Mission & History
PCMS’ mission is to serve the Greater Philadelphia region and the field of music by presenting a rich and compelling variety of chamber music and recital programs performed by exceptional international and Philadelphia-based artists at affordable prices, while promoting new music and music education, collaborating with regional cultural and educational institutions, and providing high quality customer service to our audiences.
“The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society has taken the lead as the city’s constant reminder that it’s all about artists and repertoire. In fact, without a single concession, the scale and quality of the series is unlike anything else in the country.” -The Philadelphia Inquirer (2014)
The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society (PCMS) was created so people from all walks of life could enjoy world-renowned chamber music and recital artists. PCMS serves this mission through its unique policy of affordable ticket pricing – enabling audiences to hear the Emerson, Juilliard and Takacs Quartets, recitalists Richard Goode and Midori, and many other leading musicians for just $24 per ticket or less.
The PCMS season consists of more than 60 classical chamber and recital music concerts. A Resident Company of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, PCMS performs in the Perelman Theater and other Philadelphia venues. PCMS also collaborates regularly with prominent cultural institutions, and presents 50 education programs to enrich the lives of young people and others through exposure to great music-making.
PCMS was founded by Anthony Checchia in 1986. For over two decades, it has played a vital role in enhancing the cultural life of Philadelphia, in building enthusiasm for classical music, and in providing important concert opportunities, and exposure to outstanding performing musicians and composers. The annual program includes masterworks, rarely-heard pieces of special interest, and new music by living composers. Since its founding, PCMS has presented more than 1000 concerts by 375 ensembles and recitalists, and it has commissioned more than 35 new works.
PCMS was founded in 1986 by Anthony P. Checchia, Artistic Director, with assistance from Philip Maneval, Executive Director. Its founding was made possible, in part, through special support from Elizabeth Starr Cummin, founding President, and from the Presser Foundation, Samuel Fels Fund, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
Prior to the Society’s founding, many leading chamber groups and recitalists had no opportunity to perform in Philadelphia. The Society’s first season of seven concerts sold out quickly, and waiting lists were compiled of additional people wanting to attend.
In response to audience interest and community need, PCMS expanded its program every year. It added a Piano Series in 1987, a Vocal Series in 1990, and a Jazz/Cross Over Series in 1994. In the mid-1990’s, it began the “Concerts for the Community” series in partnership with the Musical Fund Society, and it received support from the Pew Charitable Trusts for a six-year Composers Commissioning Project.
Over the years, PCMS has remained committed to its founding principles: to enable people from all walks of life to enjoy exceptional music-making at affordable ticket prices, to fulfill musical needs of the community, and to build a broad group of directors, staff members, audiences, and patrons who are devoted to these goals and to insuring the Society’s future.