The Friends of Chamber Music has presented world class performances featuring groups of national and international repute as well as breakout performances by up-and-coming ensembles since its founding in 1949.
Now in its 73rd season, Troy’s Friends of Chamber Music grew from its origins as an informal collaboration of area chamber music aficionados into the more formal but still unincorporated association called the "Committee of the Friends of Chamber Music, Troy, NY" in 1957. It became a formal 501(c)(3) organization under the name of “Friends of Chamber Music of Troy, NY” in 1971 and was certified as such by the IRS in 1972.
Friends of Chamber Music’s longevity is due in part to our heritage of strong leadership. Our founder, Martha Beck Carragan (1900-1997), was a pianist, a music teacher and analyst, and a composer primarily of teaching pieces for young students. She was married to the physicist and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor George Howard Carragan, who died in 1982. An alumna of the Oberlin Conservatory and the American Conservatory of Music, she worked closely in the 1930s with Henry Cowell on the New Music Quarterly and with Ruth Crawford Seeger and other composers. For many years she was on the faculty of Emma Willard School where she chaired Emma Willard’s music department and taught privately. She was succeeded by Russell Locke, who lived from 1923 to 2013. Originally from Chicago, he attended Harvard University where he earned his BSM and MA. He subsequently studied the organ with Andre Fleury and pursued musical research with Nadia Boulanger. Mr. Locke was also a teaching fellow at Harvard and an associate professor at Bowdoin before joining the Emma Willard School faculty in 1953 where he served as instructor in music and chair of the music department until his retirement in 2003. A respected authority on and advocate for classical music in the Capital Region, Mr. Locke was, in addition to his leadership of our organization, a long-time board member and Program Annotator for the Albany Symphony Orchestra and a board member of the Troy Chromatics.
FOCM’s longevity is also attributable to its sustained commitment to bringing world-class chamber music to the Capital Region. It has, as well, a reputation for presenting chamber music in its broadest definitions and most diverse forms, from classical string performances to music from all ages and genres. From its founding in 1949 to 2020, these performances were given at Emma Willard School’s Kiggins Hall - a venue appreciated by audiences and performers for its acoustical excellence, old-world architecture, and physical intimacy. With the advent of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, our board shifted nimbly to online, streamed concerts as well as to conversations with musicians called “Music in Context.” Real-time pre- and post-concert conversations with performers also offered unprecedented opportunities for audience engagement.