Chicago Chamber Musicians suspends artistic operations

Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Chicago Chamber Musicians is closing artistic operations after 28 years.
Chicago Chamber Musicians is closing artistic operations after 28 years.

Once one of the leading lights of the local classical music scene, Chicago Chamber Musicians appears to be permanently closing its doors after 28 years.

In an email sent out late Friday afternoon CCM board chair Michael Woolever said that Chicago Chamber Musicians will not present a 2014-15 season and will discontinue all artistic operations on August 31.

Woolever said that the CCM board “decided to take a prudent approach and suspend artistic operations while we continue to be solvent.”

Founded in 1986, CCM enjoyed one of the highest profiles of local music organizations in the late 1980s and 1990s, commissioning new works, presenting adventurous programs and garnering laudatory reviews for its virtuosic and polished performances.

Founding members included the late pianist and presenter Deborah Sobol, Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal clarinet Larry Combs, CSO hornist Gail Williams, and violinist Joseph Genualdi.

CCM began as the resident ensemble of WFMT and inaugurated its free First Monday Series concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center. The ensemble created its first subscription series in 1988, and last season presented 12 concerts at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Evanston and Gottlieb Concert Hall in Chicago.

In a brief phone conversation Friday, Woolever said that CCM was carrying about a $100,000 shortfall on a $700,000 annual budget.

Woolever wouldn’t say that this marks the death of CCM, leaving the door open slightly for the group to return in 2015-16.

“Anything is possible,” he said. “Whether we are able to do it financially is an open question.”

A statement released by longtime CCM trumpeter Charles Geyer seemed to indicate that the ensemble is closing its doors for good. “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of CCM for 17 years and perform with this complement of excellent musicians,” he said.  “I am grateful to our musicians, Board staff and individual and institutional donors for making it possible to provide Chicago and beyond with 28 years of great chamber music performances.”

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