Festival Receives Fifth NEA Grant Since 2009

$10,000 Art Works Award Supports Summer Concert Programming


For immediate release:

Bellingham, WA, December 8, 2015–The Bellingham Festival of Music is among 146 organizations chosen to receive a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts grant for artistic excellence in music presentation.  Announced today, the $10,000 award will go to support the festival’s 2016 summer concert season, July 1-17.  The BFM has been producing nationally recognized annual festivals of orchestral music under the artistic direction of esteemed conductor Michael Palmer for 22 years.  Administered by a working board of unpaid volunteers and performed by first-tier musicians from orchestras around the country, the Festival is funded through grants, generous donations from the community, and robust ticket sales. This is the fifth such NEA grant honoring the Festival’s artistic excellence since first applying in 2009.

Currently celebrating its 50th year, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion in grants to recipients in every state and US jurisdiction. In making today’s announcement, Chairman Jane Chu stated that the agency would award $26.4 million overall in its first round of funding for 2016. The Art Works: Music category through which the Festival is receiving its grant, supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts in 13 different disciplines.

“The mission of the Bellingham Festival of Music is to bring classical music of the highest quality to Whatcom County,” said Karen Berry, Chair of the Board of Directors. “This grant helps us to fulfill that mission along with our goal of making classical music accessible to everyone from school age children to teens to college students to adults.”

Chairman Chu stated: “The arts are part of our everyday lives—no matter who you are or where you live—they have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities, and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society.  Supporting projects like the Bellingham Festival of Music offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

For more on the NEA grants, go to www.arts.gov.

For more information on the festival: www.bellinghamfestival.org

Nestled between snow-capped mountains and island-studded bay, Bellingham, Washington’s spectacular natural beauty provides the ideal backdrop for the celebration of classical music. Since 1993, the Bellingham Festival of Music has enlivened the summer season with outstanding live orchestral performances and chamber music recitals for Northwest Washington audiences.  Under the direction of co-founder and noted American conductor Michael Palmer, the festival orchestra is composed of some of the finest musicians in the United States and Canada, many of them principals in such illustrious orchestras as the New York Philharmonic and the Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta Symphonies. They are joined by eminent soloists who have included Garrick Ohlsson, Lynn Harrell, Arnaldo Cohen, Vadim Gluzman, Joshua Bell, Frederica von Stade, and Pepe Romero. In addition, the festival boasts a resident chamber ensemble, currently the Calidore String Quartet, which presents recitals as well as participating in community educational and engagement activities.

Of equal importance to its summer season are the Festival’s year-round outreach initiatives which extend the beauty of classical music to youngsters in the region. Among these programs are masterclasses, and both the Play it Forward Chamber Music Residency and Beethoven in the Schools project which bring music to K-12 classrooms. In 2014-15, BFM also helped kick start the return of the Fifth Grade Strings program in the public schools.

The Festival’s artistic excellence has been recognized widely throughout the country and its concerts and recordings have been broadcast nationally, first by NPR and most recently by American Public Media on its Performance Today show. Among these recordings are the three-CD set of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos featuring Garrick Ohlsson with Michael Palmer conducting the Festival Orchestra. These performances were recorded live at the Festival on the Natural Soundfields label in 2000.

The recipient of grants from several entities, the Festival received National Endowment for the Arts grants in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016—a resounding endorsement of the quality of its performances and the contribution it makes to regional and national cultural life.
Contact: Ellen Pfeifer