A Brief History of the Howland Chamber Music Circle
Although officially incorporated in 1999, Howland Chamber Music Circle had its beginnings in early the 1990s as informal house concerts, presented by longtime Beacon residents Gwen and Bill Stevens. In 1992 they attended an art exhibit in the Howland Cultural Center where they immediately recognized the unique potential of the space as a chamber music venue. The Stevens’ soon obtained permission to rent the space, and in 1993 the Howland Chamber Music Circle presented its first concert season. Originally a 3-concert series, today HCMC presents dozens of performances each year in the Howland Cultural Center.
Gwen and Bill Stevens, founders
Gwen and Bill promoted a vision of presenting both internationally-renowned soloists and chamber ensembles, as well as promising young musicians to the Hudson Valley community. Under their direction, HCMC featured in its first year leading artists such as the Meridian Brass Ensemble, St. Lawrence String Quartet, and talented up-and-coming artists. In 2016 Gwen and Bill retired from HCMC as Music Director and Concert Manager, respectively. With performances by such renowned artists as Jeremy Denk, Simone Dinnerstein, Juilliard String Quartet, Shanghai Quartet, and Imani Winds, HCMC continues Bill and Gwen’s legacy with exceptional programming for audiences of all ages to enjoy. To see a detailed list of every HCMC performance since 1993, you can find our entire concert history here.
In 2016 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 celebrated HCMC for the quality of its programming, the depth of its reach, and for enriching the lives of residents of Dutchess County and beyond. For over 30 years, HCMC has brought world-class performances to the Hudson Valley community in a uniquely beautiful venue, where audiences can experience chamber music the way it is meant to be heard.
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.
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.
Arts Organization Award through Arts Mid-Hudson
Click here for a complete list of concerts from past seasons.
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.