HISTORY SINCE ITS FIRST PERFORMANCES IN 1989, the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth has made an important contribution to the vibrant performing arts scene in Fort Worth and North Texas. The three founders who came together to start the organization were Steven DeGroote, the 1977 Van Cliburn gold medalist, Robert Davidovici, then the Concertmaster of the Fort Worth Symphony, and Leon Brachman, a respected local arts volunteer and civic leader, who was the founding president of the Society, and held that office for almost a quarter of a century. The three founders organized the Board of Directors to include many supporters of the Fort Worth Symphony and the Van Cliburn Foundation, and our relationship with both these organizations has always remained strong. The earliest artistic direction for the Society came from DeGroote and Davidovici. After DeGroote passed away, a local cellist from the University of North Texas, Carter Enyeart, made an important contribution as Co-Artistic Director in later seasons.
At the beginning of the Society, an ensemble of local artists worked with guest artists from around the country, and from around the world, to present seven concerts each season. A variety of local venues were used for the performances, starting with the Kimbell Art Museum, the Texas Boys Choir Building, and the McDavid Studio at Bass Hall. For the last eleven seasons, the concerts have taken place in the Auditorium of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Many of our prominent guest artists have been drawn from the ranks of the finalists in the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, and have often returned several times to perform at our concerts. These have included gold medalists Jon Nakamatsu and Alexei Sultanov, both strong audience favorites. Other finalists like Antonio Pompa-Baldi, Katia Skanavi, Sasha Shtarkman, and Naida Cole have returned several times and have maintained a substantial local following. Several local luminaries, Tamás Ungár and Alessio Bax, have been regular guest artists over the years.
A highlight of the early seasons was the lavish New Year’s Day Mostly Mozart concert, which featured Mozart favorites, food and drink to celebrate the holiday. This tradition is maintained by playing at least one Mozart composition during the January concert. Sadly, our founding president, Leon Brachman, passed away in the autumn of 2010. Upon the structure left by him, the Society has reorganized, strengthened our marketing and developing efforts, and begun an education program in the local schools and universities.
The Chamber Music Society conducted a wide regional search for a new Artistic Director in 2013. From a pool of six applicants the Board of Directors selected Gary Levinson, the senior principal associate concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, to be the new Artistic Director. Gary has extensive experience in chamber music performance through his participation in summer festivals around the country and in Europe. His CMSFW concert schedules here in Fort Worth have been incredibly successful, and we look forward to following his artistic leadership into the future. In addition to managing the concert seasons, Gary has developed an innovative Learning With the Masters program for young musicians, which profiles successful concert artists as role models for the participants. Curriculum enrichment programs also continue in the public schools, supported by funds from the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and generous donations from local donors.