Get in tune with music

Tekla Cunningham rehearses for the Whidbey Island Music Festival at the Greenbank Farm. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Tekla Cunningham rehearses for the Whidbey Island Music Festival at the Greenbank Farm.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

The instruments have been tuned, the diminuendos have been discussed and the talent has arrived on Whidbey. The annual Whidbey Island Music Festival is upon us.

This year’s festival celebrates string quartets by Mozart and Haydn, Boccherini and the 325th birthday of J.S. Bach.

The event was founded by Seattle resident Tekla Cunningham. Growing up, Cunningham spent many summers with her aunt on Whidbey Island. She completed her master’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and now teaches Suzuki violin in German and English at the Music Center of the Northwest.

In 2006, she started the music festival on Whidbey, simply because there wasn’t one on the island already.

The music is performed at Greenbank Farm and St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods Episcopal Church in Freeland by musicians mainly from the West Coast. In total, 12 artists will be participating. Their instruments include classic violins, violas and a violoncello along with a variety of baroque instruments like a baroque flute and bass.

All of the instruments are historical period instruments, meaning they closely resemble those used in the 18th Century. Also, according to Cunningham, Michael Partington, an award-winning artist from Britain, plays an original classical guitar with beautiful detailing during the show.

“People should expect to have a good time,” Cunningham said. She suggests exploring Greenbank and grabbing a pastry from the Whidbey Pies shop before enjoying festival music.

Californian violist Anthony Martin said it’s a unique experience because the show venues are so intimate.

Martin has retired from actively pursuing a musical career, but still occasionally teaches students at Stanford University and plays with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in the San Francisco Bay area and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century in Europe.

Violinist Cynthia Freivogel is also visiting from California. She received a bachelor’s degree in musicology from Yale University and thinks the music festival is a perfect blend of art and ambiance.

“Going to a concert in a barn is kind of a quintessential summer experience,” she said.

And the artists jokingly, but purposefully added, there will be comfortable chairs to sit in during the shows, no hay bale seating.

Performances started yesterday and will continue on weekend days through Sunday, Aug. 8. Tickets are available online at General admission is $20, senior admission is $18 and student tickets are $15. Children can get in for free with a paying adult. Tickets can also be purchased at the door on performance days.

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