The Celebrity Series of Boston has long faced a chicken-and-egg dilemma when it came to introducing artists and ensembles that were new to its subscribership. Prior exposure to these artists seemed necessary in order to sell a respectable number of seats in Jordan Hall, and yet a Celebrity Series concert was the best way — sometimes the only way — to provide such exposure. And so there ensued many nights of recitals at Jordan, sometimes of the highest artistic caliber, attended by only the loyal few, sitting among dispiriting acres of empty seats.
Executive director Gary Dunning seems to have finally addressed this problem by creating a new Debut Series that takes place at the much smaller Pickman Hall, at the Longy School of Music of Bard College. (It also affords opportunities for Longy students to interact with the musicians.) As part of this new series, a talented young ensemble like the Pacifica Quartet, joined as it was on Wednesday night by the fine clarinetist Anthony McGill, can — and did — sell out this smaller space. It couldn’t have hurt matters that the Pacifica coincidentally has an earlier history of involvement performing and teaching at Longy.