Chintimini 2023: Recovery, resilience and remembrance

by | Jun 23, 2023 | Arts and Entertainment | 0 comments

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Give Erik Peterson credit for persistence.

Peterson, the violinist who founded the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, had built the 2022 festival in part around a pair of big pieces — Sergei Taneyev‘s Piano Quintet in G minor, and Florence Price’s Piano Quintet in A minor.

Life got in the way: One of the musicians set to perform the Taneyev piece tested positive for COVID, and Peterson had to scramble to program another work in its stead.

Then illness struck the festival again, when the pianist set to perform the Price quintet suddenly became sick after the first rehearsal. The Price piece was scratched, and a Beethoven quartet was hurried into its slot.

But, Peterson said, the two pieces are still worth performing — and so they’re back for the 2023 Chintimini festival, which begins Friday at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Corvallis. (See the sidebar at the bottom of this story for concert times and other details.)

In fact, the Taneyev quintet is a highlight of the first night of the festival, which has been held every summer since 2001 in Corvallis (with the exception of 2020, when the pandemic forced its cancellation.) And the Price quintet provides a solid anchor to the festival’s concert on Friday, June 30, also to be held at First Congregational.

The festival returns to Tyee Wine Cellars for its other two classical concerts, on Tuesday, June 27 and Sunday, July 2.

The festival’s July 2 finale, dubbed “Remembrances,” will carry a lot of weight — and a lot of memories, even if Peterson didn’t originally plan it that way.

The program includes Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” quintet and Andre Previn’s “Two Remembrances.” Peterson was planning the concert before the death of his mother, Lenore Fletcher, on March 19 of this year. “I thought to myself, you know what, I think I’ll dedicate this last concert to mom. It’s ironic that I planned these works then.”

Then Peterson and other Chinitimini organizers learned that Susan Meyer, a longtime teacher in the Corvallis School District and a former festival board member who died in 2021, had left the festival a generous bequest.

“I had no idea that was coming,” Peterson said. “It was something that was a big, big surprise to all of us.”

And then Joan Caldwell, a co-founder of the Chintimini Music Festival and a longtime fixture in the remarkably robust Corvallis classical music scene (which is remarkably robust in no small part thanks to her), died on April 27.

Peterson’s debt to Caldwell runs much deeper than the Chinitimini festival. Caldwell was a main driver in forming the Corvallis Youth Consort, a musical ensemble that featured talented and hardworking high school and middle school players in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Peterson performed in that ensemble, as did a handful of other players who went on to musical careers and became Chintimini stalwarts.

So when Peterson had the idea for a chamber music festival that would give those players an excuse to return to Corvallis for a couple of weeks each summer, Caldwell was among the first people he pitched it to.

“And then she took it and ran with it,” Peterson said, devoting thousands of hours and frequently donating to the festival.

And promoting the festival through her attire.

Chintimini has given away hundreds of promotional T-shirts over its two decades, and Peterson has urged musicians and others to wear the garments as a method of advertising the festival. Caldwell, Peterson said. “was always the very first to put on a Chintimini T-shirt. … Joan would always have hers on, first concert, last concert. She had such a great smile and enthusiasm for the festival and for the musicians.”

Near the end of her life, Peterson and a couple of other Chintimini musicians went to perform for Caldwell. She was wearing a Chintimini T-shirt.

“We had a shared vision for the festival,” Peterson said. And even as Peterson sought to program music outside the chamber music mainstream, Caldwell’s support never wavered.

“You know, I sort of stretched the music a little bit as far as what people might be willing to come and listen to at a concert,” he said. “And she never ever let on any disapproval. She never said, ‘oh, you shouldn’t have done that.’ She was always so supportive and enthusiastic about my programming and who was coming to play.”

“She had a great life. She loved what she did. She was dedicated to what she did. And she touched me and so many others.”

So Peterson now plans to dedicate the festival’s 2023 concert to “all these women, because all of them were important to me or to the festival. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do that yet.”

But the music likely will speak for itself.

Before that finale, Chintimini will feature Peterson’s signature mix of relatively well-known works and more recent pieces. The festival’s June 27 concert, for example, features works by William Grant Still and Kenji Bunch, a frequent Chintimini participant, along with Dvorak’s “American Quartet.” The June 30 concert features not just the Price work, but music by Jake Heggie and Lucas Foss. And Peterson has paired the Taneyev quintet featured in the festival’s opening concert with Bach’s Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor.

Peterson already is hatching plans for the 2024 festival, and he’s thinking about ways to use Meyer’s gift: “I’m looking forward to working with the board to make plans to better ourselves … to reach more people and try new things, to see if we can take it to the next level.”

That seems to be exactly what Joan Caldwell, Susan Meyer and Lenore Fletcher would have wanted.

Chintimini Chamber Music Festival

Tickets for each concert are $30. Season tickets for all four classical concerts are $100. Students are admitted for free. Click here to buy tickets.

Friday, June 23: “Monuments”

7:30 p.m., First Congregational United Church of Christ, 4515 SW West Hills Road.

A preconcert featuring young musicians is scheduled for 6:45 p.m.

Program: J.S. Bach, Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011; Sergei Taneyev, Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 30

Perfomers: Anne Ridlington (cello): Erik Peterson and Sarah Knutson (violin); Phillip Stevens (viola); Bryan Wallick (piano).

Tuesday, June 27: “American Voices”

6 p.m., Tyee Wine Cellars, 26335 Greenberry Road.

Program: Kenji Bunch, String Quartet No. 2, “Concussion Theory” and “the still, small voice;” William Grant Still, “Lyric Quartette,” “Musical Portrait of Three Friends;” Antonín Dvořák, “American Quartet.”

Performers: Erik Peterson, Erin Furbee, Sarah Knutson, Bryce Caster (violin); Phillip Stevens, George Thompson (viola); Noah Seitz, Joseph Howe (cello).

Friday, June 30: “Voices of Desire”

7:30 p.m., First Congregational United Church of Christ, 4515 SW West Hills Road.

Program: Lukas Foss, “Three American Pieces;” Jake Heggie, “Deepest Desire;” Florence Price, selected songs and Piano Quintet in A minor.

Performers: Linda Larson (mezzo-soprano); Catherine Peterson (flute): Rachelle McCabe, Jean-David Coen (piano); Jessica Lambert, Sarah Knutson (violin); Annissa Bolder (viola); Victoria Wolff (cellist).

Sunday, July 2: “Remembrances”

2 p.m., Tyee Wine Cellars, 26335 Greenberry Road.

Program: Clara Schumann, Six Lieder, Op. 13; André Previn, “Two Remembrances;” Franz Schubert,” Death and the Maiden” (song), Op. 7, No. 3; Franz Schubert String Quartet No. 14, “Death and the Maiden.”

Performers: Linda Larson (mezzo-soprano); Sunghee Kim (piano); Erik Peterson, Sarah Knutson (violin); Lisa Zweben (viola); Noah Seitz (cello).

Corrections

An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the instruments played by Annissa Bolder and Victoria Wolfe. Bolder plays the viola; Wolfe is a cellist. And a paragraph near the end mentioned “2014” when it should have said that Erik Peterson is planning for the 2024 festival. The article has been corrected.

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