This is the Twentieth Anniversary Celebration of the Icicle Creek Center for the Arts International Chamber Music Festival, with three hundred years of “the music of friends” – inspired works by the world’s most beloved composers, performed by world-class artists in an intimate, stunning, and acoustically perfect setting. Come early, stay late, spend the weekend, and enjoy the unforgettable musical experiences and the breathtaking beauty of the Cascade Mountains.
A playlist of music from last year's summer festival.
The festival is full of wonderful concerts, but I'm most looking forward to Opening Night, From Sea to Shining Sea, on July 4 at 8pm. It's a celebration of Independence Day with a wide array of American music. Here's a rundown of the pieces featured on the program.
Gershwin-Grainger, Fantasy on “Porgy and Bess” for Two Pianos
This combination of the iconoclastic Gershwin with Grainger’s irrepressibility creates an exceptionally colorful work with unusual dance-like effects, exuberance and sheer joie de vivre. Twenty fingers on two grand pianos provides the lure of the spectacle, particularly with two, synchronized wizards of keyboard marvels, Christina Dahl and Oksana Ezhokina (Artistic Director of the Festival) in this fire cracker opener!
Copland, Old American Songs for Voice and Piano
These songs are selected from two sets of songs arranged by Aaron Copland in 1950 and 1952 and are presented in their original scoring. The songs are familiar and engaging, and include such gems as “The Dodger” (a campaign song), “I Bought Me a Cat” (a children’s song) and “Zion’s Walls” (a revivalist song). Marilyn Horne, Sherill Milnes and Bryn Terfel are but a few of the famed recording artists who have recorded these pearls of Americana. Melissa Plagemann, mezzo-soprano (a frequent, popular performer of opera and art song in the region is also an accomplished pianist) is joined by Oksana Ezhokina (a masterful collaborator of all styles).
Stacy Garrop, String Quartet No. 4 (“Illuminations”)
Award winning Stacy Garrop has won such awards as Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award; the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble’s 2006/2007 Harvey Gaul Composition Competition and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 1999-2000 First Hearing Composition Competition. Her works span the gamut of scores for orchestra, brass, mixed chamber ensembles and chorus. Her style is eclectic and evocative as are the performers in the Avalon String Quartet – “…polished, adroit, deeply musical and sheerly gorgeous …” American Record Guide
Foss, Three American Pieces for Flute and Piano
Lucas Foss, a Renaissance man with roots interwoven in music theory, piano, composition, flute and conducting, received more than 20 honorary doctorate degrees in his lifetime. He studied composition with Randall Thompson, Paul Hindemith and Rosario Scalero. The “Three American Pieces” were composed in 1944 and are titled “Early Song”, “Dedication” and “Composer's Holiday”. These are reflective, genuine and fun. Flutist Ray Furuta returns by popular demand and is joined by the ever-flexible keyboard collaborator Oksana Ezhokina for this thrilling performance.
I'm also looking forward to the Young Artist Concert, a free event happening Sunday, July 13 at 1pm in the Canyon Wren Recital Hall. This concert features exciting young artists and pre-professionals – all participants of the Icicle Creek Center for the Art’s Chamber Music Institute. The Chamber Music Institute provides a unique educational experience for serious and accomplished young artists. It is an intensive three-week long program of chamber music study emphasizing individual musical development while working closely with internationally acclaimed faculty artists It is open to advanced college string players and pianists. All accepted students will engage in private lessons, masterclasses, rehearsals and performances of chamber music with their peers and artist faculty.
The repertoire will be announced from the stage by the young artists themselves, providing their own colorful program notes. The playing promises to be stellar. Seasoned chamber music devotees have remarked each year on the virtuosity, youthful exuberance and sheer daring of these young artists. Repertoire will range from mainstream European masterpieces to music of our time. It is a thrill to fathom the world of performance awaiting these artists of the future.