Founded in 1994, the Portland Chamber Music Festival is a top chamber music event in New England featuring acclaimed performers from the United States and abroad.
PCMF was founded by violinist (and Portland native) Jennifer Elowitch and pianist Dena Levine. After many summers spent teaching (and driving) around the Northeast, they had a dream to create an "oasis" where they and their musician friends could collaborate and make music together while cavorting on the Maine coast. Elowitch’s family and friends housed and fed the musicians, and also entertained them, offering boat rides and personal Portland experiences, forming the "family feel" that continues to this day. The Festival's first home was Ludke Auditorium at the University of New England, which offered the space in exchange for an annual free concert with PCMF artists, establishing PCMF's commitment to community and accessibility from its earliest days.
Since 2007, the Festival has made its summer home at Hannaford Hall in the Abromson Community Education Center on the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus. In 2012, PCMF launched a collaborative contemporary music series with SPACE Gallery, and a Salon Series of concerts in private homes and intimate spaces throughout southern Maine was added in 2015. Regular community engagement programs include collaborations with youth- and senior-serving organizations throughout the region.
In 2018, Jennifer Elowitch concluded her 25-year tenure as Artistic Director, and violist Melissa Reardon was appointed as her successor. Under Reardon's direction, PCMF has undertaken Extended Artist Residencies, an Emerging Artist program, and new collaborations that celebrate Portland's fabulous "foodie" scene as well as diverse musical genres and cultural traditions. Starting in 2021, PCMF's main stage summer concerts are accessible for free online via professionally produced live stream.
Over the Festival's history, regional performances have been presented by organizations including Longy School of Music (Cambridge, MA), Harvard Musical Association (Boston, MA), Wolfeboro Friends of Music (NH), Bates College, Bowdoin College, and in Gardiner and Augusta, ME (presented by Johnson Hall). Festival concerts are broadcast regionally and nationally on Maine Public Classical, WGBH Radio in Boston, and American Public Media’s Performance Today.
Strongly committed to the performance of contemporary music, expansion of the chamber music canon, and cultivation of the next generation of chamber musicians, PCMF has commissioned new works from Eric Chasalow, Peter Askim, Paul Wiancko, and Tomeka Reid; and has co-commissioned or co-produced dozens more. Resident Composers at PCMF have included Pulitzer Prize winner Melinda Wagner, Grammy Award winner Osvaldo Golijov, and Charles Ives Living Award winner Chen Yi. Past programs included an International Composers Competition and a Young Artist Apprentice Program which provided opportunities for an outstanding Maine string student to perform with artists of international stature.
PCMF International Composers Competition Winners:
2016 Carla Magnan (Italy)
2015 David Crumb (Oregon)
2014 Josh Newton (Maine)
2013 Nick DiBerardino (Connecticut)
2010 Andrew List (Massachusetts)
2009 Paolo Boggio (Italy)
2008 David Lipten (Florida)
2007 Brian Fennelly (New York)
2006 Vincent Ho (Canada)