Sunday, July 21, 2024

Icicle Creek Center for the Arts Chamber Music Festival at thirty: a celebration of music, community, and legacy


LEAVENWORTH – Summer is when chamber music, the most intimate of musical genres written for a small group of instruments, harmonizes with natural settings. For the last three decades, chamber ensembles have been performed from late June to mid-July under the iconic Sleeping Lady mountain ridge at the Icicle Creek Center for the Arts (ICCA) Chamber Music Festival.

“The 30th year of the Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival is really a testament to the incredible vision of Harriet Bullitt [ICCA’s founder] and all the artists and students who have poured their heart and soul into this program, with special thanks to the current Artistic Director, Oksana Ejokina,” reflected ICCA Executive Director Phil Lacey. “It is a perfect example of what Icicle Creek strives to do – presenting world-class performance and education opportunities in a gorgeous, nature-focused setting.”

The event, centered around the performance and celebration of chamber music, features concerts in ICCA’s Canyon Wren Hall and through outreach concerts in community locations, such as the Leavenworth Community Farmers Market and Goose Ridge Estate Winery. It features a variety of ensembles ranging from emerging talents to internationally renowned groups, performing repertoires spanning classical eras to contemporary compositions. Educational components such as masterclasses (open to the public) and workshops enhance the festival experience, offering opportunities for musicians to refine their skills. 

The Festival’s origins trace back to a serendipitous evening at the Lake Chelan Bach Fest, where Bullitt, longtime Wenatchee World publisher Wilfred Woods, and pianist Ken Hunnicutt conceived the idea over discussions sparked by a day at Bach Fest. From these informal beginnings emerged a commitment to bring chamber music to Leavenworth.

Today, the Chamber Music Festival is a cornerstone event in ICCA’s calendar. As Lacey confirms: “The Festival was the first artistic program ever offered on this campus, and it established the foundation for everything that would come later. We still have guests and donors who were there for the first year and have supported and enjoyed the Festival throughout the years. The ICCA campus was designed for events just like this – artist cabins to house faculty and students, almost a dozen rehearsal spaces, and the stunning Canyon Wren Recital Hall where the performances could be showcased. It is incredible to see the Festival activating all corners of the campus, with music pouring out of every building. [It is] [t]ruly a magical experience.”

The festival’s impact extends beyond its performances, integrating deeply into the community through outreach programs and free events. As described by Lacey, “Students in attendance at the Festival perform for several free events out in the community each year, with regular appearances at the Farmer’s Market, Mountain Meadows, and one or two of the wineries in the area. We also host free master classes and a family-friendly concert in Canyon Wren as well. While the Festival really focuses on providing an amazing educational experience for the young musicians, they work hard to share their love of chamber music with the public as well.”

For those seeking a blend of artistic excellence, community spirit, and natural beauty, there is still time left to take in chamber music in Leavenworth this summer. For additional information and tickets:

Caroline Menna is an intern for Ward Media and a rising senior (Class of 2025) at Cascade High School. She will serve as Editor-in-Chief of the Cascade High School Publications Group for the 2024-2025 academic year.


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