Shriver Hall Concert Series (SHCS) was founded in 1966 by Dr. Ernest Bueding, a Johns Hopkins University (JHU) pharmacologist and amateur violinist. Fueled by his passion for chamber music, Bueding had already started successful series in his previous hometowns of Cleveland and New Orleans.
Dr. Bueding gained support for SHCS from other JHU professors, mostly in medicine, who recognized the importance of the arts. As JHU professor and SHCS patron Dr. Donald Brown wrote in 1965, "There has been an increasing awareness of the imbalance between the rapid growth of the natural and medical sciences and the relative stagnation of the humanities and the arts in our present society.” A proposal was drawn up that "[…] the University could improve the environment of the campus with the development of special music programs."
SHCS was launched in 1966 under the auspices of JHU’s Office of Special Events, with Dr. Bueding serving as its president. Enthusiasm for the series was such that its first full season, 1967-68, sold out on subscription, attracting an equal number of student and non-student subscribers.
In 1971, SHCS became an independent 501c3 organization, no longer part of JHU, but still an active member of the university community and resident on the Homewood campus. SHCS continues to work closely with JHU today, offering discounted tickets to faculty members and free tickets to students, inviting JHU faculty to participate in the Pre-Concert Talks and Spring Lecture Series programs, and providing ushering, internship, and Junior Board opportunities to students.
Dr. Bueding served as president of SHCS until 1982. He was succeeded by Dr. Albert I. Mendeloff, who led SHCS until his death in 1993, and then Jephta Drachman. Mrs. Drachman’s 20-year leadership of SHCS saw a successful $1 million endowment campaign, the launch of the Prelude program book, and the introduction of a full-time executive director position. She was followed by Dr. Geoffrey Greif, as chair of SHCS’s Board of Directors, in 2013.
There have been four executive directors since the start of the 21st century. Sel Kardan (2002-2005), David Baldwin (2006-2008), Stephen Jacobsohn (2009-2015), and Catherine Cochran (appointed 2015).
The list of artists presented by SHCS is remarkable—Joshua Bell, Richard Goode, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia, Ewa Podles, Maurizio Pollini, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jordi Savall, András Schiff, Rudolf Serkin, Janos Starker, Alban Berg Quartet, Beaux Arts Trio, Guarneri Quartet, and Quartetto Italiano, among many others. SHCS also has a history of championing important musicians early in their careers, including Jacqueline du Pré, Dawn Upshaw, and the Emerson Quartet.
In 2005-06, its 40th anniversary season, SHCS introduced a second set of concerts, the Discovery Series, focused on emerging artists and free to the public. It has since featured such artists as Behzod Abduraimov, Measha Brueggergosman, Colin Currie, Narek Hakhnazaryan, Alina Ibragimova, Yevgeny Sudbin, Calidore Quartet, and Pavel Haas Quartet.
SHCS marked its 50th anniversary in 2015-16 with “Born in Baltimore,” a series of three commissions from Baltimore-connected composers—Timo Andres, James Lee III, and Jonathan Leshnoff. SHCS commissions new works annually since 2015-16, thanks to the creation of The David and Barbara Rodbell Kornblatt Commissioning Fund.
As it embarks on its second half-century, SHCS remains committed to its mission to provide the Baltimore community with performances and educational programs at the highest level of excellence.
"I have many wonderful memories from my performances at [Shriver] hall and always enjoy sharing music with fantastic audience" - Gil Shaham, violin
"How rare and precious it is to have a long-established presenting organization with world-class artists such as the Shriver Hall Concert Series. We are honored to be counted amongst them. It also says a lot about the Baltimore community - how much it values the performing arts." - Takács Quartet