Michael Palmer conducts the Bellingham festival Orchestra. (image: BFM)

Bellingham Festival of Music returns with an atypical 2021 season

EarRelevant Staff | 6 JUL 2021

Bellingham, WA— Over a year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of its 2020 season, the Bellingham Festival of Music resumes its live summer performances this Saturday, July 10, in the Western Washington University Performing Arts Center, in Bellingham, Washington.

Due to lingering COVID-19 cases in Whatcom County and the Festival’s status in Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s pandemic reopening plan, this will be an atypical season.

The Festival will not able to present thee full three-weeks of music-making that it is known for, but will offer three orchestra and two chamber music programs in a span of nine days, running through July 18.


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To conform to requirements for social distancing. The orchestra will be reduced in size to conform to social distancing requirements, limited to 26 players: strings plus two oboes and two horns. In addition to the orchestral players, however, clarinetist Laura Ardan and ensemble-in-residence Calidore String Quartet will be on hand to perform in different chamber music concerts. Ardan will perform on with principal strings from the orchestra, with Calidore Quartet performing the other. Calidore musicians will also be among the featured concerto soloists. Concerts will also not be able to seat as many listeners as usual, die to social distancing, so four of the five programs will be performed twice, once in the afternoon and once in the evening.

Here is the schedule for the Festival’s five regular concert series programs:

  • Saturday, July 10, 2021 @ 3:00pm & 7:30pm
    BFM Orchestra. Michael Palmer, conductor; Christina Smith, flute; Estelle Choi, cello.
    J.S. BACH: Orchestral Suite No. 2 for Flute, Strings and Continuo, BWV 1067
    Edward ELGAR: Serenade for Strings
    F.J. HAYDN: Cello Concerto in C Major Hob.VIIb:1 with 2 oboes, 2 horns
  • Monday, July 12, 2021 @ 7:30pm
    Festival Chamber Players
    Laura Ardan, clarinet; Richard Roberts & Victor Costanzi, violins; Christian Colberg, viola;
    Steven Thomas, cello; Jordan Anderson, double bass.
    Nickitas DEMOS: Clarinet Sextet
    W.A. MOZART: Clarinet Quintet in A-major K. 581
  • Wednesday, July 14, 2021 @ 3:00pm & 7:30pm
    BFM Orchestra. Michael Palmer, conductor; Jeffrey Myers, violin; Jeremy Berry, viola.
    Benjamin BRITTEN: Simple Symphony for Strings, Op. 4
    W.A. MOZART: Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major K.364
    Edvard GRIEG: Holberg Suite Op. 40
  • Thursday, July 15, 2021 @ 3:00pm & 7:30pm
    Calidore String Quartet
    Ludwig van BEETHOVEN: String Quartet No. 2 in G Major Op. 18, No. 2
    Claude DEBUSSY: String Quartet in G Minor, 1893
  • Sunday, July 18, 2021 @ 3:00pm & 7:30pm
    BFM Orchestra. Michael Palmer, conductor; Ryan Meehan, Violin
    W.A. MOZART: Violin Concerto #5 in A-Major, K.219 with two oboes, 2 horns
    P.I. Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48

As part of its community outreach efforts, the Bellingham Festival of Music normally offers additional free musical events around Bellingham during the course of the festival such as chamber music concerts, master classes, Q&A sessions, and educational rehearsals that are open to then public at no charge. But because of logistical challenges of providing these at multiple venues with differing COVID-19 protocol requirements, they will not be offered during 2021. The Festival anticipates resuming these programs in upcoming seasons.

For tickets and more information, including COVID-19 protocols: bellinghamfestival.org ■


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