William Ransom, artistic director of the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta, has been selected this year as one of Musical America’s 30 Professionals of the Year: The Innovators. Ransom is the third Atlantan in a row to make the annual list. Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was a 2014 winner, and WABE’s Lois Reitzes received the award last year.
Musical America, one of the leading classical music publications, compiles the annual list of those who “keep us moving forward, spur us on to stay creative and keep the field of performing arts vital and exciting.”
Ransom said the award is validation for the work being done at Emory to promote chamber music. “For me personally, it is gratifying to get national recognition for the work I have been doing here for the last 30 years,” he said. “The mission of the chamber music society is to create whole new generations of passionate and educated music lovers who will cherish and support great music forever. My goal is to build the society into the chamber music equivalent in Atlanta of the ASO or The Atlanta Opera — offering the highest quality chamber music concerts and educational activities in the Southeast. We are well established towards that goal with a permanent home at Emory University and a growing permanent endowment.”
Ransom, director of piano studies at Emory University, is the founder of the chamber music society, now in its 24th season. The society presents more than 25 free public performances each year, many featuring its quartet-in-residence: the Vega String Quartet. In September, the society announced a $1 million matching grant from the Abraham J. and Phyllis Katz Foundation for an endowment designed to keep a string quartet in residence at Emory in perpetuity.
“The idea that we could start from nothing in 2006 to having a permanent string quartet in residence at Emory, forever, and that I could be part of establishing that, is incredibly fulfilling,” Ransom told Musical America. “I would like for the chamber music society and the quartet-in-residence program here to be the leading chamber music organization in the Southeast. I think that’s a very reachable goal.”
Ransom has released a solo CD, Listening to Memories, that features the music of Bach, Chopin, Brahms and Scott Joplin. He is the artistic director of the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival in North Carolina. Ransom is also the artistic director designate of the Juneau Jazz & Classics Festival in Alaska.