2017 Composers-in-Residence Announced
[5 December 2016]Composers' Forum page for more information.
Tobias Werner on the 2016 Concert Series
[18 July 2016]
Music Director Tobias Werner introduces the 2016 Artist-Faculty Concert Series:
I am enjoying a wonderful first year as Music Director. Last summer I spent a week as Guest Faculty at the Conference and was overwhelmed by the warm welcome and passion for the festival exhibited by participants, auditors, faculty, composers, and audience. I immediately felt at home and was eager to start working.
This summer we have over 60 outstanding faculty members and three resident composers. We will present eight faculty concerts and four seminars, not to mention countless hours of music-making among friends.
Composers-in-Residence Amy Williams, Jesse Jones, and Sean Friar will join our Senior Composer-in-Residence Donald Crockett this summer. We will benefit from seminars by James Buswell, James Wilson, and Frank Daykin, as well as Joel Berman’s insightful and inspiring lecture and performance of the Beethoven String Quartet Op. 132.
We will hear well-known barnburners like Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, as well as lesser-known gems like the beautiful piano quartet by New England composer Arthur Foote, one of my personal favorites. We are featuring works of several composers who have been associated with the Conference, including Lionel Nowak, Martin Bresnick, and Paul Moravec. For the first time since its premiere in 2004 we are reprising Donald Crockett’s 2004 piano quartet, The Ceiling of Heaven, the first major work commissioned by the Conference in memory of longtime music director Jacob Glick.
On a personal note, being involved with such an excellent, traditional, caring, and well-run organization has been a dream of mine. Devoting myself to chamber music—as performer, teacher, coach, and music director—is more than I could ever wish for in my musical career. The aspect of working together, learning together, and striving for a common goal is at the core of human interaction in music making.
2016 Composers-in-Residence Announced
[5 October 2015]Composers' Forum page for more information.
Conference Appoints Tobias Werner as Music Director
[17 July 2015]
The Chamber Music Conference has appointed cellist Tobias (Tobi) Werner as its next Music Director. Tobi will begin his first term as Music Director in Fall 2015. He will succeed pianist Phillip Bush, who has served as Music Director since 2007 and plans to continue his involvement in the Conference as a member of the faculty.
Tobi, who is artistic director of the Verge Ensemble in Washington, D.C., and was until recently artistic director of the Garth Newel Music Center in Virginia, teaches and coaches chamber music privately and at Georgetown University. With the Verge Ensemble, he is deeply involved with and committed to contemporary music (for example, this ensemble recently programmed works by Conference composers Don Crockett and Dan Visconti), and he has also performed and recorded widely the traditional chamber music literature.
Tobi will be at the 2015 Conference as Guest Faculty during Week 2 and for the start of Week 3.
Phillip Bush on the 2015 Concert Series
[20 June 2015]
Music Director Phillip Bush introduces the 2015 Artist-Faculty Concert Series:
Our four full-length Saturday night concerts feature some of the true epic masterpieces of the chamber music literature, from Dvořák’s C Major String Quartet to Samuel Barber's wind quintet Summer Music; from César Franck’s Piano Quintet to Mendelssohn’s C Minor Piano Trio. We are especially excited to have been able to put together a performance on August 1 of Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, one of the most significant pieces of early-20th-century music, and a work that essentially created a new kind of chamber music ensemble from its inception onward.
Our Wednesday evening concerts are of shorter duration and played without intermission, but also include some gems of the repertoire like Shostakovich’s hair-raising Piano Trio No. 2, Mozart’s sublime E-flat Piano Quartet, and perhaps the greatest work ever for piano-four hands, Schubert’s F minor Fantasy. We are also honored to bring to campus and hear the music of three composers writing some of the most compelling and evocative works on the American chamber music scene today: Kurt Rohde (violin-viola duo August 1), Hannah Lash (harp and string quartet August 8), and Dan Visconti (piano trio August 15).
This 2015 season is my final one as Music Director of the Conference; I am stepping back from that role but plan to continue my involvement with this remarkable institution as teacher and performer. One of the most gratifying aspects of this job has been the opportunity to curate these concert programs, and then to attend these evenings as an audience member, listening to these wonderful artists coming together to bring these programs to life in so many deeply committed and magical performances.
2015 Composers-in-Residence Announced
[26 October 2014]Composers' Forum page for more information.
Composers' Forum Featured in the New York Times
[4 October 2014]
The Composers' Forum appears prominently in a New York Times
article by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim,
Something New for Amateur Night: Nonprofessional Musicians Like Contemporary Challenges,
about contemporary music that continues the long tradition of composers writing for amateur musicians.
