Final Free Pop-Up Concert From Howland Chamber Music Circle Featuring Beacon High School Musicians


The Howland Chamber Music Circle is a collective of musicians who appear in the world’s greatest concert halls, and also right here in Beacon at the Howland Cultural Center for their regularly scheduled concerts. The HCMC’s Pop-Up Series offers four opportunities to enjoy the chamber music circle at different locations around town.

This Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 3 pm, the musicians will be performing their final pop-up concert for the season at St. Andrew & St. Luke Episcopal Church. This concert is part of their Vent Nouveau program, a partnership with Beacon High School to expose students to chamber music. The performance will feature several high school students.

About Vent Nouveau, Beacon High School, and Howland Chamber Music Circle

Vent Nouveau has been Artist-in-Residence at Beacon High School since 2017, and has worked closely with the school’s band program to enhance their music education and expose students to the wide world of chamber music. Vent Nouveau is dedicated to bringing attention to the wide variety of chamber repertoire for winds, brass, and percussion instruments.

Vent Nouveau is composed of musicians who have performed with some of the country’s leading symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and New World Symphony. These artists first collaborated with one another in the prestigious West Point Band, and now put their virtuosic talents toward exploring chamber music from the traditional to the obscure. Offering versatile concert programs that range from two- to twelve-member ensembles, it is the first group of its kind in the NYC-surrounding area. More information on Vent Nouveau and upcoming events can be found at

About The Howland Chamber Music Circle

The Howland Chamber Music Circle is recognized as a leading arts organization in the Hudson Valley, bringing world-class music to the Hudson Valley. Musicians who perform for the Circle regularly appear in the world’s greatest concert halls. Each season the Circle presents eight chamber music concerts, a four-concert Piano Festival, a very popular Classics For Kids concert series, and a free concert series, the Pop-Up Concerts, to the Beacon community.

In 2016 the Howland Chamber Music Circle was awarded the Dutchess County Executive’s Arts Organization Award through Arts Mid-Hudson for its exceptional music programming and community reach, and for enriching the lives of Hudson Valley residents through music. Through its educational outreach program, the Howland Chamber Music Circle brings enjoyment, knowledge, and skill in music to many young people in the area. In partnership with local school districts and community groups, the Circle has sponsored artist residencies throughout Dutchess County, most recently in the Arlington and Beacon High Schools.

Several Sponsors Sign On To Support Rock Out 4 Mental Health Concert In Beacon In June

The Roundhouse of Beacon has signed on as the Title Sponsor for the Rock Out 4 Mental Health summer concert, happening on Saturday, June 1, 2019. This show of support for the first year of this event is a big help to getting T-shirts made and helping to make this event possible. One of the first events of its kind, Rock Out 4 Mental Health aims to remove stigma around mental health needs by bringing people physically closer to the resources and services that are available to them in Dutchess County.

Thank you to the rest of the sponsors who have come on thus far, including Gold Level sponsor Key Foods, and Bronze Level Sponsors Aryeh Siegel, Architect; Bob's Auto Repair in Wingdale, N.Y.; HealthQuest; Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union; Premier Medical Group; People USA; and Tin Shingle.

Only five more Gold Level spots are available, and a handful of Silver Level sponsor spots if you want to get your business behind this event! Click here for details.

Wellness Providers As Vendors At Concert

Vendor spots for wellness providers are still available, and the concert attendees need to know about you! If you are a wellness provider, you can book your spot online here. Food vendors are also welcome! This is a great way to meet new people. There are limited spaces, so do it now.

So far, you’ll be able to interact with the following groups: Astor Services for Children & Families, CAPE, Children's Home of Poughkeepsie, CoveCare Center, Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health, Empire Concessions, I Am Beacon, Innate Chiropractic (Wappingers Falls), NAMI Mid-Hudson, and People USA.

Getting closer to the big day! It has been a pleasure being on the Planning Committee for this event, and we’re looking forward experiencing the day.

The Howland Chamber Music Circle - The Musical Jewel Accessible To So Many In Beacon


Some cities have symphony halls. Beacon has a group of professional musicians who started meeting in someone’s living room, who now play regularly in the Howland Cultural Center on Main Street in Beacon, N.Y. The group is called the Howland Chamber Music Circle, and you have most likely attended one of their performances or kids instrument “petting zoos.”

This is a great place to perform. It’s like being inside an instrument itself.
— A Howland Chamber Music Circle Performer

For several Beaconites, listening to this amazing grade of music is an every Sunday afternoon kind of thing. We may not realize just what we have at our fingertips at the Howland Cultural Center, whose unique architecture has special acoustic advantages in which world renowned musicians come together to play. So we asked the Howland Chamber Music Circle to recall their history for our readers, so that we may better understand this group who is now popping up to perform in other locations throughout Beacon and the Hudson Valley. A board member of the Howland Chamber Music Circle, James Lichtenberg, researched and wrote this article for you:

The ‘Chamber’ of the Howland Chamber Music Circle Was A Living Room in the 1980’s

Gwen and Bill Stevens, Howland Chamber Music Circle (HCMC) co-founders.  Photo Credit: Howland Chamber Music Circle

Gwen and Bill Stevens, Howland Chamber Music Circle (HCMC) co-founders.
Photo Credit: Howland Chamber Music Circle

The Howland Chamber Music Circle (HCMC), founded in Beacon, N.Y. in 1993, in the verdant valley of the Hudson River, began in the 1980s, appropriately enough, in a chamber… the living room of HCMC founders Gwen and Bill Stevens (sadly, they both passed away in 2018). Gwen was an accomplished musician, teaching piano at Vassar. Friends and neighbors would arrive to enjoy spontaneous performances by other artists whom Gwen invited to play on their two gorgeous Steinway grand pianos.

