Small ensemble has lofty goals

How's this for thinking big? Charlotte Chamber Music lays out its organizational vision like so: "for Charlotte to become the cultural center of the Southeast through the vibrant engagement of its citizens, connected to their humanity, history and each other."

We probably shouldn't hold one cultural group responsible for all that. Even when it focuses on its own role, though, Charlotte Chamber Music's goals are ambitious. By 2014, the group wants to enrich its musical offerings, develop new ways to reach audiences - with performances online, for instance - and "convince 100,000 people to participate."

That's from the prospectus the group is shopping around Charlotte as it starts raising the money it will need: $500,000 over the next three years. At the plan's core, the group envisions an "acoustically amazing" venue of about 300 seats - the right size to showcase chamber music.

No one knows of such a place right now. But "it's not necessarily that we have to build something," says Elaine Spallone, the group's executive director. The answer might be a renovation somewhere - such as the auditorium at the Mint Museum Uptown.

At the moment, sound echoes in there, says Ben Roe, Charlotte Chamber Music's artistic director. But that might be fixable.

The group wants to bring in theater specialists to help with the search. Its plans also include hiring a full-time artistic director; studying what current and potential listeners want; and beefing up the website so it can deliver music.

Those are high hopes. But the group thinks it has the right material: music that's intimate and personal.

"Chamber music, as an art form," the prospectus says, "is the epitome of connecting people and engaging them."