Photo taken by Cal Jackson
A Brief History of Chesapeake Music
Chesapeake Music presents outstanding musical programs on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay and beyond. This began in 1985 when a dedicated group of chamber music lovers, headed by the late Ralph Bloom, established the Eastern Shore Chamber Music Festival. Assisted by clarinet player J. Lawrie Bloom, Ralph’s son, cellist Marcy Rosen, and Donald Buxton, musician and conductor, they organized a single concert presented outdoors at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. Since then, the Festival has grown to a much anticipated two week June event that includes concerts and open rehearsals featuring renowned musicians from across the country. Originally the concerts were held in different venues including theaters, churches, museums, and waterfront estates. In 2021 Chesapeake Music settled into its permanent home at the beautiful Ebenezer Theater in historic Easton, Maryland.
In 2002, Chesapeake Music initiated the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition, now known as the International Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition for young ensembles. The first biennial competition was held in 2004. The Competition now offers the Lerman Gold Prize of $10,000, the Silver Prize of $5000 and the Audience Choice Prize of $500. Winners and Finalists have gone on to receive other prestigious awards and have launched professional careers.
YouthReach programming began in 2006 through the First Strings initiative, introducing elementary school students to the violin through a program providing Suzuki violin lessons to children in Talbot and Dorchester counties. In 2019 Chesapeake Music joined Talbot Arts and the Talbot County Public Schools in a program to provide an opportunity for Easton Middle School band students to have master classes with graduate students from the University of Maryland. The objective of this program is to provide the student body the opportunity to learn from the skill and experience of graduate-level musicians and hopefully to inspire a lifelong love of classical music among the student body.
In 2009,Chesapeake Chamber Music added jazz to its repertory and changed its name to Chesapeake Music reflecting its broadening repertoire. The first jazz concert featured the renowned jazz pianist Monty Alexander and his trio, and over ten years grew into the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival held Labor Day weekend, that now partners with the Avalon Foundation.
The move to the Ebenezer Theater enabled Chesapeake Music to acquire its own 9 foot Steinway Concert Grand piano something the Festival musicians wanted for many years. At the Ebenezer Theater Chesapeake Music has an opportunity for year-round programming with Interlude concerts featuring talented musicians, including rising stars, from the field of classical, jazz and crossover music. The Interlude concerts offer musicians outreach opportunities introducing them to a local and wider audience through live-streaming while providing the audience with year-round quality programming at competitive prices and promotes racial and gender diversity.
Since its founding in 1985, Chesapeake Music brings world-class music to a growing audience of all ages on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and beyond, while exporting something of the Chesapeake’s uniqueness to musicians who take part in the Festival, Competition and Interlude concerts.