Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta (ECMSA), the largest chamber music society in the southeast, received a $1 million challenge grant from the Abraham J. and Phyllis Katz Foundation. The challenge grant requires ECMSA to raise $1 million in order to receive the same amount of money from the foundation.

The foundation supports organizations that provide access to music and performances for musicians and audiences.

The foundation awarded ECMSA the grant to ensure that a quartet will permanently stay at Emory and in Atlanta. The Vega Quartet, the current quartet in residence, has been unbelievably successful, Founder and Artistic Director of ECMSA William Ransom said.

According to Ransom, the Vega Quartet is the first professional string quartet to make Atlanta home. They have performed for Emory’s undergraduate and graduate schools as well as the surrounding community, including public schools in the area.

Ransom said all concerts are free this year. Instead of charging an admission fee, ECMSA will ask for donations to help meet the challenge grant. ECMSA will also utilize Facebook in an effort to reach fans around the world.

The University will also help with the fundraising, targeting major donors as well as individual donors. Ransom said donations as small as $10 or $20 are as important as larger donations.

“Our greatest role and goal, which is quite ambitious, is to produce a whole new generation of educated music lovers and performers,” Ransom said.

This season, which is ECMSA’s 20th anniversary season, will include 25 public performances, involving guest artists from both Atlanta and around the world, according to Ransom.

“A Night at the Opera – Without the Singers,” a concert celebrating both the 20th anniversary as well as the grant, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. The concert will include performances from the Eroica Trio and the Vega Quartet and there will be cake and champagne for all at intermission.

– By Elizabeth Howell