Remembering Susan Dubin
It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of the Chamber Music Society’s first Executive Director, Susan Dubin, who died Sunday, January 31, 2021.
Susan was involved since the beginning of the Chamber Music Society more than 40 years ago, when a small group of people decided to organize a series of chamber music concerts in the St. Cloud area. When our founders Michael Barone and Randy Bourne moved away with the relocation of MN Public Radio, she became president of the Chamber Music Society. CMS was run entirely by volunteers until she was hired as the organization’s first paid executive director in the 1995-1996 season thanks to a major grant from Chamber Music America.
She was a charismatic leader who championed world-famous as well as young and emerging ensembles performing very old music to new music and everything in between. In addition to an annual subscription series of concerts, she organized family concerts, school performances, master classes, workshops, lectures, dinners, parties, and the lively annual Musical Chairs event, which joyfully combined her love of chamber music, friends, gourmet food, and fine art. During her 34 years in leading the organization, Susan built a broad base of support from the community. She obtained funding for extraordinary concerts and community residencies, worked collaboratively with local universities and school districts, and developed relationships with music schools, arts organizations, and other presenters throughout the state.
Over the years she received recognition, on both a local and national level, for her work. She received numerous grants in highly competitive programs of both Chamber Music America and the National Endowment for the Arts. She received the mayor’s “High Five” award in 1997, the first annual Arts Award from the St. Cloud Arts Commission in 2000, and Chamber Music America’s CMAcclaim Award in 2008. The first United Arts Excellence in the Arts award in 2011 recognized her outstanding leadership of this organization and “long-standing dedication and admirable ability to bring some of the world’s greatest chamber music ensembles to the community for audiences of all ages to enjoy.”
Her passion for chamber music extended past her CMS work. Susan was also an active chamber musician, playing in string quartets, the Amadeus Chamber Symphony, and the St. Cloud Symphony. One of her favorite places to travel was the prestigious Banff International String Quartet Competition to hear quartets from around the world.
During my years as CMS Executive Director, she was an important and encouraging mentor as I continued the work to create meaningful and high-quality programs and to make connections between our guest artists and our community. We developed a wonderful friendship following her retirement in 2013, and I am immensely grateful for this time with Susan.
We are deeply indebted to Susan for her passionate work with the Chamber Music Society and the St. Cloud arts community. Together, we join her son Jonas, her family, and many friends, musicians, artist managers, and concert presenters who loved and worked with Susan to mourn her passing and express our deep appreciation for all she shared with us.
A celebration of Susan’s life is planned for early 2022.
Memorial gifts can be made to the Chamber Music Society of St. Cloud, PO Box 205, St. Cloud, MN 56302.
Rebecca Scheele, Executive Director
Chamber Music Society of St. Cloud
The Chamber Music Society was founded in 1979 when a small, civic-minded and enthusiastic group got together to discuss the notion of an organized series of chamber music events in St. Cloud. They were dedicated to the idea that as CMS founder Michael Barone said, “In things musical, bigger is not necessarily better.”
CMS has presented many of the world’s leading chamber ensembles, encompassing a spectacular range of repertoire and instrumentation. Many prominent performers have made their Minnesota debuts at our concerts, and members of the community have welcomed them at receptions, special events, school workshops, and master classes. Concerts have been held in halls ideal for the intimacy of chamber music, and listeners have been able to meet the artists at informal gatherings afterward.
Until the 1995-96 season, the organization was run entirely by volunteers. As part of a three-year expansion program funded by a major grant from Chamber Music America (one of only six awarded nationwide that year), we were then able to hire an executive director; however, board members and volunteers continued to play an active role in both governance and “hands-on” logistical tasks at concerts.