Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Announces New Season



The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) today announces the details of its 2020-21 season. Titled Bridging the Ages, Co-Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han look to the work of Franz Schubert – whose music is the subject of CMS’s Winter Festival – as the inspiration for the season. Schubert was the bridge from the Classical to Romantic age, connecting musical ideas between eras. Taken as a whole, the season will show how compositions from the earliest years of the chamber music repertory link to compositions in the middle and later years of the genre, leading to a dynamic musical presentation that encourages audiences to imagine the compositional voices of the future. The new season will also expand CMS’s commitment to free digital access to chamber music through a new partnership with Tencent for the Chinese-language audience.

Highlights of the 2020-2021 season include the mainstage programs at Alice Tully Hall, which will begin a new chapter for CMS by presenting programs that connect musical ideas between eras. The Solo Bach concert (Dec. 6) will be a virtuosic display of solo instrument writing from the early years of the repertoire, punctuated by the use of the Alice Tully Hall organ in the Partitas on O Gott, du frommer Gott for Organ, BWV 767. Wind Serenades (Oct. 18) will offer two pieces, by Dvořák and Mozart, separated by a hundred years, that are examples of the serenade form at its best. Titled Carnival of the Animals (May 14 & 16), this concert is a feast of sound inspired by the animal kingdom, in compositions from 1669 through to 1950. The Innovators (Nov. 22) presents work by four of music’s most groundbreaking composers – Debussy, Stravinsky, Ives, and Crumb – showing how they forged new artistic and aesthetic paths.

According to Co-Artistic Directors Wu Han and David Finckel, “CMS rides into its 51st season on a wave of optimism and exhilaration, propelled by the idealism that has enabled us to rise to the expectations and opportunities that come with our internationally-recognized leadership role in chamber music. As we cross the welcoming bridge to our new era, we proudly continue safeguarding the long-held CMS mission of service to the art through artistic excellence at the highest level.”

New Music at CMS

On both the main stage of Alice Tully Hall and in the Rose Studio, CMS’s 2020-21 season will offer music by contemporary composers in addition to selections from the vast chamber music canon. On the main stage on March 14 will be the New York premiere of Abgang and Kaddish for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, the first female composer to win the Pulitzer Prize. Abgang, a word meaning “exit” in German, was used by the Nazis to refer to prisoners being sent to their deaths in the concentration camps. Zwilich takes two musical fragments written by composers who were interned in the camps to develop her first movement. The second movement, Kaddish, refers to the Jewish prayer of mourning. Here Zwilich musically celebrates not death, but God, peace, and life.

The NEW MILESTONES series, begun last year for the 50th anniversary, returns with four concerts. Focused on new music, this season the series looks at how time is manifested in music and how music enhances time through themes of memory, tradition, duration, and transcription. Each New Milestones concert has an older piece that serves as an anchor, showing where the newer pieces sprung from. A Song by Mahler , the New York premiere of a piece by American composer Marc Neikrug, opens the series on December 3. A vocal drama, A Song by Mahler is about love and the restorative power of music. On February 4 there will be the New York premiere of a work commissioned by CMS by Zosha Di Castri, with elements of instrumental imagination rarely seen. Additional pieces that evening are by the composers Cerrone, Sánchez-Gutiérrez, Messiaen, and Mochizuki. A concert titled Folk and Nostalgia, on March 11, focuses on how people’s cultural backgrounds influence their creative spirits, and includes works by Ives, Chen Yi, Ortiz, Auerbach, and Ludwig. Excerpt and Sample on April 8 showcases compositions by Stravinsky, Finnissy, Saunders, Dutilleux, and Hurel that look at the art of transcription, the ability for composers to take pre-existing gestures, phrases and excerpts and put a veneer of their own voice on it to make truly new music.

The Season in Numbers

The 2020-21 season will include more than 250 performances and events on 4 continents: in New York City and on tour in the U.S., and internationally in South America, Europe, and Asia; three premieres; 15 American composers; nine women composers, and over 130 artists. Since its founding in 1969, CMS has presented over 4,000 concerts in its home at Alice Tully Hall, at its residencies, and on tour around the world, and has enlarged the chamber music repertoire by more than 190 works through its strong commitment to commissioning.

