Elinor Freer and David Ying have received a Special Recognition Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and Chamber Music America as artistic directors of the Skaneateles Chamber Music Festival.
The festival was cited in the CMA/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Awards competition, which provides special recognition to ensembles, festivals, and presenters that prominently feature new works. In addition to considering originality in programming choices, judges look for innovative presentation and audience development strategies. The awards are given jointly by CMA and ASCAP and were presented at the Chamber Music America national conference in New York City on Jan. 5.
The Skaneateles festival was recognized for its shift from presenting primarily traditional works to increasing its audience’s exposure for contemporary compositions.
Ying and Freer took over as artistic directors of the Skaneateles Festival in 2004 following the departure of the previous artistic director, pianist Diane Walsh. The four-week festival, launched in 1980, brings in top instrumentalists to perform world-class chamber music in a small lakeside community.
As part of the 2006 festival, Ying and Freer experimented with a community composition project using Hyperscore computer software developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2007, the couple brought in a festival composer-in-residence for the first time. The festival also offers pre-concert talks, free mini-concerts in the community, and open workshops for students as a way of building audiences. Additionally, the programming reaches out to audiences with such weekly themes as American folk music, which featured Mike Seeger and the legendary New Lost City Ramblers, and “Bon Appetit,” which included performances of such works as Schubert’s “Trout Quintet” and Paul Schoenfield’s “Café Music.”
Freer, a pianist, is assistant professor of chamber music at Eastman and has built a career as a soloist and chamber musician. She has performed and recorded in the Netherlands and presented concerts in England, Russia, China, Mexico, and throughout the United States. She is the recipient of multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for her educational and outreach initiatives to bring classical music to new audiences in settings ranging from inner-city schools to psychiatric hospitals.
Ying, associate professor of chamber music and violoncello at Eastman, is a member of the Ying Quartet. The quartet won a Grammy in 2005 for best classical crossover album and is up for a Grammy this year for best chamber music performance. The Ying Quartet is also known for its outreach programs and LifeMusic, a multi-year project to build a distinctively American string quartet repertoire by commissioning works from established and emerging composers. Ying also performs as a solo cellist and in duo recitals with Freer, his wife.
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