Seniors Making Music Happen on the Eastern Shore
By Lin Clineburg

We sat transfixed, listening without breathing it seemed, to the beautiful strains of Brahms played by world-class musicians at the Wye River’s Aspen Institute that early summer day. The afternoon concert, and champagne buffet supper that followed under a crisp white tent, nourished us culturally and physically. We left, feeling at peace with the world as the sun slowly slipped behind the Wye. It was a beautiful introduction to retired life on the Eastern Shore. That concert was only one of many performed at various locations during the annual two-week Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival, and we knew that we wanted to be part of them all.

That was eight years ago. The magic actually began 24 years ago when J. Lawrie Bloom, a Chicago Symphony clarinetist, invited several musician friends who loved sailing to vacation with him at his parents’ home on the Eastern Shore. They gave a successful, impromptu concert in the gazebo at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and the rest is history. Lawrie became artistic co-director of the festival, sharing responsibilities with cellist Marcy Rosen of the renowned Lion’s Gate Trio. The ensuing 23 years have seen continual growth. Today’s Chesapeake Chamber Music (CCM) is much more than just an annual musical event.

Chesapeake Chamber Music is the nonprofit umbrella organization for the annual CCM Festival, the biennial CCM International Competition, Interlude Concerts held during the year and the YouthReach program, which introduces 350 local elementary school children to playing the violin. An 18-member board of directors and two part-time paid professionals plan and execute all these programs assisted by numerous talented and devoted volunteers, mostly retirees in the community. These individuals bring a wealth of experience to CCM from prior careers in business, law, public relations, marketing, the arts, computer programming and simply a love for music.

Patricia Barbis and her husband retired to St. Michaels, in 1997 after a successful career in public relations in Washington, DC, and service in the U.S. Foreign Service throughout Asia and Europe. As a newcomer at a Sunday lunch in Trappe, hosted by Time Magazine’s retired Tokyo bureau chief, Pat was recruited as a volunteer to help market and promote chamber music on the Eastern Shore. She’s served on the board nine years, the last four as vice president. Her special interests have been to assist in creating and launching CCM’s International Competition for young professional ensembles and in introducing string instruments to elementary school children in Talbot and Dorchester counties.

Before moving permanently to the Eastern Shore in 1993, Arnold and Zena Lerman spent weekends away from their work in Washington, DC, bicycling the country roads of Talbot County. Music lovers, they were active followers of the chamber music scene in Washington. After their move to Oxford, Arnie, a lifelong violinist, enjoyed playing with local orchestras and became a volunteer with the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival. Arnie joined its board, working on the first Capital Campaign in 1993. When the nine-year term limit for board members freed up some of his time, Arnie pursued what had become a dream project for him – the creation of an international chamber music competition providing young professional ensembles with recognition, cash awards and exposure to new performance venues. Today the biennial competition is recognized in music schools and conservatories throughout North America and the world as a premier musical event. Arnie’s goal is to continue to enhance and further “the rich mosaic of musical offerings under the CCM umbrella.”

In all, there are approximately 100 active volunteer members who give generously of their time and talent to Chesapeake Chamber Music, bringing pleasure to young and old alike throughout the year.

Festival 24, to be held June 4-14 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, brings 21 internationally renowned musicians to perform eleven exquisite programs in venues from Chestertown to Queenstown and Easton to Oxford. Beginning with a free family concert on Thursday, June 4, at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, the festival will continue for a week and a half with concerts, which are free or attractively priced. Tickets to the Aspen Institute concert on Saturday, June 6, will include a champagne buffet supper after the concert, and the Angels Concert on Sunday, June 14, a CCM fundraiser at a wonderful waterfront estate, will feature a luscious cocktail party.

For more information and a festival brochure, and to obtain tickets to the 2009 Festival events, please visit or call the CCM office at (410) 819-0380.

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