Each summer, 350 musicians-amateur and professional, performers and composers-leave behind their day-to-day lives to gather for an intense week or more making music together. What makes this experience so compelling?
The Music of Friends is a celebration of the history and ethos of this collective endeavor, formally known as the Chamber Music Conference and Composers' Forum of the East, Inc. The summer of 2020 would have marked the seventy-fifth annual conference and a move to the campus of Colgate University after decades at Bennington College, a double milestone that must now wait one more year.
In celebration of the anniversary, author David Webber, a long-time conference participant, has combed the organization's archives and other historical material to present the story of an idea, the community it has created, and-crucially for this group's mission-its commitment to composers and new music.
Webber documents the conference's development, and on occasion its survival against the odds, under different but always committed leaders, in a series of venues, and in changing times for music and society.
With an introductory "Prelude: A Personal Perspective" by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The Music of Friends captures the spirit of conviviality, the dedication of the professionals and volunteers who stage the event every year, and the facets of the conference that will make it successful for years to come.