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  • Writer's pictureMaryGrace Bender-Waggoner

Nashville Chamber Music Society: Creating a Job That I Love

When I was in high school, I bought the domain "Nashville Chamber Music Society” because I thought maybe someday I could make it into something. Chamber music is one of my favorite things to do because it’s so joy-filled. For those of you who don't know, chamber music is the broad term we use to describe small ensemble performances (duos, trios, quartets, quintets, etc.). There’s nothing like playing music with a small group of friends for an audience of friends. After going to the McDuffie Center for Strings for my undergrad, and getting a masters in cello performance and Suzuki pedagogy at The Cleveland Institute of Music, which ended right during the pandemic, I wasn’t sure what the next step was in my musical journey. I thought I would be taking a bunch of auditions for an orchestral position, but like many other musicians, found myself working full time at a restaurant trying to make ends meet.

One evening at work, I asked my manager if some friends and I could put on a socially distanced chamber music concert in the restaurant, and thankfully she was supportive. It became a six-concert series paired with “Wine Down Wednesday”, and the series was fully booked after the first concert.

But what exactly is a chamber music society you might ask? There are several chamber music societies/programs around the world, and each one is a bit unique, but in general, it is a collective of musicians that work together to bring intriguing, intimate classical concerts to their communities. Nashville has a very robust music scene, but there wasn't really a place where classical chamber music concerts were happening, so I saw a need and wanted Nashville Chamber Music Society to fill it. Chamber music is unique because you can hear each individual instrument, and it's a smaller group of musicians, so you have the chance to get to know each performer.

I got really excited about this new venture, and began reading books and researching how to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and we got nonprofit status in the summer of 2021. We will begin our third season of concerts and community outreach programs this fall! I’m continuing to learn along the way about how to run a nonprofit, how to grant write, how to serve the Nashville community well, and how to keep the concerts flowing. Sometimes life isn’t what you thought it would be, but circumstances grow you in ways that you need to grow, and I’m so thankful to be doing exactly what I am doing. I wouldn't have any other way.

Nashville CMS regularly performs in schools and retirement homes, and cultivates a sweet community of learning and listening. This fall, we are launching a chamber music program for amateur adult musicians and for young students. Have you ever wanted to start something new in your community? Go for it. I'm sure there is a community that wants to support you and your ideas.

With joy,

MaryGrace and The StringTime Family

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