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Conservatory Series

CMC Conservatory Series concerts features advanced CMC students, alumni, and professional artists. These concerts will be scheduled throughout the season. This 2015/16 season will feature side-by-side residencies with the Calidore String Quartet, and others to be announced. The concerts are free and open to the public. Donations are gratefully accepted.

“Seeing [the Calidore Quartet] perform was inspirational and their rendition of the Ravel String Quartet brought me to tears. Rehearsing and then performing with them reminded me why I love chamber music so much. Their kindness towards the students and passion for the music made the whole experience one of the best I’ve had at CMC.” —CMC violin student, 17 years old

For more information on residency dates and concerts, please visit our Calendar page.

“It was a really amazing experience to play alongside with this incredible string quartet [the Jupiter Quartet] and have them treat us like equals.” —CMC violin student, 15 years old

Chamber Music Connection: The Conservatory Series 

One of CMC’s most powerful means of connection is the Conservatory Series. Debbie created the Conservatory Series in 2004 to connect students and professionals not only in education, but also in performance. She had noticed that there was a large disconnect between students watching professionals perform and professionals watching students perform. Where was the crossover, she thought? Debbie knew that visual artists went through apprenticeships to study side-by-side with their mentors, but when did you ever see a middle school or high school student rehearse and play side-by-side with a professional musician?

The first Conservatory Series concert took place in Kilbourne Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church in 2004. CMC alumni and professionals performed a variety of works including my CMC quartet at the time—we played Dvořák’s “American” quartet—when I was just 14 years old. I’m positive that the type of preparation my quartet and I worked on for that concert jump-started my excitement for playing chamber music past the “student” level. I started to search for more in the music during rehearsals and aimed more for technical perfection, as if I was going to perform the piece within the next hour rather than thinking I still had time to figure it out later. I started problem solving like a professional chamber musician.

The inspiration, however, goes both ways. “The Conservatory Series was also intended to reignite teachers [and remind them] why we chose this profession in the first place,” says Debbie. “The enthusiasm, excitement, and energy of the students in rehearsal, coaching, and the performance is infectious and equally inspirational to the professionals.” The group of professionals participating in the Conservatory Series soon came to include professional touring groups.

Debbie realized that if the side-by-side concerts were extended to include such professional groups, “our students [would receive] a unique opportunity to work with chamber musicians whose primary focus is performing chamber music on tour.” Since 1998, Debbie had wanted to connect with the local presenter Chamber Music Columbus (CMColumbus), which routinely brought world-famous chamber musicians to town. After many board meetings and discussions, CMColumbus came up with a budget to provide support for master classes to be given at CMC by their touring artists. Eventually the idea of engaging one of these visiting quartets to the Conservatory Series residency was accepted. Today, the majority of side-by-side residences are made possible by the support of CMColumbus. Their outreach and educational support these past nine years have played a key role in connecting CMC students with phenomenal chamber musicians from outside the Ohio region.

“…having section rehearsals and talking to the artist individually at the dinner was interesting and fun. I felt like almost all of the chamber music skills that the Jupiter String Quartet wanted us to do or fix was taught at CMC before, so that was helpful. And it was really cool performing at the Southern Theater.” —CMC flute student, 16 years old

Performing Side-by-Side: The Conservatory Series in Action
The first official CMC side-by-side residency in collaboration with CMColumbus took place in 2006 with the Cypress String Quartet. Debbie with CMColumbus arranged for the artists to come in for a four day residency, which included rehearsals, master classes, and a performance with the CMC students.

Many of the professional artists that have participated in the Conservatory Series have told us that this was the first time they had experienced a collaboration of this nature. The artists are continually impressed by the professionalism exhibited by such young students, noting that it prompts them to think creatively about how they approach rehearsal time. The program has been so successful that several of the professional artists have returned for an additional visit to coach and/or perform with our students at CMC.

“CMC brings in so many great groups, but Jupiter is one of my favorites because they really became kids again and just had lots of fun with us.” —CMC cello student, 14 years old

CMC Side-by-Side Residencies

  • 2006: Cypress String Quartet*
  • 2006 – present: Annual CMC Spring Festival, Cavani String Quartet*
  • 2008: Claremont Trio*
  • 2009: Ying Quartet* and Jupiter String Quartet*
  • 2010: Claremont Trio
  • 2011: Cypress String Quartet and Fry Street Quartet*
  • 2012: Johannes String Quartet* and St. Lawrence String Quartet*
  • 2013: Trio Cavatina*, Harumi Rhodes, and Haussmann Quartet
  • 2014: Escher String Quartet* and Jupiter String Quartet*
  • 2015: Calidore String Quartet and Brentano String Quartet*

* = Residencies supported by CMColumbus

“The Calidore Quartet was inspiring to work with. They brought a lot of really positive energy to the challenging pieces we played. Their intricate knowledge of the score, as well as the styles of the pieces helped a lot in playing as an ensemble, as well as being true to interpretation. They may be the best quartet I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. ” —CMC violin student, 18 years old

Each professional ensemble participating in a side-by-side residency with CMC has a weekend schedule that looks similar to this:

Guest Ensemble arrives

  • 4:30 – 9:00pm (dinner included) Rehearsal with Guest Ensemble and CMC’s Conservatory Chamber Orchestra or ensemble


  • 1:00pm arrival, 1:30pm outreach performance at the Ohio State School of the Blind, featuring Guest Ensemble with the CMC Conservatory Chamber Orchestra or ensemble
  • 4:00-7:30pm Master classes given by Guest Ensemble at CMC for all ensembles
  • 8:00-9:00pm Rehearsal with Guest Ensemble and the CMC Conservatory Chamber Orchestra or ensemble

Saturday and/or Sunday:

  • 12:00 – 1:30pm Rehearsal CMC Conservatory Chamber Orchestra or ensemble
  • 2:00pm Sound Check at Performance Venue with Guest Ensemble and CMC Conservatory Chamber Orchestra or ensemble
  • 2:30pm Pre-concert talk given by CMC Fellowship Students and Guest Ensemble
  • 3:00pm Conservatory Series Concert

“The residency was absolutely unique. I learned so much about musical and verbal communication. I learned how to give and take constructive criticism within my own quintet by learning that any comments said are not personal, but rather said out of mutual respect for each other as musicians (which is very easy to forget sometimes).” —CMC violin student, first residency experience, 17 years old

The side-by-side residencies at CMC have been a huge success, not only in exposing our students’ ears to a professional sound, but also in teaching them about the life of a professional chamber musician. Though the side-by-sides directly focus on CMC’s advanced students, the residencies also provide inspiration to our younger students through master classes. The beginning and intermediate students always look up to the older, more experienced students at CMC. The Conservatory Series sets a level of musicianship that our younger students strive to be a part of someday and continues to push our current advanced students.

CMC is a one-of-a-kind program, and we strive to continue its uniqueness. For more information about how to connect with CMC, or to learn more about our upcoming concerts and educational programs, please visit www.cmconnection.org or our Facebook page @TheCMConnection.

CMC Flickr Photostream

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Click on images to see more on flickr.
photos by Stephen Wolfe

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The Chamber Music Connection, Inc. is a recognized 501c3 not-for-profit organization. Your donations are greatly appreciated by our students, staff, and the CMC board. Funds raised help with scholarships, expand the experiences of our students and aid with ongoing operating expenses.

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