10/30/20

Margaret M. Lioi to Retire as CEO of CMA in 2021

For Immediate Release
Contact: Nichole Knight
nknight@chamber-music.org

Margaret M Lioi

Margaret M. Lioi

New York, NY (October 30, 2020)—Margaret M. Lioi, Chamber Music America’s longest-tenured CEO in the organization’s 43-year history, has announced her retirement effective July 2021. Ms. Lioi, who informed the Board of Directors at its October 29 meeting, has been at the helm of CMA since June 2000.

“It has been the privilege of my career to steward CMA for the past 20 years,” said Ms. Lioi. “While the pandemic delayed the timing of this announcement, I believe that with the organization’s strong and stable financial position, a Board committed to promoting equitable practices, and a brilliant staff in place, it is the perfect opportunity for a bright, new visionary to take CMA into its future.”

Ms. Lioi is credited with incorporating jazz into the organization’s focus, using CMA’s founding definition of chamber music—a small ensemble with 2-10 musicians, one musician per part, generally without a conductor—as the guiding principle. During her tenure, CMA created signature programs for jazz musicians and presenters, funded since their inception by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Most recently, CMA launched Performance Plus, a program focused on supporting the careers of female bandleaders, who historically have been underrepresented in the jazz field.

In the past 20 years, Chamber Music America’s grantmaking increased from under $500,000 annually to more than $1.2 million in 2021. CMA’s grant programs are funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New York Community Trust, and CMA’s own Residency Endowment Fund, the campaign for which was completed in the first three years of Ms. Lioi’s tenure.

Her flagship accomplishment was leading CMA into its diversity, inclusion, and equity work, which produced the organization’s policy and practices for all areas of its operations including the equitable distribution of grant funds, representation among Board and staff, visibility through its quarterly magazine, Chamber Music, and featured speakers at its annual conference.

Ms. Lioi began her career as a collaborative pianist, having received a Masters in Piano Performance from New England Conservatory. She later earned a Masters in Business Administration from Binghamton University/SUNY, which led to administrative positions at Spoleto Festival U.S.A., The Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, and The Public Theater, before her tenure at Chamber Music America.

“Margaret has had an incredible impact on the organization and the entire field,” commented Richard Kessler, Chairman of CMA’s Board and Executive Dean for the College of Performing Arts and Dean of the Mannes School of Music at The New School. “Her steady hand, fundraising ability, and understanding of artists’ needs have focused all our programs in service to our members. She has always taken the long-term view of change, and has managed to keep CMA vital and relevant for these many years. The Board and membership are deeply grateful for her leadership.”

The Board of Directors will launch a national search for the organization’s next CEO in the coming months.


Chamber Music America, the national network of ensemble music professionals, was founded in 1977 to develop, strengthen, and support the chamber music community. With a membership of nearly 6,000, including musicians, ensembles, presenters, artists’ managers, educators, music businesses, and advocates of ensemble music, CMA welcomes members representing a wide range of musical styles and traditions—including western and non-western classical, contemporary, jazz, and evolving genres. CMA provides its members with grant programs, consulting services, access to instrument and other insurances, conferences, seminars, and several publications including Chamber Music magazine and the weekly e-newsletter, Accent.