Board & Staff

Photo of Grace Phelan playing a mandolin

Grace Phelan
Board Member

Grace has been a Bellingham resident for 25 years and 20 of those years have been associated with the Festival. As part of the office team during the years 2003-2005, she assisted with orchestral and festival management. She has been a Festival Board Member from 2009 -2013, 2015 to the present and currently is responsible for its monthly newsletter informing patrons about the Festival’s many ongoing community programs. Grace has served on the Auction Committee, which is responsible for the Festival’s major annual fundraiser, since 2008

Grace’s first exposure to classical music as a young child developed in the unlikely location of her local grocery store, thanks to Funk and Wagnall’s supermarket record campaign. The first LP was Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 and came free with the week’s worth of groceries. Eventually the family had a complete collection of fine music, inspiring a young Grace to play the piano in her childhood, and later to pursue her life-long love of stringed instruments.

This love of stringed instruments led Grace to a musical life centered around the Old Time Music community, playing the traditional music of southern Appalachia on fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo. Formerly a member of the Providence Mandolin Orchestra, Grace is currently revisiting classical mandolin playing.

She and her husband, F. David Harris, have promoted and hosted numerous concerts featuring nationally known folk musicians for over 15 years in Bellingham. Grace currently plays with her string band “Clean & Friendly,” which provides lively entertainment for the Festival’s BBQ Cookoff fundraising event.

Raised in Rhode Island, Grace and David previously lived in Connecticut and the Chicago area where David pursued his academic career before coming to Western Washington University. They have 2 adult children and a delightful granddaughter, Estelle.