Ahead of this milestone, we’re highlighting the nonprofit’s time as a TechTown tenant and its musical footprint in the community.
A major milestone is coming up for one of our tenants, Chamber Music Detroit! The nonprofit — which puts on chamber music concerts by world-renowned musicians around metro Detroit — is kicking off its 80th season on Saturday, Sept. 9.
The theme for the season is “Visionaries.” Fourteen shows are lined up between this month and May 2024, featuring artists “who transcend the quest for excellence, whose vision of music past, present, and future is transforming the field of chamber music in extraordinary ways,” according to the nonprofit’s website.
“We’re the catcher’s mitt for that kind of incredibly fine, rarefied talent that comes to Detroit,” says Dr. Steve Wogaman, president of Chamber Music Detroit. Wogaman came to the nonprofit in 2011 and is only the fourth person to hold the position since it was founded in 1944.
While the organization holds concerts at several venues in and around Detroit, Wogaman says their biggest shows are at the Seligman Performing Arts Center, located on the Detroit Country Day School campus. Chamber Music Detroit also hosts educational programs at local schools and universities, bringing in their cohort of artists to teach folks of any age and skill level.
The right fit
Chamber Music Detroit became a TechTown tenant in early 2020, not too long before the COVID-19 pandemic came to Michigan.
“We love being a part of the TechTown community because you’re surrounded by people who are thinking entrepreneurially and working on the cutting edge of new stuff,” Wogaman says. Chamber Music Detroit was working on its own “cutting edge” offerings with the launch of its webcast performances at the start of the pandemic.
Shortly after arriving at TechTown, Chamber Music Detroit proactively pivoted to broadcasting weekly concerts online, collaborating with artists all over the world. Wogaman says the organization was leading that effort, transitioning to virtual performances before many other local arts institutions, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Opera and the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor.
Since then, Chamber Music Detroit has broadcasted performances by more than 200 artists, reaching more than 200,000 people across six continents. “I think this would actually resonate with a lot of people who find themselves doing a startup at TechTown and they think, ‘Wow, it’s so weird that I ended up doing this,’” Wogaman says of the virtual pivot. Luckily, for all of its tenants and members, TechTown provides that safe, communal space for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations to adjust and thrive.
“I was so excited that we were going to be a tenant at TechTown,” says Ana Jaquim, Chamber Music Detroit’s director of marketing and digital productions. In her role, Jaquim handles social media, website updates, emails and press releases, as well as supports livestreaming efforts. She first visited TechTown while attending Wayne State University. “Everyone is just really friendly, and it’s nice to be surrounded by so many people.”
When curating the talent for Chamber Music Detroit’s 80th season, Wogaman says he and his team only wanted to focus on the future, rather than looking back at its storied history. “We’ve asked ourselves the question, ‘Who is really setting the tone for what this art form is going to be like 10 years from now, 20 years from now?’ And those were the people we tried to book,” he says.
One of the acts he is looking forward to hearing is Daniel Hope, a violinist who was the last one to play with the renowned Beaux Arts Trio, a piano trio that performed for 53 years before disbanding in 2008. Accompanied by pianist Maxim Lando, Hope will make his first recital appearance at Chamber Music Detroit in January. Jaquim is excited for Carolyn Shaw, a violinist, vocalist and composer who will perform alongside the Attacca Quartet on the season’s opening night.
And as Chamber Music Detroit continues on, Wogaman says he wants the TechTown community to know that while the organization is older, many of the performing artists are young and can inspire audiences of all ages. The organization has also started efforts to make their concerts more financially accessible, and even offer free tickets to folks who are attending a show for the first time.
“We really feel like a startup, an 80-year-old startup,” Wogaman says. “And I know we’re not alone; other presenters of chamber music and classical music are finding themselves in precisely the same boat because classical music itself in the 21st century is a startup. It is no longer just Brahms and Beethoven — there’s so much more to it than that. So, that’s been the theme of our 80th season coming up. We hit on the word “visionaries,” and tried to put, in every program, at least one person that you could say is really one of the great visionaries of our time.”
To learn more about Chamber Music Detroit and purchase tickets for the 2023-24 season, visit their website. Interested in TechTown’s work and event spaces? See which option is best for you and/or your team!