The article quotes past Composers-in-Residence
Paul Moravec, Andrew Norman, and Laura Elise Schwendinger,
as well as several Conference participants,
and includes a photo from the 2014 faculty performance of Ms. Schwendinger's High Wire Act.
Phillip Bush on the 2014 Concert Series
[27 June 2014]
Music Director Phillip Bush introduces the 2014 Artist-Faculty Concert Series:
Perhaps more than in any of the eight seasons I've been associated with the Conference, the programming for this summer's concert season contains a true mix of much-loved masterpieces (such as the Dvořák Piano Quintet), lesser-known treasures from centuries past (like Klughardt's Schilflieder), and stunning recent examples of chamber music from living composers. A vivid illustration of this mix in one concert might be our all-American program on August 9, featuring John Harbison's Wind Quintet from the late 1970s, a 2012 piano trio from our Resident Composer that week, Sean Shepherd, and the very Romantic early 20th-century Piano Quintet by Amy Beach.
We are honored to have three Resident Composers with us this summer, each of whom is making an enormous stir in the music world: besides Mr. Shepherd, they include Ted Hearne (August 2 concert) and Laura Schwendinger (August 16). On our very opening concert July 26, we are particularly proud to feature a 1990 work for oboe and string quartet, Celestial Mechanics, by our Senior Composer-in-Residence, Donald Crockett, who has been the guiding light of our Composers' Forum component for quite a number of years now.
Other works you won't want to miss include what I believe to be Gabriel Fauré's greatest chamber work, the Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor (July 26), and Schubert's Trout Quintet (August 13). In our final two concerts we also highlight duos as an essential part of the chamber music genre, with works by Eisler and Bozza.
We dedicate this 2014 concert season to the memory of cellist/composer/teacher Kermit Moore, who passed away late last year, and who served on our Conference faculty with distinction for three decades, through the 2012 season. Kermit was much beloved by both faculty and participants here for the great kindness and gentleness of his manner, through which he conveyed his encyclopedic breadth and depth of knowledge about music as well as his heartfelt connection to the great chamber music literature. He will be missed by all of us.
2014 Composers-in-Residence Announced
[10 November 2013]Composers' Forum page for more information.
Phillip Bush on the 2013 Concert Series
[7 May 2013]
Music Director Phillip Bush introduces the repertoire on the 2013 Artist-Faculty Concert Series:
The string quartet medium is a primary focus of our 2013 concert series, with performances of all three of Benjamin Britten's quartets on tap (August 3, 10, 17), along with two premiere performances of a major new quartet, Book of Concord, by American composer John Fitz Rogers (July 27, August 17). The Rogers work was commissioned by the Bennington Chamber Music Conference through the Jacob Glick Memorial Fund; this is the fourth large-scale chamber work that has come into being as a result of the Conference's Glick Fund, the others being works by Donald Crockett, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Paul Moravec. The performances of Britten's quartets (landmarks of the genre in the 20th-century) represent the Conference's salute to the 100th anniversary of Britten's birth in 1913.
Though we often program newer or less-familiar chamber works on this series, we try to balance this out by programming some of the acknowledged masterpieces of the genre, especially if they have not appeared on Conference programs in some years. This summer we will present two of Brahms's most-loved works, the Clarinet Quintet on July 27 and the Horn-Violin-Piano Trio on August 3.
In addition to John Fitz Rogers, our Resident Composers this summer will include Caroline Mallonée, whose 2011 mixed-ensemble work Unless Acted Upon – Manifestations of Newton's First Law will be performed on August 3, and Jeffrey Mumford, whose 2008 string trio in soft echoes ... a world awaits receives a performance on August 10. Aside from these very recent examples of chamber music, which will be new to most of our listeners, we are also delighted to offer two beautiful, passionate, Romantic gems from the late 19th century that may also be unfamiliar, but which we think deserve to be much better known: the Trio for clarinet, cello, and piano by Carl Frühling (August 7) and the Piano Quintet (for piano, violin, viola, cello, and double bass) by Hermann Goetz (August 14).
Around all these works mentioned so far, other chamber music treats that await our audiences include wind quintets by Ruth Crawford Seeger and Jenö Takács, a flute/cello/piano trio by Haydn, and a good bit of French music, including some Saint-Saëns (the delightful Septet with trumpet), Poulenc, and music for piano four-hands by Fauré and Debussy.
As always, our hope is to showcase both the artistry of our world-class faculty and the remarkable diversity of chamber music across the centuries.
Eve Cohen Memorial Scholarship Awarded
[30 April 2013]
The Eve Cohen Memorial Scholarship, funded by Fan Tao and Tara Kazak, has been awarded to a young musician who will be attending the Chamber Music Conference for the first time in 2013.
