New York, NY, July 29, 2020—The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) announces a new digital initiative to enable local chamber music venues to bring its outstanding series of digital chamber music concerts, CMS: FRONT ROW, to audiences around the country. That not only brings the concerts to new audiences, it also gives local presenters a tool they can use to stay in touch with their audiences while concert halls in the U.S. and Canada remain shuttered.

CMS Front Row was originally conceived in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to perform for live audiences in the concert hall. The series comprises beautifully shot, full-length HD performance videos from the CMS archive, curated by CMS co-Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han. CMS Front Row was created to sustain audiences and provide a new way to experience this beautiful art form in a meaningful and innovative way, from the virtual “Front Row,” in the comfort and safety of listeners’ homes. 

In addition to the live performance video, each concert includes either introductory remarks from one or more of the artists, offering audiences insights into the music, or a personal look into the artists’ lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. David Finckel and Wu Han serve as hosts for the concerts, and following the performance, there is a Q&A with Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han and artists.  Presenters participating in CMS Front Row: National can offer the videos to their audiences on their own websites and schedule the presentations based on their needs. They also have the option of using the CMS Q&A and/or adding live, independently produced Q&A segments to their streams. CMS also provides full program notes that each presenter can tailor to its needs and offer to its audience.  Pending availability, artists may also be available for live (on-line) Q&A segments with local presenters.

More than 30 organizations and venues have already signed on to the national initiative. David Finckel and Wu Han explained that “many of the early adopters are small, community-run organizations that play a critical role in sustaining the art of chamber music and the musicians who perform it. We are thrilled to offer these unique, digital concerts, and to give local chamber music presenters a way to connect with their audiences in this time when live performances are not possible.”

Montgomery Chamber Music Organization Board Member Mary Miles said, “We are thrilled to offer the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Front Row: National series to our membership this fall. The musical and artistic quality of the concerts is exceptional…The interesting personal interchange of the directors of CMS with the participating artist or artists is an additional gift to the entire experience.”

“At Chamber Music Tulsa, we’ve been looking for ways to stay connected with our subscribers, and also ways to support musicians and the chamber music industry, until we can return to being together for live concerts,” said Bruce Sorrell, Executive Director, of Chamber Music Tulsa (OK). “The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Front Rowseries does just that. It gives us a great way to offer online programs, beautifully performed and produced, and the flexibility to schedule them according to our needs.”

Currently being offered through CMS Front Row is The Artist Serieseight concerts that aired initially this past spring on the CMS website. Each concert in the series highlights the work of one artist across multiple performances and ensemble groupings, and featuresMichael Brown, Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung, Gloria Chien, Gilbert KalishCho-Liang Lin, Anne-Marie McDermott, David Shifrin, and Arnaud Sussmann. Six additional concerts, comprising the CMS Front Row Summer Evenings series will be added over the next several weeks. Summer Evenings is inspired by CMS’s annual Lincoln Center summer series of the same name, which has traditionally presented music “that breathes the pleasant airs of the season,” said Finckel and Wu Han, who go on to explain that “the concerts in the digital series all begin with joyful works from the Baroque era. We hope the concerts are able to lift hearts, minds and spirits – in any season – with music that is truly restorative.”

The national digital initiative is inspired by CMS’s regular touring concerts – about 70 performances each season in the US and Canada and around the world – that sustain the art of chamber music and serve audiences beyond New York City, both key elements of the CMS mission.

The opportunity for presenters around the US and Canada to stream these concerts on their own websites, at their convenience, is a benefit of becoming a sponsor of CMS Front Row: National through a nominal donation, which allows organizations of any size and budget to participate while also helping CMS to support the art form of chamber music and its roster of world-class musicians during these uniquely challenging times.