to audiences from a wide range of backgrounds, ages, and levels of musical knowledge.

Chamber Music Beginnings introduces New York City public school children from all five boroughs to chamber music.[14] Junior high and high school student ensembles compete in the Young Ensembles program for the opportunity to be coached by CMS artist and then to experience the thrill of performing in Alice Tully Hall.[15] The Student Producers is a unique program for high school students, offering them the chance to create and produce their own programs for their peers. The program was featured in a New York Times Arts and Leisure feature.[16][17][18] Meet the Music! is a popular concert series drawing families together for a humorous and entertaining approach to classical music. Inside Chamber Music offers the interested layman a series of in-depth lectures that are tied to CMS’ public performances. All together, these programs demonstrate the leadership role CMS plays in assuring continued growth in the number of lives touched by chamber music. [19]

Touring[edit]

In keeping with its mandate to reach a broad audience, CMS presents national and international tours and multi-concert series outside New York. In addition, CMS appears at some of the country’s most prestigious music festivals, including the Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart and Ravinia festivals. CMS has also performed throughout Canada and Mexico, Australia, Japan, and Israel. The ambitious level of touring activity amounts to over 40 concerts annually outside New York City.[20] CMS is represented by the prestigious artist management agency David Rowe Artists.[21]


External links[edit]