PORT ANGELES — Less than a month from now, James Garlick and Richard O’Neill’s shared hope will at last be reality.
Music on the Strait, the festival the two friends created three years ago, is slated to return to the place where it started: Maier Performance Hall at Peninsula College.
Six concerts over two August weekends will bring internationally known performers together in Port Angeles Aug. 13-22, with concerts in the intimate concert hall.
Tickets are now on sale at musiconthestrait.com.
The lineup includes:
• Aug. 13: Opening night will bring O’Neill, the Sequim-born violist who won a Grammy earlier this year, with the Takács Quartet, considered by chamber music scholars to be one of the finest string quartets in the world. The evening will feature music of Ravel, Haydn and Robert Schumann’s “Death and the Maiden.”
• Aug. 14: Pianist Jeremy Denk, who appeared in the inaugural Music on the Strait festival, will join the Takács Quartet for Schumann’s Piano Quintet; O’Neill and violinist Garlick will also offer music to be announced.
• Aug. 15, 22: Music on the Strait co-presents two pay-what-you-can matinees with the Concerts in the Barn series, on the farm at 7360 Center Road in Quilcene. Information and tickets, which must be reserved in advance, can be found at concertsinthebarn.org.
• Aug. 20: Pianist Denk will return Aug. 20 to play Beethoven’s last piano sonata, his String Trio in G, in a this performance marking the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. O’Neill, Garlick and cellist Ani Aznavoorian of California’s Pacifica Camerata will join Denk.
• Aug. 21: “Barn-Burning Brahms” will be the Maier Hall finale, starring Denk, Aznavoorian, O’Neill and Garlick.
“We are beyond thrilled to return to live music-making in Port Angeles,” said Garlick, who’s had to repeatedly adjust festival plans in recent months.
Born and raised in Clallam County, he has performed with orchestras in South Africa, Cuba, Europe and the Americas. Garlick and O’Neill, who rode the MV Coho ferry to Victoria together for music lessons when they were youngsters, founded Music on the Strait in 2018.
“This has been a challenging year for all of us; that’s an understatement. To actually come into a communal space together, to hear the sound of applause again, is going to be a very powerful experience,” Garlick said.
He added that safety protocols including masking will be followed at Maier Hall, and since the venue has just 130 seats, Garlick expects tickets to go quickly.
He and O’Neill have decided, like many presenters, to open these performances only to patrons who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We want people to be confident about coming back to an indoor space,” Garlick said.
“Peninsula College will require through August that all personnel indoors have masks on,” he noted.
The college has said MOTS can fill Maier Hall to capacity — but he and O’Neill may yet decide to stay cautious and keep the numbers below 100 percent.
For those who cannot attend in person — such as families with small children — the four Maier Hall concerts will be live-streamed, Garlick added.
As for the Concerts in the Barn, patrons can choose lawn seating if they feel more comfortable outdoors. The live music in those matinee performances is piped out into the open air from amplifiers that encircle the barn.
Supporters of Music on the Strait who contribute $250 or more have access to tickets at a 25 percent discount; they receive the 2021 festival poster created by Seattle artist Alfredo Arreguin too.
Garlick and O’Neill are also seeking name sponsors for the festival artists.
“I look forward, most of all, to being reunited with our most wonderful community after this long period of physical separation,” O’Neill told the Peninsula Daily News.
“There is no substitute for being together in person, sharing music.”
With the Takács Quartet, which O’Neill joined last year, he’s back from a European tour that included live concerts. It was a singular thrill, he said, to play the music of Brahms in Vienna’s fabled Brahms Saal.
He’s also utterly delighted to introduce his first musical community to the Takács Quartet, which is making its first trip to this part of the world.
“Of the darkness of the past year, I am deeply grateful for all of these positive things,” O’Neill said.
Garlick added he appreciates the chance to present live music in cooperation with other local organizations, including Concerts in the Barn and the Port Angeles Symphony, which has lent its support to MOTS since it began.
He’s thankful also for Arreguin’s new MOTS 2021 poster. The artist is known around the globe for his mosaic-like style; in Port Angeles, he’s also known for his portrait of Raymond Carver, which hangs in the Carver Room at the Port Angeles Library.
“Our hope is that this festival will mark a new chapter for art and music in our community,” Garlick said.
This collaborative spirit among artists and nonprofit groups, he added, has meant the world to him.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]