A Workshop and Festival for Lovers of Chamber Music
For over seven decades, musicians from all over the world have gathered each summer to play chamber music and to grow as musicians. What attracts these musicians, and brings them back, is the love of playing chamber music, the chance to learn from world-class performers and teachers, and the joy of seeing old friends and making new ones.
After more than sixty years at Bennington College in Vermont, the Chamber Music Conference will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2021 at its new home, on the campus of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.
The Conference enables committed chamber musicians to learn and grow, by offering outstanding chamber music coaching, faculty concerts and seminars, and opportunities for spontaneous free playing, in a beautiful setting. At the same time, it supports new chamber music composition and performance through the Composers’ Forum, a vibrant program of composer residencies. This combination of features creates a unique and exhilarating musical immersion.
The Conference runs for four weeks in July and August. Most participants attend for one or two weeks. Conference participants comprise amateur musicians who range in age and ability, and who play strings (violin, viola, cello, and double bass), woodwinds (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn), and piano. All participants share a passion for chamber music and the desire for an intensive and rewarding learning experience.
The Conference faculty includes outstanding artists who combine concert careers with a dedication to teaching. Members of the faculty perform regularly as soloists, chamber musicians, and orchestra players, and many teach at major conservatories and university music departments nationwide and beyond.
At the Conference, the coaching program and concert series feature a tremendous diversity of music, from the Classical period to the present. In addition to the core string quartet and wind quintet repertoire, the Conference explores works for many combinations of piano, woodwinds, and strings. Participants are encouraged to submit repertoire requests in advance of the Conference.
The Composers' Forum involves both faculty and participants in contemporary music. The Conference appoints composers for week-long residencies as Composers-in-Residence and commissions new works that participants and faculty study and perform. The 2021 season will feature four new large-scale chamber works, commissioned for the 75th anniversary of the Conference. During each week of the Conference, one of the commissioned composers will be in residence and his or her commissioned work will be premiered on the faculty concert series.
See also our Frequently Asked Questions page for more details about the Conference.