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The Music Of Friends
75 Years of the Chamber Music Conference and Composer’s Forum of the East
by David W. Webber
Published 2020, 332 pages
Chamber Music Conference

For the last 75 years, the Chamber Music Conference and Composer’s Forum of the East has sponsored an annual gathering and conference of chamber music enthusiasts, instructors, composers, fans and volunteers. This chamber music workshop meets for 4 weeks each summer, and provides professional coaching and a series of seminars, classes and small group instruction for strings, woodwinds and piano performers of all ages and ability levels. The Composer’s Forum commissions new works and brings faculty members and participants together to study and perform. The Chamber Music Conference first began in August, 1946 at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. In 1951 it moved to nearby Bennington College, where it stayed for many years and became informally known as the Bennington conference. This year (2020) the conference was relocated and was scheduled to begin meeting at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York in July and August.

To commemorate the Conference’s 75th year anniversary, author and celloist David W. Webber has written a new book titled The Music of Friends. The book is a detailed history of the Conference from its beginning at Middlebury College to the present, and provides a colorful background to some of the many participants, personalities, politics, and inner workings of the organization. The book is 315 pages, soft cover, and very well written, illustrated and indexed. It provides an interesting look into the life of an organization devoted to chamber music, as well as many human-interest stories; one in particular briefly mentions the times they shared space on the Bennington campus with the Green Mountain Fiddlers summer camp for children, a story that I would like to hear more about. David has a warm writing style that vividly describes and captures the intimacy and comradery of chamber music and small ensemble performances, and the joy of being a part of it; a small group of instrumentalists, each person playing their part, and each instrument responding to another, as a conversation among friends.

This book will be of interest to chamber music enthusiasts and in particular to the many Conference participants over the last 75 years.

Bruce McCollum

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