For The Review, Tidings
After its sold out 2017 season, the Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival (WVCMF) has announced a major expansion of world class musical experiences in Oregon wine country settings.
This year the festival features world-renowned Joan Tower as composer-in-residence, and will highlight several of her works alongside masterpieces by Schubert, Haydn, Beethoven, Fanny Mendelssohn and acclaimed Oregon composer Kenji Bunch.
"My husband, cellist Leo Eguchi, and I started the festival three years ago to combine great music and wine in intimate, unusual winery settings," said violinist Sasha Callahan.
"The first two seasons were a hit, quickly selling out. This summer, we've expanded to six concerts over three weekends in August. It's a really exciting lineup.
"In an incredible coup, the iconic Joan Towers is our 2018 composer-in-residence. Joan is one of — if not the most —celebrated American composers and has won just about every major award and been commissioned by the world's greatest quartets and orchestras, yet her work remains accessible and meaningful to any and all because it's so vivid, organic and gutsy," Sallahan said.
"She'll be at both concerts on opening weekend talking about what inspires her music."
Bringing world class chamber music to intimate, one-of-a-kind winery spaces, the festival combines the rich worlds of wine and music, creating a unique concert experience that enhances the beauty and craft of both.
In 2018, the festival is expanding its partnership with J. Christopher Wines, kicking off the season with a weekend of performances including music and conversation with Joan Tower.
The season also includes performances and wine pairings at other signature Oregon wineries, including Elk Cove Vineyards and Sokol Blosser Winery.
"Music like wine comes to life in unique ways when enjoyed live, in the company of others," said Leo Eguchi, cellist and festival co-founder.
"Yet it's not often that audiences are given an opportunity to savor them together. That special sense of community inspired this festival and we're excited to bring world-class music and performances to Oregon wine country again this summer."
The festival features performances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for three weekends beginning Saturday, Aug. 11, and closing Sunday, Aug. 26.
The festival kicks off with performances at J. Christopher Wines' barrel room Aug. 11 and 12.
Surrounded by J. Christopher's maturing vintages, concerts will feature the music of Hayden, Tower and Beethoven. Tower will join both performances for a special conversation about her work and inspiration.
The second weekend, Aug. 18 and 19, will feature WVCMF violist and composer Kenji Bunch's "String Circle," an imaginative and playful exploration of America's diverse musical traditions. The program will include the vibrant "Sonata for Two Violins" by Prokofiev, along with the powerful and sumptuous string quartet of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, a musical pioneer only now starting to get her due. The concerts take place at J. Christopher Wines.
The festival closes with two performances featuring works by Rebecca Clarke, Phillip Glass and the much beloved Schubert Cello Quintet.
The Saturday, Aug. 25, concert takes place at Sokol Blosser Winery, in its tasting room. The festival closes Sunday, Aug. 26 with the concert overlooking the hilltop vistas at Elk Cove Vineyards.
"Oregon is a special place, one that sparks incredible creativity and craft in countless forms," said Callahan.
"At every festival concert you feel a special energy and vitality as winemakers, musicians, composers and audience come together to savor music and wine in beautiful and intimate settings.
"Each concert is designed to be fun and intimate. We pair great wines from each winery with the programs and are a special experience."
Tickets and more details are available online wvchambermusic.org.
Tickets are $45 general admission and $30 for members of each hosting winery's wine club, and include a tasting of three wines paired with each program.
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