The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society is celebrating its 45th anniversary this summer with a lineup of performances across the Island by nationally known groups such as the Harlem String Quartet and Infinite Brass.

“We try to do a little bit of everything,” said artistic director and festival pianist Delores Stevens. “So we’re particularly excited about this season.”

The society first started when a trio that included Ms. Stevens came to the Island for the town of Tisbury’s 300th birthday in 1971. The next summer they returned to play an event at the Chilmark Community Center, and continued performing “Chilmark Community Concerts” for the next two summers before finally creating the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society, which has lasted into the present.

Over the years they have brought groups featuring musicians from the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Symphony to perform on the Island, as well as having commissioned original works by notable composers such as Gunther Schuller of the New England Conservatory to be played on the Vineyard.

This season will commence with performances by the Harlem String Quartet on Monday, July 13, at the Old Whaling Church and Tuesday, July 14, at the Chilmark Community Center. The Harlem String Quartet is making a return visit to the Island, and according to Ms. Stevens represents a “highlight” of the 45th anniversary.

The concerts cost $35 but are free of charge to students. However, this summer the society will be hosting free concerts on July 20 and 21 featuring a violin, cello and piano trio that will play works from Bach, Debussy and the world premiere of a new piano piece, The Blue Room by Stephen Hartke.

As always, the concerts this summer will not focus totally on the classical.

“Most people think of it as always being this classical music,” said Ms. Stevens. “But chamber really just means a few players. We’re certainly going beyond Beethoven.”

The concerts on July 27 and 28, for example, will feature renowned jazz pianist Billy Childs who, alongside Maksim Velichkin on cello, will perform original compositions and jazz improvisations. Other concerts will also feature songs from a more contemporary canon, such as the Infinity Brass Quintet concert on August 3 and 4 which will feature a performance of the popular Edith Piaf song La Via en Rose alongside a jazz medley and a piece by the composer Leonard Bernstein entitled Four Character Pieces for Brass.

All of the groups performing this season have been previously hosted by the society, Ms. Stevens said the organization has a rule against having a group come back two years in a row, but even after just two years, many longtime audience members are ready and willing to hear the groups again.

The society’s goal all along has been to make music more accessible, part of the reason for having concerts in Edgartown and Chilmark.

“Even if someone can’t or doesn’t really want to come to Edgartown, there’s always up-Island,” said Ms. Stevens. “We want something for those who live outside of the main towns.”

Ms. Stevens said she sees everyone from families with young children to retired couples at the concerts.

“There was a place in the community for a society like ours,” she said. “People wanted it. They told us to start the society. And that’s the reason we’re here.”

For a full list of concerts and events, visit