May 2017 Newsletter


May 6th Dinner & Auction A Big Success

Dressed to the Nines, nearly 200 guests gathered at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel on May 6th for the Festival’s major fundraiser of the year, Puttin’ On The Ritz. The beautiful works of art donated by local artists and the eclectic range of over 130 auction offerings, including an Italian farmhouse getaway, a Paella dinner for 30 guests and an evening of Composers and Cocktails at a lovely bayside home highlighted the vibrancy of the evening. With the generous support of sponsors, item donors, attendees and volunteers, this year’s spirited bidding raised $100,000 for the Festival’s season and community outreach programs. As an all-volunteer organization, we are very proud that one hundred percent of these funds are spent on Festival programming enjoyed in our beautiful community. Thank you to everyone who helped make this entertaining evening a huge success.

Karen Berry, Chair

Puttin' on the Ritz logo
Puttin' on the Ritz logo


Corporate sponsors: Alpha Technologies, Dawson and Imco
Wine sponsors: Elaine Small, Dunham Cellars
Decoration sponsors: Marti Caputi, Judy Woods

Puttin’ On The Ritz

2017 Auction guest, photo: Edye-Colello-Morton
2017 Auction guest, photo: Edye-Colello-Morton
2017 Auction guest, photo: Edye-Colello-Morton

Photography by Edye-Colello-Morton
Click here to view auction photos.

“Aurum Tetra” Makes World Premier at July Festival

Dr. Benjamin Dean Taylor

Embracing the idea of new music written by current, young composers, the Festival will proudly present the commissioned work of composer Dr. Benjamin Dean Taylor during the opening night of the July Festival Season. Written for the rare combination of string quartet and orchestra, the world premiere of Aurum Tetra, featuring the Calidore String Quartet and the Bellingham Festival Orchestra, will be performed on July 1, 2017 at the Performing Arts Center, Western Washington University.

Dr. Taylor is a graduate of Indiana University where he completed his doctorate in music composition. He also received degrees in music from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and Brigham Young University in Utah. Having written and published over 100 works, his music is performed frequently across the United States and abroad. Dr. Taylor lives with his wife and four sons in Bloomington, Indiana.

For this interview, Audrey Kelley, the Festival’s Coordinator and Production Manager caught up with Mr. Taylor via telephone in his home in Bloomington, Indiana.


“First we have the ‘Bellingham’ chord, then that gets cut short,” composer Benjamin Dean Taylor described to me last month over the phone when I called to learn more about his commissioned work for the Bellingham Festival of Music 2017 season. He continued on, “then suddenly, there’s the ‘Palmer’ chord…”

If you’re suddenly dying to know what “Bellingham chords” and “Palmer chords” are and what they sound like, then you know how I felt at that moment in our interview.

Taylor made his Bellingham Festival of Music debut during the 2015 season when Maestro Michael Palmer programmed his orchestral work Worlds Without End. Last season, the composer attended Calidore String Quartet rehearsals and their performance with the Festival orchestra of Suite Latina by Juan Ramírez Hernández. During that time he talked with the quartet about their hopes for this new commission for the 2017 season. “In general they were very open to what I wanted to write,” he said. “They did ask that it be something that hopefully could have a long life, which of course is something [as a composer] you always want to hear.”

The commission, titled Aurum Tetra, will have its world premiere July 1, 2017. Comprised of three movements, the work opens with what the composer describes as the musical equivalent of “a grand aerial view of Bellingham.” Taylor uses lush orchestration and the full forces of the orchestra for the opening. Rich, open quartal and quintal harmonies (the interval of a fourth alludes to the four players of the string quartet) are layered with grooving, rhythmic melodies with moments highlighting the trumpet with the quartet (the composer’s primary instrument is trumpet). “It’s the musical equivalent of a fly-over of Bellingham,” he told me. To view the entire Benjamin Dean Taylor interview, select Taylor.

Festival Guest Artists

Zuill Bailey, Cello
performing July 16, 2017
Haydn: Concerto in C Major

Zuill Bailey, CelloAwarded the 2017 GRAMMY for best classical instrumental solo, Zuill Bailey is a distinguished soloist, recitalist, artistic director and teacher. His rare combination of celebrated artistry, technical wizardry and engaging personality has secured his place as one of the most sought after and active cellists today. A consummate concerto soloist, Mr. Bailey has been featured with symphony orchestras worldwide, including Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, Indianapolis, Dallas, Louisville, Honolulu, Milwaukee, Nashville, Toronto, Colorado, Minnesota, Utah, Israel, Cape Town, and the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, Austria. He has collaborated with such conductors as Itzhak Perlman, Alan Gilbert, Andrew Litton, James DePriest, Jun Markl, Carlos Kalmar, Andrey Boreyko, Krzysztof Urbanski, Jacques Lacombe, Grant Llewellyn and Stanislav Skrowaczewski. He also has been featured with musical luminaries Leon Fleisher, Jaime Laredo, the Juilliard String Quartet, Lynn Harrell and Janos Starker.

