Same great music, new location: The Olympic Music Festival is moving off the farm and onto Fort Worden.
The Olympic Music Festival (OMF) has been staged for 31 years on farm property along Center Road north of Quilcene, a serene venue for classic chamber music.
In October, founder Alan Iglitzin advised the OMF Board of Directors of his intention to retire as executive director and to revert the 55-acre festival grounds into private property.
The board decided to continue the summer festival, and OMF presents its 32nd season in partnership with the Centrum Foundation at Fort Worden in Port Townsend.
The 2016 season takes place Saturdays and Sundays, Aug. 13 through Sept. 11 at the Joseph F. Wheeler Theater at Fort Worden.
In 2015, the festival's season ticket sales numbered 5,000.
Iglitzin's retirement marks a legacy of four decades of visionary leadership that has left a major impact on the Olympic Peninsula, Julio Elizalde, OMF artistic director, said in a press release.
“I know all of us in the OMF community will miss the concerts in the barn in Quilcene,” said Elizalde. “However, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to continue presenting world-class performances in honor of our supportive audiences on the Olympic Peninsula and I am confident that this new partnership will usher in a rich new era for this great organization.”
A former principal violist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Iglitzin founded the Philadelphia String Quartet with members from the orchestra. They came to the Pacific Northwest in 1966 to be the quartet-in-residence at the University of Washington. A few years later, the quartet came to Port Townsend as artists-in-residence at Centrum.
Iglitzin's experiences on the Olympic Peninsula inspired him to find a bucolic retreat for his quartet, and he made an offer on the Quilcene-area property in 1977. The quartet was soon practicing at the site, located about 7 miles north of Quilcene and 18 miles south of Port Townsend.
Their first public performance in the barn took place in 1983. Locals heard about it, and requests to come and listen became more frequent. The Olympic Music Festival officially opened its doors in 1984, hosting three weekends of chamber music in its barn that year. The festival grew over the years. Its 2015 season was 12 weekends long, from late June to mid-September, and included 24 concerts, plus one educational children's concert.
Easing the festival's move to Centrum is the compatibility between the barn used in Quilcene and Wheeler Theater.
The theater, which seats 275, was built in 1932 for the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corp. It was first used as a motion picture theater. It remained in use as an auditorium during the Fort Worden Diagnostic Center years (1958-1971), and Centrum has used it as a performance venue since about 1974. In 1999 it was named Joseph F. Wheeler Theater in honor of Centrum's founding director.
OMF patrons can look forward to purchasing tickets with reserved seating while continuing the tradition of pre-concert picnics at the Fort Worden campus. The Fort Worden Public Development Authority manages the upper campus, while Washington State Parks is responsible for the campgrounds, beach area and Artillery Hill. A brewpub, Taps at the Guardhouse, is expected to open across the street from the theater sometime in 2016.
Parking at Fort Worden has been enough to handle 900 visitors to a high school graduation at McCurdy Pavilion; the lot next to the USO Building across the street from Wheeler Theater is augmented by space in the grassy area behind NCO Row.
The OMF seems like a natural fit with Centrum, the arts and education entity unrivaled throughout Washington state.
"The preservation of the Olympic Music Festival is important not just to lovers of the arts throughout the Northwest, but to the vitality of Jefferson County," said Robert Birman, Centrum executive director, in a press release.
"Centrum's chamber music series is thriving in Port Townsend and Lucinda Carver (Centrum's chamber music director), our staff and board all agree that working in partnership with OMF can only help broaden interest and appreciation for classical music in our region," Birman said. "This is a natural fit for us and we look forward to a richly diverse and artistically ambitious year of extraordinary music making on our campus."
Centrum was founded in 1974 and is situated within 434 acres of parkland, beaches and trails at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend. The organization's founder, Joseph F. Wheeler, after whom its 280-seat theater is named, began chamber music programming in Port Townsend from the inaugural year of Centrum's founding.
OMF 2016 SEASON
Julio Elizalde continues his tenure as artistic director with the support of the organization’s board of directors.
When Iglitzin passed the artistic leadership of OMF to his associate director Elizalde in 2014, Elizalde became, at the age of 30, the youngest artistic director of a major music festival in the country. His first act was to inaugurate a new educational program for OMF's 2015 season. Dubbed the Iglitzin Chamber Music Fellowship, the program invited selected musicians for a two-week residency in August, where they prepared pieces alongside resident artists.
The festival's 2016 program, taking place Aug. 13 to Sept. 11, presents the second season of the Iglitzin Chamber Music Fellowship. New educational programs planned for 2016 include pre-concert lectures and cafe conversations with resident artists.
The OMF offices are now located on Lawrence Street in uptown Port Townsend, across from the library. Susan Miller continues as managing director.
Visit the OMF website for more information: