Merz Trio (left) and Trio St. Bernard (right) Tie to Win the Gold at 2018 Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition

Interviews – Talbot Spy!


The Eighth International Chamber Music Competition was held on

April 7, 2018 at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, Maryland.

For the first time in the 17-year history of the biennial Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition, two of the five finalists split both the Lerman Gold Prize of $10,000 and the Silver Prize of $5,000 at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, MD. The Merz Trio of New York, NY, and Trio St. Bernard of Taos, NM, tied as this year’s winners. The Merz Trio also received the Competition’s Audience Choice Award. The other finalists were District5 of Washington, DC; Sapphirus Quartet of Ann Arbor, MI; and Ajax Quartet of Boulder, CO.   Read more…


Please click the + for more information.

Ajax Quartet

Ajax Quartet Website

Ajax QuartetAjax Quartet of Denver, CO was founded in 2016 at the University of Colorado. As an emerging string quartet, its members have performed in various constellations at such institutions as the Aspen Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival, Moritzburg Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Dallas Chamber Symphony, University of Michigan, Schwob School of Music, and the Juilliard School. The Ajax Quartet has thrilled audiences at home in Colorado, as well as in California and Washington as part of the Apollo Arts and Concerts in the Barn concert series.


District5 Website

District5District5 is a daring, Washington DC-based wind quintet that specializes in new music and new transcriptions. They are recipients of a 2016 CMA Classical Commissioning Grant with composer Elvis Sammoutis and will present this exciting new work starting in February 2018.

District5 has recently performed at the U.S. Department of State, Library of Congress, Barns at Wolf Trap, DC Kosciuszko Foundation, and Washington Arts Club. They gave the U.S. Premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s ROTARY Woodwind Quintet in 2014 and frequently collaborate with composers and other ensembles.

Upcoming projects include the release of their first album, the complete Chopin preludes transcribed by David Plylar; a residency at Ithaca College; and the launch of a new chamber music series in 2018/19.

The quintet includes Laura Kaufman Mowry, flute, Alison Lowell, oboe, Zachary Gauvain, clarinet, Eddie Rumzis, bassoon, and Laura Crook Brisson, horn.

Merz Trio

Merz Trio Website

Merz TrioMerz Trio is a bold, new, fiercely creative ensemble. Formed in January 2017 as a collaboration between pianist Lee Dionne, violinist Brigid Coleridge, and cellist Julia Yang, Merz Trio was the recipient of a Judges’ Special Recognition Award at the 2017 Plowman Competition and a finalist for a 2017 Tarisio Young Artists Grant for their Macbeth project. In July 2018, Merz Trio will head to Melbourne, Australia to perform two recitals presented by Musica Viva and compete as one of eight piano trios invited to the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition

Currently based in New York City, the trio takes inspiration from the ‘Merz’ found-object collages of the German artist Kurt Schwitters. In keeping with Schwitters’ wide-ranging artistic vision, Merz Trio’s projects promote dialogue between seemingly disparate musics, texts, and artifacts, weaving and juxtaposing the trio’s repertoire within differing artistic worlds of visual art, dance, theater, and culinary arts.

Sapphirus Quartet

Sapphirus QuartetFormed in 2016 at the University of Michigan School of Music, the Sapphirus Quartet has become an increasing presence in the Chamber Music world. Prizewinners at the 2017 Dale and Nancy Briggs Chamber Music Competition, the Sapphirus Quartet pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a classical saxophone quartet through new music performances and premieres, working directly with prominent contemporary composers such as Viet Cuong and David Biedenbender, while still remaining true to the saxophone’s 20th century French and European roots.

Members of the quartet have met individual acclaim performing in Europe and the United States and at venues such as Carnegie Hall’s Perelman Stage, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the New World Center, the Kennedy Center, and Verizon Hall.

The Sapphirus Quartet includes Charles Lilley, soprano saxophone, Emmett Rapaport, alto saxophone, Connor O’Toole, tenor saxophone and Liam Dilenschneider, baritone saxophone.

