Our History

Wilton’s Candlelight Concerts series had its beginnings in the 1920s, when musically active families in the area gathered for chamber music concerts in local barns. The goal for these concerts was not only to provide great music, but to raise funds to build the Wilton Library. In those days most of the featured talent at the concerts was local, since many prominent New York musicians had second homes in the quiet country town.

In 1947, a group of Wilton citizens got together and decided to make a chamber concert series an annual event. While the town already had a library building, the series would benefit its collections of books and music. It was decided that the concerts would take place at the Congregational Church, because of the church’s historical importance, as well as its excellent acoustics and intimate atmosphere. A 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon time was chosen, and the series dubbed “Candlelight” because candles were to be lit in the church just before the concert began.

The series has been a continuous presence in Fairfield County musical life for over sixty years now. Most of the concerts still take place at the Congregational Church, (although, sadly, candles are no longer lit, owing to fire regulations). The series still benefits the Wilton Library Over the years, it has featured such internationally prominent, locally based musicians as pianist David Keiser (for many years president of the New York Philharmonic), violinists Tossy Spivakovsky and Ruth Breton, violist Walter Trampler, clarinetist David Shifrin, cellist Aldo Parisot, and singer Jerry Hadley.

But Candlelight does not limit its programs to locally based musicians. The series has featured pianists Vladimir Ashkenazy and Andre Watts; it has welcomed the Guarneri, Emerson, Tokyo, Takacs, Orion and Miami quartets (among many others). In the last few years alone, Dawn Upshaw, Angela Hewitt, Stephen Hough, Leonidas Kavakos and Ida Kavafian have appeared.

For information on our current season, please go to our Home page.