Brief History of the Ashland Chamber Music Society

The Ashland Chamber Music Society (ACMS) was formed in Ashland, Wisconsin in 2001 by Mary Hymans and Sheila Mitchell, who were co-administrators for the project. The founding mission was to provide a venue to bring concerts performed by local and regional musicians to the Chequamegon Bay Region. Later, there was also outreach to local educational institutions.

Concerts mainly took place at the Presbyterian-Congregational Church in downtown Ashland. The first concert was held in August, 2001, and comprised of musicians from the Chequamegon Bay area. Between 2001 and March 2020, ACMS produced 113 concerts, primarily focusing on classical chamber music. The Messiah (which was started by local musician Tom Draughon in 2002), also became part of the ACMS concert series in 2005. Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church became the venue for the annual sing-along Messiah in 2008, and was also a venue for choral concerts.

Funding for ACMS was through private donations, grants and admission to concerts. The Chequamegon Bay Arts Council (CBAC) was the original fiscal receiver for ACMS until 2003. ACMS received yearly grants from CBAC (through the Wisconsin Arts Board), and several grants from the Ashland Foundation.

Hymans left the project in 2003. Mitchell then continued administration of the project with assistance from an Advisory Committee until 2008, when ACMS became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Today, ACMS remains an all-volunteer organization, with a working board structure, and several committees. There have been 6 presidents between 2008-2022.

The Ashland Chamber Music Society stopped producing concerts in March 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic. As the pandemic subsided, the ACMS board began producing concerts again in the fall of

Attachment: Photo: “Retirement of Mary Hymans” (2003; taken at Mitchell-Morud home)
Left to Right: Sheila Mitchell (co-founder), Clair Morud (financial secretary), Mary Hymans
(co-founder), Tom Draughon (Messiah), Joni Chapman (graphics)