Executive Director Suzanne Davidson noted, “As we hit the midway point, CMS’s 50th anniversary season is enjoying great audience and critical response, and the strongest single and subscription ticket sales in our 50-year history. In addition, in furtherance of our education and accessibility missions, our digital outreach has grown exponentially, making many hundreds of hours of performance and education video available to millions of people online always for free. Looking ahead to this 51st anniversary season, we recognize that the powerful leadership position we hold as the premier chamber music organization in America and the largest presenting producing chamber music organization in the world, imposes obligations on CMS to continue always to raise the bar on what we deliver to our presenters and audiences around the world-in person and online-and how we support the finest chamber musicians and composers at all stages of their careers. We are poised, eager and ready to fulfill those obligations.”

Free Digital and Broadcast from CMS

CMS is committed to providing free international digital access to the chamber music repertoire. The digital and broadcast offerings of CMS include domestic and international TV broadcasts on and WNET’s ALL ARTS station as well as the Inside Chamber Music podcast. CMS also has a 52-program one-hour National Radio Series syndicated with the WFMT Radio Network with an audience of 8 million listeners, and radio programming in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. CMS performances are featured on SiriusXM’s Symphony Hall channel, and a new partnership with Tencent, one of China’s largest digital repositories serving more than 600 million viewers and subscribers. Tencent will offer 40 CMS performance and education videos each year to the Chinese-language audience around the world. In addition, 27 events will be streamed on the CMS website throughout the 2020-21 season, including 14 concerts and 13 educational events.

Fall 2020 Concerts at Alice Tully Hall

CMS opens its 2020-21 season on its main stage on October 13 with a program of Spanish Inspirations: Cassadó’s Trio in C major for Piano, Violin, and Cello and Sarasate’s Navarra for Two Violins and Piano, Op. 33. Both show the rhythmic vitality of Spanish music, a genre infrequently played on the chamber music stage. The evening opens with Boccherini’s Quintet in E major, and additional pieces by Ravel, Turina, and Shostakovich round out the opening night program. Great Wind Serenades envelop the audience on October 18, with Dvořák’s Serenade in D minor for Winds, Cello, and Double Bass and Mozart’s groundbreaking Serenade in B-flat major for Winds and Double Bass making up a program of big, lush sounds. The concert on October 23 is an all-Chopin evening that includes music by the composer that is rarely heard: chamber music for piano and cello in addition to four solo piano works. On October 25 the month concludes with string quartets by Puccini, Brahms, Webern, and Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 12 in D-flat major for Strings that vividly displays the stunning capabilities of the art form of string quartet writing.

November brings music by Tchaikovsky, Fauré, and Brahms that captures the chill of autumn and, in the case of the Fauré composition, the pangs of remembrance (Nov. 6.) Another trio of composers, Beethoven, Schulhoff, and Dvořák, will fill Alice Tully Hall on Nov. 17 with music, particularly Schulhoff’s Sextet for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Two Cellos, that shows the paradoxical combination of intimacy and orchestral richness that is possible with a string sextet. Following on November 22 is an evening of vocal music with a program of songs by The Innovators Debussy, Ives, and Crumb, along with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring for piano, four hands.

December is Baroque Festival month at CMS, and for the 27th consecutive year CMS will present Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos in time for the holidays (Dec. 13, 15, and 18). But before the Brandenburgs there is the feast of Solo Bach on Dec. 6, with five Bach solo pieces for piano, violin, cello, lute and the distinctive Alice Tully Hall organ. Bach’s French Suite in B minor for Keyboard, BWV 814, will be joined by his Suite No. 6 in D major for Cello, BWV 1012, along with three other Bach compositions. A rich sampling of Baroque Concertos will be performed on Dec. 8, including pieces by Albinoni, Telemann, Locatelli, Tartini, Vivaldi, and Bach.