Spring for Bennington! Benefit Concert
[30 April 2013]
The Chamber Music Conference presented a benefit concert, Spring for Bennington!, on Sunday, April 21 at All Saints Church, New York, NY. Many members of the Conference community shared an afternoon of music and fellowship, followed by a reception, in support of the Conference.
The afternoon included works by Dohnányi, Ewazen, Milhaud, Mozart, Schwitters, and Thuille, performed by Bennington participants and by faculty members who generously contributed their time. (Composer Eric Ewazen attended the concert.)
Conference Commissions String Quartet by John Fitz Rogers
[13 December 2012]
The Composers' Forum Fund of the Chamber Music Conference has commissioned a new work for string quartet by John Fitz Rogers. The quartet will receive its first performances during Weeks 0 and 3 of the 2013 Conference, in concerts presented by the Conference faculty. Participant groups will also be coached on the quartet.
John Fitz Rogers's music has been performed around the world in leading venues such as Carnegie Hall, Bang on a Can Marathon, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and National Cathedral; by the Albany, Louisville, Charleston, and Tulsa Symphony Orchestras, the New York Youth Symphony, and the Eastman Wind Ensemble; by chamber ensembles such as Antares, New Century Saxophone Quartet, Capitol Quartet, Lionheart, Composers, Inc., Opus Two, Meehan/Perkins Duo, Bent Frequency, and Ambassador Duo; and at the MATA, Rockport, Bumbershoot, Bowling Green, and Keys To The Future festivals, as well as the Festival of New American Music and the Phillips Collection Concert Series.
Rogers founded and is Artistic Director of the Southern Exposure New Music Series, which received the 2007 Chamber Music America / ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. Since its inception in 2001, Southern Exposure has become one of the most dynamic and innovative concert series in the southeast, regularly hosting enthusiastic standing room audiences for performances by local and regional artists as well as internationally recognized artists such as Alarm Will Sound, So Percussion, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and the Los Angeles Piano Quartet. Rogers is currently an Associate Professor of Composition at the University of South Carolina School of Music and visiting faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work is published by Base Two Music Publishing.
The Composers' Forum Fund was established with donations made in the memory of Jack Glick (1926-1999), former music director and long-time faculty violist at the Conference. A primary purpose of the fund is the commissioning of original chamber works for performance at the Conference. The John Fitz Rogers quartet is the fourth Glick Commission to be awarded by the Composers' Forum Fund.
Conference Accepting Online Donations
[6 December 2012]
The Conference now accepts donations online at PayPal. See the Support Us page for details.
Conference Featured on WGBH New England Summer Festivals
[22 November 2011]
The Chamber Music Conference has been featured on New England Summer Festivals, a WGBH Boston series that highlights activities and performances at summer festivals throughout New England. The Conference was one of the first summer programs featured on this series.
The hour-long broadcast, which includes performances and excerpts of performances of works by Beethoven, Riegger, Paul Moravec, and Daniel Godfrey (the latter two commissioned by the Conference), is now available for listening online at https://bit.ly/txjFXx.
Conference Appoints Marilyn Bell as Executive Director
[5 March 2010]
The Chamber Music Conference is pleased to announce the conclusion of its Executive Director search with the appointment of Marilyn Bell to this position, effective March 1, 2010.
Marilyn, a pianist, has been deeply involved in the Conference for many years. She previously held the positions of both Administrative Director and Executive Director, during the 1980's and the early 1990's. She then stepped aside in pursuit of other career interests, which included several years as principal in a New York City school. Having retired from that position, she is now available to provide us with the time and leadership that the CMC post demands. We look forward to Marilyn's guiding the administrative apparatus of the Conference during the coming summer and succeeding years.
Glick Fund Commissions Wind Quintet by Paul Moravec
[5 March 2010]
The Jacob Glick Memorial Endowment Fund of the Chamber Music Conference has commissioned a new work for wind quintet by Paul Moravec. The quintet will receive its first performances at the 2010 Conference, on the July 24 and August 7 concerts presented by the Conference faculty.
Paul Moravec, winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Music, has composed over one hundred orchestral, chamber, choral, lyric, film, and electro-acoustic compositions. His music has been described as
tuneful, ebullient and wonderfully energetic (San Francisco Chronicle),
riveting and fascinating (NPR), and
assured, virtuosic (Wall Street Journal). The New York Times recently praised his quartet, Vince & Jan: 1945, saying,
This masterly miniature conveyed warm nostalgia, buoyant swing and wartime unease.
The Jacob Glick Memorial Endowment Fund was established by the Conference to perpetuate the memory of Jack Glick (1926-1999), former music director and long-time faculty violist at the Conference. A primary purpose of the fund is the commissioning of original chamber works for performance at the Conference. The Paul Moravec quintet is the third work to be commissioned by the Glick Fund.
