Baroque, Coffee and Lavender Tea

One of Seattle’s most talented and delightful baroque musicians, Henry Lebedinsky, will perform on the harpsichord. The Sunday afternoon concert will take place at 4 PM May 7, 2017 on the inn’s oceanfront piazza. Works by baroque and classical era composers include Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Georg Böhm, Elizabeth Turner , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Dmitri Stepanovich Bortniansky. You can find the program here. The event is a benefit concert for the George Washington Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that sponsors the Northwest Colonial Festival.

Tickets and more information are available here: http://conta.cc/2pQ80Gn

harpsichord

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The Dutch are coming!

Perhaps it’s still a dream, but we are really looking forward to next summer! We have been given the “green light” to plan for a world class organ concert here at George Washington Inn and Estate. The Dutch organ prodigy, Gert van Hoef, has accepted an invitation to come and put on a concert for the second annual Washington Music Festival, his first concert in the United States.

GertvanHoef

Just who is Gert van Hoef? Well, he got off to a late start when he started playing on the organ with his grandfather at the age of 14. (It’s great to see that the impact of his grandfather is still with him. He told me on the phone that he has coffee with him every week and is always challenged to “Keep up the good work!”)

Gert was inspired. Often he would practice from 5 to 12 hours a day. He made up for lost time and his dedication paid off when he won a national organ competition at the age of 16.

Just two years later, listen to his improvisation and performance of “‘Heer, U bent mijn leven de grond waarop ik sta”.

Here is a recent birthday party concert where he includes some incredible pedal-work for a very enthusiastic audience.

This fall he began his advanced musical studies at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. His concerts have taken him all over the Netherlands and into Belgium.

Here is his letter of acceptance for next summer’s concert here in Port Angeles, Washington:

“Dear Dan,

First of all I would like to thank you for your invitation. A concert trip to the US means a lot for me, and I am definitely willing to contribute to your music festival. The dates do not seem to be a problem, since your festival is planned during my summer vacation. My concerts might be slightly different from what people are used to. I usually reckon with 2 hours for an organ concert including a small break in the program. We can discuss your wishes for the program at a later stage…I hope that this message answers your questions for now. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact me directly. I am looking forward to hearing from you and wish you all the best in organizing the Music Festival.

Best Regards, Gert van Hoef”

We’re planning to have an Eminent Capella Concerto organ set up on the inn’s portico for Gert to use during the festival event. During his high school years he worked as a demonstrator for Eminent Organs in Voorthuizen, Netherlands. Of course he is partial to this fine Dutch electronic church and home organ!

Additional concerts are being planned while he is in the Pacific Northwest for his North American debut. If you are in the greater Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver areas and would like to host Gert for a concert, please submit the contact form, found below the links.

Links:

Gert van Hoef’s website

Gert van Hoef’s YouTube Channel

IMPORTANT UPDATE – February 5, 2014

Unfortunately we are going to have to cancel our Organ Concert with Gert van Hoef as planned for this coming summer! His 7 yr old sister (Marjolein) is fighting for her life with a form of leukemia and the family’s efforts have to be focused on her treatment and recovery. Gert has provided a statement. Your prayers would be appreciated. Here’s the blog that her family has begun: http://www.marjoleinvanhoef.nl/blog.html

Gert’s Statement: “We have decided to cancel the trip to America and the concerts over there. Our reason is that my sister has leukemia. It is too dangerous to come to America, because she is very sick and may not survive this. So we would like to stay home this summer. Again, thank you so much for the support and all the effort you have taken to plan these concerts for me. We really looked forward to it. We are very sorry that we are unable to come. I hope sometime in another year that we can still come.   Thanks for everything you have done to us.”  With kind regards, Gert van Hoef

Moving forward

Recently a composer was having a premiere of his latest piece performed in a major music hall when the orchestra suddenly shut down and packed up right in the middle of the piece to keep from going into overtime. Apparently the orchestra’s union had given the members instructions to do so. Today budgets are under stress and funding has been cut by cash-strapped organizations. People have many choices from which to select their preferred listening venue.

Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell, world-renowned violin virtuoso, has made a profound statement about music today. “We need to keep finding ways of reaching young people in environments that make them feel comfortable, without altering the music,” Bell said. “We don’t need to add drum beats to great classical works to reach younger people. That’s not the point at all.” He continued, “They can connect with great classical music, but sometimes it means finding the right venue, or the right time of day, or the right way to present it where they feel embraced. We should always be experimenting with things like that.” (See article by James Chute/U-T)

We hope you will come and experience our exciting new venue this summer. The setting for the inaugural Washington Music Festival is a beautiful ten acre oceanfront lavender farm with a replica of George and Martha Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon as its iconic focal point.

A Bach marathon

New York City’s classical music station, WQXR, is conducting a Bach marathon this week. It has been a source of inspiration as I go to sleep and wake to the incredible music of Johann Sebastian Bach. This internet radio station is eager to hear everyone’s Bach story.

As a young lad I was destined to take weekly piano lessons. My parents were determined that their children were going to learn music. Our growing family of 7 children traveled from the hinterland of Alberta’s vast prairie to the “big” city of Camrose, which had a population of 5,000 and was 45 miles away, to take those dreaded piano lessons. A Canadian winter never seemed to stop us either. I remember the highway having a thick coat of ice on it, to the point where one could hardly stand up, let alone walk. It was a good thing that most prairie highways were straight and that we had studs in our winter tires. We were prepared for the worst blizzard that an Alberta clipper could bring in order to learn how to play a piano.

Mrs. Bakken exuded music. She was the accomplished sister of one of those saints in our church who could be heard singing above the whole congregation and always gave a word of encouragement to others. My older brother had started piano lessons when the Bakkens lived on their farm many miles away, but they eventually sold their farm and moved to the city. Form was important to Mrs. Bakken, and I had to do finger and hand exercises to make sure my fingers would “step high” on the piano keyboard. I had a tendency to exert too much force into my playing and she would sometimes demonstate the right touch by running her fingers up and down my forearm. My arms couldn’t flap either, so she made me hold scribblers under both arms to keep them close to my sides. Everything had to be played to the steady beat of the metronome. I had to take theory and prepare for the feared itinerant music examiner who came out from the Royal Conservatory of Music to conduct the annual piano and theory exams.

The biggest inspiration for me was attempting to complete a book of Bach’s music. Mrs. Bakken promised me a Bach figurine when I finished all the pieces in this daunting first book of Bach’s piano music. I remember some interesting notes written above the pieces telling short stories about Bach or with some short poetic phrases from the lyrics. Unfortunately I never got the coveted figurine as my music teacher had to quit teaching  when she experienced overload from struggling with a rebellious teenage son at that time. The impact of Mrs. Bakken, however, lives on in me today and I remember her best for putting her heart and soul into her piano students and for her love of Bach. By the way, I still have that tattered and taped music book of Bach’s piano music!

BachBust