14th Winter Festival: The Magic of Schubert

The 2020-21 edition of the Winter Festival will celebrate Franz Schubert, who, in his mere thirty-one years on earth, created more than 1,000 works of music that transformed the Classical into the Romantic age. Thirteen pieces by Schubert will be performed over the first four concerts, and for the fifth there will be one piece by Schubert and seven by composers ranging from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that explore Schubert’s musical legacy. To highlight a spark in a musical bonfire one can look to the concert Winter Festival III on February 19, when Schubert’s Die Winterreise for Voice and Piano, D. 911 is paired with Beethoven’s Quartet in F major for Strings, Op. 135. Both pieces are very late works by two great composers, and both engage the listener with the profound idea of eternity, that one can live forever beyond earthly constraints. But while Schubert is disheartened, Beethoven radiates a more philosophical attitude toward the future, bordering on whimsy.

Winter 2021 Concerts at Alice Tully Hall

The Winter concerts begin January 12 with Mozart and Mendelssohn, along with Saint-Saëns and Korngold, shown off by pieces they composed at young ages: Mozart’s Trio in E major for Piano, Violin, and Cello, K. 542, and Mendelssohn’s Quartet in F minor for Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello. American Optimism on January 24 celebrates America as a land of opportunity and possibility, with music by MacDowell, Beach, Copland, Ives, and Dvořák, who, though not American by birth, spent time in New York, Iowa, and other places that inspired his Quartet No. 12 in F major for Strings, Op. 96, “The American.”

March’s performances showcase The Great Sonatas in a lively program of works by Brahms, Shostakovich, and Beethoven (Mar. 5 and 7). The following week will include the New York premiere of Abgang and Kaddish for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (Mar. 14). On March 23 the contrasting cultures of Russia and Austria will be on vivid display for Arensky and Brahms. The Slavic melancholy and melodramatic abandon of Arensky will be paired with Brahms’s Gypsy flair and stately Germanic structure, with the program featuring two pieces for piano, four hands.

Spring 2020 Concerts at Alice Tully Hall

April brings Delightful Dvořák in a program of imaginative string trios for viola and two violins including pieces by Ysaÿe, Kodály, Taneyev, and two by Dvořák (April 11). Dohnányi and Brahms on April 27 showcases the electrifying yet lyrical music of Hungarian composer Dohnányi along with two pieces by his admirer, Brahms.

May brings Returning to Mozart, a concert of works by composers late in their careers who, after a life of amassed experience, are reckoning with mortality. Mozart’s late Quintet in D major for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Cello, K. 593 is on the program May 2. Bringing the Alice Tully Hall season to a gleeful close will be two concerts titled Carnival of the Animals (May 14 and 16). During the 17th and 18th centuries, composers replicated the actual sounds made by animals in some of their pieces, and the practice continued in the Romantic and modern eras. CMS sends listeners off to their summer holidays with a program filled with the noise of nature with music by Biber, Handel, Haydn, Copland, Debussy, and Saint-Saëns.

The Art of the Recital

Present-day masters of the genre bring the demanding art of the recital to the Rose Studio in three performances in 2020-21. In programs selected by the artists themselves, the recitals seduce the audience with just two instruments and a carefully chosen repertoire. Paul Neubauer, viola, and Gloria Chien, piano, will partner on October 8 to perform 11 pieces, including Benjamin’s Four Jamaican Pieces for Viola and Piano. On October 29 Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 73, will be performed by Tommaso Lonquich, clarinet; and Gilles Vonsattel, piano. A piece from the early years of Corigliano’s composing career, Sonata for Violin and Piano, will be one of the pieces performed by Anne-Marie McDermott, piano; and Paul Huang, violin, on May 13.

Rose Studio Series & Late Night Rose at Rose Studio

Each program in the popular Rose Studio Series is presented in two ways: in a traditional setting at 6:30 PM, and as part of the cozy Late Night Rose series with cabaret-style seating and a complimentary glass of wine at 9 PM. The 2020-21 Rose Studio concerts will open on October 22 with Carter’s Quintet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Horn. On November 12 the program will include Bridge’s Quintet in D minor for Piano, Two Violins, Viola, and Cello, H. 49. Mendelssohn’s Variations concertantes for Cello and Piano, Op. 17 will be performed on January 28.

In the spring the Rose Studio Series will present a concert of music by C.P.E. Bach, Debussy, Britten, and Fauré (Apr. 22). The series closes on May 6 with a piece by Farrenc – the Quintet in A minor for Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass, Op. 30 – as well as Mozart’s Quartet in E-flat major for Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, K. 493.

