The Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach (cmspb.org) rings in the new year with new Executive Director Ahmad Mayes. Here, Mayes talks about his musical history, 2022 performances and how he hopes to impact the community.
Cellist Edward Arron performing the Dohnanyi Sextet. PHOTO BY ANNIE WATT
Can you tell us a bit about your musical background?
I went through school as a horn player with ambitions to be an orchestral musician but was equally passionate about teaching. After completing a degree in music education, I pursued arts management because I wanted to be connected to the orchestra field while also providing educational and community engagement programming. I was able to connect young people and new audiences with orchestral music for 15 years at several different orchestras before coming to Palm Beach.
What drew you to the Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach?
The Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach is a very attractive organization with a lot of potential to spread the impact and benefits of chamber music across the South Florida region and to lead nationally when it comes to defining the future of chamber music. My hope is to complement that aspect of our organization with the highest possible levels of access to, and engagement in, chamber music for audiences across the area— including with people who we’ve not reached up to this point.
What kind of performances can the audience expect for 2022?
2022 brings a spectacular slate of concerts. I am excited about all of them, and they bring a range of experiences. From tried-and-true ensembles like the Montrose Piano Trio and St. Lawrence String Quartet, who are sure to deliver exquisite and inspiring performances, to thrilling young cellist Zlatomir Fung, who is relatively new on the scene as winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition, and will be joined by pianist Rohan de Silva. Our finale concert will not disappoint either as Artistic Director Arnaud Sussmann will, for the second time this season, pull together an all-star ensemble of colleagues from around the country to deliver string sextets of Brahms and Tchaikovsky this April.
I know the Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach is heavily involved in the community. Can you tell us about the educational outreach program?
Educational outreach is a big part of our mission and has been a core belief since the beginning. The greatest asset of ours that we can bring to young people in the area is access to world-class artists. Our guest artists are deeply inspiring to young people and equally skilled as performers and educators. Every time we have artists in town, their itinerary includes a visit to an area school where they are often performing or conducting workshops and master classes.
Executive Director Ahmad Mayes. PHOTO BY ANNIE WATT
How do you hope the chamber and its performances impact the community?
I hope the Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach will impact the community by positioning chamber music as a resource to as many people as possible. We will always do the work of presenting world-class performances, and I’d like to see us do this while allowing more and more people to experience music in ways that are meaningful to them. Right now, the most important thing for us to do is listen to our community and understand where and in what new ways we can best connect people with great music.
What are you most looking forward to for the new year?
Being new to CMSPB, I am really looking forward to personally meeting and connecting with our community of chamber music lovers. I believe one of our strengths at CMSPB is the connectivity we have been able to create among our patrons. I think individual connection is so inherent in chamber music, and we embrace that in all aspects of our concert experience, including opportunities for socializing before every concert and the ability to meet and converse with artists. This approach has rewarded us with a warm and welcoming group of patrons who I am so eager to get to know better.
Photography by: Courtesy of Unsplash