The Story of Carmel Music Society

In the mid-1920s, Dene Denny and Hazel Watrous, two women who had recently moved to Carmel and established themselves as architects and decorators, decided to enhance the cultural life of the Monterey Peninsula by creating a local concert association.

At that time in Carmel, music was becoming more popular. Local amateurs and professionals gave occasional 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 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 and studio on North Dolores Street and also in the original Golden Bough Theater on Ocean Avenue. With these early events, the two visionary women laid the path for a rich tradition of classical music in Carmel.

These 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. Carmel Music Society is the oldest non-profit arts organization in California.

In 1935, Carmel Music Society was the co-sponsor of the first Carmel Bach Festival.

In 2014, musician and author David Gordon published a major 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.

View our 92-Season performance history here.

Sunset Center, a photo from the Sunset Center website. www.sunsetcenter.orgBy subscribing to our season of five concerts, you can help us ensure the future of our fine musical tradition.

If you are a Carmel visitor, single tickets are available for any concert. Call the office for details at 831.625.9938.

On concert days come directly to the box office one hour before the performance.

Our concerts are presented in Carmel's beautiful Sunset Center. Tickets are almost always available, and there is not an acoustically bad seat at Sunset Center.

Board of Directors and Officers

Peter Thorp, President

Victoria Davis, 1st Vice President

Rudolf Schroeter, 2nd Vice President

Elizabeth Bates, 3rd Vice President

Beverly Dekker Davidson, Secretary

Tim Brown, Treasurer

Erik Dyar

James Neiman

Barbara Ruzicka


Dr. Todd Samra – Pre-Concert Lecturer

Jim Christopher – Piano Technician
Art Kessler – Piano Tuner
Tracy Hopper – Print Designer
David Gordon – Webmaster

Advisors and Consultants

Renée Bronson, David Gordon, Bert Ihlenfeld


Please follow this link to our comments page, where you may join our mailing list or send us a message.