In the space of a few hours, history was made at The Chamber Music Society, as David and Wu Han signed a new contract to continue to lead the organization through the 2018-19 season. This, their third contract, makes them the longest-tenured Artistic Directors since the Society’s founder Charles Wadsworth retired in 1989.
The signing, on the stage of Alice Tully Hall, was presided over by Board Chairman Peter Frelinghuysen, with incoming Executive Director Suzanne Davidson and David and Wu Han’s attorney Stanley Plesent looking on.
David and Wu Han issued the following joint statement about their contract extension:
“As we put pen to paper again, at the gracious invitation of our Board of Directors, we are both thrilled by their faith in our vision, and at the same time humbled by the responsibility of guiding this rapidly evolving organization. Over the past seven years, CMS has become our artistic home. Our hard-working, inspired staff, our generous and visionary Board, and the incredible artists coming from all over the world to perform, truly make CMS ‘such stuff as dreams are made on.’ We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to continue our work for CMS, and we pledge to the task our lasting commitment and deepest dedication.”
Immediately following the signing, David went backstage to prepare for another “first” in CMS history: the first concert by the Cellists of Lincoln Center, a collection of cellists from the Lincoln Center campus performing music for solo cello, and cello ensembles of up to eight players. As the brainchild of Metropolitan Opera Orchestra principal Jerry Grossman, the program was several years in the making. Although a major departure from the standard chamber music repertory, this was one of the season’s most popular offerings, including a wide variety of works by Villa-Lobos, Gabrieli, Dutilleux, Tansman, Schickele, Stravinsky, Carter, Casals, Pärt and Bach, the Cellists of Lincoln Center brought the house down and left everyone hoping they will someday play again.