Chintimini’s well-rounded musical blend

by | Jul 13, 2022 | Arts and Entertainment | 0 comments

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Some years, when Erik Peterson programs the music to be performed in that summer’s Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, he tries to build the entire season around some sort of high-concept theme.

But some seasons, his primary goal is to create four separate concerts with music that seems to work well together on the same program.

It’s the latter approach that’s in play for the 21st Chintimini festival, which starts on Friday and continues with three additional concerts through July 24.

“I just want a very well-rounded festival,” said Peterson, a professional violinist with Corvallis roots who’s served as Chintimini’s artistic director since the start of the festival.

Sometimes that approach to programming gives Peterson the space for a work that Chintimini musicians have lobbied for, such as this year’s festival opener, Cesar Franck’s Sonata in A major for violin and piano. Here’s how the tough negotiations went for that piece, Peterson recalled: Violinist Anthea Kreston and pianist Sunghee Kim approached Peterson and asked: “Hey, can we perform this?”

“I said, ‘You bet, that sounds great.’”

And this year’s somewhat more relaxed approach to programming results in finding spots for works that might not have fit in previous festivals. For example: This year’s festival features a work by Zach Davis, a young composer with roots in Salem, alongside a piece by Aftab Darvishi, a young Iranian composer. To be sure, Haydn, Shostakovich, and Beethoven, have spots in this year’s festival – but so does Claude Bolling’s Suite for flute and jazz piano, the festival closer.

Sure, Peterson said, “It would be much easier for me just program all the popular works” by the heavyweights of classical music. “But I find this more interesting, and I hope the audience does as well.”

This year’s festival also has one of the few works – perhaps the only chamber music work – written specifically for the theremin, the electronic device that creates that signature science fiction “ooo wee ooo” sound as a musician moves her hands around the device’s two antennas. That selection will feature one of the few performers – Lara Wickes, a Corvallis native – qualified to perform on the theremin.

If the Chintimini festival always has the feel of longtime friends getting together to play music, that’s because that’s the model. More than two decades ago, Peterson and colleagues – all of them with connections to the mid-valley – were gathered for a concert in Bellingham, Washington. Wouldn’t it be great, they wondered, if they could get back to Corvallis, their old stomping grounds, occasionally to perform?

Peterson took the idea back to Corvallis and pounded on the door of Joan Caldwell, a longtime supporter of the arts in Corvallis. “She said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it,” Peterson recalled – and agreed to underwrite it the first year. (Enough people donated that first year that Caldwell didn’t end up taking a big financial hit, “but she poured in all her effort and time,” Peterson said.)

Over the years, the festival also has attracted musicians who maybe didn’t grow up in the mid-valley, such as Peterson’s wife, Catherine, who will be tackling the flute part in the Bolling suite – a chance for her to unpack her bass flute, which is featured in one movement of the work.

And Erik Peterson has worked to increasingly include music by women and people of color, a trend that continues this season, with the works by Darvishi, Price, Madeleine Dring, Ingrid Stolzel and Valerie Coleman. Peterson said his goal is to make adding those works just a normal part of planning each year’s festival. “I still believe we need to promote woman composers and composers of different ethnic backgrounds,” he said. “I’m trying to make that just a normal part of what I do.”

The festival took a year off in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic but resumed in 2021 with a series of concerts at Tyee Wine Cellars south of Corvallis. “It was great fun out there,” Peterson said. “And the acoustics are good. … I was really impressed by the dedication of the attendees, people I hadn’t seen in two years.”

This year, the festival returns to Tyee for two of its concerts, on July 19 and 24. The remaining concerts are at a familiar location for the festival, the First Congregational United Church of Christ on Southwest West Hills Road in Corvallis – although the church’s sanctuary has been renovated since the last time Chintimini performed there.

Peterson said Chintimini will return in 2023 – he’s got scraps of ideas floating around, and maybe a grand theme for the season will emerge, maybe not. He’s thinking that he wants to get back a bit to what he calls the “standard stuff,” and find a way to blend those relatively well-known works with his commitment to showcase new music and works by composers from marginalized communities.

The trust that Chintimini has forged over two decades with its audiences helps with that, and Peterson compares it to the experience you have when you walk through a museum: “Most people aren’t going to know who all the artists are” at a museum – but they’re still open to finding something new by an artist they knew nothing about.

Peterson said he believes Chintimini concertgoers have a similar mindset as they settle into a show: “I’m pretty sure I’m going to have an enjoyable experience. Maybe I’m going to maybe learn something new. Maybe it’ll move me in a certain way.”

If You Go

WHAT: Chintimini Chamber Music Festival

WHEN: The festival has four concerts scheduled this year, on Friday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 4515 SW West Hills Road; on Tuesday, July 19 at 6 p.m. at Tyee Wine Cellars, 26335 Greenberry Road; on Friday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational; and Sunday, July 24 at 2 p.m. at Tyee. Winery. See the related story for details about the music and the musicians scheduled for each individual concert.

HOW MUCH: Tickets to each concert are $25. A season pass costs $90. All students are free, although high school and college students must have valid ID. Younger children are free if accompanied by an adult. Click here for ticket information.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: The Chintimini website, chintimini.org, has more information about the festival and its individual concerts.

The Concert Lineup

“Reverie,” Friday, July 15, 7:30 p.m., First Congregational United Church of Christ, 4515 SW West Hills Road

Program:

  • Cesar Franck, Sonata in A major for violin and piano
  • Zach Davis (an Oregon-raised composer), Reverie for cello and piano
  • Aftab Darvishi, “Daughters of Sol,” for string quartet
  • Ludwig van Beethoven, String quartet No. 4 in C minor, Op. 18

Performers: Anthea Kreston (violin); Sunghee Kim (piano); Erik Peterson (violin); Victoria Wolff (cello); Annissa Bolder (viola); Jean-David Coen (piano); Shin-young Kwon (violin)

“Theremin,” Tuesday, July 19, 6 p.m., Tyee Wine Cellars, 26335 Greenberry Road

Program:

  • Joseph Haydn, “Sunrise” quartet, Op. 76, No. 4
  • Madeleine Dring, Trio for flute, oboe and piano
  • Ingrid Stolzel, “The Voice of Rain” for flute, cello and percussion
  • Bohuslav Martinu, Fantasia for theremin, oboe, piano and string quartet

Performers: Peterson (violin); Kwon (violin); Phillip Stevens (viola); Noah Seitz (cello); Cheryl Welfler (oboe); Lara Wickes (oboe and theremin); Rachelle McCabe (piano); Robert Brudvig (percussion)

“Resistance,” Friday, July 22, 7:30 p.m., First Congregational United Church of Christ

Program:

  • Dmitri Shostakovich, String quartet No. 8, Op. 110
  • Sergei Taneyev, Piano quintet in G minor, Op. 30

Performers: Peterson (violin); Sarah Knutson (violin); Stevens (viola); Anne Ridlington (cello); Bryan Wallick (piano)

“Requiem Milonga,” Sunday, July 24, 2 p.m., Tyee Wine Cellars

Program:

  • Valerie Coleman, “Requiem Milonga”
  • Ludwig van Beethoven, Violin sonata Op. 30, No. 2
  • Claude Bolling, Suite for flute and jazz piano

Performers: Wallick (keyboards); Catherine Peterson (flute); Knutson (violin); Brudvig (percussion); Tyler Abbott (bass)

Correction

The original version of this story listed Florence Price’s Piano quintet in A major as among the works to be performed at the festival. But the festival has had to make a last-minute change, and is substituting the Beethoven string quartet No. 4 in C minor, Op. 18, in place of the Price work.

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