Chamber music festival returns Sept. 8-10

Islanders will again be provided with a treat for their ears when the Archipelago Collective returns with the Ninth Annual Chamber Music Festival from Sept. 8 to 10.

“We both have connections to Friday Harbor,” Sophie Baird Daniel said, explaining why she and Dana Jackson chose to establish the festival on San Juan Island.

Both musicians are originally from the Seattle area and connected at a music convention or concert in 2014.

“We had both recently returned to Seattle and were working on the same project. We carpooled and ended up talking the entire car ride about Chamber music and how we missed playing with people,” Baird Daniel said.

For the next nine years, the weekend after Labor Day, Baird Daniel and Jackson have organized the Archipelago Collective Chamber Music Festival. The festival will have its usual four concerts, three at Brickworks and one at San Juan Islands Museum of Art. Tickets are $25 for the Brickworks concerts.

Sept. 8 the festival will kick off at Brickworks at 7 p.m. This performance includes W.A. Mozart ​- Piano Concerto No. 27 in Bb Major K. 595, Piano and Chamber Orchestra; Gernot Wolfgang ​- Waves (World Premiere) Harp and Bassoon ​and W.A. Mozart ​- Clarinet Quintet K. 581​ Clarinet and String Quartet.

The Saturday, Sept. 9 concert at SJIMA is sold out but includes a collaborative visual and auditory experience with music curated by violinist Rachell Ellen Wong and the current exhibition at SJIMA.

Saturday evening Archipelago returns to Brickworks at 7 p.m. The music includes Tōru Takemitsu ​- And then I knew ‘twas Wind, Flute, Viola, and Harp; Maurice Ravel​- Introduction et Allegro Harp, String Quartet, Flute, and Clarinet and Johannes Brahms ​- Piano Quintet in F minor Op. 34​ Piano and String Quartet.

The festival concludes with a final performance at 2 p.m. on Sept. 10 Sunday at Brickworks. Music includes Valerie Coleman Rubispheres’s Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon; and Bedřich Smetana- Piano Trio in G minor Violin, Cello, and Piano and Ludwig van Beethoven ​- String Quintet Op. 29 “The Storm.”

For those unfamiliar with chamber music and the difference between chamber and symphony orchestra, chamber music is smaller and more intimate. The concerts have a freer jam-session feel as a result.

“There is no conductor,” Baird Daniel explained,” So it’s more democratic.”

According to Jackson, there is a deeper connection with both fellow musicians and the audience. “It is almost like having a conversation, you can sense when people get excited about it and we play off each other’s excitement.”

Each festival brings a different collective of musicians from all over the county. This year players will come from the Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Symphony and Dallas Symphony among other well-known organizations.

The organization is a non-profit, funded by a combination of grants, donations as well as ticket sales. Its mission, according to their website, is to bring world-class chamber music to San Juan Island, providing a creative retreat for our musicians and a unique and enriching experience for the audience.

“I think it’s really important for there to be a lot of diversity in classical music,” Jackson told attendees of their annual fundraiser at the grange in June. “It’s important, especially when you’re playing for young people, that they can see themselves represented in the people performing and the music that is being performed, so we have always been champions of contemporary music and music by living composers… When you think of composers you think of a guy in a wig, right?” So, they try to promote music from underrepresented groups.

That isn’t to say they don’t play compositions from guys in wigs. This year they will be premiering a Mozart for the harp and bassoon. “It’s a very exciting piece,” Jackson said.

To learn more or buy tickets visit