Mr. Bailey has appeared at Disney Hall, the Kennedy Center, the United Nations, Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd St. Y and Carnegie Hall, where he made his concerto debut performing the U.S. premiere of Miklos Theodorakis’ “Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra.” In addition, he made his New York recital debut in a sold out performance of the complete Beethoven Cello Sonatas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bailey also presented the U.S. premiere of the Nico Muhly Cello Concerto with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. World premieres include works by composers such as Lowell Lieberman, Phillip Lasser, Roberto Sierra, Benjamin Wallfisch and Michael Daugherty. To view Zuill Bailey’s full biography select Bailey.

Robert McDuffie, Violin
performing July 21, 2017
Bernstein: Serenade

Robert McDuffie, ViolinGRAMMY-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie enjoys a dynamic and multi-faceted career. While appearing as soloist with the world’s foremost orchestras, he can also be found sharing the stage with Gregg Allman and Chuck Leavell in “Midnight Rider,” with actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith in Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” or playing Bach for Memphis Jook dancer Li’l Buck. Philip Glass dedicated his Second Violin Concerto, “The American Four Seasons,” to Mr. McDuffie. Mike Mills of the iconic band R.E.M. is currently composing a concerto for violin and rock band for him. Robert McDuffie is the founder of both the Rome Chamber Music Festival in Italy and the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in his native city of Macon, Georgia.

Robert McDuffie has appeared as soloist with most of the major orchestras of the world, including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics; the Chicago, San Francisco, National, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, Montreal, and Toronto Symphonies; the Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Minnesota Orchestras; the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the North German Radio Orchestra, the Düsseldorf Symphony, the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Hamburg Symphony, Bruckner Orchestra Linz, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome, Venice Baroque Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Mexico, Orquesta Sinfónica de Mineria; and all of the major orchestras of Australia. To view Robert McDuffie’s full biography select McDuffie.

Tim Fain, violin


On July 13th violinist Tim Fain will perform the Dvorak Violin Concerto in A minor, postponing the new work for guitar by Lorenzo Palomo due to cancellation of Guitarist Pablo Villegas.

Festival’s National Endowment for the Arts Grants At Risk

As many of you know, the Bellingham Festival of Music was honored again this year with a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This funding, the most recent in an annual series of grants since 2009, helps support the programming and community engagement activities of the Festival. Now benefiting from over $68,000 in grants since NEA first recognized the Festival for its program excellence and importance to the Pacific Northwest community, we share the concerns of the greater art community regarding the federal budget proposal to eliminate the NEA and other important arts and humanities programs.

For over 50 years, the NEA has expanded access to the arts, providing strategic leadership and investment in the arts through its core programs for dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, multidisciplinary arts, music, theater, visual arts, and others. Thanks to the NEA, arts activity has grown in areas of the nation that were previously underserved, or not served at all.

While the NEA’s $148 million budget represents about one one-hundredth of one percent of federal discretionary spending, its importance to the arts is felt across the country. The arts are a positive investment, creating jobs, strengthening education and enriching our sense of community. To learn more about how to support NEA funding select Americans for the Arts.

Meet The Board: Dr. Peter Coggan

Despite becoming a full-time resident of Bellingham only recently, Peter Coggan has had a long-time association with our wonderful town. His frequent visits began when his daughter was a student at Western Washington University in the 1990s. She and her husband (also a Western grad.) decided to settle in Bellingham and, with the arrival of grandchildren, Bellingham became the obvious choice for retirement. An added incentive was Peter’s love of sailing. He has cruised the San Juan Islands on many occasions and, now that his sailboat is in our marina, he and his partner, Maureen, expect to spend more time enjoying the beauty of the islands.

His recent retirement from the position of Chief Academic Officer in the Trinity Health System based in Michigan was brief. After only a few days of retired bliss he began part-time work with the Accreditation Commission for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). This organization accredits residency and fellowship programs following medical school. His program reviews have him traveling throughout the US.

His love of classical music stems from his mother who was a pianist and amateur soprano. He freely admits that he has no talent to play a musical instrument but he enjoys music of almost all types and, since discovering the Bellingham Festival of Music several years ago, he has become an enthusiastic supporter.

For up-to-date info about the Festival visit our website
Bellingham Bay Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Crooks Photography