The 2009 Mallory Commission: Daniel Strong Godfrey,
Dances in Checkered Shade
[12 June 2009]
This summer, in Week 0 and Week 2, our distinguished faculty will perform the premiere of Daniel Strong Godfrey's
Dances in Checkered Shade for clarinet, string trio, and piano. The work, commissioned by the Conference, is dedicated to Frank Mallory, a very fine clarinet player and a Conference participant since 1986. Frank is a past member of the Conference Board of Directors (1992-2006) and Executive Committee (1993-2006). He has always been a strong advocate of the Composers' Forum and contemporary music in general. Frank's passion for the Conference and his wisdom, intelligence, and gentle, reflective style made him an especially beloved and valued member of the Board and the Executive Committee, and when he stepped down, the Board decided to raise funds for the
Mallory Commission as a gift to him. We are delighted to present Dan Godfrey's piece,
Dances in Checkered Shade, with gratitude for Frank's contributions and loyalty to the Conference.
Glick Fund Commissions Piano Quintet by Gabriela Lena Frank
[22 July 2007]
The Jacob Glick Memorial Endowment Fund of the Chamber Music Conference has commissioned a new work for piano quintet by Gabriela Lena Frank. Tres Homenajes: Compadrazgo will receive its first performances at the 2007 Conference, on the July 28 and August 11 concerts, with the composer performing as pianist.
Praised by the Washington Post as a composer of
unself-conscious mastery, Gabriela Lena Frank represents the next generation of American composers. Her compositions incorporating South American mythology, art, poetry, and folk music into western classical forms reflect her Peruvian-Jewish heritage and have been heard across North and South America. As a concert pianist, Frank recently recorded a CD of music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Leslie Bassett and is featured on a forthcoming CD of her chamber music. Her catalogue contains works for solo piano, voice, string quartet, ensemble, and orchestra and is published exclusively by G. Schirmer.
The Jacob Glick Memorial Endowment Fund was established by the Conference to perpetuate the memory of Jack Glick (1926-1999), former music director and long-time faculty violist at the Conference. A primary purpose of the fund is the commissioning of original chamber works for performance at the Conference. Tres Homenajes: Compadrazgo is the second work to be commissioned by the Glick Fund.
Conference Appoints Phillip Bush as Music Director
[27 January 2007]
The Chamber Music Conference has appointed Phillip Bush as its Music Director, starting with the Summer 2007 Conference. Mr. Bush is a pianist with distinguished experience as a solo and chamber music performer, as a teacher and chamber music coach, and as founder and administrator of a chamber music festival. He is the recipient of numerous awards, has collaborated with an extensive array of prominent artists and composers, is an advocate for contemporary music, and has a superb reputation in the professional music world.
Conference Featured in Chamber Music Magazine
[22 July 2005]
The April 2005 edition of Chamber Music, the magazine published by Chamber Music America, featured an article by Laura Schiller entitled
Professionals on the Amateur Scene. The piece contains interviews with several Conference coaches and participants and is a wonderful portrait of the chamber music life that members of the Conference community enjoy.
The article is reprinted and posted on this web site with permission from the author, the magazine, and the photographers whose works are featured (Claire Stefani's photo of Eriko Sato; Robert Sargent Fay's
Bare Feet at Apple Hill; and Ted Rust's
Raphael Trio amateur cellist).
Conference Faculty Record 60th Anniversary CD
[16 January 2005; updated 9 December 2005]
To mark the 60th anniversary of the Chamber Music Conference in 2005, members of the Conference faculty recorded a CD featuring works by Senior Composer-in-Residence Donald Crockett and past Composer-in-Residence Allen Shawn.
The works by Crockett include the quintet La Barca (1999) for horn, strings, and piano and the quartet The Ceiling of Heaven (2003) for piano and strings. The Ceiling of Heaven is the first Jacob Glick Memorial Commission and received its world premiere performances during the 2004 Conference.
The works by Shawn, a Bennington-based composer, include Sleepless Night (1996) for string quartet and Wind Quintet No. 2 (2001), which was commissioned by an ensemble of Chamber Music Conference participants.
Performers include Conference faculty members Joseph Anderer, Edward Arron, Nicholas Cords, Joseph Gottesman, Shem Guibbory, Marianne Gythfeldt, Sue Ann Kahn, Jacqueline Leclair, David Oei, Michael Finckel, Renee Jolles, Maxine Neuman, Sheila Reinhold, Eriko Sato, Lauren G. Stubbs, Elizabeth Wright, and Masako Yanagita.
The CD was released by Albany Records. Recording engineer for the CD was Da-Hong Seetoo.