The board of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival has appointed a Lincoln Center alum as the four-week summer program’s new executive director.
Michael Lawrence, the former Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s director of artistic planning and initiatives, will be joining the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival team on January 20, replacing Derek Delaney, who stepped down in November.
This week, Mr. Lawrence, a Michigan native who now lives in Manhattan, said music has been a huge part of his entire life.
“I am really excited to be there,” he said in a phone interview this week. “And I am excited to be a part of the community in the summertime. I am hopeful I will be able to create something there that is meaningful to the community and that is worthwhile, and I hope it is a place that musicians want to come to play and listen.”
Since 2007, Mr. Lawrence served as the director of artistic planning and initiatives at Lincoln Center, where he was responsible for programming, recordings, residency activities, touring projects and radio broadcasts. He has also served as the director of artistic programs at the League of American Orchestras, from 2003 to 2007, and as the manager of artists and programs for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra from 2000 to 2003.
A 1996 graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in music, Mr. Lawrence said he plans to take it slow in his first year as executive director. Although he said he has talked with the board of directors about the future, he wants to take his time to learn the ins and outs that have made the festival a success in the past.
“It takes about a season to understand how it functions and what its strengths and weaknesses are, and what changes might help to support the mission of the organization,” he said. “You sort of need to live it to understand it.”
This week, Marya Martin, the artistic director for the festival, welcomed Mr. Lawrence to the team.
“We are all very excited to welcome Michael to the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival,” she said in a press release. “His knowledge and love of music and his enthusiasm for the festival’s future are invigorating and energizing, and I look forward to our partnership.”
Ken Davidson, the chairman of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, also said he is excited to work with Mr. Lawrence, noting the knowledge and experience he will bring to the position.
“Michael brings the skills and experience that will help us continue our 30-year Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival tradition: presenting superior performances of interesting programs by world-class chamber musicians,” he said. “Michael is a perfect fit for our culture, and I know he’ll have impact right from the get-go.”
This week, Mr. Lawrence said he loves music festivals of all sorts, but that there is something about the intimacy of chamber music that draws listeners in. Noting that there is no conductor on stage during a chamber music show, he said musicians rely on communicating with each other and the piece itself to make the music come alive. That, he said, is what he is looking forward to expanding at future festivals.
“They have to create a musical expression through their communication with one another and through their understanding of the history,” he said. “It is a very specialized repertoire and it speaks immediately to the audience, who can not only hear what they are playing, but they can see the interactions between the artists and get a true sense of what they are trying to express.”
Mr. Lawrence said he will be based primarily in Manhattan, traveling back and forth to Bridgehampton.