The group Time for Three.

Nineteen years of music magic | Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival on the way

The Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival’s 19th season features 12 varied concerts, an information-packed lecture series, a performance on Lopez Island, a free Children’s Concert, open rehearsal for seniors, and “Hamlet” concerts.

“It’s another brilliant festival,” said Artistic Director Aloysia Friedmann, who was appointed earlier this year to the board of directors for Chamber Music America, the national service organization for ensemble music.

This year’s offerings will run from Aug. 4 to Aug. 20.

“The great thing is that once again our audiences are going to see familiar faces and artists they have seen and made friends with over the years,” Friedmann said. “And there is a great balance of having new and unfamiliar and equally exciting artists,” said Friedmann.

This year’s festival kicks off with Time for Three, the dynamic string trio that has been wowing audiences across the continent with their classical and genre-bending repertoire.

“They have tons of energy and it’s cross over music,” Friedmann said. “It’s different from the traditional chamber music our audiences have come to expect.”

Nikki Chooi, one of Time for Three’s two violinists, has accepted the Concert Master position with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, but will not leave the trio until after he plays at the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival.

They arrive on Lopez on Aug. 4 to play an evening concert and then ferry to Orcas for concerts Friday and Saturday, Aug. 5 and 6. This is the hugely popular trio which includes Nikki Chooi, soon to be leaving the group to take up his new position as concertmaster of the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Time for Three shall also be the performers at the aforementioned Hamlet Concerts.

Following the Evening with Time for Three comes Melody and Melancholy, Aug. 9 and 10. This pair of concerts features works by Gian Carlo Menotti, Dmitri Shostakovich, Bedrich Smetana, and a Prokofiev March arranged by Jascha Heifetz. The works shall be performed on piano, violin, viola, and a pair of cellos.

Next, Romantic Treasures on Aug. 12 and 13 presents works by Felix Mendelssohn, Antonín Dvorák, Ernö Dohnányi, and another Heifetz arrangement, this time Gershwin’s Summertime. There will be a taste of Heifetz in every show. For this concert pair, the usual keyboard and string suspects will be joined by clarinet and horn.

For the Aug. 16 and 17 Four Centuries of Music concerts, Michael Collins flies in from England to join Jon Kimura Parker in playing Rhapsodos for clarinet and piano by Abbie Betinis. Co-commissioned by the Minnesota and Seattle Commissioning Clubs, the work had its World Premiere last March, in St. Paul. This evening marks its West Coast Premiere.

The name À la Carte! references the format for the second half of the season finale on Aug. 19 and 20. The audience will choose what shall be performed from a menu of musical options, to be played by the Miró Quartet. The first half will include works by Mozart, Kogan, Poulenc, Bunch, and, of course, another Heifetz arrangement, played on strings, horn, piano, and clarinet.

All these Heifetz bits are leading toward a highlight of this year’s festival: An Evening with Heifetz. Originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 15, the show sold out so quickly another show had to be added the next afternoon. Dr. Ayke Agus, who studied violin with Jascha Heifetz and later became his studio piano accompanist, will talk with Jackie Parker and Aloysia Friedmann about her time with the master violinist. Their question and answer session will be interspersed with performances of Heifetz’s arrangements for violin played by Chee-Yun, accompanied by Parker. There will also be video clips from the video “God’s Fiddler,” based on Dr. Agus’ book “Heifitz as I Knew Him.” Dr. Agus will sign copies of her book and the DVD.

Musical mayhem will ensue as Jon Kimura Parker transforms into “Jackie the Piano Man” for an action-packed and educational Children’s Concert on Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. Children of all ages will enjoy a musical tour of various instruments, including clarinet, horn, and strings of all sizes. The concert is free, but advance tickets are required.

On Friday, Aug. 19 seniors on the island will be treated to a free rehearsal featuring that evening’s concert repertoire. This event is also free, but again, courtesy tickets are required.

“Know the Score” lectures happen on the first morning of each pair of concerts. They are led by highly-regarded speakers including radio hosts, professors, conductors, and Festival Artists, They also offer pre-concert talks before the 7:30 p.m. concerts. A full list of lecturers, as well as tickets to all the events, can be found at www.oicmf.org.

Audience members are welcome to stay after each concert to meet the performers and enjoy a selection of light appetizers from Red Rabbit Farm and a glass of Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival signature wine from Thurston Wolfe Winery.