Arts and Entertainment

Upcoming festival offers classical music for the masses

Ensemble Electra — Vicki Boeckman, Jillon Stoppels Dupree and Tekla Cunningham — will perform Saturday, July 30 at St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods as part of the Whidbey Island Music Festival. - Photo courtesy of Tekla Cunningham
Ensemble Electra — Vicki Boeckman, Jillon Stoppels Dupree and Tekla Cunningham — will perform Saturday, July 30 at St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods as part of the Whidbey Island Music Festival.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Tekla Cunningham

Johann Sebastian Bach is the world’s seminal baroque composer.

But many admirers of Bach may be surprised to know that in 1705, the young Bach walked more than 300 miles to hear Dietrich Buxtehude play the organ in Lübeck in the north of Germany. Although barely known today, Buxtehude was one of the greatest of the baroque composers, not only for the organ, but also for the voice.

Celebrating its sixth season, the Whidbey Island Music Festival presents great performances by top musicians including a musical diary of Bach’s journey to Lübeck to visit Buxtehude. Concert goers can also hear Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti, enjoy a visit to Handel’s London with Ensemble Electra and a program of “Abendmusik” — music from Buxtehude’s own concert series.

The festival is divided into “Week One” (Program I and II) and “Week Two” (Program III and IV) and goes from Friday, July 29 through Sunday, Aug. 7.

It features performances by America’s leading period-instrument specialists including Vicki Boeckman, Tekla Cunningham, Greg Ewer (Oregon Symphony), Adam Lamotte (Portland Baroque), Meg Brennand (Onyx Trio), Byron Schenkman (Seattle Baroque Orchestra), Ingrid Matthews (Seattle Baroque Orchestra), Clara Rottsolk, Margriet Tindemans (Medieval Women’s Choir) and others.

Cunningham, who is one of the organizers of the festival each year, said there is something for everyone at the Whidbey festival.

“For the average music lover, this summer’s programs have singing by the luminous soprano Clara Rottsolk, and dancing — Bach’s gig in the ‘Brandenburg 6’ comes to mind,” Cunningham said.

She said there is also laughter in the Handel, and tears of joy and sorrow in the music of Buxtehude.

“There’s even a little bit of Christmas in July with Corelli’s ‘Christmas Concerto,’” she added.

“It’s the whole human experience!”

That experience is broken down into four parts, so music lovers can take in some or all of the music.

Program I will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 29 at St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods, Freeland and at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 31 at Greenbank Farm.

This program includes J.S. Bach Brandenburg Concerti 4 and 6 and Telemann “Recorder Suite in A Minor.” Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerti” are among his most beloved compositions.

The fourth Brandenburg concerto showcases the dazzling virtuosity of the solo violin and recorders, while the sixth Brandenburg leaves out violins entirely, with a rich timbre provided by the instrumentation of two violas, two violas da gamba and continuo. Telemann’s dazzling “Recorder Suite in A Minor” completes the program.

Program II will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 30 at St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods and includes Handel in Italy with Ensemble Electra.

Join this much-lauded ensemble, made up of three of the Northwest’s most beloved early music virtuosos, and be whisked off to 18th-century London, where visiting Italian virtuosi stole the scene to create a dynamic musical atmosphere.  Follow acclaimed harpsichordist Jillon Stoppels Dupree, violinist Tekla Cunningham and recorder player Vicki Boeckman as they explore the colorful repertoire that shone out from the fusion of 18th-century British and Italian cultures. Patrons will be immersed in a dazzling atmosphere and hear chamber music by Corelli, Handel, Barsanti and others played with the energy, passion and flair for which Ensemble Electra is known.

Program III will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5 at St. Augustine’s in-the-woods and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7 at Greenbank Farm. The program features Bach’s journey to Lübeck with music of Buxtehude.

Program IV is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6 at St. Augustine’s in-the-woods and features music for Buxtehude’s “Abendmusik,” one of the earliest non-liturgical concert series.

Week One artists include Cunningham, Adam Lamotte, baroque violin and viola;  Boeckman and David Ohanessian, recorders; Dupree, harpsichord; Margriet Tindemans and Lee Inman, viola da gamba; Meg Brennand, baroque cello; and Moriah Neils, bass. Week Two artists are Clara Rottsolk, soprano; Cunningham, baroque violin; Ingrid Matthews, baroque violin; Elisabeth Reed, viola da gamba; and Byron Schenkman, harpsichord.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $15 for students. Children are admitted free with a paying adult. Get tickets in advance at or call 800-838-3006.

Visit for more information.

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or



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