A mainstay of Southern California’s cultural scene for forty years, the South Bay Chamber Music Society has been awarded Chamber Music America’s Distinguished Service Award, announced SBCMS Board President Erwin Fishman. The award was presented at SBCMS’s April 11, 2003 concert.

This concert was one of a pair celebrating SBCMS’s 40th Anniversary. The second concert was given at the Pacific Unitarian Church in Rancho Palos Verdes on April 13, 2003.

The centerpiece of this anniversary celebration was the world premiere of a commissioned sextet, Simple Pleasures, by acclaimed local composer and bassoonist John Steinmetz. The diversified chamber ensemble XTET performed the new work. Arnold Schoenberg’s pivotal composition Pierrot Lunaire concluded both concerts.

See John Steinmetz's notes on Simple Pleasures.

(See also John Steinmetz's articles Resuscitating Art Music and How to Enjoy a Live Concert).

SBCMS’s commission of the Steinmetz work commemorated the group’s 40th anniversary, and served to honor founding SBCMS Artistic Director and Board Member Sidney Stafford. This was the first commission by SBCMS.

Chamber Music America, headquartered in New York, is the nation’s premier organization for the support and promotion of classical chamber music. The group’s CEO, Margaret M. Lioi, presented the award to SBCMS during the intermission of the April 11th concert. Her letter informing SBCMS of the prize states:

"This award is not given annually, but rather on the occasion of a significant event in the life of an organization that has been devoted to the creation and/or performance of chamber music in a particular locale."

As the Chamber Music America Distinguished Service Award recognizes, SBCMS has provided free classical music concerts to the community in the South Bay area for forty years. "For us, this extremely prestigious award reflects the quality of the performances that SBCMS presents and the cultural enrichment that the organization has provided to the community throughout its 40-year history," SBCMS President Fishman noted.

SBCMS is a non-profit group which exists almost entirely through the generous donations of its members. The Society’s mission has been unchanged throughout its four decades of service to the residents of Los Angeles: To produce and present professional chamber music concerts of the highest caliber to the community, free of charge as a public service, and to promote the art of chamber musicians, particularly those who live and work principally within Southern California.

Musicians who perform at SBCMS concerts are members of major orchestras, perform for recording or motion picture studios, or teach and perform in university music departments. The group’s Board of Directors is made up exclusively of volunteers, most of whom have been with the organization for many years. Artistic Director Sidney Stafford, who co-founded the organization in the early 1960's with noted violinist Ruth Breytspraak (1893-1982), is an accomplished pianist in his own right, and continues to coordinate program selection for SBCMS’s concerts.

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