The Da Capo Chamber Players has been hailed by The New Yorker as a "distinguished ensemble...at the center of the New York new-music scene for forty-five years" (May 2016). Winner of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award early in its trajectory (1973), the ensemble is about to enter its 50th season. It is a five-member "Pierrot" ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano). The internationally acclaimed group has worked closely with today's most respected composers, building a heritage of present-day American chamber music drawn from an enormous spectrum of styles.
In response to the Covid pandemic’s interruption of live concerts, Da Capo initiated MUSICAL OFFERINGS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, a YouTube series combining previously recorded videos with current conversations. Composers and performers spoke about the power of music to help build awareness for Human Rights. Our repertoire is uniquely appropriate for this! The series featured works by Wendell Logan, Luciano Berio, Chinary Ung, Chou Wen-chung, Valerie Coleman, and Kyle Gann. The series was viewed by listeners near and far and received enthusiastic responses.
Known for Its unique and dedicated attention to every work, its dynamic performances are consistent with the highest musical standards found in performances of traditional repertoire. A further very important goal is to bring exciting American music to other destinations around the world, and to present musics of global cultures for American audiences.
The Da Capo Chamber Players' annual New York series has been praised for "superb" and "gripping" performances. Ground-breaking programs have included premieres by Elliott Carter, George Perle, Louis Karchin (AMERICAN VISIONS, setting of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, with the poet as guest reader), Joan Tower, Shulamit Ran, Chinary Ung, and countless others. The five ensemble members bring years of creative insight, involvement and artistic vision to our work and performances of today's repertoire, including over 150 works written especially for the group. Adventuresome programs with electronic sounds, works by young composers, collaborations with choreographers—all have sparked the imagination of listeners. Our Merkin Concert Hall celebration of the centenary of Schoenberg's PIERROT LUNAIRE (with Lucy Shelton) received a standing ovation, just as it did again at New Music New College in Sarasota, FL, in 2016.
In 2010, NPR named the ensemble's recording, Chamber Music of Chinary Ung (Bridge Records), as one of the five Best Contemporary Classical CDs of the Year.
Educational outreach has always been and continues to be a vital part of our work. The ensemble shares its love and commitment to this important repertoire with next generation artists through its ongoing residency at Bard College and touring engagements that feature masterclasses, readings and performances. Further—as young composers continue to develop, after graduation, Da Capo continues to program them, helping them with career-building.
Current members of Da Capo: Patricia Spencer, flute; Marianne Gythfeldt, clarinet; Steven Beck, piano; Curtis Macomber, violin; Chris Gross, cello. Photo © Beowulf Sheehan
1976 – 1985 members of Da Capo: Joel Lester, violin; Patricia Spencer, flute; André Emelianoff, cello; Joan Tower, piano; Laura Flax, clarinet