Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music, which sold out its series two of the past three seasons, this season hopes to enlarge its audience by moving back to H.W. Smith Middle School’s renovated auditorium.
The auditorium is twice as large as the Lincoln Middle School auditorium, where SFCM, a volunteer-run organization that presents a series of chamber music concerts each year between September and May, has staged its concerts since 2007.
By offering free tickets to students in the new space, SFCM anticipates it will draw more young people to performances.
“One of the reasons we are excited about moving back to H.W. Smith is that its larger auditorium will allow us to make our concerts free to all full-time students, including those in college and graduate school,” SFCM Director Richard Moseson said. “This will cost us some in paid admissions, but we view it as an investment in the future.”
The auditorium stage has two-toned, varnished hardwood floors. There are new seats and restrooms in addition to a new elevator and ramps for access by the disabled.
Since its foundation in 1949, SFCM has hosted some of the world’s greatest chamber groups, including the Emerson Quartet, Tokyo Quartet, Beaux Arts Trio, Juilliard Quartet and Guarneri Quartet. This season includes one of the most in-demand young quartets, the Dover Quartet.
“What catapulted the Dover Quartet to fame was a huge win (first prize in the three top categories) at the Banff International Chamber Music Competition. For a string quartet, that’s like winning a gold medal at the Olympics,” Barbara Haas said.
SFCM has been able to attract famous artists because:
- A full half of SFCM’s subscribers make contributions to the series.
- SFCM plans its concerts strategically, according to when some of these high-level chamber groups are performing close by. “We’ve found that if we offer groups a price that we can afford, often several thousand dollars below their asking fee, they’ll often surprise us and accept, especially if we can schedule the group for a date when they’ll already be nearby for other concerts,” Moseson said.
- By staging the concerts at public schools, SFCM doesn’t have to pay venue or staff charges, with the exception of the custodian. This allows SFCM to keep ticket prices lower (SFCM hasn’t raised its ticket prices in more than seven years).
- Chamber groups often enjoy returning to perform for the Syracuse audience. Haas said many of the musicians find the Syracuse audience “warm and responsive,” and Moseson added that the top ensembles “really enjoy returning to play in our series. They tell me often how much they appreciate our audience.”
Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music begins its 2014-2015 season on Sept. 20 with performances of Beethoven, Viktor Ullman and Dvorak by the Dover String Quartet.