Leslie Katz, a violinist with the L.A. Opera orchestra, leads a group of young violinists as they walk and play in the PAC Plaza Friday afternoon, July 29, 2011. Photo by Matthew Anderson | Western Washington University
When young people and seasoned professionals come together to make music, it's a beautiful thing. That's what happens for two weeks every summer at the Marrowstone Music Festival, presented by the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras. At the Western Washington University campus in Bellingham, high school and college students from all over the region learn the tricks of the trade from nationally-recognized professional musicians in intensive master classes, private lessons and group rehearsal.
Both weeks of the festival culminate in entire weekends of impressive concerts from the students and from the festival's faculty members. From large-scale works to chamber music, and from the greatest hits to the more esoteric, this festival has it all.
The opening faculty concert on Thursday, July 31 at 7:30pm is a fascinating mix of chamber music not often heard in performance. It takes a journey around the world, from Russia (Prokofiev's Quintet) to Germany (Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 1) to Japan (Takamitsu's "Rain Spell") to the Czech Republic (Nelhybel's Trio for Brass) all the way to Brazil (Villa-Lobos' Quintet). The performance is sure to be top-notch, as the musicians in this and all other faculty concerts teach at nationally-respected universities such as Manhattan and Eastman Schools of Music and Oberlin Conservatory, and they play in major orchestras all over the country, including the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and our own Seattle Symphony.
The other faculty concert on Thursday, August 7 at 7:30pm contains some of the familiar, such as Stravinsky's A Solider's Tale and Ravel's Introduction and Allegro. There are also some sunny, upbeat surprises, such as Revueltas' Ocho por radio and Barber's Summer Music for Woodwind Quartet. Plus, we'll hear some rare pieces, including a chamber selection composed by Maurice Duruflé and a sextet by Glinka.
In the first Sunday matinee of the festival, on August 3 at 3pm, conductor Stephen Rogers Radcliffe hands his podium over to Gerard Schwarz, the Seattle Symphony's conductor emeritus. Schwarz conducts all the Marrowstone students in a performance of Stravinksy's beloved ballet Petrushka and Elgar's intense, moving Enigma Variations.
For the festival's closing concert on Sunday, August 10 at 3pm, there's a change in venue: rather than the usual performances at Western Washington University's Performing Arts Center, the Marrowstone students come together for a last hurrah at the historic Mt. Baker Theatre in beautiful downtown Bellingham. Stephen Rogers Radcliffe conducts a handful of audience favorites, including An American in Paris, The Pines of Rome, and Dvorak's Slavonic Dances.
There are many more excellent concerts to hear, and a full festival schedule is available on Marrowstone's website. If you're coming to the festival from out of town, visit the Bellingham Visitors Bureau website for a few tips on other things to see and do in town.