Trio St. Bernard

Trio St. Bernard Website

Trio St. BernardTrio St. Bernard, founded in 2015 at the Taos School of Music, quickly gained acclaim for their creative and energized performances of the piano trio repertoire, as well as for their visionary programming of original arrangements. They have received guidance from members of the Borromeo, Shanghai, and Brentano Quartets as well as from Leon Fleisher, Ida Kavafian, Robert McDonald, and Michael Tree.

The Trio’s members, Brandon Garbot, violin, Zachary Mowitz, cello and Sahun (Sam) Hong, piano, have performed at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Eglise de Verbier, the Vienna Musikverein, the Kennedy Center, and at festivals including Chamber Music Encounters at CMSLC, Ravinia’s Steans Institute, Taos, and Krzyzowa.

Trio St. Bernard was ensemble-in-residence at the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival and completed residencies at Music from Angel Fire and St. Andrew’s School in Delaware. In it’s 2018 project, “Crossing Voices,” the Trio offers interactive community workshops where participants actively collaborate in the creative process.

2018 Alternate:

  • Ulysses Quartet


Saturday, April 7, 2018 | Ensemble Performing

Tickets $12, FREE for students

1:00 p.m. – Introduction
1:15 p.m. – Performance of first finalist ensemble – District5
2:30 p.m. – Performance of second finalist ensemble – Ajax Quartet
3:45 p.m. – Performance of third finalist ensemble – Sapphirus Quartet

4:45 to 6:45 p.m. – Intermission

6:45 p.m. – Performance of fourth finalist ensemble – Merz Trio
8:00 p.m. – Performance of fifth finalist ensemble – Trio St. Bernard

9:00 to 10:00 p.m. – Reception and announcement of winners

Sunday, April 8, 2018 | Sunday Concerts

1 PM — Ajax Quartet
Temple B’nai Israel
101 West Earle Avenue
Easton, MD
FREE  Admission

2 PM – Sapphirus Quartet
Church of the Holy Trinity
502 S. Morris Street
Oxford, MD
FREE Admission

3 PM – District5
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church
100 Peachblossom Road
Easton, MD
FREE Admission

4 PM – Merz Trio
Christ Episcopal Church
601 Church Street
Cambridge, MD
Admission $10. Students FREE

PRIVATE CONCERT — Trio St. Bernard


The Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition is a competition for young professional chamber music ensembles. Begun in 2004, it has rapidly grown to become a notable international event. Recent Competitions have drawn applicants from the United States, Canada, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. The Competition is sponsored by Chesapeake Music Inc., a non-profit organization that, for thirty years, has brought outstanding music to the Delmarva Peninsula.

From its inception, the Competition has benefited from the assistance of an Advisory Panel of outstanding musicians and educators. The jurors have included luminaries such as Ida Kavafian, David Krakauer, Marcy Rosen, Diane Walsh, Tara Helen O’Connor, Christopher Millard, Pamela Frank and others drawn from leading conservatories and orchestras, as well as from ensembles such as the Orion, Mendelssohn and Los Angeles Quartets and performance venues such as Marlboro and Lincoln Center.

Based on audition materials, the jurors will select a maximum of six Finalists to compete in concert performances on April 7, 2018 at the historic Avalon Theatre in Easton, Maryland. We celebrate each Finalist the following day in individual concerts at other local venues. The Gold Medalist will be further honored with additional concerts including an appearance at the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival in June 2018. Presenting organizations will attend the Competition to consider all Finalists for other future engagements, and our past experience indicates that new concerts will follow.


The Gold Medalist will be awarded the sum of $10,000 and the Silver Medalist the sum of $5,000. Additional cash prizes may also be offered. The Gold Medalist will also receive a concert appearance at the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival in June 2018. Other concert appearances (with additional stipends) may also be awarded during the June, 2018 period.


Gold Medal Award – $10,000 – BLOCK4 – London England

Silver Medal Award – $5,000 – Olympus Piano Trio

Audience Appreciation Award – Olympus Piano Trio

Congratulations to our winners and to the other superb finalists in the 2016 Competition! The Competition is designed to provide new performance opportunities, financial rewards, and musical credentials to aspiring musicians.