One of the more frequent attendees, Polly Gage, suggested to Gwen that they also promote house concerts for gifted young musicians. With the assistance of a friend and fellow pianist, Ed Loizides, and after contacting their respective alma maters, Yale and the Manhattan School of Music, they began the process of finding young talent, expertly aided by Robert Besen, then of the Concert Artists Guild. Besen was taken by Gwen’s enthusiasm and made it possible for her and an enthusiastic cadre of volunteers to learn the ropes of bringing exciting programs to a growing audience.

Howland Chamber Music Circle Outgrows The Living Room

Photo Credit: Howland Chamber Music Circle

Photo Credit: Howland Chamber Music Circle

As the number of attendees swelled, home venues grew inadequate. Gwen began to think about a venue somewhere in Southern Dutchess County to accommodate wider audiences. Among the considerations was a music barge in the Hudson River itself.

Then, in 1992, Gwen and Bill attended an exhibit of historic photos at the Howland Cultural Center, located at the far east end of Beacon’s Main Street. The Center’s building, a gothic jewel designed by Richard Morris Hunt, features walls of richly-carved wood beneath an open vaulted ceiling, and a space capable of seating 120 people. Not surprisingly, the two HCMC founders were struck by the potential of that space for chamber music.

First HCMC Concerts Start In Howland Cultural Center In 1993

Photo Credit: Howland Chamber Music Circle

Photo Credit: Howland Chamber Music Circle

The Howland Cultural Center agreed to produce a series of concerts under their auspices. The premier three-concert season in 1993-1994 featured the Meridian Brass Ensemble, the St. Lawrence String Quartet and a string duo of Ayako Yoshida and Semyon Fridman. As Besen remembers, “[If] a walk around the Howland Center (quite different from today) was…more than a little scary, the concert was well-attended. The venue was…magnificent…. Over the years I’ve booked 39 performances.”

You can walk out of your house and hear world-class artists just a few blocks away.
— One Beaconite

With the increasing abilities of the Stevens and their associates to secure talent, the growing annual programs became a staple of the Hudson Valley music calendar, with the unique venue a draw in its own right for both listeners and artists, who were only too happy to return to play in subsequent seasons. As one performer put it, “This is a great place to perform. It’s like being inside an instrument itself.” The sell-out audiences, standing and clapping for encores add, no doubt, to their pleasure. One Beaconite, also a musician, exclaimed, “You can walk out of your house and hear world-class artists just a few blocks away.”

Photo Credit: Howland Chamber Music Circle

Photo Credit: Howland Chamber Music Circle

With continuing success in the early years, it became evident that the “Circle” should be more formally established to ensure its future. In April 1999, it was incorporated as a not-for-profit membership corporation, independent of the Howland Center.

Twenty-five years later, its annual offerings have grown to include a 12-concert season, featuring four pianists and eight chamber music groups -- with Sunday afternoon performances (in the 2018/19 season) including the Juilliard and Brentano String Quartets, and pianists Jeremy Denk and Simone Dinnerstein. Along with its dozen formal concerts, the Circle also hosts a number of pop-up concerts in other Beacon venues, a Classics for Kids series, co-sponsored by the HCC, as well as music residencies in local high schools. To celebrate its founders on the group’s 25th anniversary, HCMC commissioned a beautiful string quartet by local composer Debra Kaye, performed in the spring of 2018 by the Voxare String Quartet.

The 2018/19 season also reflects the continuing aspirations of HCMC to take new paths and broaden its appeal, including this season’s “concertante” approach, adding soloists to the quartets, like the oboist James Austin Smith, who performed with the Telegraph Quartet, harpist Bridget Kibbey, who will join the Daedalus Quartet, as well as rising violinist Alexi Kenny, partnered with pianist Renana Gutman. In addition, there will be a break-out “living-room” performance by the So Percussion group, whom The New York Times called “exceptionally inventive with instruments galore!”

Established and applauded as it may now be, the Howland Chamber Music Circle is not content to rest on its laurels. Rather, it is dedicated to continuing the inspiration of its founders in finding ever new ways to bring broad and engaging programs of music to its supportive community in Beacon and beyond. The hills of the Hudson Valley are indeed alive with the sound of music.

Learn about and buy tickets to upcoming concerts, and learn about how to support the Howland Chamber Music Circle with donations.