BFM Announces 26th Season, June 29–July 19, 2019

Bellingham Festival of Music Announces 26th Season, June 29—July 19, 2019

Outstanding Symphonic Festival Features Stellar Orchestra of Musicians from North America’s Finest Ensembles Conducted by Michael Palmer

Highlights Include World Premiere by Composer David Arend, Gala Aria Night with Metropolitan Opera Mezzo Soprano Jamie Barton, Debut of Guest Conductor Arthur Fagen

Soloists Include Exhilarating Emerging Artists, Festival Favorite Pepe Romero, Piano Grand Master Marc-André Hamelin

For immediate release:

Bellingham, WA.—The debut of acclaimed mezzo soprano Jamie Barton in a gala opera/chorus evening, the return of Festival favorite guitarist Pepe Romero, three major Brahms works in two nights performed by pianist Marc-André Hamelin, an evening with the Calidore String Quartet, a world premiere by David Arend, and the debut of guest conductor Arthur Fagen highlight the 26th season of the Bellingham Festival of Music, June 29—July 19, 2019.

As always, this premier orchestral festival features the stellar ensemble of instrumentalists drawn from North America’s prestigious symphonic and chamber music organizations. Many of these players return year after year, attracted by the excellence of musical performance, the beauty of the scenic surroundings, and the congeniality of their home hosts and local audiences. More than a “pick-up” orchestra, they form a tightly bonded ensemble of longtime artistic comrades who know and respond to each other intuitively. As always, too, the Festival Chorus, a hand-picked group of the area’s finest singers, will take part in the season finale, performing opera choruses with mezzo soprano soloist Jamie Barton.

 Guest Conductor to make debut

Co-founder and Artistic Director of the Festival Michael Palmer will lead the five orchestral concerts, sharing the podium July 6 with Arthur Fagen, Music Director of the Atlanta Opera and Professor of Orchestral Conducting at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Fagen will conduct the Bruckner Symphony No. 4 “Romantic.”

Outstanding Guest Artists

Guest soloists in 2019 represent a rich selection of the most exciting emerging artists plus grand masters Pepe Romero, guitar, and Hamelin, one of the world’s most prodigious and questing artists. In addition to mezzo soprano Barton, who has won most of the prestigious vocal competitions and performs at all the major opera houses, soloists include pianist George Li, violinist Benjamin Beilman, and, of course, our resident ensemble, the Calidore String Quartet, in a full evening  recital. See their bios here.

Annual Chamber Music by the Bay

The Festival will also present the popular and usually sold-out Chamber Music by the Bay concert, July 7, 2019, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. This afternoon program features small ensembles of BFM Orchestra musicians and is performed in a more casual atmosphere followed by a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception.

 Tickets Sales Begin in January

Subscriptions to the Festival concerts will go on sale January 15 with single ticket sales following on February 1. Watch our website and our Facebook page for details. Tickets will be available for purchase online or through the WWU box office at 360-650-6146 or by email.

Complete programs and dates for the summer festival follow. All performances, except Chamber Music by the Bay, take place at 7:30 PM in the Western Washington University Performing Arts Center. They are preceded at 6:30 PM by Pre-Concert talks by noted musicians and historians in the area. Chamber Music by the Bay takes place at 4:00 PM in the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.  A special ticketed Reception to meet mezzo soprano Jamie Barton will follow the closing gala concert on July 19.

 Complete Programs

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Glinka: Overture to “Russlan and Ludmilla”
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto #3 in C Major, Op.26

George Li, piano

Rachmaninoff: Symphony #2 in E Minor, Op. 27

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Mozart: Violin Concerto #3 in G Major, K.216

Benjamin Beilman, violin

Bruckner: Symphony #4 in Eb Major “Romantic”

Arthur Fagen, guest conductor

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Chamber Music by the Bay at Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Program and performers tba


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

David Arend: World Premiere
Rodrigo: Concierto Aranjuez

Pepe Romero, guitar

Brahms: Symphony #2 in D Major, Op. 73


Friday, July 12, 2019

Calidore String Quartet with pianist Marc-André Hamelin

Program to include Brahms: Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Brahms: Piano Concerto #1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Brahms: Piano Concerto #2 in Bb Major, Op. 83

Marc-André Hamelin, piano

Friday, July 19, 2019

Jamie Barton, Mezzo-Soprano, and the BFM Chorus

Gala Evening of Favorite Opera Arias and Choruses

Rossini: Overture to “La gazza ladra”
Saint-Saens: Bacchanale from “Samson and Delilah”
Saint- Saens: “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” from “Samson and Delilah”
Verdi: “Va pensiero” from “Nabucco”
Bizet: “Les voici” from “Carmen”
Bizet: “Cigarette Girls Chorus” and “Habanera” from “Carmen”
Bizet: “Seguidilla” from “Carmen”
Donizetti: “Servants’ Chorus” from “Don Pasquale”
Cilea: “Acerba voluttà” from “Adriana Lecouvreur”
Verdi: “Patria oppressa” from “Macbeth”
Verdi: “O don fatale” from “Don Carlo”
Bernstein: “What a day for an auto da fé” from “Candide”
Bernstein: “I am easily assimilated” from “Candide”

For more information:


Nestled between snow-capped mountains and island-studded bay, the spectacular natural beauty of Bellingham, Washington 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 Pacific Northwest audiences.  Under the artistic 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, Jeremy Denk, 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 education 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. It continues its support with the purchase and maintenance of string instruments that allows all students to participate.

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 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 has received numerous National Endowment for the Arts grants since 2009—a resounding endorsement of the quality of its performances and the contribution it makes to regional and national cultural life.