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March 2, 2023


Tickets for BFM Season of Discovery Go on Sale March 6 and 20

Tickets for the Bellingham Festival of Music’s 2023 season will go on sale beginning March 6 for season subscriptions and March 20 for individual concerts. Season subscribers may order their tickets by calling the Western Washington University box office at 360-650-6146. Those who wish to retain their 2022 seats must reserve them by March 20. Individual concert tickets may be ordered through the BFM website: https://bellinghamfestival.org/tickets/ .

The Festival’s 30th season will be historic in presenting five outstanding guest conductors in their BFM debuts, July 1—18, 2023. This Season of Discovery will showcase a fascinating variety of interpretive styles, wide-ranging repertoire, and stimulating new soloists. And, one of the conductors may emerge as the Festival’s new Artistic Director.

Coming from orchestra positions in both the U.S. and abroad, the guest conductors and some career highlights are:

Ward Stare (July 1),

Music Director, Rochester Philharmonic, 2014-2021

Guest conductor Berlin, Atlanta and Baltimore Symphonies, Chicago Lyric Opera, Metropolitan Opera

Resident conductor St. Louis Symphony 2008-2019

Marcelo Lehninger (July 6),

Music Director, Grand Rapids Symphony, 2016--present

Associate Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra,

Guest conductor Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis Symphonies

Ken Lam (July 10),

Orchestra conductor and professor of conducting at Tianjin-Juilliard Music School,

Music Director of Charleston Symphony (2015-2022)

Illinois Symphony, Music Director (2017-2022) and currently Artistic Advisor.

Joshua Weilerstein (July 14),

Artistic Director, Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne (2017-2021)

Guest appearances New York, Seattle (2022), Vancouver (2023), Philadelphia and San Francisco Symphonies

Host, Sticky Notes podcast, (2017 to present) with 3M downloads.

Conner Gray Covington (July 18)

Associate Conductor of the Utah Symphony, 2018-2022

Music Director of the Deer Valley Music Festival, 2019-2020

Additional information on the conductors and photos are available online here.

Guest artists are Andriana Chuchman, soprano; Blake Pouliot, violin; Conrad Tao, piano; Alexi Kenney, violin; and Michelle Cann, piano. Bios and photos of the soloists are available here.

In addition to the five orchestral concerts, BFM will also present its resident chamber ensemble, the Calidore String Quartet (July 12) and the popular Chamber Music by the Bay concert and reception (July 16) featuring principal players of the orchestra.

All orchestral concerts and the Calidore Quartet recital will take place in the Performing Arts Center of Western Washington University. Chamber Music by the Bay will take place in the picturesque rotunda of the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.

The 2023 programs follow:

July 1, 2023, 7:00 PM

Ward Stare conducting

Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Haydn

Samuel Barber, Knoxville Summer of 1915

Andriana Chuchman, soprano

Mahler, Symphony No. 4

Andriana Chuchman, soprano

July 6, 2023, 7:00 PM

Marcelo Lehninger conducting

Valentin Silvestrov, Hymne – 2001

Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35

Blake Pouliot, violin

Dvorak, Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

July 10, 2023, 7:00 PM

Ken Lam conducting

Cindy McTee: Circuits

Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 2

Conrad Tao, piano

Shostakovich, Symphony No. 9

July 12, 2023, 7:00 PM

The Calidore String Quartet

Program TBA

July 14, 2023, 7:00 PM

Joshua Weilerstein conducting

Gideon Klein, Partita for String Orchestra

Samuel Barber, Violin Concerto, Op. 14

Alexi Kenney, violin

Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major

July 16, 2023, 4:00 PM

Chamber Music by the Bay

Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Concert and reception

Program to be announced from the stage

July 18, 2023, 7:00 PM

Conner Gray Covington conducting

Anna Clyne, This Midnight Hour

Florence Price, Piano Concerto in One Movement

Michelle Cann, piano Mendelssohn, Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream

Ravel, Mother Goose (complete ballet)

For more information: www.bellinghamfestival.org


Nestled between snow-capped mountains and island-studded bay, the spectacular natural beauty of Bellingham, Washington provides the ideal backdrop for the celebration of classical music. Since 1993, the Bellingham Festival of Music has enlivened the summer season with outstanding live orchestral performances and chamber music recitals for Pacific Northwest audiences. The acclaimed festival orchestra is composed of some of the finest musicians in the United States and Canada, many of them principals in such illustrious orchestras as the New York Philharmonic and the Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta Symphonies. They are joined by eminent soloists who have included Garrick Ohlsson, Lynn Harrell, Arnaldo Cohen, Stefan Jackiw, Joshua Bell, Joshua Roman, Jeremy Denk, Jamie Barton, Marc-Andre Hamelin, and Pepe Romero. In addition, the festival boasts a resident chamber ensemble, currently the Calidore String Quartet, which presents recitals as well as participating in community educational and engagement activities.

Co-founder and noted American conductor Michael Palmer served as Artistic Director through the 2022 season, stepping down to become Conductor Laureate.

Of equal importance to its summer season are the Festival’s year-round outreach initiatives which extend the beauty of classical music to youngsters in the region. Among these programs are masterclasses, and both the Play it Forward Chamber Music Residency and Beethoven in the Schools project which bring music to K-12 classrooms. In 2014-15, BFM also helped kick start the return of the Fifth Grade Strings program in the public schools. It continues its support with the purchase and maintenance of string instruments that allows all students to participate.

The Festival’s artistic excellence has been recognized widely throughout the country, and its concerts and recordings have been broadcast nationally, first by NPR and by American Public Media on its Performance Today show. Among these recordings are the three-CD set of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos featuring Garrick Ohlsson with Michael Palmer conducting the Festival Orchestra. These performances were recorded live at the Festival on the Natural Soundfields label in 2000.

The recipient of grants from several entities, the Festival has received National Endowment for the Arts grants annually since 2009—a resounding endorsement of the quality of its performances and the contribution it makes to regional and national cultural life.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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