Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber


A chamber music festival blooms

August 14, 2013 · 11:44 AM

Douglas Davis and Rowena Hamill are the artistic directors of a three-day chamber music festival. / Janice Randall Photo

A weekend’s worth of Ravel, Shostakovitch, Brahms, Beethoven, Debussey and Mozart is in store for attendees of the first-ever Vashon Chamber Music Festival, set to start Friday and run through Sunday.

Artistic directors for the event are cellists Douglas Davis and Rowena Hammill, who moved to Vashon in 2007 after storied careers spent playing in prestigious orchestras and chamber music ensembles all over the world.

The pair’s home base was Los Angeles, a place where they met while sharing a music stand in the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Before and after their courtship and marriage, they also worked in Hollywood orchestras, recording hundreds of scores for television shows and films. Hammill still commutes frequently to Los Angeles to perform.

On Vashon, they founded Vashon Allied Arts Chamber Music Series, a program that, for the past few years, has brought top players in the rarified world of classical and chamber music to the island for intimate concerts.

A three-day summer music performance is something new for the couple, though.

The music will start on Friday evening, with a program at the Methodist church that will feature the 1906 Ravel String Quartet, performed by longtime Seattle Symphony musicians Cecilia Poellein Buss, Kathleen Boyer and Timothy Hale, with cellist Hammill. After an intermission, Shostakovich’s String Quartet no. 5 will be performed by Russian violinists Mikhail Shmidt and Natasha Bazhanov, with violist Heather Bentley and Hammill.

On Saturday morning, concert attendees will be offered a spread of croissants, fruit and mimosas to accompany “Brunch with Beethoven” at the Blue Heron. Davis and Hammill will be joined by pianist Jessica Choe and clarinetist Jennifer Nelson for a program featuring the Beethoven op. 11 Clarinet Trio. The Saturday concert is a benefit performance to help defray the artists’ fees for the festival.

The Sunday afternoon concert, at the Methodist church, will begin with a Mozart Viola Quintet in C Major featuring Seattle Symphony violinist Leonid Keylin, violist Julie Whitton and Vashon violinist, Karin Choo. Rounding out the concert will be a Debussy String Quartet and the Brahms Quintet for Clarinet and Strings with Jennifer Nelson, principal clarinet of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra.

Vashon Chamber Music Summer Festival evening concerts are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Sunday, at the Vashon Methodist church. Tickets are $18 and $22. The festival’s Brunch with Beethoven benefit takes place at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Blue Heron Center. Tickets, which include a brunch buffet, are $50. For more information, visit www.vashonalliedarts.org.

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