Classical Seattle’s Midsummer Chamber Music Guide

The picturesque view from Canyon Wren Recital Hall,  home of the Icicle Creek International Chamber Music Festival (Photo: Reed Carlson)

The picturesque view from Canyon Wren Recital Hall, home of the Icicle Creek International Chamber Music Festival (Photo: Reed Carlson)

When the sun comes out in Seattle, it’s time for chamber music! Washington State is blessed with a bounty of annual summer chamber music festivals and events, giving concertgoers plenty of options during the months of July and August. While several festivals are already underway, there are still many more performances on the calendar for next month. Here’s the lowdown on upcoming listening opportunities.

Jun. 29 – Jul. 26 — Now in its 32nd year, the Seattle Chamber Music Society Summer Festival is the big game in town. Each year, SCMS gathers an impressive roster of performers from around the country for several weeks of concerts at Benaroya Hall’s Nordstrom Recital Hall.
Upcoming highlights: Next week’s offerings include a live recording of Shostakovich’s String Quartets No. 7 and 8 (July 24) and a performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring for piano four hands (July 26).

Jun. 29 – Sep. 1 — The OIympic Music Festival is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. Concerts are held in a rustic barn in the farm community of Quilcene, which neighbors Olympic National Park. With performances every Saturday and Sunday through July and August, this is Washington State’s longest summer chamber music festival.
Upcoming highlights: The “Beethoven Festival” program (July 27 and 28) features some of the composer’s most beloved chamber works, including his “Ghost” Piano Trio.

Jul. 7 – 27 — Head across the Cascades to Leavenworth for the Icicle Creek International Chamber Music Festival, held at the state-of-the-art Icicle Creek Center for the Arts. Concerts bring together a blend of regional talent and guests from afar. Visiting artists at this year’s festival include Illinois-based Avalon String Quartet.
Upcoming highlights: Hear Debussy’s buoyant Piano Trio alongside Brahms’ Viola Quintet No. 1 and a work for piano four hands by living composer George Crumb (July 20).

Jul. 18 – Aug. 15 — It’s the inaugural year for Auburn Symphony‘s summer chamber music series, Sunsets at Mary Olson Farm. Bring a blanket and picnic basket for these outdoor concerts on the grounds of the historic farm, located along the Green River in Auburn.
Upcoming highlights: The “Animals in Music” program (August 15) features Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, an audience favorite for all ages.

Jul. 25 – Aug. 3 — Eastern Washington’s Wild West town of Winthrop is one of the landmarks near the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival. Enjoy views of the Cascades from the rustic Signal Hill Ranch, which hosts the festival’s concerts in the main barn, a former show horse stable.
Upcoming highlights: This festival wins the award for the summer’s most creative concert program, which includes works by Brahms, Hindemith, Sarasate, and Philip Glass (July 30).

Aug. 2 – 4 — The three-day Whidbey Island Music Festival focuses on the Baroque Era, bringing gems by beloved composers like J.S. Bach and Handel to two venues on the island. Forest, meadow, and ocean provide an idyllic backdrop for cantatas and arias performed by local musicians and visiting artists.
Upcoming highlights: New York-based soprano Yulia Van Doren sings Handel arias accompanied by an ensemble performing on period instruments (August 2 and 4).

Aug. 9 – 24 — Celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival with two weeks of performances and events. The festival’s popular Music Lovers Seminars connect musicians, scholars, and audience members for an in-depth exploration of each concert’s repertoire.
Upcoming highlights: The cleverly-named “César Salad” program (August 16 and 17) brings together music by two Romantic Era composers, César Cui and César Franck.

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