About Us - History
Although a native of Philadelphia, Timothy Schwarz has a long history in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. For 12 years he taught violin and viola at Lehigh University, and during that time he nurtured a strong and dynamic studio of high school students who were extremely dedicated to their instrument. These students often placed in the top seats for PA District, Regional and State orchestras, won or placed in most Lehigh Valley solo competitions, and participated in masterclasses given by violinists from major symphony orchestras. But the one area of music that was not met was the highly intricate world of chamber music, especially string quartets.
In 2012, Dr. Schwarz decided to create Techne Music in order to fill this need for his own students. Designed on the same principals as the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia or the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, Techne is meant for a small but extremely advanced selection of students who are committed to an intense week of chamber music. The home of Techne Music was to be in Bethlehem, PA, but the faculty would come from the most prestigious institutions in the USA: The Juilliard School of Music, The Curtis Institute, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Baltimore Symphony, among others.
The first Techne Music Festival was held at Lehigh University in June, 2013. Students underwent an intense audition process, from which nine string players were selected. In addition to Dr. Schwarz, violist Molly Carr from Juilliard and cellist Lawrence Stomberg from the Serafin Quartet worked with the students every day. On the final day of the festival, Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim gave a masterclass and performed Bach's Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major with the students and faculty.
While the musical advancements in such a short period were remarkable, the personal development and level of dedication to the core of music making was even more astounding. Several of the students decided to remain as a quartet during the year, and went on to win several chamber music competitions. More importantly, they became very good friends, and continue to support each other as they each take their own career path.
In 2014 Techne Music decided to move to Moravian College. With its historic buildings, a smaller recital hall ideal for chamber music, an abundance of practice rooms and rehearsal space, and spacious dormitories, Moravian College is the perfect setting for Techne Music, and it has remained there ever since. During the 2014 festival, violinist Domenic Salerni from the Vega Quartet (and also a native of Bethlehem) joined the faculty. Violist Steven Tennenbom (Curtis Institute, Juilliard School, and Orion Quartet) presented a chamber music masterclass, and was so impressed by the level of students he donated his fee to the Techne scholarship fund. Baltimore Symphony concertmaster Jonathan Carney was also a guest artist in 2014, presenting masterclasses and performing Vivaldi's Four Seasons with the students.
By 2015, the number of students had increased to 19. While the core of students still came from the Lehigh Valley, the 2015 student class also came from Juilliard, New England Conservatory, Peabody Institute, Temple University, and the University of Michigan. A wide and diverse group of students were also represented, with excellent music being the common bond for all. For the first time Techne Music allowed pre formed quartets to attend for a reduced fee. Over 75% of the 2015 students received full or partial scholarship. Violinist Juliette Kang (winner, Indianapolis Competition and current First Associate Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra) and cellist Tom Kraines (Daedalus Quartet) gave masterclasses and performed Schoemberg's Verklarte Nacht with the Techne Music Faculty.
The 2016 Techne Music Festival took the theme of "improvisation" and incorporated it into the daily schedule for the students. Violinist Diane Monroe (Uptown Quartet) gave an introduction to jazz seminar, and cellist Kinan Abou-afach gave an introduction to Arab Music improvisation. Juliette Kang and Tom Kraines joined the festival for the second year, giving masterclasses and performing Schubert's Cello Quintet with the Techne Faculty.
2017 boasted the world-renowned Díaz Trio as their special guest artists. The trio includes violinist Andrés Cárdenes, former concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony and Silver Medal winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition; violist Roberto Díaz, President of the Curtis Institute of Music and former principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra; and cellist Andrés Díaz, winner of the Naumburg International Competition and current faculty at Southern Methodist University in Texas. In addition, violist Sheila Browne joined the full-time faculty, bringing a new approach to chamber music and physical freedom when performing. Professor Browne was the last assistant for the legendary pedagogue Karen Tuttle, and gave lectures on her specific style of teaching. Timothy Schwarz and Lawrence Stomberg continued to serve on the full-time violin and cello faculty. With this stellar line-up of faculty, the 2017 Techne Music Festival had a record number of applicants, out of which 19 were chosen to attend. Students hailed from top conservatories, including the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, Peabody Conservatory, and the Eastman School of Music. Several applicants had already won international competitions, and were well on their way to a successful professional career.
2018 brought a musical shift to the Techne Music Festival. After five years of focusing exclusively on Chamber Music, the 2018 season explored String Orchestra repertoire, combined with solo masterclasses. The orchestra was treated like a large ensemble, with students joining faculty in the performance. Peter Winograd, first violinist in the American String Quartet and professor at the Manhattan School of Music, performed Piazzolla's enchanting Four Seasons of Buenos Aires without a conductor. The 2018 Festival also introduced a student concerto competition, with one winner performing a complete concerto at the final concert of the festival. Timothy Schwarz, Sheila Browne, and Lawrence Stomberg returned as string faculty, and were joined by bassist Douglas Mapp and violinist Diego Villamil, who was the first Techne alumni to join the faculty.
In 2019, Techne Music returned to its original format of chamber music, with Todd Phillips from the Orion Quartet and Charles Abramovic from Temple University joining the faculty. With the Coronavirus causing a major disruption with most in-person festivals and concerts, Techne Music held its 2020 festival virtually, with online seminars on various topics given by Peter Winograd from the American Quartet, Molly Carr and Andrew Janss from Project: Music Heals Us, and Techne faculty Timothy Schwarz, Sheila Browne, and Lawrence Stomberg. In 2021, the Techne Music Festival Board voted unanimously to make the Techne Music Festival tuition-free, allowing any student who is accepted to attend, regardless of their economic situation.