Expanded Music on the Strait festival starts this weekend

One day a pair of longtime friends — internationally known musicians from Port Angeles and Sequim — dreamed up a Labor Day weekend festival.

They said: What if we brought together the best performers we know, intimate chamber music we love, and presented concerts in an acoustically pristine performance space?

James Garlick and Richard O’Neill realized their dream in August 2018. The inaugural Music on the Strait festival in Port Angeles sold out all of its performances.

This year the event is expanded to two weekends (Aug. 23-24, Aug. 30-31).

“We were completely amazed at the community’s response last year,” said Garlick, who like O’Neill wanted to create a world-class music festival in his home town.

He added that thanks to the people who turned out for the first one — and those who’ve already bought tickets this year — Music on the Strait will be an ongoing summer tradition.

Tickets are still available for the performances for the second weekend.

Visiting musicians for the second set of concerts include New York City-based violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Orion Weiss, Icelandic cellist Saeunn Thorsteindottir, St. Paul, Minn., and Korean-Canadian clarinetist Yoonah Kim. Also featured is double-bassist Steve Schermer, who performs with Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra and is returning to his hometown of Port Angeles for the festival.

Garlick and O’Neill, the festival’s co-artistic directors, will also play, and Seattle music scholar and speaker Lisa Bergman will do short pre-concert discussions about the music in each program.

Bergman offered these talks last year, and “people loved her,” Garlick said; “Lisa is just a dynamic speaker.”

O’Neill, for his part, finds this festival energizing on a few levels. The repertoire and the guest artists are first rate, he said, as is the feeling here.

Port Angeles is “one of the most special places on the planet,” he said. The main reasons: “its natural beauty and warm people.”

Second weekend offerings

Music on the Strait’s last Maier Hall event is at 7 p.m. Aug. 30, at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd. Musicians present three 20th century works: the Quartet for the End of Time, which Olivier Messiaen composed in a German prisoner of war camp in 1940; Steve Reich’s “Different Trains” quartet and Elliott Carter’s Elegy for Viola and Piano.

Tickets to the Maier Hall performances are $35, or $5 for students. Sponsorships are also available for the nonprofit festival; information is on the website. The site for advance purchase is www.musiconthestrait.com.

Then comes the festival finale. The Community Concert, a showcase of all of the performers, is set for 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at a larger venue. As with the other concerts, tickets are available at www.musiconthestrait.com — except this event is pay-what-you-can. With seating for 350, the concert hall is Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 Lopez Ave.

Also at each of the concerts, commemorative festival posters created by Tom Eykemans, a Seattle artist originally from Port Angeles, will be on sale for $20.

Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.

Violinist Stefan Jackiw is a guest artist appearing this weekend in Music on the Strait, the newly expanded festival at Peninsula College.

Violinist Stefan Jackiw is a guest artist appearing this weekend in Music on the Strait, the newly expanded festival at Peninsula College.