Thursday, June 14th, 2018
Bellingham Festival of Music Silver Anniversary Season, June 30 – July 20, 2018
Lorraine Wilde

Classical music has always impressed me. I tend to study the performers while they play. I enjoy seeing the differences between them, the passion and focus of each artist, and how they deliver the emotion of each piece through their craft.

So many talented musicians coming together from diverse backgrounds, sometimes with little rehearsal, under the direction of a masterful conductor, to present timeless pieces that have withstood the test of decades or even centuries—without a noticeable mistake—a true feat.

Bellingham Festival of Music Palmer orchestra conductor

Bellingham Festival of Music Co-Founder and Artistic Director Michael Palmer celebrates 50 years as a conductor this season.

Since 1993, the Bellingham Festival of Music (BFM or Festival) has done just that with both local and internationally-celebrated guest artists to present the Festival Orchestra and Chorus, creating unforgettable musical experiences for a generation of audiences. This year is extra special. Celebrating their Silver Anniversary season this summer, the natural beauty of Bellingham will be the backdrop for a host of stunning musical performances. Highlights include the premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Fourth Symphony, nine BFM First Performances, and three debuts by guest soloists.

A Proud History

The Festival was Co-founded in 1993 by American conductor and Artistic Director Michael Palmer and renowned cellist, Robert Sylvester (at that time Dean of The College of Fine and Performing Arts and Director of Cultural Affairs of Western Washington University). This year, Palmer celebrates 50 years as a conductor. Each year, talented musicians from all across the United States and Canada, many of whom are principals in orchestras such as New York Philharmonic and the Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta Symphonies, along with well-known soloists and groups, share their craft before sold-out audiences.

The Festival’s dedication to excellence has been noticed and recognized throughout the country. Their art has been aired by NPR and American Public Media. They also received consecutive National Endowment for the Arts grants in 2009 and 2010 due to the quality of the Festival and its value to the national cultural tapestry. We are so fortunate to have such talent just down the street each year.

Bellingham Festival of Music orchestra Kernis composer

What to Expect

Festival Orchestra and Chorus

The Festival Orchestra is made up of more than 80 accomplished, award-winning musicians who’ve performed all over the world. Many play regularly throughout the Pacific Northwest including Seattle and Vancouver while others are also faculty at prestigious universities across the country and around the world. Some variation of this group will perform a wide range of pieces at each of the live performances scheduled June 30 – July 20, 2018.

Barnatan Bellingham Festival of Music orchestra

Pianist Inon Barnatan will perform on Saturday, July 7, 2018.

Several members will be spotlighted in solo and chamber music performances.  Principal Cello Steven Thomas and Principal Viola Christian Colberg will take on the solo roles of the Don and Sancho Panza in Richard Strauss’ tone poem Don Quixote. Concertmaster Richard Roberts will be the violin soloist in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, in a performance honoring the late Frances LeCocq, a longtime friend and supporter of the Festival. Other Principal players will take part in the popular Chamber by the Bay concert at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal on Sunday, July 8, 2018, which usually sells out.

The Bellingham Festival Chorus brings together some of the finest singers from Whatcom County who rehearse for more than a month under the direction of Maestro Palmer to polish performances for each season’s choral finale, this year on July 20 in a celebratory performance of the Poulenc Gloria. Festival audiences appreciate this dedicated group of highly skilled singers willing to donate their time and talent to present choral masterpieces.

2018 Guest Artists

Each guest artist is world-renowned and brings their own rich experience to their work

Violinist Stefan Jackiw

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Jackiw will perform Korngold Violin Concerto. He appeared as a soloist with the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco symphony orchestras, among others. He recently toured Australia playing Mendelssohn with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and appeared with the Detroit Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, Philharmonische Orchester Heidelberg, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia de la Coruna, Dortmunder Philharmoniker, and Tampere Philharmonic.

The Calidore String Quartet

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Calidore String Quartet will perform a full recital. They regularly perform in the most prestigious venues throughout North America, Europe and Asia such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Wigmore Hall, Berlin Konzerthaus, Cologne Philharmonie, Seoul’s Kumho Arts Hall and at many significant festivals, including Verbier, Ravinia, Mostly Mozart, Music@Menlo, Rheingau, East Neuk and Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Within two years of their founding, they won grand prizes in virtually all the major U.S. chamber music competitions, including the Fischoff, Coleman, Chesapeake, and Yellow Springs competitions and top prizes at the 2012 ARD Munich International String Quartet Competition and Hamburg International Chamber Music Competition. They are made up of Jeffrey Meyers and Ryan Meehan on violin, Jeremy Berry on viola, and Estelle Choi on cello.

Pianist Inon Barnatan

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Isreali pianist Barnatan will perform Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2. He is a recipient of both a prestigious 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant and Lincoln Center’s 2015 Martin E. Segal Award, and has debuted with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Chicago, Baltimore, and Seattle Symphonies, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and the London and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras.

Cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan and West Coast Premiere of Kernis’ Symphony No. 4  Chromelodeon

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

At the age of 22, this Armenian cellist won the 2011 gold medal at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition. He will perform Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations. He is known internationally as one of the finest cellists of his generation. He has performed with orchestras such as the Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio, NHK Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic orchestras, and with conductors such as Gergiev, Hrusa, Koopman, Neemi Järvi, Pletnev, Slatkin, Sokhiev, Robertson, Bělohlávek, and Guerrero.

This performance also marks the West Coast Premiere of Composer Aaron Jay Kernis’ Symphony No. 4  Chromelodeon. Kernis wrote on a joint commission from the Bellingham Festival of Music, New England Conservatory, and the Nashville Symphony. Kernis is the winner of the 2002 $200,000 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, the 1998 Pulitzer Prize, and 2011 Nemmers Award, and serves on the music faculty of Yale University.  He will be in attendance at the Bellingham performance.

Violinist Simone Porter

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Porter will perform Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1. She made her professional solo debut at age 10 in 1996 with the Seattle Symphony and her international debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London at age 13.  In the past few years, Porter has debuted with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and with renowned conductors, including Gustavo Dudamel, Charles Dutoit, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Nicholas McGegan, Ludovic Morlot and Donald Runnicles. In 2015, Porter was a recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Soprano Maria Valdes

Friday, July 20, 2018

Valdes will return to the festival to perform Poulenc: Gloria. This past season, the Atlanta, GA native has debuted with Opera San José as Despina in Così fan tutte and Lisette in La rondine as well as a company debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Amore in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. On the concert stage, Valdes performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the California Symphony. She will also be heard with the Phoenix Symphony as the soprano soloist in Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem.

Planning Your Visit

The Festival has arranged incredible discounts for attendees. Whether you’re from out-of-town or looking for a night out, they have arranged hotel packages just for you. Their travel guide is also handy to help you get to Bellingham.

This event is perfect for those exploring classical music for the first time or those who are distinguished enough to hear the quality and perfection of these esteemed musicians and performers. Each performance will be a once-in-a-lifetime event because of the talent amassed for these single live performances. Get tickets now to ensure your front-row seats.

Bellingham Festival of Music

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About the Author:

Lorraine Wilde has immersed herself in so many of Whatcom County’s vibrant communities over the past 25 years. Owner and Publicity Strategist for Wilde World Communications, Lorraine has connected with locals as a writer, actor, scientist, teacher, filmmaker, singer, and mom. Lorraine has performed improv and staged works in several of Whatcom County’s theatres and she is active in the Bellingham Film community. She is also a big supporter of the local music community. When she has a spare second, its spent with her children outside exploring a new adventure.