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Chamber society marking milestone

S.L. group has been hosting stellar music for 40 years

Leyah Chausow helped found the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City 40 years ago.
Leyah Chausow helped found the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City 40 years ago.
Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News

On Tuesday, the lights will dim and voices will hush in Libby Gardner Concert Hall. Three energetic musicians — the Eroica Trio — will cross the stage as applause welcomes them.

And although this scene has played out many times before, the applause will not just celebrate the beginning of another concert but also the 40th anniversary of the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City.

This year marks significant growth in the chamber music scene, according to Leyah Chausow. "At one time, (chamber music) was considered more of a household activity," Chausow said. "People would play a great deal in each others' homes. It was more like in the 'chambers.'

"But then it began to come out on the concert stage a little more enthusiastically. The audience just loved it, and the music is quite wonderful."

A founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City, Chausow is the only person on the current board of directors who remains from the original board of directors. She became involved when she moved here with her husband, Oscar Chausow, who became the Utah Symphony concertmaster.

Everyone on the board, she said, contributed their ideas, working together to create what is now the long-standing Utah organization. While some of the founders of the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake have passed on, Chausow said that some still contribute, albeit less formally, to the series.

At the time that the Chamber Music Society was created, there was "the beginning of an enthusiasm for chamber music," said Chausow. As the public interest grew, so did the chamber music scene — a phenomenon that was happening around the country.

The first year, said Chausow, there were three concerts. The next year, four. And then it went up to five and six. "It has grown, and so has the size of the audience and also the number of ensembles that are playing, traveling and doing a lot of touring."

In Salt Lake City, the audience has grown tremendously, and Chausow said she's "delighted with that."

Part of the organization's success may be due to bringing in already established groups. "When we started talking about it, we came to the conclusion that if we wanted to get an audience, we had to have some very accomplished groups that were already concertizing."

The first of the groups was the Juilliard Quartet. But programs were also balanced with younger ensembles. "We try always to have these well-established, wonderful groups and also to give opportunities to younger groups that need more experience. A lot of them have started with us and have grown to big positions."

All of the concerts have been memorable, said Chausow. "The literature of chamber music is quite extensive and very enriching, with a very satisfying experience listening to it and for the musicians playing the music."