History of the Festival

Surrounded by Beauty. Inspired by Music.

Nestled between mountains and bay, Bellingham’s spectacular natural beauty provides the ideal backdrop for a summer orchestra festival. In 1993, American conductor Michael Palmer and cellist and WWU dean, Robert Sylvester, recognized the yearning of Pacific Northwest audiences to hear live classical music in the summer. With a dedicated group of volunteers, they built the Bellingham Festival of Music.

Virtuoso Orchestra & Soloists

Since then, the Festival has become the Pacific Northwest’s premier summer orchestra festival. Its outstanding musicians occupy principal-chair positions in ensembles from across North America. Brilliant soloists who have thrilled our audiences include violinists Sarah Chang, Blake Pouliot, and Stefan Jackiw; pianists Jeremy Denk, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Michelle Cann, and Conrad Tao; cellists Joshua Roman and Lynn Harrell; guitarists Pepe Romero and Pablo Sainz-Villegas; and singers Jamie Barton and Frederica von Stade.

The Marcelo Era Begins

In 2024, internationally acclaimed conductor Marcelo Lehninger ushers in a new era leading his inaugural season as Artistic Director. His leadership promises brilliant performances with electrifying soloists.