Our 30th Year: A Season of Discovery in 2023

Five Outstanding Conductors in BFM Debuts
Inspiring Guest Soloists
Fresh Repertoire, Time Honored and Emerging

The Bellingham Festival of Music is delighted to announce five outstanding guest conductors who will make their BFM debuts during our 30th year, July 1—18, 2023. This Season of Discovery will showcase a fascinating variety of interpretive styles, wide-ranging repertoire, and stimulating new soloists. And, one of the conductors may emerge as the Festival’s new Artistic Director.

Coming from orchestra positions in both the U.S. and abroad, the guest conductors and some career highlights are:

Ward Stare (July 1)

    • Music Director, Rochester Philharmonic, 2014-2021
    • Guest conductor Berlin, Atlanta and Baltimore Symphonies, Chicago Lyric Opera, Metropolitan Opera
    • Resident conductor St. Louis Symphony 2008-2019

Marcelo Lehninger (July 6)

    • Music Director, Grand Rapids Symphony, 2016–present
    • Associate Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra
    • Guest conductor Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis Symphonies

Ken Lam (July 10)

    • Orchestra conductor and professor of conducting at Tianjin-Juilliard Music School
    • Music Director of Charleston Symphony (2015-2022)
    • Illinois Symphony, Music Director (2017-2022) and currently Artistic Advisor

Joshua Weilerstein (July 14)

    • Artistic Director, Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne (2017-2021)
    • Guest appearances New York, Seattle (2022), Philadelphia and San Francisco Symphonies
    • Host, Sticky Notes podcast, (2017 to present) with 3M downloads

Conner Gray Covington (July 18)

    • Associate Conductor of the Utah Symphony, 2018-2022
    • Music Director of the Deer Valley Music Festival, 2019-2020

Additional information on the conductors and photos are available online here.

Guest artists are Andriana Chuchman, soprano; Blake Pouliot, violin; Conrad Tao, piano; Alexi Kenney, violin; and Michelle Cann, piano.  Bios and photos of the soloists are available here.

In addition to the five orchestral concerts, BFM will also present its resident chamber ensemble, the Calidore String Quartet (July 12) and the popular Chamber Music by the Bay concert and reception (July 16) featuring principal players of the orchestra.

All orchestral concerts and the Calidore Quartet recital will take place in the Performing Arts Center of Western Washington University.  Chamber Music by the Bay will take place in the picturesque rotunda of the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.

Tickets for the season will be available online and through the WWU Box Office beginning in February 2023. 

The 2023 programs follow:


July 1, 2023, 7:00 PM

Ward Stare conducting

Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Haydn

Samuel Barber, Knoxville Summer of 1915

         Andriana Chuchman, soprano

Mahler, Symphony No. 4      

         Andriana Chuchman, soprano


July 6, 2023, 7:00 PM

Marcelo Lehninger conducting

Valentin Silvestrov, Hymne – 2001

Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35

         Blake Pouliot, violin

Dvorak, Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88


July 10, 2023, 7:00 PM

Ken Lam conducting

Cindy McTee: Circuits

Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 2

         Conrad Tao, piano

Shostakovich, Symphony No. 9


July 12, 2023, 7:00 PM

The Calidore String Quartet

Program TBA

July 14, 2023, 7:00 PM

Joshua Weilerstein conducting

Gideon Klein, Partita for String Orchestra

Samuel Barber, Violin Concerto, Op. 14

         Alexi Kenney, violin

Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major


July 16, 2023, 4:00 PM

Chamber Music by the Bay

Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Concert and reception

Program to be announced from the stage


July 18, 2023, 7:00 PM

Conner Gray Covington conducting

Anna Clyne, This Midnight Hour

Florence Price, Piano Concerto in One Movement

                  Michelle Cann, piano

Mendelssohn, Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream 

Ravel, Mother Goose (complete ballet)