Festival to Celebrate Maestro Michael Palmer’s Laureate Season, July 1—24, 2022

Full Orchestra Returns for Three Weeks

Programs Feature Iconic Works from Artistic Director’s 29 Seasons

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson Returns for Complete Beethoven Concerto Series

Other Soloists Include Stefan Jackiw, Maria Valdes, Katie van Kooten

Bellingham, WA—The Bellingham Festival of Music will return with full orchestra and three-week programme to celebrate Artistic Director and Conductor Michael Palmer’s Laudatory Season, July 1—24, 2022.  Seven orchestra concerts featuring iconic repertoire with special emphasis on Ludwig van Beethoven’s concerted works highlight the schedule. The Calidore String Quartet, BFM’s chamber ensemble in residence, will return for its annual recital, July 1 with a hunt-themed program.  The Orchestra and Calidore concerts will all be performed in the Western Washington University Performing Arts Center.

Also returning will be the popular Chamber Music by the Bay concert at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal at 4:00 PM on July 10.


Season Ticket Subscriptions will go on sale Monday, March 28 by calling the WWU Box Office 360-650-6146. Subscribers from 2019 may order their same seats if purchased by April 8, 2022.  Individual concert tickets will go on sale, April 11.  They can be ordered through the festival website.

Complimentary concert parking will be available in Lots 9G and 7G.

Celebrating Michael Palmer’s Achievements

Since 1993, Maestro Palmer has served as Founder and Artistic Director of the Festival; 2022 will be his final season as Artistic Director, after which he will become Conductor Laureate. In that new role, he will return to conduct a concert annually beginning in 2025.

Throughout the three-week festival, numerous events will honor Palmer’s extraordinary three-decade contributions to the musical life of Bellingham and Whatcom County. Among these are the annual Gala Auction, “Celebrating a Musical Legacy,” April 2. Check our website for more information.

Because the music of Beethoven has been an ongoing thread throughout the history of the Festival and because Palmer’s Beethoven 250th Birthday retrospective was cancelled twice due to Covid-19, the conductor will restore highlights of those planned seasons. The centerpiece in 2022 will be performances of the five Beethoven piano concertos with the much acclaimed pianist Garrick Ohlsson.  It was Ohlsson who played the Festival’s Beethoven concerto marathon in 2000, leading to a CD recording of the event.

Longtime musical colleagues of Maestro Palmer, Steven Thomas, BFM Principal Cello and pianist Edith Kraft, will join with guest violinist Justin Bruns for the Beethoven Triple Concerto.  And the Festival Chorus plus favorite soloists Katie van Kooten, Ellen Graham, Eric Barry, and Clayton Brainerd will conclude the season with Beethoven’s paean to brotherhood, the Ninth Symphony.

Other performances will feature some of the gifted young artists Palmer has brought to Bellingham, including violinist Stefan Jackiw playing the Bruch Scottish Fantasy and soprano Maria Valdes singing orchestral songs by Richard Strauss.

 Season programs as of March 2, 2022 include the following:

Friday, July 1, 7:00 PM

The Calidore String Quartet

Haydn: String Quartet in B-flat major, op. 1, no. 1, Hob. III: 1, La chasse
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat major, K. 458 “The Hunt”
Widmann: String Quartet no. 3, Jagdquartett
Brahms: String Quartet No.3 in B-flat Major, Op. 67

Saturday, July 2, 7:00 PM

Brahms: Tragic Overture

Max Bruch: Scottish Fantasy in E-flat Major Op.46

            Stefan Jackiw, violin

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7


Friday, July 8, 7:00 PM

Beethoven: Triple Concerto in C Major, Op. 56

            Justin Bruns, violin; Steven Thomas, cello; Edith Kraft, piano

Schubert: Symphony No. 9 (the Great)


Sunday, July 10, 4:00 PM

Chamber Music by the Bay

            Principal players from the BFM Orchestra


Tuesday, July 12, 7:00 PM

Mozart: Magic Flute Overture

Richard Strauss: Selected Lieder

Das Rosenband

Ich wollt’ ein Strausslein binden 


Sausle, liebe Myrte 

Die heiligen drei Konige aus Morgenland

            Maria Valdes, soprano

Brahms: Symphony No. 4


Friday, July 15, 7:00 PM

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerti No. 1 and 3

            Garrick Ohlsson, piano


Saturday, July 16, 7:00 PM

Beethoven: Piano Concerti No. 2 and 4

            Garrick Ohlsson, piano


Sunday, July 17, 7:00 PM

Beethoven: “Leonore” Overture, No. 3

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”

            Garrick Ohlsson, piano


Sunday, July 24, 7:00 PM

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

            Katie Van Kooten, soprano; Ellen Graham, mezzo soprano; Eric Barry, tenor; Clayton Brainerd, bass


For more information: www.bellinghamfestival.org



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, Stefan Jackiw, Jeremy Denk, Frederica von Stade, Jamie Barton, Joshua Roman, 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 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 state, regional and local 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.