Fontana Concert Society was incorporated in 1980 as a nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. British hornist Neill Sanders, a founding member of the Melos Ensemble of London, was Executive and Artistic Director of the Society until his death in 1992. Fashioned after Melos, the original
Upon Neill’s death in 1992, pianist Paul Nitsch was named Artistic Director and artist/co-founder Ann Meade, Neill's wife, became the Executive Director. Upon Ann's retirement in 1995, Janet Karpus became the Executive Director. In the years prior to the merger,
Chamber Music Society of Kalamazoo
The first concert of the Chamber Music Society of Kalamazoo was performed by Mary Beth Birch, pianist, and Muriel Matthews, cellist, in May of 1955 at the Presbyterian Church House. Based on the enthusiastic response, Irving Gilmore, Al Connable, Lester Rosenbaum and Dr. William G. Birch underwrote the next season.
Initially, the Society's purpose was to give local professionals a showcase. However, as support grew and the Society continued its success, and local professionals began to find increasing performance opportunities in colleges and elsewhere throughout the region, the Chamber Music Society came to concentrate more on bringing in well-known professional chamber groups. Dorothy Connable was instrumental in this transition and she took on the job of managing the Society. Through her time, effort and financial support, the Chamber Music Society of Kalamazoo gained the love and respect of the music community, attracting nationally and internationally known chamber groups such as the Borodin Quartet, the Guarneri String Quartet, the Julliard String Quartet and the Smetana Quartet. For forty-five years, the Chamber Music Society was an active, strong and highly respected contributor to the cultural life of
A Merger to Become One
Beginning in 1999, the two organizations began collaborating during their overlapping winter seasons. In January 2001, the respective boards of each organization decided that the two organizations would merge and form Fontana Chamber Arts, committed to protecting the culture, values and programming of each existing organization, as embodied in the mission statement. In July of 2001, Anne Berquist became the organization’s first executive and artistic director; she remained with the organization until January 2008.
Under the leadership of David Baldwin, Exeuctive and Artistic Director, who joined the organization in June 2013, Fontana Chamber Arts works to continue the traditions of its predecessor organizations while creating its own niche in the cultural life of our area. A major contributor to the vitality of the
Fontana Chamber Arts programming features an extensive array of world-renowned performers - both established and emerging - and diverse programming ranging from classical to contemporary to jazz. Delivered in traditional as well as alternative settings,
Education and Outreach
Fontana Chamber Arts has an extensive community outreach program that provides