Chamber Music Award

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Award for

Extraordinary Service to Chamber Music

Throughout its centuries-long history, chamber music has been strengthened, broadened, and propagated by individuals and institutions dedicated to the art form. Some of these artists and arts organizations have significantly changed the landscape of chamber music through their passionate commitment and exceptional vision. The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center has created an award which recognizes those contributors, celebrates their achievements, and expresses gratitude for their service. Recipients of the award are chosen by the Society’s artistic department and may be from a wide variety of fields connected to chamber music. The award was previously presented to pianist Menahem Pressler in 2013, CMS founding director Charles Wadsworth in 2014, Marlboro Music in 2015, South Mountain Concerts in 2016, and Chamber Music Connection in 2018. There is no set schedule for the awards.

David Shifrin (2019) served as Artistic Director of CMS from 1992 to 2004, leading the organization into the 21st century with an array of spectacular programs performed by a burgeoning cast of extraordinary artists. In 1994, he inaugurated CMS Two, now The Bowers Program, integrating outstanding early-career musicians into the Chambre Music Society’s roster. He just completed his 40th consecutive season as Artistic Director of Chamber Music Northwest and serves as Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Yale University. He has dedicated himself to the performance and recording of chamber music for his instrument with the world’s most distinguished musicians and commissioned numerous composers to write chamber music for clarinet. With no ebb of enthusiasm or energy in sight, he continues to perform with breathtaking artistry, inspiring colleagues, students, and audiences, setting the highest standard for clarinet playing, musicianship, artistic vision, leadership, and dedication to the art of music.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presented David Shifrin with its 50th Anniversary Award for Extraordinary Service to Chamber Music, Alice Tully Hall, October 15, 2019.

Chamber Music Connection (2018) welcomes musicians of all ages and levels of experience to study and perform chamber music in the Columbus, Ohio area, supporting one hundred students who form twenty to thirty chamber ensembles each year. They offer orchestral and theory training to participants alongside instruction by an associated faculty of over forty professional musicians and additional guest teachers. Presenting over thirty concerts per year, CMC has also produced winners of the most prestigious chamber music competitions. They celebrate the core value of inclusion by requiring no audition for admission to the program and providing need-based financial assistance. Most importantly, Chamber Music Connection imbues in students the democratic values and principles of a civilized society through the art of chamber music.

South Mountain Concerts (2016) has presented chamber music programs and performances of the highest quality since 1918, drawing listeners in search of peak chamber music performances from far and wide. Inviting artists of world-class caliber to enrich the cultural life of the Berkshires every year, SMC maintains not only its commitment to the traditional chamber music repertoire but also, with respect to the passion of its founder, continues to commission and present new works by the finest living composers. SMC preserves a chamber music hall of perfect acoustics, idyllic setting, and modest aesthetic with loving care, providing incomparable musical experiences for the devoted listeners of today and the future. With focused, unwavering dedication to artistic excellence, South Mountain Concerts serves as one of America’s most inspiring examples of chamber music presentation at its absolute finest.

Marlboro Music (2015) has devoted itself entirely to the art of chamber music since its inception, remaining unchanged in its mission since 1951. It has brought together countless musicians of many generations and backgrounds for the common cause of learning. Through its reputation for principled artistic activity, it has shown chamber music to be an equal to larger musical genres. Marlboro Music has provided hope, vision, and tangible career assistance for young musicians aspiring to lives in chamber music, leading to the formation of some of the world’s most distinguished chamber ensembles. Through its concerts at its home and on tour, Marlboro Music has helped to immeasurably raise the standard of chamber music performance. It remains an artistic center of gravity whose reputation for quality continues to inspire musicians everywhere.

Charles Wadsworth (2014) has performed chamber music in Alice Tully Hall and on stages around the world with passion and dedication. Engaging countless listeners in the art of chamber music through his informative and irresistible spoken concert introductions, he has fostered and sustained chamber music communities through his compelling leadership. He has brought together the world’s greatest musicians to create chamber music performances of unequalled excitement and quality, promoting and elevating chamber music to an art form of the first rank in the eyes of New Yorkers and audiences all over America. He conceived of the concept of a chamber music repertory company, an example now followed by chamber music institutions internationally. Charles Wadsworth created and led the world’s largest presenter and producer of chamber music, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, which gratefully attributes its existence to his vision.

Menahem Pressler (2013) founded and served as the pianist of the legendary Beaux Arts Trio for fifty-three seasons. He has recorded the entire piano trio repertoire as well as additional chamber and solo repertoire, receiving six Grammy nominations on top of innumerable other prizes, awards, and doctoral degrees. Pressler has taught at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music since 1955, now as Distinguished Professor of Music, where his piano students have gone on to win major international competitions. He has also performed with, mentored, and promoted young chamber music players and ensembles, among them the Emerson, American, Cleveland, Pacifica, and Jupiter Quartets, and has served on the juries of major competitions. At the dawn of his ninety-fifth year, Menahem Pressler continues to give of himself wholly and tirelessly to the art of chamber music, inspiring all whom he touches.