About the NCMF
The first Nevada Chamber Music Festival took place in the last week of 2004. Even with only three months to prepare and produce the event, it was clearly a success. With each performance audience numbers increased, and even in the midst of severe snowstorms attendance indicated a real commitment to this genre of music. So plans were made for the second Festival, held in the last days of 2005. While once again the weather – this time, record rainstorms that caused flooding in some areas – was something of an obstacle, audiences continued to grow. Finally in 2006 the Festival could take place without any weather hindrances, and the size and enthusiasm of the audiences made for very exciting concerts. The Festival has now expanded to include eleven concerts over six days.
There is no other festival of this type during this time period. Because the period between Christmas and New Year’s tends to be an inactive one for most performing groups, we are able to attract to our Festival musicians who would simply not be available to us at any other time of the year.
Our Festival musicians are personally selected and invited by Festival Artistic Director, and RCO Music Director, Theodore Kuchar. They represent the world’s most renowned classical musicians and are drawn to Reno for the privilege of performing with each other and making great music and enjoying the natural beauty of the Truckee Meadows and the Sierra.
The Festival venues are both acoustically excellent and ideal for chamber music: South Reno United Methodist Church (200 DeSpain Lane in Reno, off Mt. Rose highway and one half mile west of Highway 395) and the University of Nevada, Reno’s Nightingale Concert Hall (where the RCO plays its regular season concerts).
Attendance at the Festival has grown every year, with a record 3,095 in 2011. More than half of those who come to the Festival are not RCO regular season concert attendees. Many come from outlying areas, including Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Truckee, and Gardnerville.
The Nevada Chamber Music Festival, already a uniquely successful event, has also become one of the primary chamber music festivals in the nation.
The Tenth Nevada Chamber Music Festival
By Jill Winter
As we celebrate the Tenth Nevada Chamber Music Festival we also look back at the beginnings of this remarkable event. After a brief three months of planning, the first Festival took place in December 2004, with high hopes and a certain amount of trepidation. We knew that Maestro Theodore Kuchar would bring world-class musicians and phenomenal programming to the Festival. After all, he had done it with great success since 1991 with the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. What we waited to find out was how Reno audiences would react to a chamber music festival, and whether the week between Christmas and New Year would be a draw. That week did allow us to bring musicians who would not be available at any other time of the year.
Well, in spite of a record snowfall that caused cancellations of the last day’s concerts, the first festival exceeded our expectations. The following year we had floods in downtown Reno, but this time the concerts went ahead. Not only did audiences increase, but, most crucially, the number of individuals, businesses and foundations willing to underwrite the cost of the Festival increased. Ever since, the Festival has been an artistic and financial success.
The majority of the Festival concerts take place in the Nightingale Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Nevada Reno. From the first Festival a number of concerts have also been presented in churches, initially the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and the South Reno Baptist Church. Then in 2006 we found our new home, the South Reno United Methodist Church, which allows audience members from south of Reno and from Incline Village a more accessible venue. From the beginning, volunteers have provided assistance for staff, lunches at the church, sales of CDs, and the care and feeding of musicians. And a New Year’s Eve celebration has been added, a fitting end to a marvelous week.
For the first seven festivals concerts ran from December 28th until the grand finale on New Year’s Eve. Then in 2011 we started offering recitals and talks on December 26th and 27th. This year we have twelve concerts, up from eight the first year. The roster of musicians who delight in performing with their friends and colleagues in Reno has grown over the years. Since the inaugural Festival, musicians have returned year after year and newcomers have been added. They include members of some of the great orchestras of the United States; internationally renowned soloists; members of world famous string quartets; and some of Reno’s own outstanding musicians.
Festival programs have included a wide of range of works, from such tried and true composers as Brahms, Beethoven and Dvorak, to composers of the 20th century, including Martinu, Schnittke and Lutoslawski. Not only have we been treated to relatively unknown works by the best-known composers, we have also been introduced to exciting works by less familiar composers. Every year we have been able to look forward to the new as well as the familiar, the comfortable and the challenging, and this year is no different.
The Tenth Nevada Chamber Music Festival promises to build on the successes of prior years, and to maintain its position as a premier cultural event in Northern Nevada. Over the years every concert has included highlights, moments of soaring inspiration, and this year will be no exception.