Seattle lost one of its great cultural leaders when Seattle Chamber Music Society (SCMS) founder Toby Saks died of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 1 at age 71.

To celebrate her musical talents and accomplishments, more than 60 top-flight musicians are gathering from around the country to pay tribute to Saks.

SCMS artistic director James Ehnes is programming the 90-minute celebration in conjunction with the University of Washington School of Music, where Saks was professor of cello for 37 years.

Chamber works by Rachmaninov, Fauré, Saint-Saëns, Chopin, Bach and Mozart will be performed, and Seattle Symphony conductor laureate Gerard Schwarz (also a speaker) will lead musicians through a movement from Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

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Some of the notable performers who were involved with Saks’ musical legacy and who plan to attend include concert pianist Jeremy Denk, one of the recent winners of a MacArthur “genius grant”; violinists Ehnes, Maria Larionoff, Alexander Velinzon and Amy Schwartz Moretti; violists Susan Gulkis Assadi and Aloysia Friedmann; and cellists Efe Baltacigil, Bion Tsang, Walter Gray and Robert deMaine.

Archival recordings of Saks performing in the early 1960s will be played before and after the celebration.

Several speakers among Saks’ students, colleagues and fellow musicians will share their memories of her, including Ehnes, Robin McCabe and Saks’ husband, Martin Greene.

The event is free and SCMS invites the public to join

it in celebrating Saks’ life:

5 p.m. Monday

, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle




Michael Upchurch: