About the Howland Chamber Music Circle

Howland Chamber Music Circle brings outstanding concerts to the Hudson Valley in a venue wonderfully suited to this purpose, the Howland Cultural Center. A Victorian gem designed as a library in 1872 by Richard Morris Hunt, the leading architect of his day, the hall is noted for its fine acoustics. Its seating capacity of about 100 allows chamber music to be heard in the kind of intimate setting for which it was originally intended. The beauty of our hall, the responsiveness of our audiences and our proximity to New York City enables us to feature both prominent musicians and rising stars.

A Brief History of the
Howland Chamber Music Circle

In the fall of 1992 Gwen and Bill Stevens attended an exhibit of historic photos at the Howland Center. They were immediately struck by the potential of that space for chamber music. Gwen had been arranging house concerts for several years and had been wondering how to expand them to a more general audience.

The Howland Center soon agreed to produce a series of concerts under their auspices, but with separate funding. The 1993-94 premier season of three concerts included the Meridian Brass Ensemble, the St. Lawrence String Quartet and a string duo of Ayako Yoshida and Semyon Fridman.

Gwen and Bill Stevens, founders

The success of this first season led to an expansion to four concerts in the next season, to a fund drive to rebuild the Center's piano, and then to six concerts in the 1996-97 season. With continuing success, it became evident that the Howland Chamber Music Circle should be more formally established to ensure its future. In April 1999 it was incorporated as a not-for-profit membership corporation, independent of the Howland Center

The popularity of piano recitals in the Chamber Music Series led to the establishment of a winter Piano Festival of three concerts in 1999. The fall of 2001 saw the scheduling of New York's Ensemble for Early Music. This was well accepted, and led to adding a Christmas program by the same group in December 2002. These Christmas programs continued in the Church of St. Mary's in the Highlands, in Cold Spring, until 2010. The 2003-04 season introduced an occasional "world music" offering and saw the expansion of the Chamber Music Series to a total of eight concerts.

The Pacifica Quartet performs for the Howland Chamber Music Circle, September 17, 2017

In 2004 the Circle decided that a better piano was needed to satisfy the outstanding pianists appearing in our series. Ed Loizides spearheaded a search that resulted in the purchase of a new Steinway Model B grand piano. A fund drive that fall quickly raised the money to pay for it, and it is now being enjoyed by our audiences and performers.

Orion Weiss performs for our Piano Festival, November 11, 2017

In our support of music in our schools the Circle has supported and arranged for residencies by professional string quartets in area high schools of the Wappingers and Arlington school districts.

Interest in great classical music grows and many of our concerts are sold out. From only three concerts in the first season, the Circle now presents twelve each year, not including a bonus concert for the Friends at the end of the season. Our proximity to New York City and our wonderful hall have enabled us to obtain some of the finest musicians performing on the concert stage today.

Debra Kaye's Howland Quartet (String Quartet No. 2)
performed by the Voxare String Quartet, June 9, 2018.
Commissioned by the HCMC for our 25th Anniversary Season.

Click here for a complete list of concerts from past seasons.

Arts Organization Award through Arts Mid-Hudson

In the spring of 2016 our founders, Gwen and Bill Stevens, retired after 23 seasons and took on the new titles of Music Director Emeritus and Concert Manager Emeritus respectively.

In 2016, at the start of our 24th season, the Howland Chamber Music Circle was recognized as a leading arts organization in the Hudson Valley when it was awarded the Dutchess County Executive's Arts Organization Award through Arts Mid-Hudson. This award recognized the Howland Chamber Music Circle for the quality of its programming, the depth of its reach and for enriching the lives of residents of Dutchess County and beyond.