Music

Marrowstone Music Festival

Hello mother, hello father

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

As a kid, I spent some time at summer camp. I’m proud to say I learned some things while I was there. One summer, I learned to sail a tiny, two-person sailboat. So, if you ever find yourself with a smooth lake, a small boat and a stiff breeze, but sans captain, I’m your girl. Another summer, I learned to make colorful friendship bracelets from skeins of embroidery floss. From that experiment, I reached the conclusion that it was preferable to never form friendships that reached the level of requiring tributes in the form of time-consuming crafts and have not made a bracelet since.

In short, camp was fun and the experience was valuable, but it did not exactly impart me with a surfeit of life skills.

For the 200 or so middle, high school and college kids who will descend upon Western Washington University from July 23-Aug. 6 to attend Marrowstone Music Festival, summer camp will be a slightly different endeavor.

While the campers may choose to spend their downtime weaving each other friendship bracelets, the bulk of their days will be devoted to the kind of intensive study required to have a future as a classical musician.

Its moniker may suggest that it is a one-off event like every other music festival, but don’t let the name fool you: Marrowstone is two weeks of concentrated, top-tier music study with faculty carefully culled from some of the finest orchestras, colleges and music programs in the world, and serious students who show up ready to study, work hard—and perform for the public.

No point in doing all that learning if you never get to show it off. This is a music festival, after all.

More than just summer camp for classical music kids, Marrowstone is a mutually beneficial relationship for all involved. Faculty has the opportunity to pass on their hard-won knowledge. Students receive rigorous orchestral instruction, both general and specific to their chosen instruments and interests, and get the chance to play in two large symphony orchestras and the chamber orchestra. Last, but certainly not least, the music-loving public gets to witness the fruits of this considerable labor at concerts during the two weeks of the program.

All of the concerts, save for the final performance of the Marrowstone Festival orchestras on Aug. 6 at Mount Baker Theatre, take place at various venues at Western Washington University, mostly at the Performing Arts Center, in and of itself reason enough to attend a show or two. And the performance schedule ramps up just a few days into Marrowstone, when the faculty shows off their expansive skill set at a Thurs, July 27 concert that will see them playing their way through a program of Franz Schubert, Johann Quantz, and Igor Stravinsky. From there, the chamber orchestra and chorus takes on Mendelssohn, Mozart, and more on Sat., July 29, the festival orchestras interpret Verdi, Debussy, and others Sun., July 30, and the newly founded Seattle Opera Academy will pair with Marrowstone to close out the month with another July 30 concert dubbed “An Evening of Opera Scenes,” this time at WWU’s Old Main Theatre.

The faculty gets another opportunity to take the stage on Thurs., Aug. 3, and will offer a chamber music program of Ravel and Mozart, among others, and then the Seattle Opera Academy will be on hand again to present Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land in its entirety Aug. 4 and again Aug. 5. After that, this year’s incarnation of Marrowstone reaches its conclusion with the aforementioned Aug. 6 performance at the Mount Baker Theatre.

To be clear: The education students at Marrowstone receive is nothing like that time I went to summer camp to learn to ride a horse by sitting atop a pony while it plodded down a well-worn trail in a line of 20 other similarly slow-moving equines. These are exceptional students receiving elite instruction from world-class musical mentors. Aspiring two-person sailboat captains and would-be friendship-bracelet artisans need not apply.

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