The 19th annual music fest’s 17-day run Aug. 4-20 on Orcas and Lopez islands starts with the crossover trio Time for Three and ends with Miró Quartet playing a program of pieces chosen by audience members.
Judging from the first-time experiments that bookend the 19th annual Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, this year’s 17-day run will be like no other in its history. The chamber festival, which runs Aug. 4-20 on Orcas and Lopez islands, starts off on an unconventional foot when the genre-defying Time for Three trio (Aug. 4-6) presents a program so undefinable that it has yet to be announced.
“It’s not often I do something like this,” festival founding artistic director and violinist Aloysia Friedmann said of the opening program. “I wanted opening weekend to be filled with a certain pizazz, and Time for Three has been on my radar for a long time. They are brilliant players who have created their own style, which is sort of crossover classical with a modern twist. They have energy, relate well to audiences, work from memory and are really exceptional.”
During the final program, “Quartet à la Carte” (Aug. 19-20), festival favorite Miró Quartet will invite audience members to choose what they want to hear at concert’s close from an enticing list of movements from larger chamber works.
Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival
Aug. 4-20, 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays; first concert in the Lopez Center, 204 Village Road, Lopez Island; all other concerts in the Orcas Center, 917 Mount Baker Road, Eastsound; $10-$39 (360-376-2281 or oicmf.org).
Between those surprise bookends, Friedmann and her pianist husband, artistic adviser Jon Kimura Parker, have programmed a host of firsts. Among them is the Northwest premiere of Minnesota-based composer Abbie Betinis’ “Rhapsodos” for clarinet and piano (Aug. 16-17). A joint commission by the Seattle Commissioning Club and Minnesota Commissioning Club, the premiere will showcase the clarinetist for whom it was written, famed Brit Michael Collins.
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Collins’ visit represents the first time the festival has brought in an artist from outside the United States. His presence has also made possible the inclusion of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581 on the same concert. Collins also joins Parker for Poulenc’s Sonata for clarinet and piano (August 19-20), and horn player Julie Landsman and others for the rarely programmed Dohnányi Sextet in C Major for piano, violin, viola, cello, clarinet and horn (Aug. 12-13).
For her part, Landsman, the former Principal Horn of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, also performs Kogan’s Kaddish for solo horn and T’fila for horn and piano on the same concert, and Brahms’ Horn Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 40 (Aug. 16-17).
Pianist/violinist Ayke Agus, who worked with famed violinist Jascha Heifetz as violin student and piano accompanist in his studio, joins violinist Chee-Yun and Parker for “An Evening with Heifetz” (Aug. 15-16).
“I met Agus last fall in Houston,” Friedmann said. “She became very close to Heifetz, and helped him write out many of the transcriptions that he published in the last 15 years of his life. She has since written a beautiful book, ‘Heifetz as I Knew Him.’ Amid showing excerpts of the wonderful documentary film, ‘God’s Fiddler,’ we’ll hear a lot of transcriptions.”
To tie in Agus’ appearance with the rest of the festival, Friedmann has included a Heifetz arrangement on each concert. The prospect of hearing Heifetz’s arrangement of Prokofiev’s March from “Love for Three Oranges” (Aug. 9-10) — alongside three emotionally charged works by Menotti, Shostakovich and Smetana — provides reasons aplenty to contemplate a trip to Orcas.