40th Anniversary


Blanche Abram and Naomi Drucker in 1972.

January 2005 marks the 40th Anniversary of the American Chamber Ensemble. In 1965 Directors Naomi Drucker, clarinetist and Blanche Abram, pianist, then young mothers and musicians, were determined to continue making their place in the world of music. In a very different world from today, with a strong sense of place and the need to perform close to home, the music journey began in libraries, churches and for civic organizations. ACE brought imaginative concerts for clarinet and/or piano with strings, woodwinds and voice to an audience eager to hear music in a local venue.

Now in the 40th year of continuous performances, ACE has a superb reputation and loyal audience for its concerts, recordings, commissions, World Premieres and support of American music and Long Island composers.

In 1978, Ace began a residency at Hofstra University, which continues to this day. Because ACE is Long Island based, it has, since 1980, included a work celebrating the Festival of Long Island Composers at each concert. The purpose is to help our audience realize that today's composer is their neighbor whose contribution to our culture, although relatively unrecognized, is very important.

Although venues have included the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, 92nd St. Y, CAMI Hall, Christ and St. Stephen's Church, the Nassau County Museum of Art and prestigious universities, it is the Long Island audience which is the soul of the American Chamber Ensemble.

Blanche Abram, Stanley Drucker and Naomi Drucker in 1980.

As part of this celebration, Elysium Records will release in early 2005 The American Chamber Ensemble Plays Peter Schickele, four chamber works of this American master, who conducted and participated in the recording sessions. Other CDs include American Clarinet Treasures (Elysium Recordings), Herbert A. Deutsch Woman in Darkness (4Tay), Albert Tepper Duos and Trios (4Tay) and ACE Performs Judith Lang Zaimont, Vally Weigl and Paul Hindemith (Leonarda).

In addition, ACE will perform on March 20, 2005 at Hofstra University, a commissioned work, Tapestry, by Benjamin Lees. This is part of a national commissioning consortium that includes Pacific Serenades in the Los Angeles, The Contemporary Music Consortium of Salt Lake City and the Mallarme Chamber Players of Durham, N.C.

ACE is dedicated to presenting the music of living American composers and has commissioned and presented world premieres by Leo Kraft, Elie Siegmeister, Meyer Kupferman, Vally Weigl, Max Lifchitz, David Hollister, Joelle Wallach, Albert Tepper, Marga Richter, Dana Richardson, Edward Smaldone, Jerry Rizzi, Katherine Hoover, Josef Alexander and Herbert Deutsch.

They have performed music by American composers Morton Gould, Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Leonard Bernstein, Judith Lang Zaimont, Vally Weigl, Philip James, Miriam Gideon, Daniel Gregory Mason, Charles Ives, George Kleinsinger, Douglas Moore, Amy Beach, Alan Hovhaness, Robert Starer and many others.

Core members of the American Chamber Ensemble are Blanche Abram and Marilyn Sherman Lehman, piano, Naomi Drucker, clarinet, Eriko Sato, violin, Deborah Wong, violin, Lois Martin, viola, Chris Finckel, cello, Dorothy Darlington, oboe, and Braden Toan, bassoon. Past members include Curtis Macomber and Timothy Baker, violin, Tina Pelikan, viola, Annabelle Hoffman, cello and Deirdre Kingsbury, mezzo soprano.

Stanley Drucker, husband of Naomi Drucker, has been a frequent guest artist for its 40-year history, and has been a very special part of the American Chamber Ensemble's story.

Timothy Baker, Blanche Abram, Naomi Drucker, Lois Martin and Chris Finckel in 1986.


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