Dene Denny and Hazel Watrous in their home in Carmel.

The Story of Carmel Music Society

In our 94 seasons, Carmel Music Society has presented more than 500 major artists and ensembles from around the world.

Please take a moment to view our entire concert history here.

The CMS story begins in the early 1920s. Dene Denny and Hazel Watrous had recently moved to Carmel and established themselves as architects and decorators. To enhance the cultural life of the Monterey Peninsula they created a concert series.

At that time in Carmel, local amateurs and professionals gave occasional classical music concerts in small private and public venues. Less frequently there were concerts by touring professionals, often sponsored by metropolitan booking agents and underwritten by wealthy patrons. Although several local groups had tried, no one yet had established a concert series of dependable schedule, venue, or artistry.

Dene and Hazel experimented by booking a few of their own concerts and events in 1925 and 1926 in their home on North Dolores Street, and also in Carmel's original Golden Bough Theatre on the southeast corner of Ocean Avenue and Monte Verde. With these early events, the two visionary women laid the path for a rich tradition of classical music in Carmel.

Their initial concerts were so successful that in the fall of 1927 Hazel and Dene helped organize a group of local music lovers to establish a Carmel Music Society - a non-profit organization devoted to bringing the finest talent in the classical music world to Carmel.

Incorporated in 1927, Carmel Music Society is the oldest non-profit arts organization in California. In 1935, the Society was the co-sponsor of the first Carmel Bach Festival.

View our 94-Season performance history here.

Join our mailing list or send us a message here.

In 2014, musician/author David Gordon published Carmel Impresarios, a biography of the Denny-Watrous partnership. The 400-page book covers a century of history and contains nearly 300 vintage illustrations. Follow this link for more information.

Board of Directors

Peter Thorp, President

Victoria Davis, 1st Vice President

James Neiman, 2nd V.P. and Secretary

Elizabeth Bates, Treasurer

Tim Brown

Erik Dyar

Lisa Prochazka

Barbara Ruzicka

Sunset Center


Jim Christopher – Piano Technician

Art Kessler – Piano Tuner

Tracy Hopper – Print Designer

David Gordon – Webmaster

Advisors and Consultants

Renée Bronson

David Gordon

Bert Ihlenfeld

Remembering Anne Thorp 1942-2019

Sunset Center

Our concerts are presented in Carmel's Sunset Center, just two block from Ocean Avenue.