Arizona Friends of Chamber Music (AFCM) was founded in 1948. We are a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization run by a volunteer board. We continue to bring to Tucson our Evening Series of six concerts by the world’s finest chamber musicians. We make every attempt to include a contemporary piece on most programs. Virtually all of the financial support for our Evening Series comes from audience contributions. In spite of our commitment to the utmost excellence in our presentations, we keep our ticket prices as low as possible in order to make our concerts available to all.
Since 1994, we have presented the Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival. This March festival features a world-class array of chamber musicians in an exciting week of musical activity. The Festival features both standard repertoire as well as more unusual chamber music works. Audience and musicians interact more than is ordinarily possible. Introductory talks precede the concerts. There are numerous channels of community outreach: low ticket prices for students, a free Youth Concert to which students from outlying communities are also invited, four open dress rehearsals, master classes open to the community and a magnificent Gala Dinner, featuring musical selections from Festival artists. The Artistic Director is renowned cellist Peter Rejto.
In 1995, AFCM inaugurated Piano and Friends, a series of three Sunday afternoon concerts, usually: one piano recital and two duos (piano and another instrument), genres that have been unreservedly neglected nationwide. Outstanding young musicians are recruited for this series, with the goal to help them launch their performing careers and to let our audience hear them at this exciting early stage. Not long ago, celebrated pianist Lang Lang was an “up-and-coming” performer at Piano and Friends. These same brilliant young musicians give free Master Classes on the day preceding the concert.
We make considerable efforts to expand our audience among young people through our extensive Educational Outreach Program by hiring young local musicians to play up to 15 chamber music concerts each year in local public schools. In addition, we give free tickets to all our concerts to 10 members of the Tucson Junior Strings and the Tucson Music Teachers’ Association. We started a cooperative program with the Education Department of the Tohono O’Odham Tribe.
In 1997, AFCM also started a Commissioning Program. We emphasize the commissioning of new chamber music works, that are accessible but decidedly contemporary. By 2013, the AFCM will have commissioned and premiered over 50 new works, all sponsored financially by individual members of our audience. This program and its online presence are unique in the world. All works may be accessed on our website.
Arizona Friends of Chamber Music was also a proud supporter of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson International Trio Award, the world’s premier piano trio award from 2003 to 2012. A biennial piano trio award, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson International Trio Award (KLRITA) derived its impetus from the desire to honor the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio (Joseph Kalichstein, piano, Jaime Laredo, violin, Sharon Robinson, cello). In addition, the award was created to encourage and enhance the careers of accomplished and extraordinarily promising young and “rising” piano trios which were chosen every other year while the award was in operation.