Every June I know I am exactly where I should be, home in Sitka, enjoying the Sitka Summer Music Festival. At the end of every June I go over my Facebook Posts, and review some of the pics that didn’t make it to Facebook and post my 30 odd favorite pictures. Here’s this year’s pick of the pics.
ted going to the festival I loved the Baroque music. Mostly Bach. And while I still love Bach, especially this year when Yuliya gave us book one of the “Well Tempered Clavier” (wow!) I now find myself gravitating toward the Romantics. I like Brahms in particular, but I also love the LAST of the Romantics — Rachmaninoff. The festival evolves and I evolve with it. This year we had a wonderful young group Trio Jinx who performed music not normal to the festival, including “Spain” by Chic Corea. The first half of the festival featured music of Spain and Latin America, some with a tango tinge. But for me the highlight came on the last night — Arnold Schoenberg’s “Transfigured Night.” When the sextet finished there were several seconds of awed silence before a standing ovation. It was the emotional high point.
But it’s not just the music. The Sitka Summer Music Festival is a social event. In past years the Winnipeg Folk Festival used the positioning statement “People and Music.” People come first and perhaps that’s the way it is here too. We see musicians we have met in years past, and we catch up. We make new friends among the musicians. We watch growing friendships between musicians, and growing collaboration. Friends from Anchorage, Homer and Juneau come and we catch up over coffee or wine. And festival venues provide us the chance to talk with Sitkans who we’ve known for years. The Festival is in a pizza bar, on excursion boats, in the Tribal Community House, in a concert hall, on the Fine Arts Campus. One of my favorite annual encounters is with a Sitka friend when we exchange our year’s reading lists, review books for each other and make reading plans for the coming year. “People and Music” fits.
If you were in Sitka for the festival, here are some pleasant reminders. If you are not from here, there is no better time to come than June. Even if you don’t come to Sitka (and you should), but live in Alaska, you can see the festival on the road. The festival just acquired a string quartet of carbon fiber instruments that are virtually indestructible. They will ride in bush planes, on ferries, on boats, in cars over bumpy roads to bring music to Alaskans everywhere. And if there is a concert in a bar (as there is in Sitka) and someone spills a beer on the cello, Zuill can clean it with windex.