Chamber music devotees, strings enthusiasts and music aficionados gathered at Dan Crewe’s home in Cumberland earlier this month to show their support for the Portland Chamber Music Festival and its cofounder and artistic director Jennifer Elowitch.

“We’ve been coming for 20 years now, and we are avid listeners,” said Tim Soley, a Cape Elizabeth resident who attended with Maria Gallace.

Taking a cue from its Salon Series, the festival’s annual Spring Benefit was a warm, intimate gathering, culminating with an outstanding musical performance.

“We’ve been involved right from the very beginning,” said Peggy Shapiro of Portland, who attended with her husband, Stephen. “I can remember when they first started, we were thrilled to have chamber music here in Portland in the summer!”

Leonard and Merle Nelson of Cumberland chatted with Drs. Fred and Jenny Aronson of Cape Elizabeth. Joshua Clark of Transparent Audio attended with his wife, Portia, along with Susan Morris and Chip Newell of Portland; and Annette and Rob Elowitch of Portland mingled with guests while beaming with pride for their daughter.

At every turn in Crewe’s spacious, inviting home, guests were eager to share their stories of support and excitement for the annual chamber music festival and the caliber of musicianship it brings to Portland. As the music festival enters its 23rd season, it has much to celebrate.

“Last year, we had our biggest audiences by far,” explained Jennifer Elowitch, who attended with her husband, Douglas Chene. “We care so much about our contemporary composers. Having them here with us, they make the canon works sound different. People listen to a Beethoven or Haydn piece differently after hearing a contemporary composer. They are not just amazing players, they truly care about connecting.”

As guests enjoyed a savory dinner buffet, Elowitch prepared to perform two pieces with her beloved musical companion, Gabriela Diaz from Boston.

“I feel so beautifully supported,” she said, thanking the crowd for their continued enthusiasm.

As the two violinists began to play, the room, packed with guests, fell silent with a palpable mix of awe and reverence.

“Jennifer always delivers an intimate program that touches you individually. I am so moved,” said Ann Elderkin, board president of PORTopera.

“Portland Chamber Music Festival is one of the gems of Portland,” said Leonard Nelson, a longtime supporter. “We are lucky they chose our city.”

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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