Gwen and Bill Stevens, HCMC co-founders
July 31, 2018
The Howland Chamber Music Circle must sadly announce the passing of our co-founder and long-time Music Director, Gwendolyn Stevens. During her lifetime Gwen achieved much, but perhaps her crowning jewel was the Howland Chamber Music Circle.
Gwen, together with her husband Bill, who predeceased her just six months prior, saw great potential in the Howland Cultural Center and from their initial three-concert series they built a series that is unparalleled in the region.
Musicians travel from around the world to Beacon, NY, to perform in this hall, well known for its fine acoustics, intimate setting and knowledgeable and appreciative audience. Gwen had a prescient sense for finding and nurturing young talent, for luring established artists and for drawing sold-out audiences. Her constant presence at our concerts will be greatly missed, but the Howland Chamber Music Circle will be a lasting tribute to her.
Ed Loizides, long-time Board Member and close friend of Gwen and Bill, writes:
My wife Carol and I have known Gwen and Bill Stevens for more than fifty years so hearing of Gwen's death was very sad news for our family. We shared dinners and concerts in New York. Our son studied the piano with Gwen for many years. We shared the joys of watching our children grow up. Gwen and I played music written for piano four hands, two pianos and accompanied cellists, violinists, singers, oboists and many others at the musicales hosted by the Stevens. These wonderful musical evenings attended by friends and family were only possible because of Gwen's boundless energy.
It was at these musicales that the idea of arranging house concerts to give young artists a chance to perform was first suggested. Again, Gwen lost no time to make this a reality and Patrons for Young Artists was born. With the Patrons performances, we learned how to mount concerts. We became acquainted with up and coming musicians and their management.
Gwen, never satisfied with the amount of music available in southern Dutchess County, was interested in doing something more. Her discovery of the Howland Cultural Center as a possible venue for chamber music was all she needed and Bill and Gwen started Howland Chamber Music Circle. The success of HCMC, which now attracts an audience from a wide area, was in no small measure due to Gwen's ability to form close and supportive relationships with the musicians. The Brentano Quartet recalls: We first appeared at the Howland Center in 1995, when we were just beginning our career. 21 years later, we are honored to still be there! It has been a joy to play for you, to get to know your audience over the years, to develop a relationship with you, and to make music in a place where music feels so right.
We will all miss Gwen but her contributions to the musical life of the Hudson Valley will endure.
Gwen's full obituary can be read on the Poughkeepsie Journal website.
January 12, 2018
It is with profound sadness that the Howland Chamber Music Circle announces the passing of one of our founders, William Y. Stevens.
Bill, together with his wife Gwen, founded the Howland Chamber Music Circle 25 years ago. Through their great vision, dedication and hard work they built what is today a signficant cultural institution that reaches far beyond the Hudson Valley.
As the Concert Manager for our first 23 years, Bill ran virtually all operations behind the scenes. While many knew Bill as the gentleman who quietly sold tickets at the door, there was a tremendous amount of work done in advance of each concert which Bill handled impeccably. Bill not only handled these tasks, he built an organization. Today the Howland Chamber Music Circle stands on the solid foundation that Bill built and which will continue to flourish long into the future.
We are eternally grateful to Bill's tireless work on behalf of the Howland Chamber Music Circle and for the enrichment that that effort has brought to all of us. Bill always worked quietly and steadily behind the scenes without looking for recognition and his attention to detail was unsurpassed. He built the HCMC organization. With Gwen's musical skills they were the perfect combination.
Bill's full obituary can be read on the Poughkeepsie Journal website.
Donations to the Gwen and Bill Stevens Memorial Fund can be made here online.
Donations can also be made by sending a check to
Howland Chamber Music Circle
P.O. Box 224
Chelsea, NY 12512
Please indicate that this is for the Gwen and Bill Stevens Memorial Fund