History of the
Summer Chamber Concerts
Founded in 1968 by music journalist, pianist and cellist Barbara Sand, the Princeton University Summer Chamber Music Concerts were first offered in the north court of the Graduate College and were later moved to its main court. In the early years, Ms. Sand readied the space by pruning tree branches. She recruited local children to sell lemonade and collect contributions. Sometimes the children perched in the trees to hear the music. Listeners sat on the lawn with blankets and picnic baskets.
In 1991, because of renovations at the Graduate College as well as the inconvenience of insects, poor acoustics and lack of air conditioning, the concerts moved to Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, on the campus of Princeton University.
For over forty-one years, the goal of the Summer Concerts has been to provide chamber music performances of the highest caliber, free of charge, for everyone to enjoy—young and old, families and students, music lovers all. From the beginning, the concerts have also given young professional musicians a chance to perform. Some of the early, fledgling groups that have since become renowned international chamber music ensembles include the Emerson, Shanghai and Tokyo String quartets.
Funding for the Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts comes in large part from individual contributors. Support is also provided by the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission and through the generosity of area business leaders who believe in supporting the arts. The Summer Concerts are not funded by Princeton University. However, the University provides its tax-deductible umbrella, as well as in-kind benefits through its concert office. Volunteers plan and present the concerts, proud to be part of the tradition that brings chamber music each summer, free of charge, to the public.