I remember clearly that evening in 1979 (or was it 1978? Not that clearly, I guess...) that I went to a meeting of people who were discussing the possibility of a series of chamber music concerts in St. Cloud. I knew only one or two of the people there, but somehow I was elected secretary of the group. (I said I hadn't brought anything to write with, but they said that was okay.) The Chamber Music Society of St. Cloud was incorporated in 1979 and had its first season in 1979-1980, under the visionary leadership of Michael Barone and Randy Bourne, both announcers on Minnesota Public Radio.
A few years later, MPR moved to St. Paul, Michael and Randy followed, and I found myself president of the Chamber Music Society, making more and more of the decisions. At some point, someone called and told me the Deller Consort was touring and we should try to get them to come here; I couldn't imagine that they would, but I was told I should call them anyway, and I did, and they said yes! A few years later, someone said we should apply to the National Endowment for the Arts for a grant, but one requirement was that the organization have paid staff; I asked how much we needed to pay and was told "whatever someone will work for" so I put myself down for $1,000, we got the grant, and suddenly we had paid staff, and I was employed, sort of.
And on it went. Thirty-four years of amazing concerts by world-famous as well as young and emerging ensembles; old music, new music and everything in between; family concerts, school performances, master classes, workshops, lectures, dinners, and parties. And just as amazingly, doing the work to make it possible did not get any easier. In fact, sometimes it seemed harder!
When we applied to Partners in Performance to present Midori, I really did not expect that we would be chosen, and was astounded when I opened the email labeled "Partners in Performance selection results" expecting to find a list of other organizations but discovering that...it was us! I had been thinking about retiring eventually, but soon realized I would never be able to top that, and it was time to call it a day (or 34 years).
I thank everyone who helped get us to this point: all performers, board members, audience members, funders, donors, hosts for outreach activities, contributors to Musical Chairs, etc., etc., and especially Michael and Randy, for having that crazy idea in the first place. I wish my capable successor, Rebecca Scheele, luck and good fortune and large audiences. (Although I planned the 2013-2014 season, I am leaving the hard work of implementation for Rebecca!)
From now on I will be in the audience, simply enjoying the wonderful music; I hope you will be there, too.
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I am honored to be appointed the new executive director and excited to use my background in arts administration and music to continue the Chamber Music Society's tradition of presenting stellar performances by the most talented chamber musicians in the world. When my family moved to St. Cloud, this concert series was one of the first gems we discovered here. I have enjoyed coming to these remarkable concerts for a decade and serving on the board for 6 years.
Recently a CMS board member suggested that everyone loves chamber music, they just don't know it yet. Do you know someone who doesn't know it yet? Invite them to join you at our concerts this season. I know I will see many familiar and new faces at the concerts this season, and I hope you introduce yourselves to me! I speak for not only myself and the board of directors, but for many people, when I say thank you to Susan for her dedication and vision for chamber music in our community.
Join us for a memorable season of wonderful music by great performers!