The ASTA/NJ Chamber Music Institute Turns Ten 

Looking back, looking forward
The ASTA/NJ Chamber Music Institute (CMI) turns ten this summer! Such a grand anniversary provides an opportunity to celebrate CMI’s remarkable success as well as the contributions of so many – students, families, faculty and staff.  We wish to acknowledge in particular the contributions of the Zufall Foundation, the ASTA/NJ Board and Kean University.  These organizations provided support critical to CMI’s growth over many years.  We must also acknowledge the countless hours spent planning, administering, recruiting and teaching for the CMI.  Mary Ann Mumm, Margaret Zufall Roberts, Linda McKnight, Neil Aaronson, Christopher Kenniff and many others worked tirelessly for years to launch and then guide CMI to its current level of success.

This summer also marks a period of looking forward – to continued success (many happy returns, we hope!) and to a new partnership with Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Brunswick, New Jersey, CMI’s new host institution.  ASTA/NJ looks forward to a new and vibrant partnership with Mason Gross and to renewing acquaintances with Christopher Kenniff, founding director of CMI and now director of the Mason Gross Extension Division.

On mission
Joining forces with Mason Gross, CMI will continue to serve its mission: to further the art of chamber music performance working with students ages 12-18.  As in past years, a small-scale collegiate program will be available for select undergraduates.  Advanced, intermediate and new chamber musicians will have the opportunity to hone their skills in ensembles appropriate to their abilities.  As always, instruction will emphasize artistic excellence and individual expression while fostering a sense of community amongst participants.

New this year will be the addition of brass, woodwind and piano to CMI’s standard string format.  Adding these instruments will broaden CMI’s impact within the musical community, and offer opportunities for string players to interact with other instrumentalists within the context of chamber ensembles.

The prognosis for CMI 2014 and beyond: slightly varied, buts still great CMI; new great location and partner institution!

Why Chamber Music?
Chamber music performance is the often-neglected third branch of classical training, and it’s easy to understand why. Young instrumentalists typically develop considerable exposure to solo repertoire, especially in the private studio.  Similarly, students have extensive exposure to orchestral playing in school, youth orchestras, and regional orchestras.  Chamber music requires much more individualized attention than students receive in an orchestral setting, yet cannot be taught one-on-one (an ensemble of well-matched players is required!). Challenges in ensemble formation, organization, availability of suitable facilities, and even locating appropriately skilled coaches often prove formidable obstacles in establishing chamber music programs in private studios and school settings.

As a result, many students do not receive formal training in chamber music performance until they reach college, and for some not even then.  The CMI is designed to help provide students with critical – often unavailable – training in an enjoyable yet challenging way that emphasizes hard work and rigorous preparation.

Students at the CMI receive instruction from professional teaching artists who excel in communicating the art of chamber music performance to precollege students.  Instruction at CMI includes coaching sessions with faculty, master classes with visiting artists, performances by professional ensembles, elective classes (i.e./ composition, Alexander Technique, music technology) and a variety of social activities. This variety of music-focused experience encourages creativity, community and a breadth of artistic exposure that complements the CMI’s intense focus on chamber music performance.

A typical day at CMI includes the following:

  • 7:30 am    Breakfast  (Nielson Dining Hall)
  • 9:00‐10:15 am  Instrumental Workshops with CMI Faculty
  • 10:30 am‐12:00pm  Chamber Music Coaching Sessions
  • 12:00‐1:00 pm    Lunch  (catered at Bettenbender Plaza, Nicholas Music Center )
  • 1:00‐2:00 pm    Personal Time (Practice, rehearse, private lessons, outdoor recreation)
  • 2:00‐4:00 pm    Chamber Music Coaching Sessions
  • 4:15‐5:15 pm    Elective Course
  • 5:30‐7:00 pm    Dinner  (Nielson Dining Hall)
  • 7:30 pm    Special Presentation
  • 9:30 pm    Social Time (Residence Hall)

New to CMI is an option for students to commute to campus rather than stay in collegiate dormitories.  Lunch is provided for commuting students; evening activities are optional (except for the evening dress rehearsals). For those wishing to stay on campus, evening activities are provided; the Nielson Dining Hall provides outstanding fare, the dormitory is air conditioned, and supervision is provided by trained staff.

Featured Artists
CMI wouldn’t be CMI without great guest artists.  In our history we’ve been privileged to host the Shanghai Quartet, Daedalus Quartet, Borromeo Quartet, Colorado Quartet, JACK Quartet and the Voxare Quartet.  We are pleased to announce that this year’s guest artists will include the JACK Quartet, The Toomai Quintet and Shattered Glass (string chamber orchestra)

Session Dates
Session I: July 26– July 31, 2015
Session II: August 2-7, 2015
Students may register for one or both sessions.

More information and Registration

Contact:  CMI Program Director, Dr. Neil Aaronson,


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