Anyone who thinks they can keep up with the dynamo classical pianist of Crawford House and Island Consort better hang on for a wild ride.
Sheila Weidendorf lives in a vortex of energy and creativity that you don’t dare interrupt – you just let it unfold into the night.
Way into the night, as a matter of fact.
Guests staying over at the Crawford House Bed and Breakfast section of this eclectic music consortium in Langley often find themselves getting “unscheduled” private piano concerts from Weidendorf as she practices in the performance salon nearby. Music of the masters — Brahms, Schumann, Bach — comes sashaying down the hallways and into every corner and cubbyhole of the twisting chambers filled with visiting musicians and lucky unsuspecting bed-and-breakfast guests.
Each guest room bears the name of a famous composer, with a bent toward German masters due to the musical proclivities of Robert E Crawford, benefactor and founder of the REC Music Foundation that supports Crawford House and funds music projects around the world.
Crawford now lives in Germany, and Sheila Weidendorf runs Crawford House as a literal “house of music.”
She also serves as director of Island Consort, an umbrella program of the Whidbey Island Arts Council. The consort comprises more than 30 instrumentalists and vocalists, all Whidbey residents who together perform works of the Renaissance, Baroque and early Classical eras.
But Sheila is quick to point out that not every performance incorporates all of the musicians at one time. They do three to four large concerts per year, but dozens more events can be any combination of singers, instrumentalists, small ensembles, trios, quartets or quintets from within the consort. Dr. Diane Vars serves as the vocal conductor and manages the choral division that performs across Whidbey Island and in the “world at large.”
The recent hit at Crawford House has been an intimate Summer Salon Series of concerts taking place in a living-room environment with capacity for up to 45 music lovers at a time, plus more if the weather’s nice enough to fling open the patio doors. Two final events of the Summer Salon Series features the first-ever duo performances by two directors, pianist Weidendorf of Island Consort and violinist Tekla Cunningham of the Whidbey Island Music Festival.
The two gifted musicians will be performing works by Clara and Robert Schumann, Louise Farrenc and Johannes Brahms on Aug. 25 at Noorlag Salon in Oak Harbor and again on Sept. 8 at Crawford House in Langley. Seated is limited for these house-style Salon Series shows, so confirm your plan to attend by an RSVP to 360-320-2362 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s a suggested donation of $20 at the door, but everyone is welcome, regardless of ability to pay.
If you miss out on the Summer Salon Series, no worries; Crawford House is a Pandora’s Box of surprises throughout the year. At any given time, Whidbey Islanders may find themselves at poetry readings, enjoying live sitar players, or being mesmerized by improvisational and collaborative events with the likes of international artist and Whidbey Island resident Andre Ferrante.
As Sheila points out, multi-faceted music and art are such a natural part of life on Whidbey Island.
“If something is happening, you can join in. And if not, you can create it.”