For classical music enthusiasts in Tucson, AFCM is the non-profit organization that presents world-class chamber musicians, live in concert at an affordable ticket price.
Arizona Friends of Chamber Music exists to ensure that the adults, students, and children of Tucson can experience the chamber music genre in its highest professional form. AFCM welcomes all people, no matter their age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political status, or disability. AFCM endeavors to present excellent chamber music at a price below the actual cost of organizing performances of the world-class musicians (and for free to school children), by securing donations from individuals, businesses, and grant-conferring institutions. AFCM’s volunteers, Board members, and partners strive for excellence in all associated events, materials, communications, and personal interactions so that all about AFCM is of the same high caliber as the music.
AFCM present four programs each year. Each offers distinct attributes. The thread that runs through all of them is world-class excellence in the chamber music form.
This is AFCM’s trademark collection of concerts, the best of the best from around the globe, engaged by AFCM for one night only in Tucson. It is our serious and sophisticated series of full-length concerts, designed to appeal to knowledgeable chamber music aficionados, classical music enthusiasts, and anyone interested in chamber music in its pure form. At the Leo Rich Theatre. Lobby drink service is available before concerts and during intermission.
This is the recent incarnation of the original Piano & Friends series which sought to present up and coming chamber musicians and those performing as duos (rather than the traditional quartets) and with the piano. For the future, this series is not new music necessarily, but new experiences that allow you to experience the best chamber music in new ways. These include: shorter, no-intermission concerts, wine and hors d’oeuvres prior to a concert, outdoor concerts, chamber musicians experimenting within the form, and more. At a variety of venues.
Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival
Each March—winter elsewhere but blissfully spring-like in Tucson—we host a cast of musicians from around the globe for an intensive week of collaboration and performance like we do not see at any other time in the season. Master classes, lectures, afternoon and evening concerts with opportunities to meet the musicians make for a week of chamber music joy. Festival Gala concert at the Arizona Inn. Concerts at the Leo Rich Theatre.
Introduced in 2015, this brief series of three small concerts offers something our regular season does not: local professional musicians performing well-loved compositions in a casual venue with luscious wine, food from local restaurants, and a no-intermission one hour performance. For those new to chamber music, it has been a suitable place to begin. For those who love chamber music, it means you don’t have to feel deprived over the hot summer.
VENUES AND SEATING
AFCM’s home stage is the Leo Rich Theater at the Tucson Convention Center, located in Downtown Tucson. As well, AFCM presents concerts in a variety of other venues around Tucson include Holsclaw Hall a 204-seat chamber music hall on the University of Arizona campus in mid-town Tucson, Berger Performing Arts Theater a 496 Proscenium theater on the campus of the Arizona State Schools for Deaf and Blind west of west of I-10 on Speedway Blvd., the historic Fox Theatre in downtown Tucson, as well as more casual venues such as the Scottish Rite Cathedral and outdoor locations.
All seats are good seats in the Leo Rich Theater. Series Subscribers receive the first choice of seat location. For single tickets, seats are assigned by the Box Office Manager in the order in which requests are received. When Subscribers tell us they are unable to attend, we release their seats to others. We always strive to give you the best seat available.
Since 2016, AFCM has partnered with the University of Arizona Poetry Center. Under the direction of Executive Director Tyler Meier, staff of the poetry center select a poem to pair with each AFCM concert, and you can find it printed in the concert program. Poetry and music are inextricably linked. Many analogies have been noted throughout history and we offer the poem-concert pairings to enhance your concert experience.
Each AFCM concert is accompanied by professionally-written program notes. Under the direction of Jay Rosenblatt, AFCM Board member and Associate Professor at the Fred Fox School of Music at the University of Arizona, volunteer Nancy Monsman prepares detailed and exploratory notes. These short essays about the music, the composer, and the historical context work to heighten your understanding of the concert, provide insights that may not be obvious from observation, and help you enjoy what you hear. We hear from our audience that some prefer to arrive early and read the program notes prior to the concert while others enjoy listening first and taking the program home to read the notes later.
During the Festival and occasionally for other concerts, artists provide free master classes. Open to the public.
Students may purchase concert tickets for $10 (as compared to the regular price of $30). In addition, members of the Tucson Junior Strings and the Tucson Music Teachers’ Association receive free tickets when available.
THE ORIGINS OF CHAMBER MUSIC
“If I were in Berlin, I should rarely miss the Möser Quartet performances,” wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in 1829, to his musical adviser Carl Friedrich Zelter. This ensemble stood was at the center of Berlin’s concert culture and patrons flocked to hear them play familiar quartets and scores on which the ink was barely dry.
Chamber music has had a stuffy image, and a long history that is not stuffy. The term arose in the 1600s to differentiate the genre from church music and theater music. Chamber music consists of compositions written for a small group of musicians who—not surprising—played in a chamber at home. The genre is unique in that one musician plays each part on her own, unlike orchestral music where many musicians play a part in tandem, their notes merging into a combined whole under the leadership of a conductor. The typical chamber ensemble is a string quartet, which consists of a lead violin, a second violin, a cello, and a viola.
There are accounts of chamber groups as early as the Middle Ages but chamber music as an identifiable genre did not get going until Joseph Haydn came along in 1764 and created what is now a recognizable compositional form marked by conversational phrasing and reliance on a familiar grouping of string instruments. While orchestras and symphonies thrill audiences with their powerful resources and grandiose presentations, chamber musicians engage on a personal level.
Intimate. Music for a small room. A conversation between friends.
Chamber music was integral to the social and political progress of 19th century Europe. Music was used to participate in the public sphere of ideas much like reading, writing, and speaking. The ability to host and perform music on an amateur scale aided the rise of the middle class. Music provided access. Recordings of music did not exist and orchestras and operas were reserved for those rich enough to stage a live performance. But chamber music allowed the homo vulgaris to experience the latest trends.
While chamber music owes its popular expansion to the amateur, the professional field grew in tandem. It was not merely your neighbor sitting around the square music stand that was an identifiable marker of a music-loving household. With the demise of performances at court, music was played by professionals for invited audiences in large private rooms and, then, in public concert halls. Unlike today, chamber audiences did not sit in respectful silence. Rather, they clapped and whooped, booed and hissed, dined and wined, and freely talked back to the musicians to convey their appreciation or disdain, and in this way chamber music was an obvious dialogue between musician and listener. It was typical for the room to be in continuous movement with a low din of conversation and occasional shouts from rowdy bachelors. Applause erupted after each movement. Silent listening was déclassé. Today’s concert format bears little resemblance and instead allows the musicians to present programs with subtlety and nuance.
The Arizona Friends of Chamber Music (AFCM), founded more than seven decades ago, promotes classical and contemporary chamber music in Southern Arizona. AFCM’s overarching goal is to help chamber music, with its special focus on delicate conversations among instruments, to thrive here. AFCM aims to develop and maintain a broad-based, sustainable audience for our concerts through creative programming, and to reach out to an ever more diverse audience through our commissioning program, our formal and informal community outreach activities, and our educational offerings.