Cellist Harry Clark and his pianist wife Sanda Schuldmann have decided to end 30-plus years of producing innovative classical music/theater events. The pair brought Chamber Music Plus to Tucson nine years ago and also had seasons in Scottsdale for seven years.


Sanda Schuldmann has stepped down as executive director of Chamber Music Plus, Tucson's innovative chamber music/theater series that she founded with her husband, Harry Clark, 30 years ago.

James Reel, a longtime Tucson classical music journalist and radio host, has been named to replace her. Reel has been active with the organization for several years.

"I feel totally comfortable that James understands what's important to us," Schuldmann said the day after Tuesday's announcement about the change. "James Reel knows us very well; we are personal friends. He is extremely knowledgeable about music in general."

Schuldmann said Clark will remain as artistic director, which he has done since the couple started Chamber Music Plus in Connecticut in the early 1980s. The couple - she is a pianist, he plays cello - also will continue performing in the organization's "Rhythms of Life" series.

Schuldmann and Clark brought Chamber Music Plus to Clark's hometown of Tucson in 2003 and for several years mounted seasons in both Arizona and Connecticut. They pulled out of Connecticut several years ago.

The "Rhythms of Life" series marries chamber music and theater, centered on Clark's self-penned musical portraits of musical figures. Actors of note from TV, movies and theater perform dramatic readings of his scripts, while he and Schuldmann, and occasionally guest artists, accompany with music related to the central characters.

In a letter sent to subscribers Tuesday, Reel said he will continue working as the music director and weekday morning host on Classical 90.5, KUAT-FM, and will devote the rest of the time to "working hard to help Harry and Sanda keep Chamber Music Plus the vital, innovative, inviting organization they created."

Reel made it clear that he will focus heavily on fundraising and ticket sales to shore up the organization's finances after it took a one-year hiatus last season. In the letter, Reel made a push for season ticket subscriptions and donations; "Harry and Sanda are artists and are embarrassed to ask you for money. I'm not," Reel said, then invited people to email him or go to the organization's website (www.chambermusicplus.org) to donate through PayPal.

Schuldmann, 65, said the question of who will succeed the couple has been on some people's minds after she suffered a stroke two years ago and Clark, 63, was successfully treated for cancer last year.

"It was the right time to hand it over to James … while we are still around and still able," she said. "I think it's the right time to clarify that we intend for Chamber Music Plus to continue."

Schuldmann and Clark will open Chamber Music Plus' 2012-13 season on Nov. 25 with a recital of piano and cello works at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway. For the full season schedule, visit www.chambermusicplus.org

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@azstarnet.com or 573-4642.