The Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival is known for its consummate performers, electrifying interpretations of standard chamber repertoire, and for introducing audiences to some of the most compelling contemporary classical music.
Their 2016 Valentine Concert is no exception – artistic director Kevin Krentz has assembled a roster of musicians from recent festivals, along with dynamic new players and innovative programming.
The Valentine Concert features a string quartet – two violins, viola, and cello – plus marimba virtuoso and composer Mark Goodenberger, who plays a stunning five-octave marimba.
Compositions will include two original pieces by Goodenberger. Goodenberger wrote Schism for solo marimba when he was living hours away from his young daughters. The piece is Goodenberger’s musical rumination on the varied landscapes of the Northwest that he experienced on his weekly drives to see his family. He calls it “a haunting reflection on the loneliness of separation.”
There will also be pairings of marimba and strings. Goodenberger and violinist Grace Park team up in Goodenberger’s Phantom Train, which depicts a runaway train and the rhythms and whistles that accompany it.
The full ensemble takes the stage in a composition for marimba and string quartet by Andy Akiho that exploits the acoustic possibilities of all the instruments.
As always, the concert features masterworks of the chamber music repertoire, including Franz Schubert’s powerful and moving “Death and the Maiden” quartet and the lyrical “Romance” from Sergei Rachmaninov’s unfinished first quartet.
Park and Goodenberger are joined by violist Amber Archibald, who performed in the summer festival several years ago, and by Kevin Krentz, who will play cello with his characteristic passion. Award-winning Serbian violinist Ervin Luka Sešek makes his debut appearance at the Festival.
These musicians are known for their well-rounded approach to music. Archibald has built on her interest in her Dominican Republic and Panamanian heritage by researching and performing music by African-American, Afro-Latino and Spanish composers. Sešek inspired hundreds of musicians to play on the streets of Belgrade last year to raise money for those affected by devastating flooding there.
Park has premiered compositions by several contemporary composers – including Akiho – and has brought her music to concert halls around the world as well as to inner-city schools. Goodenberger, on the faculty at Central Washington University, specializes in everything from baroque to contemporary music. His compositions often combine theater, dance, and vaudeville with percussion.
In addition to directing the Methow festival and collaborating with classical and jazz musicians, Krentz is an inventor of devices that enhance the tone of string instruments.
In a tradition that began at the Music Festival’s Valentine Concert last February, audience members will have an opportunity to contribute their own creativity to the evening by writing original limericks and haikus inspired by the music. A selection of the poems will be read on-stage, and they will doubtless be as clever and witty as last year’s poetic offerings.
Concert organizers remind music lovers to get tickets early, as last year’s Valentine’s Day concert sold out two weeks in advance.
DATE: Saturday, February 13, 7pm. LOCATION: The Merc Playhouse, Twisp TICKETS: methowmusicfestival.org