The seeds for Ashmont Hill Chamber Music were planted as for back as 1973 with a house concert ar 86 Ocean Street, on Ashmont Hill in Dorchester. This first concert included works by Beethoven, Janacek and Ravel, performed by pianist Henry Shapiro, cellist Susan Salm, and violinist Masako Yanagita, all from New York. Held in the home of Norman Janis, the concert drew its audience from neighbors and friends. Audience participation was enthusiastic and tremendously supportive, and a pattern was set that would continue with outstanding musical house concerts over the next twelve years.
In addition to drawing on acclaimed musicians from afar, many of the early concert programs also included talented neighbors. Christmas concerts saw a local men and boys’ choir from All Saints Parish singing as they stood on the beautiful grand staircases of Victorian houses. Concerts included the Codman Square Bell ringers, A violinist with the Boston Symphony and a singer with the Opera Company of Boston. All together there were more than twenty house concerts since that first one in 1973.
The informal house concerts came about largely through the Ashmont Hill Neighborhood Association, which held monthly meetings. There musicians in the neighborhood met people who wanted to hear music.
In May 1978, Rachel Goodwin, Artistic Director Emeritus, performed at one of the house concerts when she moved to Boston, and continued to give concerts and lecture recitals in her home over the next three decades. She founded the organization Ashmont Hill Chamber Music in 1985. The organization began to recruit chamber musicians from the Boston area to perform in Dorchester so that the great tradition of chamber music in the neighborhood would continue. The organization planned a series of four concerts for its first year and has continued this practice to the present day. Callled “Ashmont Hill Chamber Music”, the organization was incorporated on July 2, 1985, and received non-profit status on January 17, 1986.