‘Concerts in the Barn’ returns for eighth season

By Kirk Boxleitner
Posted 6/5/24



The Quilcene Barn is back for its eighth season of free chamber music “Concerts in the Barn,” this year but it roots go much deeper. 

Leigh Hearon, …

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‘Concerts in the Barn’ returns for eighth season




The Quilcene Barn is back for its eighth season of free chamber music “Concerts in the Barn,” this year but it roots go much deeper. 

Leigh Hearon, volunteer director of the “Concerts in the Barn,” explained that her husband, Alan Iglitzin, began putting on performances in 1985 in the Quilcene Barn. Back then the Olympic Peninsula had far fewer venues for classical chamber music concerts, aside from Centrum, so the goal was to make that music as accessible to the public as possible.

Iglitzin had intended to retire in 2015. He had Iglitzin founded and continued directing the Olympic Music Festival for 30 years at that point, and it was moving to Fort Worden. Initially it seemed a good time for him to leave, but Hearon said the community with pressing him back into service.

That’s how the “Concerts in the Barn” began in 2016, not only offering a relaxed, rural setting for such chamber music, but also cutting its ticket prices to zero, by turning to the support of volunteer staff, patrons and business sponsors.

“So far, it’s worked beautifully,” Hearon said. “We pay our musicians fees commensurate with other festivals. They love coming to the farm, and rehearsing and performing in a vintage barn. Our patrons love to picnic, hang out at the farm, and listen to the music, inside and out.”

The summer of 2020 saw the Carpe Diem String Quartet volunteer to record several concerts on the barn’s stage, without pay, which were posted online to keep the “Concerts in the Barn” alive during the first year of the COVID pandemic, but by 2021, the Quilcene Barn was able to invite audiences back, by factoring appropriately measured social distancing into its seating.

“And we enhanced the outdoor sound system, so people could hear the concerts from our carefully spaced picnic tables,” Hearon said. “Last year, we were pretty much back to normal. The barn was packed, and our lawn crowd could spread out to their heart’s content.”

Last December, Hearon sold the farm to the de Koch family. She said they are in the process of renovating the farm, and planning their own musical events. As part of their sales agreement, the family agreed to lease the farm to the “Concerts in the Barn” each summer, so its organizers can continue the tradition that Iglitzin began.

This year’s season starts June 15-16 with Trio Hava, with Barston sisters Amy on cello and Elisa on violin, joined this year by pianist John Blacklow. They will perform works by Mozart, Samuel Barber and Dvořák, and the sisters also plan to bring back the “Blazing Fiddles” folk tunes introduced last year.

The Fulton Street Chamber Players return June 22-23 to perform cello quintets by Franz Schubert and Russian composer Alexander Glazunov, with returning players including violinists  Cordula Merks and Rachel Swerdlow, and cellist Walter Gray, joined this year by cellist Stephen Balderston and violinist John Weller.

And the Carpe Diem String Quartet returns June 29-30, with new first violinist Sam Weiser, whom Quilcene Barn patrons met last summer, along with violinists Marisa Ishikawa and Korine Fujiwara, and cellist Ariana Nelson, performing works by violist Kujiwara, Joaquín Turina, and the last string quartet composed by Schubert.

Kaimerata Concerts perform works by Richard Strauss and Enrö Dohnanyi Aug. 3-4, with husband-and-wife duo Kai Gleusteen and Catherine Ordronneau — who host their own festival on Denman Island — making their annual return to the Quilcene Barn with their colleagues, violist Dan Scholz and cellist Beth Root Sandvoss, to preview what they’ll be performing later in Canada.

Although all concerts are free to the public, patrons are asked to reserve seating for each performance through TicketStripe, accessible on the “Concerts in the Barn” website, concertsinthebarn.org. All concerts begin at 2 p.m., but the farm opens at noon and concertgoers are encouraged to arrive early. Many enjoy a picnic lunch and stroll through the grounds. Patrons have the option of sitting inside, in the loft, or outside on the lawn.

“In addition to the weekend performances, there are four midweek open rehearsals, so our audience can see how our musicians craft their artistry before performing on stage,” Hearon said. “Open rehearsal seating will be limited, so we encourage patrons to sign up on our website now.”

The farm has dozens of picnic tables set up for concertgoers, with wine from The Wine Seller and cider from Finnriver Cider set to be sold in the milking shed area of the barn. “Concerts in the Barn” is wheelchair-accessible and accommodates people with all mobility issues, but asks that such attendees alert the concerts office at 360-732-0732 in advance.