New York, NY, August 27, 2020 — To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents the global premiere of the documentary filmTranscending: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Celebrates 50 Years. The 53-minute film, introduced by stage and screen actor Annette Bening, premieres on September 10 at 7:00 pm EDT on www.chambermusicsociety.org/gala and on broadcast and digital platforms around the world. “One of the reasons I love chamber music,” says Bening, is that it has the same power [as ensemble acting] to reach audiences in the most intimate way.” The film explores the remarkable organization that has been, since its founding 50 years ago, a pioneering leader in producing chamber music at the highest level, supporting and nurturing artists performing this repertoire, and presenting concerts to the broadest possible audience around the globe.
On September 8 and 9, in the days leading up to the film’s premiere, The Violin Channel will present a two-day festival, “Celebrating 50 Years of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.” The festival will feature eight full-length concerts, two master classes and one lecture from the CMS archive, with introductions from Co-Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han and additional content posted throughout the Festival. To watch the Festival (Sep 8-9) and the premiere of the film (Sep 10), visit www.theviolinchannel.com.
In the spirit of collaboration and partnership that is at the core of chamber music, outlets around the world plan to participate in the 50th Anniversary celebration by sharing the film with their audiences on various broadcast and digital platforms. WQXR, New York City’s classical music station, plans to stream the premiere on its Facebook page and will also highlight CMS tracks on the air throughout the day to commemorate the anniversary. WFMT, Chicago’s classical music station, will stream the premiere on its website, www.wfmt.com. The ALL ARTS TV channel and streaming app will include the film in Season 2 of “In Concert With CMS” which premieres Sunday, October 4; more information at allarts.org/everywhere. Following its two-day festival, The Violin Channel will co-stream the premiere live on Facebook and at www.theviolinchannel.com. Tencent Art, the leading digital platform for art in China, will stream the film on its website,https://v.qq.com/channel/art, and make it available on Tencent Video APP & Internet TV. The world’s leading classical music channel, medici.tv, is planning to share the film on its platforms.
The film provides an uplifting and entertaining narrative that communicates CMS’s importance not only as a chamber music producer and presenter, but also as a beacon for chamber musicians. The film touches on the organization’s beginnings, but more importantly, reveals the passionate commitment and vision of its current leaders. The huge range of initiatives CMS is currently undertaking in North America and globally, both live and in the digital space, include: commissioning new works; developing and supporting young musicians and young audiences; partnering with presenting and educational organizations; and creating a variety of media — films, TV shows, radio shows and online content – to bring chamber music to people all around the world. “But,” says Co-Artistic Director Wu Han, smiling like a proud parent, “It’s also about forming a community around this amazing art form.”
Wu Han is one of about a dozen musicians, administrators and board members who are interviewed throughout the film, and together, they provide not only an overview of the organization’s work, but insights into the people who make CMS what it is today.
Between and under the interviews are beautifully shot performance clips that reflect CMS’s wide-ranging programming. Executive Director Suzanne Davidson says that CMS was revolutionary when it was launched in 1969. “Before, what you had was mostly string quartets,” says Davidson, “and [CMS] was introducing a variety of ensembles in a way that had not been done before.” From the beginning, CMS presented a wide range of ensembles performing chamber music repertoire, and that variety is reflected in the film’s performance clips: many combinations of piano and strings, but also ensembles of various sizes that include musicians playing vibraphone, percussion, harpsichord, flute, guitar, mandolin, lute, clarinet, horn, oboe and voice. The performance clips throughout capture the energy and excitement of CMS performances – not only in New York’s Alice Tully Hall but also in venues and settings from CMS tours around the world, from a tobacco barn in Kentucky to ancient ruins in Greece to Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall in China and many more.
The film showcases CMS’s tremendous investment in future generations of performing artists, chamber music entrepreneurs and audiences, including educational performances for children and lectures for adults; school programs that bring youngsters into the hall and artists into the schools; and the Bowers Program, the premiere chamber music residency in America, which brings top emerging professional artists into the CMS fold, where they rehearse, travel and play as equals with veteran, top-flight musicians. “You have exposure to all of these fabulous senior musicians,” says Bowers Program Alum and CMS artist Kristin Lee, “who care about you and who want to mentor you…and they really want to see you succeed.”
Since March, when the COVID pandemic shut down concert halls around the world, CMS has been digging into its extensive archive of more than 1,000 videos to curate series of online concerts. CMS is sharing the content across its own channels, and – through “CMS Front Row: National” – with chamber music venues and organizations around North America. Despite the pandemic, David Finckel remains optimistic. “Art has always survived,” he says. “It’s like grass coming up through concrete. It doesn’t matter how much concrete you put down, it’s going to come back. The music is immune to the virus.”
The film features interviews with: CMS Co-Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han; Executive Director Suzanne Davidson; Resident Lecturer and Director of Family Programs Bruce Adolphe; 50th Anniversary Gala Honorees Elinor L. Hoover, Chair of the CMS Board of Directors and Global Co-Head, Consumer Products, Citi Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory, and Shirley Young, CMS International Advisor and Chair of US-China Cultural Institute; Artistic and Executive Director, Ojai Music Festival, Artistic Consultant, Marlboro Music Festival and School Ara Guzelimian; Lincoln Center President and CEO Henry Timms; CMS Artists the Calidore String Quartet, Daniel Hope, Kristin Lee, Cho-Liang Lin, Anthony McGill, Arnaud Sussmann; and incoming Bowers Program Fellow James Thompson.