L-R: conductors Ward Stare, Marcelo Lehninger, Ken L-R: conductors Ward Stare, Marcelo Lehninger, Ken Lam, Joshua Weilerstein, and Conner Gray Covington. Each will lead a single concert by the Bellingham Festival Orchestra. Above: the snow-capped Mt. Baker, near Bellingham, Washington. (composite image)Lam, Joshua Weilerstein, and Conner Gray Covington. Above: Mt. Baker, which towers above Bellingham, Washington. (composite image)

Bellingham Festival of Music’s “Season of Discovery” showcases five conductors in July

EarRelevant Staff | 26 JUN 2023

orchestral musicians from around North America are converging this week in Bellingham, Washington, to play in the annual Bellingham Festival of Music, which opens this Saturday, July 1 and runs through July 18. Eight of the Festival Orchestra’s musicians come from Atlanta this year.

One of America’s premier orchestra festivals, the Bellingham Festival of Music was established in 1993, with American orchestral conductor Michael Palmer as its founder and artistic director. Palmer stepped down from that position at the end of the 2022 season, becoming the Festival’s conductor laureate.


Under Palmer’s leadership, the Festival became internationally recognized, featuring some of the world’s finest orchestral musicians and major guest artists. Over the years, live recordings from its annual concerts have been broadcast on American Public Radio’s nationally syndicated program, Performance Today.

In searching for a new artistic director, the Festival has titled its 2023 season a “Season of Discovery,” featuring five conductors, each curating and leading a single concert during July: Ward Stare, Marcelo Lehninger, Ken Lam, Joshua Weilerstein, and Conner Gray Covington. All are making their BFM debuts.

Guest artists for 2023 include soprano Andriana Chuchman, violinists Blake Pouliot and Alexi Kenney, pianists Conrad Tao and Michelle Cann, and the Calidore String Quartet.

Here is a rundown of the 2023 Festival’s five orchestral and two chamber concerts:

Bellingham Festival of Music, 2023 Concert Series:

  • SATURDAY, JULY 1, 2023 @ 7:00 p.m.
    Ward Stare conductor
    Andriana Chuchman, soprano

    BRAHMS: Variations on a Theme by Haydn
    Samuel BARBER: Knoxville Summer of 1915
    MAHLER: Symphony No. 4
  • THURSDAY, JULY 6, 2023 @ 7:00 p.m.
    Marcelo Lehninger conductor
    Blake Pouliot, violin

    Valentin SILVESTROV: Hymne – 2001
    TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
    DVORAK: Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88
  • MONDAY, JULY 10, 2023 @ 7:00 p.m.
    Ken Lam conductor
    Conrad Tao, piano

    Cindy McTEE: Circuits
    RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2
    SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 9
  • WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2023 @ 7:00 p.m.
    The Calidore String Quartet
    BEETHOVEN: String Quartet No 7 in F major Op. 59 No. 1
    BEETHOVEN: String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, Op. 59 No. 2
    BEETHOVEN: String Quartet No. 9 in C major, Op. 59 “Eroica” No. 3
  • FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2023 @ 7:00 p.m.
    Joshua Weilerstein conductor
    Alexi Kenney, violin

    Gideon KLEIN: Partita for String Orchestra
    Samuel BARBER: Violin Concerto, Op. 14
    BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major
  • SUNDAY, JULY 16, 2023 @ 4:00 p.m.
    Fairhaven Cruise Terminal
    “Chamber Music by the Bay”
    BFM Principals
    Missy MAZZOLI: Lies You Can Believe
    Sergei PROKOFIEV: Quintet in G Minor, Op. 39
    Max REGER: Serenade op. 141a in G Major
    Alexandre TANSMAN: Septet
  • TUESDAY, JULY 18, 2023 @ 7:00 p.m.
    Conner Gray Covington conductor
    Michelle Cann, piano

    Anna CLYNE: This Midnight Hour
    Florence PRICE: Piano Concerto in One Movement
    MENDELSSOHN: Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    RAVEL: Mother Goose (complete ballet)

For more information, visit the Bellingham Festival’s website.

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