November 2, 2021

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center announced yesterday that violinist Soovin Kim and pianist Gloria Chien have been named the recipients of the 2021 CMS Award for Extraordinary Service to Chamber Music. The award is to be presented on November 9 at Alice Tully Hall, as part of that evening’s concert program, “Chopin: Voice of the Poet,” an all-Chopin program performed by pianists Michael Brown and Anne-Marie McDermott, violinist Ani Kavafian, and cellist Nicholas Canellakis.
“Even during the deepest and darkest days of the pandemic, we knew that this award should go next to those who were working tirelessly to keep the art form thriving in the face of tremendous odds,” said David Finckel and Wu Han, co-artistic directors of CMS. “It was not long after the shutdown that we became aware of this couple’s unstoppable and truly inspired efforts to bring great music to people in times of intense need. As the months wore on, Soovin and Gloria mounted project after project in multiple locations, from their home in Boston to their series in Chattanooga (String Theory at the Hunter) to Portland (Chamber Music Northwest) to Vermont (The Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival). As young artistic directors (and stellar performers) they have set an example not only as artists but citizens of the world, and for that, we should all be truly grateful.”

Throughout the pandemic, Gloria Chien and Soovin Kim brought chamber music to the people of Burlington, Portland and Chattanooga by producing digital concerts, featuring both live performances and archival recordings; creating digital lecture series and educational programming; partnering with local public radio and television to extend the reach of programming; and offering many of these programs free to the public in an effort to help sustain them through the pandemic lockdown. As soon as restrictions began to ease, in the summer of 2021, Soovin and Gloria also began reintroducing live performances, with in-person concerts, open rehearsals and master classes, family concerts, free performances and even school visits.

In the early days of the pandemic, Gloria launched Notes of Hope, daily 7pm concerts that joined in the daily 7pm expression of thanks for frontline healthcare workers. Notes of Hope ran for 42 days, from May 11 to June 21, with more than 65 artists and ensembles volunteering their time and talents. All the daily concerts are archived online.

“It is such a great honor to receive this award and to be in the company of such distinguished past honorees, including the founder and the former Artistic Directors of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center,” said Gloria Chien and Soovin Kim. “As artistic leaders, it is our responsibility to serve our communities, especially during this time of uncertainty. Music elevates and connects, two things we urgently needed during the pandemic. We want to share this award with our organizations in Portland, Burlington and Chattanooga. We are thankful to Wu Han, David Finckel, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for setting an example by providing invaluable support and guidance to their musicians and an abundance of rich musical offerings to their audiences!”

The CMS Award for Extraordinary Service to Chamber Music is presented to individuals and institutions who have shown exceptional dedication to the art form of chamber music and have significantly changed the landscape of chamber music through their passionate commitment and exceptional vision. Recipients, chosen by CMS’s artistic department, can be artists, presenters or others who have shown an exceptional commitment to chamber music. This year, CMS felt strongly that the award should recognize contributions made specifically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The inaugural CMS Award for Extraordinary Service to Chamber Music went to pianist Menahem Pressler in 2013 and the following year to CMS founding director Charles Wadsworth. Other prior recipients include Marlboro Music (2015), South Mountain Concerts (2016), Chamber Music Connection (2018) and David Shifrin (2019).