History of the Festival

Est. 1996, in a lush, green meadow near Mazama.

Our Festival brings world-class professional musicians to the Methow Valley. Sharing the love of classical music with the area's residents and visitors, our Festival supports the local economy, collaborates with other community organizations, educates our audience, and enhances the appreciation of our cultural heritage.

John Konigsmark leads a quartet at the first chamber music Festival in Mazama, WA.

Early history

In 1996, violinist John Konigsmark began producing high-quality classical chamber music concerts amidst the splendid scenic backdrop of the Methow Valley. His outdoor concerts linked art and the natural environment in a wonderful way that, on one occasion, included the unique sound of tree frogs accompanying a Mozart sonata.

Lisa Bergman.

Lisa Bergman

Pianist Lisa Bergman took the reins as artistic director in 2003. The programs under her direction brought unforgettable performances by world-renowned artists including Jon Kimura Parker (piano) and Frederica von Stade (mezzo-soprano). Lisa now hosts the series Explore Music on KING-FM in Seattle and works with the Icicle Creek Center for Arts in Leavenworth.

Dr. Kevin Krentz.

Kevin Krentz

Cellist Kevin Krentz became our artistic director in 2008. Kevin brings a high degree of professionalism to his job, coupled with a deep understanding of the classical music audience. He structures every program to include something familiar, something new and something completely flamboyant all together in a pattern that is constantly engaging, constantly stimulating.

Auditorium at Signal Hill Ranch.

A New Home

In 2009, the Festival moves its Center-stage performances to a new, purpose-built facility at Signal Hill Ranch, a dramatic setting one mile above the Methow Valley floor, halfway between Winthrop and Twisp. The new facility includes a professionally-designed, semi-outdoor acoustic listening environment surrounded by breathtaking views. An Ice House and firepit, completed in 2012, provide a gathering place on the Festival grounds, where concertgoers can purchase food and wine, and visit with the musicians under the stars.

Fires at dusk burn in the hills east of the Festival barn.

Fire Strikes!

The massive Carlton Complex wildfire in Okanogan county in the summer of 2014 completely disrupted Valley life, leaving our area with no power, no communications, and restricted transportation for several weeks. The Festival grounds were spared, but the disaster forced the first-ever cancellation of the entire Summer concert series. One year later, the grounds were again threatened by the Twisp River Fire. We were fortunate to survive unscathed a second time.

 

Caryl Campbell painting from the Sparling Collection

Sparling Family Generosity

Beloved co-founder and stalwart support Dr. Gerald Sparling passed away in November, 2015, but his love of the Festival and enduring generosity live one. In addition to giving $25,000 to start the Festival's endowment fund, his estate bequeathed the bulk of the family art collection for the benefit of the Festival and the local Confluence Art Gallery. Jerry's impact on the Festival, in ways large and small, will be felt for a long time to come.

Today, our festival proudly honors the traditions set down by its earliest supporters, including Herbert Wimberger, Richard Gode, and the late Dr. Gerald Sparling. For 10 days every summer, the Festival presents top-notch classical music in a broad array of performances. From starlit Centerstage events at Signal Hill Ranch to casual free performances at local parks and restaurants, the Festival stays true to our goal: to make world-class music accessible and affordable for all residents of the Methow Valley.