In 1985, a dedicated group of chamber music lovers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, headed by the late Ralph Bloom, established the Eastern Shore Chamber Music Festival. Assisted by J. Lawrie Bloom and Marcy Rosen (Artistic Directors for the past 30 years) and Donald Buxton (Executive Director since the Festival’s beginning), the Festival began with a single concert. Since then, it has grown to a two week event in early June, including thirteen concerts, recitals and open rehearsals in venues ranging from concert halls to churches, museums and waterfront estates.

In 1997, the Festival established the concept of a satellite concert outside its base in Talbot County. Satellite concerts have been held in Chestertown, Queenstown and, more recently, Centreville. In 2002, the organization initiated production of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition for young chamber ensembles from around the world. The first biennial competition was held in 2004, the sixth in March 2014.

Interlude concerts between the annual Festivals joined the programming mix in 2004, and an annual Spring Concert and Gala Dinner Event was added in 2005 for the organization’s growing audience. YouthReach programming began in 2006 through the First Strings initiative, introducing elementary school students to playing a string instrument.

In July 2008, Eastern Shore Chamber Music Festival became Chesapeake Chamber Music, Inc., reflecting its growth from the roots of that single chamber music concert in 1985. In the following year Chesapeake Chamber Music added jazz to its repertory, with a single concert featuring the renowned jazz pianist Monty Alexander and his trio. Since then, that concert has grown into the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, featuring five concerts over Labor Day weekend, and drawing enthusiastic audiences from throughout the region.

The 2014-2015 season marks Chesapeake Chamber Music’s 30th year of bringing world-class chamber music, and now jazz, to a growing audience of young and old on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and beyond, while exporting something of the Chesapeake’s uniqueness to musicians worldwide who take part in the festivals, Competition and interlude events.

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