Lewis Kaplan co-founded the Bowdoin International Music Festival in 1964 with Robert K. Beckwith. For more than 50 years under Kaplan’s leadership, the Bowdoin Festival grew into one of the most respected festivals in the world. Attracting many of the world’s most famous performers, including pianists Yefim Bronfman, Richard Goode, Murray Perahia, violinists Michael Rabin and Jaime Laredo, cellists Janos Starker and Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, flutist Julius Baker, and oboists Liang Wang and Joseph Robinson.
Mr. Kaplan also brought to Bowdoin many renowned composers, who were commissioned to write works for his chamber group, the Aeolian Chamber Players. The composers included George Crumb, Luciano Berio, Milton Babbitt, Ralph Shapey, George Rochberg, Huang Ruo and Bright Sheng. The Festival attracted many young artists who now tour the world, including virtuoso pianist Emanuel Ax, Ray Chen, 1st Prize winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition, and Paul Neubauer, violist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In 2014, Lewis Kaplan stepped down as the Festival’s Director when it celebrated its half centennial.