Friends of Music Concerts of St. Louis began in 1979 when Patricia Lee Werner and a few other musicians initiated a free public concert series permitting accomplished musicians of the Saint Louis Area to present classical vocal and instrumental music in a format less arduous than a full recital. In 1983 Friends of Music Concerts became a 501(c)(3) corporation in the state of Missouri. Friends of Music Concerts was for many years regularly supported by the Ladies Friday Music Club of St. Louis. Concerts are free to audiences and expenses have been met entirely by donations, making the music available to anyone able to attend regardless of other circumstances.
Virtually all performances in the history of this series have been held in the visually and acoustically outstanding sanctuary of Eliot Unitarian Chapel in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood. The intimacy of the small Chapel (seating under 200) and its acoustics have proved an attraction over time to both performers and audiences.
Lee Werner organized the concerts in this series until her death in 2003. At that time, member of the Board Robert Kern invited Jeffrey Kurtzman, Professor of Music at Washington University, and his wife Kathi, pianist and Teacher of Piano at Washington University to assume management of the concerts. They have maintained the concept of offering performance opportunities to musicians of outstanding ability and stage presence, some of whom are music professionals in the St. Louis area and some of whom are accomplished amateurs. As of the 2023-2024 season, Robert and Jan Chamberlin will assume responsibility for managing the series with Aaron Johnson, Director of the Music Program at St. Louis University, who will take over organization of the concerts,
Each season is planned to provide a wide range and variety of instruments and vocal talents with music ranging from the sixteenth through the twenty-first centuries, including jazz. In the 2018-2019 season Friends of Music Concerts began an annual collaboration with the Arianna String Quartet, presenting both a concert by the Quartet and a concert by student quartets from the Arianna Quartet’s spring Chamber Music Festival.
Friends of Music Concerts, as so many other performing organizations, was forced to suspend its series in the spring of 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Only in the fall of 2022 were we able to restart the series, with a full complement of concerts in the spring including a return of the Arianna String Quartet and its Chamber Music Festival.
Continuation of the Friends of Music Concerts series depends on donations from members of the audience and other interested parties.
Donations may be sent by mail to:
Jeffrey Kurtzman, Treasurer
Friends of Music Concerts
7605 Balson Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63130.