Ms. Harris has had a lasting effect on the arts in America, generated by her tireless service in many roles through the years, including: her work for the President’s Commission on the National Endowment for the Arts; as heater; as President of the Arts Alliance Illinois; as President, Chair, Director, or Trustee of many national cultural organizations, including the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Juilliard School, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the League of American Orchestras; and as a Member of the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board.
The unwavering determination and generosity of Joan Harris and her late husband, Irving, resulted in not one but two homes for chamber music in musical capitals of the United States: the Harris Concert Hall in Aspen, Colorado (1993), and the Harris Theater in the heart of downtown Chicago (2003), each a perfect chamber venue, bringing the art form to thousands of listeners and providing countless performance opportunities for world-class artists and students alike.
Her tireless work in pursuit of bringing music to audiences around the world and here in the United States is a beaming example of what we value: connection through music and integrity to the art form.
Welcoming guests back to Alice Tully Hall for opening night is always something to celebrate at CMS, but in recent years it has also had a specific air of perseverance and community. The elation of this year's opening concert, Soloists in the Spotlight, was not without due cause. Indeed, the soloists shone with their individual excellence as well as their collective enjoyment of the music that brings us together each season.
This year, in recognition of her own inspiring, continuing leadership as an exemplary arts advocate and philanthropist, and particularly for her permanent investments in the vitality of chamber music in America, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presented the Award for Extraordinary Service to Chamber Music to Joan Harris.