The Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival wrapped up its 21st season in August, with quantifiable markers of a great season—four out of five Centerstage concerts were sold out, and the majority of the Sparling art collection sold at auction. Proceeds from the auction will support music and arts programming and education at the Festival and Confluence Gallery.
There were also some less tangible signs of the Festival’s success, signs with a deeper meaning for music lovers. More locals and visitors were introduced to chamber music through the festival’s Fellowship Quartet, which played five free concerts at informal locations around the valley, from the Freestone Inn to the Shafer Museum.
The Fellowship Quartet, a group of music students from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, also spent time coaching – and playing alongside – two dozen dedicated amateur musicians of all ages at the Pipestone Music Camp.
“There was lots of wonderful new energy both from the audience and artists,” said Liz Johnson, the Festival’s executive director. Johnson said she sensed a deeper appreciation and recognition of the Festival’s contribution to the regional music scene because of the gifted musicians it attracts.
This year, musicians came to the Methow from as far away as Hong Kong and London, a mix of veteran and first-time Festival performers. This approach allows the Festival to create dynamic ensembles of musicians who are excited to be making music together. The artists also know they will find enthusiastic audiences receptive to innovative programming.
The Festival now looks to the future with its annual Valentine’s concert in February. Another aspect of the Festival’s future strength is the newly created Craig Sheppard Chair for Festival Piano, honoring the long-time dedication of pianist Craig Sheppard, who has been a regular performer at the Festival for almost a decade. The new endowment will help preserve the quality of the Festival’s piano program, including support for pianists and the shipping and tuning of the piano used in the Festival.
About the Festival
Listening to great music is fun, and even more fun when doing it with people you like.