Education, Lectures, and Kids and Family Concerts

The Rose Studio will host the popular Inside Chamber Music with Bruce Adolphe series, which combines lectures with insights into masterworks along with short live performances. Each lecture is illustrated by excerpts from the featured piece, performed live by CMS artists. The 8-program season comprises music by 8 different composers: Chopin (Oct. 9), Haydn (Oct. 7), Brahms (Oct. 14), Fauré (Oct. 21), Stravinsky (Oct. 28), Schubert (Feb. 3), Korngold (Feb. 10), Brahms (Feb. 17), Mozart (Feb. 24).

Meet the Music! is CMS’s family concert series at Alice Tully Hall, created for kids ages 6 and up and their families. Hosted by Bruce Adolphe, the series launches its first family concert of the season with Tough Turkey in the Big City (Nov. 15), followed by Musical Fairy Tale (Mar. 21), and the Inspector Pulse and Cluster Conundrum (April 25).

There will also be three CMS Kids concerts, each performed three times on the same day, in the intimate Rose Studio and curated for ages 3-6: Inspiring Instruments (Nov. 22), Who is Mozart? (Feb. 28), and Master work: Mozart’s “Hoffmeister” Quartet, K. 499 (Apr. 18). These family-friendly performances are presented in a judgment-free environment, and are less formal and more supportive of sensory, communication, movement, and learning needs. Each CMS Kids program is a Relaxed Performance, an inclusive concert experience adapted for neurodiverse audiences, including children with autism or other special needs. (spacing to be fixed)

CMS also offers numerous educational initiatives for both young and old during the season, including free master classes at the Rose Studio with violist Misha Amory (Nov. 5), cellist Colin Carr (Dec. 4), violinist Ida Kavafian (Jan. 21), pianist Ken Noda (Feb. 22), and David Shifrin on winds repertoire (Mar. 15). These presentations, for both audience members and musicians, (reservation required to attend) are a priceless opportunity for the next generation of chamber musicians to learn the art of interpretation and details of technique from chamber music masters. The events are also livestreamed and archived for viewing on CMS’ website.

A new education effort this year is a partnership with selected elementary schools in New York City to present programs on chamber music to students in Spanish/English bilingual sessions as part of CMS’s Chamber Music Beginnings Program. CMS was awarded a grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Fiscal 2020 CreateNYC Language Access Fund to have CMS Teaching Artists provide instruction about musical concepts within chamber music, which they illustrate on a musical instrument. Armed with their new knowledge, students then attend the chamber music concert from which the class instruction was drawn.

Summer Evenings at Alice Tully Hall

Now in its 6th year, Summer Evenings have become a tradition at CMS. The series offers listeners programs of beloved chamber repertoire and a post-concert wine reception for the entire audience to celebrate with the musicians following each performance. The first concert will reveal the impassioned joy found in music of the Romantic era, with pieces by Beethoven, Brahms, and Dvořák (July 8). Chamber music’s playful and triumphant sides will be heard on July 12 with pieces by Beethoven, Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Schumann. Summer Evenings concludes on July 15 with a Mozart and Mendelssohn evening.

CMS on Tour

A global leader in chamber music, CMS is the largest producing presenter of chamber music in the world and is now offering even more concerts on tour and in annual residencies than in its home at Lincoln Center. Every season CMS performs approximately 70 or more concerts on tour the year round, traveling across the U.S. and Canada and internationally to Europe, Asia and South America. For a partial listing of tour dates, artists, and programs, click here.

Watch Live

CMS will offer 30 high quality live streaming events – also on-demand for up to 72 hours later – of Rose Studio series including Late Night Rose, The Art of the Recital, and New Milestones performances; Inside Chamber Music lectures; and Master Classes. Programs can be accessed here.

Subscriptions and Tickets

Subscriptions will be available at 10 AM on February 19, 2020. Starting on August 3, 2020, single tickets may be purchased in person at the Alice Tully Hall box office at Broadway and West 65th St. or the CMS ticketing office at The Samuel B. and David Rose Building, 165 West 65th Street, 10th floor; by calling 212.875.5788; or online at



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