Lynden Music Festival diverse from start to Finnish

JK and the OK Rhythm Boys are among the performers at the Lynden Music Festival.
JK and the OK Rhythm Boys are among the performers at the Lynden Music Festival. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Terhi Miikki-Broersma says she started the Lynden Music Festival seven years ago simply because there was no music festival in Lynden.

This year’s festival takes place Wednesday, Oct. 14, through Oct. 18 at various venues in Lynden.

Miikki-Broersma, who was born and grew up in Finland, started a music festival in her home country that’s still successful, she says.

To start a festival in Lynden, she immediately enlisted the help of her friend and co-performer Gaye Davis. Miikki-Broersma plays accordion, among other instruments, and Davis plays violin as the Duo Lido.

A music festival is a huge undertaking, but they both wanted to share the joy of live concerts and the community of talented musicians in the region, as well as import musicians from other regions, such as Orcas Island, Vancouver Island and Maui. And Finland.

As co-artistic directors, they are intent on providing a variety of music, including classical, jazz, pop and folk.

“We already have festivals in the county who center their interests, so it’s nice to bring variety to the audience,” Miikki-Broersma. “Our own musical interests are really wide, also, so we make our festival depending what we enjoy listening to, as well.”

Davis, a lifelong Lynden resident, says they aren’t trying to compete with other festivals in the county, which is why they offer a variety of genres —and partly why it is set in October. She says that for people who mainly listen to only one genre, it’s an opportunity to be introduced to a few more.

“When they discover something new to them, they may be encouraged to check out the other festivals,” she says.

Most of the Lynden concerts are free, some by suggested donation, and those with tickets are reasonably priced, Davis says.

Guitarist David Feingold, who has performed in the festival twice, says Miikki-Broersma and Davis have an approach to programing and production that promotes diversity. Feingold will perform Oct. 15 with violinist Grant Donnellan, a colleague at Western Washington University, and with internationally acclaimed bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann, who lives in Blaine.

“Our program is diverse from a classical music standpoint in terms of the instrumentation, as repertoire that we are adapting,” Feingold says.

In addition to classical pieces, they will perform some jazz, which “spices up the program,” he says.

Tim Fitzpatrick directs WWU’s University Men’s Choir, which will perform songs from the American tradition as well as “ a tip of their hats to Finland,” singing a traditional piece written for men’s chorus by Jean Sibelius on Oct. 18.

“We have the unique opportunity to be coached by renowned Finnish conductor Matti Hyökki who will be in residence during the week of the festival,” Fitzpatrick says.

Other festival performers include blues-pop guitarist Adrian Clarke; vocalist Johnny Barnes, who sang with The Platters; jazz saxophonist Mike Allen; swing band JP and the OK Rhythm Boys; indie-pop band West My Friend; and Hawaii’s HAPA, led by guitarist Barry Flanagan.

Miikki-Broersma says the festival offers concerts for all ages, from kids — with a “Bremen Town Musicians” concert Oct. 17 at Jansen Art Center —to seniors — with a “Tea for Two” Gershwin concert at 3 p.m. Oct. 16 at a private home on Wiser Lake.

Davis praises local music teachers and band and choir directors in the county, and says one of the festival’s missions is to expose young people to more opportunities and workshops than they have in school.

“We also had a dream that if we could draw an audience from the greater community and beyond to Lynden for some amazing concerts, it would have a positive effect on the businesses that were struggling and bring some life back to town,” Davis says.

“We live in a region that is rich with talented, gifted musicians and beautiful music,” Davis says. “Many people around the world drive farther across their cities to see a concert than it takes Bellingham residents to drive 15 miles north.”

Lynden Music Festival

When: Wednesday, Oct. 14, through Oct. 18

Where: Various venues in Lynden

Cost: Some events are free, some are by donation, some require tickets.

Details: http://lyndenmusicfestival.com