Each summer a community comes together with rare generosity to celebrate music. From July 5 through July 21, 2013, some of the finest musicians from all over the country will join forces under the leadership of Michael Palmer and with world-renowned soloists to create a unique Pacific Northwest experience-the Bellingham Festival of Music.
We in the community read about these great musicians coming to Bellingham; we applaud their performances at the Performing Arts Center of Western Washington University; we listen to informal chamber music at Mallards while eating ice cream, or to recitals at the Cruise Terminal and the Whatcom Museum of History & Art's Rotunda Room; and we sit in awe as famous soloists instruct young musicians from this area in performance on their instrument in master classes.
But this blossoming of music is the result of the work of almost 300 people from all over the county contributing their time, their expertise, their homes, and sometimes their physical strength to make all this happen. There is no paid administrative staff; those who support the festival are all volunteers, including the board of directors, those who house and feed the musicians, the chorus, and the festival's many friends.
This year marks the 20th anniversary, as in previous years, the programs bring to Bellingham internationally recognized soloists-this year including Joshua Roman, Pepe Romero, Frederica von Stade, Heidi Grant Murphy, Katie Van Kooten, Garrick Ohlsson, Ray Chen, and Joe Robinson. The opening concert presents music by Rossini, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven and will feature the West Coast premiere of Dreamsongs for Cello and Chamber Orchestra by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis-and he, too, will be in Bellingham with his family.
These musicians and soloists choose to come to Bellingham not only for the opportunity to be part of an outstanding ensemble performing great music, but also because they love our community. Bellingham becomes the musicians' second family and they return year after year. This welcoming environment extends beyond the concerts and recitals. During the school year the festival works with the Whatcom Symphony and area schools to reach out and bring music into our schools-earlier this year reaching more than 2,000 middle and high school students. These students have the opportunity to hear young musicians perform for them and to ask questions. Through the Bellingham Festival of Music, we have witnessed the beginning of new careers in music, and the festival's relationship with the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles promises to keep this recent tradition alive.
As the musicians and the soloists return, so does the audience. This year ticket sales for the five concerts have been strong, and we anticipate full houses for all performances. There are many reasons to stay in Bellingham during the summer, not least the Bellingham Festival of Music. Many of us have visited great cities and have heard great music performed. The same high standards of musicianship, the same great soloists, the music of the great composers is heard here, in Bellingham, in Whatcom County, every summer because our generous community opens its homes and its hearts to create this summer festival.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert D. Lynch has a Ph.D. in Musicology from New York University. He arrived in Bellingham in 2008 to be president of Premier Graphics after leading the books division of the University of Chicago Press and as president of Southwestern Publishing in Cincinnati.