Evolution moves slowly at the Olympic Music Festival (OMF), the annual chamber-music event on a 55-acre former dairy farm near Quilcene.
But it’s under way.
Now in his fourth year as a major influence on guest-artist choices and programming for the 31-year-old festival, pianist Julio Elizalde, 29, continues to expand his duties as co-artistic director.
OMF’s founder and executive director, Alan Iglitzin, 82, is still in charge of the big picture, though he has, in recent years, methodically placed increasing responsibility on Elizalde to shape what audiences will hear. As with Iglitzin, a violist, Elizalde will also play in several programs.
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In his typically humble but enthusiastic manner, Elizalde says he essentially programmed nine of the 11 weekend offerings coming up at the pastoral site in Jefferson County this summer.
“We’ve been trying to refresh our approach to programs,” Elizalde says. “We’re getting away from more formal, slightly obvious programming and more into thematic connections between the pieces. We get an opportunity to see how different works relate to one another.”
As an example, Elizalde cites a program scheduled for Aug. 8-9 called “Influences and Inspirations,” featuring music at least partially sparked by styles outside the native experience of their composers.
Elizalde says one of the pieces, Ravel’s Sonata in G major for Violin and Piano, has a second movement “that is a straight pastiche of American blues, and it’s fantastic to hear a French composer imitate that sound world.”
For that performance, for which Elizalde will play, he invited violinist Tessa Lark to make her OMF debut.
“Besides being an extraordinary classical player, she’s also an extraordinary bluegrass player,” Elizalde says. “She has an unusual perspective on music, very free. I selected her because I know she’ll bring something very interesting to the Ravel.”
The 2014 OMF opening weekend (June 28-29) includes Mozart’s Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano, Rachmaninov’s Sonata in G minor for Cello and Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor. Elizalde and Iglitzin will play along with violinist Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu and cellist Dmitri Atapine.
Elizalde, who lives in San Francisco and regularly tours as a soloist and as a member of the New Trio (with violinist Andrew Wan and cellist Patrick Jee), says Iglitzin, a former member of the Philadelphia String Quartet, helps him temper any extreme experimental impulse when programming.
“Alan seems to be getting younger every time I see him,” he says. “He is resilient and an amazing partner. He’s very supportive, and the thing I really admire about him is that he considers the best interest of the audience at all times. He really wants people to have a good time.”
Though Elizalde’s job description does not include tackling the financial burden of keeping OMF going, he has strong opinions on the matter.
“It’s been interesting going from learning the inner workings of the festival to trying to get as many people involved and more attention to the festival,” he says. “Part of that is getting more involved with social media, making outreach a little more modern.
“Ticket sales, while helpful, are not enough. We heavily rely on our audience. We’re trying to get better and better artists every year.
Sometimes when I complete a performance, people come up to me and say they’ve been coming 10 or 15 years to the festival, and this was the best piece they’ve ever heard. That’s really gratifying to me.”
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org