Music Lovers’ Seminars: a peek behind the curtain

The Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival is just around the corner.

There are waiting lists for most of the concerts during the Aug. 16-29 festival, but several events still have available tickets: Music Lovers’ Seminars.

The seminars provide in-depth focus into the repertoire of the concerts as well as a visit to a rehearsal just hours before the day’s performance. George Shangrow is returning as the lecturer.

He is well known for his breadth of historical knowledge blended with contemporary wit and humor. A musician with a broad range of skills as a conductor and music director, he founded the Seattle Chamber Singers in 1969 and Orchestra Seattle in 1979. A University of Washington graduate, he began his professional conducting career at age 18.

On Aug. 17-18, Shangrow will present “A Flurry of Styles.” From Aug. 20-21 the topic is “Happy Birthday Mendelssohn.” During Aug. 24-25 Shangrow will cover “Return of the Miro.” The final seminar is “From Quartets to Craigslist” on Aug. 27-28. All lectures will be from 10 a.m. to noon at St. Francis Catholic Church.

Violinist Mark O’Connor will present a Music Lovers’ Seminar entitled “American Classical Music” on Saturday, Aug. 22 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Orcas Center.

Born in Seattle, O’Connor’s concerts are described by the New York Times as “one of the most spectacular journeys in recent American music.” A product of America’s rich aural folk tradition as well as classical and flamenco music, O’Connor’s creative journey began at the feet of a pair of musical giants. The first was the folk fiddler and innovator who created the modern era of American fiddling in the 1940s, Benny Thomasson; the second, French jazz violinist, considered one of the greatest improvisers in the history of the violin, Stephane Grappelli.

Tickets for each of Shangrow’s two-day seminars and O’Connor’s lecture and demonstration are $20. Call the Chamber Music Festival office at 376-6636 or visit to purchase tickets.