Artistic Director Michael Palmer. Photo by Audrey Kelley.
Each year, the Bellingham Festival of Music outdoes itself with star-studded guest artists. In 2012, the headliners were cellist Lynn Harrell and violinist Joshua Bell. In 2013, pianist Daniil Trifonov and cellist Joshua Roman performed. And this year, the festival hosts internationally-acclaimed pianist Richard Goode, Metropolitan Opera regular Lisette Oropesa and up-and-coming violinist Stefan Jackiw.
But what's most remarkable about this festival isn't the international solo talent it attracts. It's the fact that attending the festival would still be worth the two-hour drive from Seattle even without those headliners.
Take the opening concert, for example. Classical lovers would be thrilled enough to hear this quality orchestra playing Bach's first Brandenburg Concerto and Brahms' Serenade No. 1 in the same concert that they'd attend even without the promise of a third masterpiece played by an international sensation. Nevertheless, Artistic Director Michael Palmer outdoes himself with this program of three masterpieces from three distinct eras, featuring Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 played by Stefan Jackiw.
It's so rare to hear great opera in the summer, a season primarily focused on chamber music. That's why we're looking forward to the festival's much-hyped production of
Mozart's "The Abduction from the Seraglio." It was of this opera that Emperor Joseph II famously said, "That is too fine for my ears--there are too many notes," to which Mozart spitefully replied, "There are just as many notes as there should be." In a special concert version of this popular opera, up-and-coming international opera star Lisette Oropesa stars as Constanza opposite tenor Wesley Rogers, a local favorite who is also no stranger to the world stage.
Many Seattlites may have seen Richard Goode in a crtically-acclaimed
recital at the UW World Series
earlier this year, but even if you missed it, Goode needs no introduction. The revered Beethoven specialist turns 71 this year, but you'd never know it looking at his concert schedule. In a concert on Wednesday, July 16, he'll take on Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25 with the orchestra.
For fans of the classical guitar, there can be no better concert than the one taking place on Friday, July 18 at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. World-famous Spanish guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas, who many have dubbed the successor to Andrés Segovia, plays a recital of tangos, fantasies and preludes by a variety of Central and South American composers. With the 2014 World Cup currently taking place in Brazil, the concert feels like something of an hommage to the home of samba. The relaxing and beautiful music is reason enough to attend, but if you're searching for more justification, remember the venue: a wall of nothing but windows overlooking the beautiful Bellingham waterfront.
Here are a few more festival concerts to check out:
- Chamber music fans won't want to miss a performance of Mendelssohn's famous Octet, featuring the Calidore String Quartet joined by four festival musicians, on Sunday, July 13.
- The festival orchestra performs one of Beethoven's personal favorite symphonies, his Seventh, on Tuesday, July 8. Also on that program is Aaron Jay Kernis' "Musica Celestis" and Rodrigo's Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, featuring Christina Smith.
- The triumphant festival closer is a veritable love letter to Brahms, fitting since this Northwest concert season has seen an inexplicably huge number of Brahms performances. Before you hear his Symphony No. 4, the festival chorus joins the orchestra for two songs, "Nänie" and "Schicksalslied."
A full festival schedule can be found here