The Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival is back, with exquisitely performed chamber music and some exciting changes, including a stunning new venue and the option of enjoying the concerts outdoors in a relaxed setting with a gourmet picnic.
The festival – six concerts from June 16 to 25 – will be in an intimate, captivating space at the Twisp Terrace Lodge. “It sounds beautiful in there – we’re so excited,” Festival Artistic Director Kevin Krentz said.
In addition to seating in the concert hall – with excellent acoustics and a sculptural mountain tableau behind the stage – the Festival is offering “Alla Natura” tickets, which allow people outside on the Twisp Terrace Lodge grounds to have an immersive concert experience through individual high-fidelity headphones.
The headphones transmit the sound live from the concert hall via radio signals, enveloping listeners in their own world FIX of chamber music while blocking extraneous noises.
The Festival had been looking for a way to offer an outdoor experience that captures the drama and immediacy of the performance. The headphones will appeal to people who’d like to enjoy a gourmet picnic prepared by the chefs at Twisp Terrace Lodge or who want a relaxed environment for young children. They’re also a way to provide a comfortable alternative during COVID.
The outdoor option also expands the audience capacity, since the Twisp Terrace Lodge is smaller than the Festival’s former venue, where concerts often sold out. Outdoor concertgoers will be able to watch a live feed of the performance on an outdoor screen.
The headsets will also be available to indoor audience members who want additional amplification.
This year’s concerts feature masterworks by Mozart, Grieg, and Debussy, and music for strings and piano by Shostakovich, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and Fauré. There’s also sensational music by lesser-known composers, including cellist Giovanni Sollima, Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Kevin Puts, Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud, and minimalist composer Terry Riley.
Long-time festival-goers will recognize returning musicians Tanya Gabrielian and Zhenni Li on piano, Mikhail Shmidt and Grace Park on violin, Mara Gearman on viola, and Krentz on cello. The roster also includes dazzling players who’ll be appearing on the Methow stage for the first time.
In addition to the evening concerts, there are free, open rehearsals each morning, which provide a fascinating glimpse into how the exquisite performances come together.
The Festival has always had an educational component. In the past, they’ve sponsored young musicians who’ve given informal concerts around the valley and helped coach local musicians. This year, the Festival has an internship program for sound and light technicians and stage managers to help them master the behind-the-scenes magic that’s key to a successful chamber music festival.
The Festival is also taking an innovative approach to its long tradition of pairing music and visual art. This season, there will be an innovative twist, with artists creating art inspired by the music as they listen to the concerts outside the lodge. Concert-goers will have the opportunity to observe the creative process.
Concerts are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, June 16, 17, and 18 and June 23, 24, and 25. Each week, the Thursday and Saturday concerts will have different programs, and the Friday concerts will present a selection of music from those two programs. Tickets are on sale online at methowmusicfestival.org.