PORT TOWNSEND — The Olympic Music Festival presents its new Virtual Salon Concerts for 2020 — a series of free video performances and music appreciation talks beginning today and running through Sept. 6.
Concerts are at 5 p.m. Sundays. Talks are at 7 p.m. Wednesdays. Both can be found on the festival website at www.olympic musicfestival.org. All talks and concerts will remain publicly available online from today through the end of September.
The series is curated by Julio Elizalde, Olympic Music Festival (OMF) artistic director and pianist. Stella Chen, violinist and winner of the 2019 Queen Elisabeth Competition, and cellist Matthew Zalkind join Elizalde in filming performances and discussions.
“The virtual season honors the medical workers of greater Puget Sound and around the world who are putting themselves at risk to help those suffering from COVID-19,” OMF said in a press release.
The Virtual Salon Concerts celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday, with a selection of sonatas, trios, and related works from other composers.
“Although we can’t be together to celebrate the monumental impact that Beethoven’s music has left on history, I felt it especially important to feature his music this summer,” Elizalde said.
“In my opinion, it is his spirit of struggle and courage in the face of adversity that resonates so deeply within us.”
Besides new recordings, the 2020 series includes “2019: Rewind” concerts, featuring popular 2019 performance videos and introduced by Elizalde.
“Behind the Notes,” a series of talks on the inner workings of music and performance, launches Wednesday evening. Each talk is a prelude to the following Sunday’s program.
Viewers are encouraged to submit questions ahead of time for the artists through the website.
In addition to winning the 2019 Queen Elisabeth Competition, also was the first recipient of the Robert Levin Award from Harvard University, top-prize winner of the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition, and youngest ever prizewinner of the Menuhin Competition.
An American violinist, Chen soloed at such venues such as the Kennedy Center and Metropolitan Museum of Art and on Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series.
She plays the “Huggins” 1708 Stradivarius violin, which is on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.
Elizalde is the youngest artistic director of a major U.S. arts organization. He has performed in many of the major music centers throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Elizalde has toured internationally with world-renowned violinists Sarah Chang and Ray Chen and has performed alongside conductors Itzhak Perlman, Teddy Abrams, and Anne Manson.
Zalkind has been a soloist with such organizations as the Moscow Chamber Players, Utah Symphony, Albany Symphony and Juilliard Symphony Orchestra and has played in halls worldwide from the Kennedy Center to Beijing.
He is a regular at numerous chamber music festivals, including Marlboro and “Musicians from Marlboro Tours” and the OMF. As a former member of the Harlem String Quartet, Mr. Zalkind has also toured to Japan, England, Ethiopia, and every region of the United States with jazz musicians Chick Corea, Gary Burton, and Stanley Clarke. He has garnered top prizes in national as well as international competitions.
He plays a rare Italian cello made in 1760 by Florentine Maker Luigi Piatellini, with a bow by John Dodd, c. 1800.
No OMF season would feel complete without an appearance from Musicians from GardenMusic, a group that remains wildly popular with OMF audiences, OMF said in its press release.
Led by Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams, GardenMusic is a group of classically trained, boundary-breaking musicians who use their creative and improvisational talents to craft programs spanning musical genres — from opera to jazz and bluegrass to klezmer.
Each artist will perform and record solo from home, and the whole will become a special OMF and GardenMusic premiere.
“At this moment, keeping the music alive is something we can do to support our community, as well as the artists who have made our festival so special,” said Emilie Baker, OMF managing director.
This July, the Olympic Music Festival reached its goal of raising $50,000, which enables it to set the 2020 Virtual Salon in motion. The projected loss of ticket sales is $110,000, so additional donations are welcome,. Baker said.
“Only successful fundraising through the rest of 2020 can begin to build the stability and predictability the festival needs to hold concerts, whether online or in person,” she said in the press release.