The music continues at Bear Valley Music Festival

By From page B8 | August 01, 2014

Music director Michael Morgan and newly appointed executive director Tara Kayton have planned an exciting festival with varied concerts and events to present in the village of Bear Valley for the 46th annual Bear Valley Music Festival continuing to Aug. 10.

The vitality of the festival will be seen in the robust classical music series and festival favorites.

There will be a unique new orchestral tango concerto composed and performed by bandoneon player JP Jofre from Argentina.

Three special events will be: Moonlit Masquerade gala and auction, an evening of wine paired with chamber music and a day of collaboration with Alpine county to celebrate its 150th anniversary with bluegrass band Iron Horse. The final concert will feature violinist Stephanie Chase and pianist Sara Davis Buechner in an all-Beethoven program.

A schedule of festival concerts and ticket information can be found at and all performances will be in the festival tent on the ground adjacent to the Bear Valley Lodge.

“Bear Valley Music Festival goers exhibit a signature pioneering spirit that makes them ideal audiences for a wide range of concerts and they seem to have an inclusive, adventurous taste in all kinds of music,” said Morgan. “With this in mind, I have programmed a broad and eclectic range of concerts and guest artists that run the gamut from popular to the best in symphonic and chamber music.”


Bear Valley Music Festival schedule

Friday, Aug. 1 at 7 p.m.— The Bear Valley Music Festival is excited to welcome back New York-based jazz pianist and composer Taylor Eigsti. The Festival Orchestra will join Eigsti for an unforgettable night of music. Dave Brubeck once said that Eigsti, “is the most amazing talent I’ve ever come across. Remember him.”

Saturday, Aug. 2 at 7 p.m. —  Adios Nonino Along with a unique new orchestral tango concerto composed and performed by bandoneon player JP Jofre from Argentina.

Sunday, Aug. 3 at 11 a.m. — Classical Stars of Tomorrow featuring talented, young conservatory-trained musicians chosen by Maestro Morgan.

Sunday, Aug. 3 at 2 p.m. — The Bear Valley Music Festival is excited to make this Sunday a day of collaboration with Alpine county to celebrate its 150th anniversary with bluegrass band Iron Horse, food and drinks. “Iron Horse has a new sound for bluegrass and it always performs with a spirit and sense of style that pays the most gratifying compliment to acoustic and bluegrass lovers.”

Wednesday, Aug. 6 at  7 p.m. — A pairing of fine wine and chamber music featuring Festival Orchestra musicians and Nicole Darracq Bert, sommelier and wine educator.

Thursday, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. — “Fauré,” ‘Pelleas et Melisande Mozart,” “Symphony No. 9,” Zerbinetta’s aria from “Ariadne auf Naxos” and select operatic arias with soprano Shawnette Sulker Shawnette Sulker.

Friday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. — The orchestra will play an all Mendelssohn concert including the “Hebrides Overture,” piano concerto No. 2 with pianist Sara Davis Buechner and violin concerto with violinist Stephanie Chase.

Saturday, Aug. 9 at 5 p.m. — An enchanted evening at the Bear Valley Music Festival — Moonlit Masquerade Gala and Auction at 5 p.m. Bid on silent auction items from 5-7:30 p.m. A multi-course meal will be served from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The evening will be serenaded by the Bear Valley Music Festival Orchestra. The live auction begins at 8 p.m. followed by spirited dancing until midnight.

Sunday, Aug. 10 at 10 a.m. — A family concert featuring the hilarious and instructive violinist Dawn Harms. An interactive and energetic show to delight children of all ages. Immediately following the concert will be kids face painting with arts and crafts generously provided by The Arts of Bear Valley.

Sunday, Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. — The final concert of the 2014 festival will feature violinist Stephanie Chase and pianist Sara Davis Buechner in an all-Beethoven program with the Festival Orchestra.

In 1967, during a drive through the Sierra Nevada, orchestra conductor John Gosling and his wife Margaret found themselves in Bear Valley, a small enclave of homes, a hostel and the Bear Valley Lodge  nestled on the southern scape of ski runs recently built as Mount Reba.

What began as Gosling’s fledgling idea on a two-lane highway became, just one year later, the Bear Valley Music Festival. The inaugural concert saw a 38-person orchestra brimming out of the Bear Valley Lodge’s Cathedral Lounge under the direction of founder and maestro Gosling.

Listeners edged both the lounge and the tiers of balconies that flank the central room. Residents opened their homes to musicians while their meals were served family-style in the Lodge Dining Room.

Maestro Gosling and a dedicated group of founders, musicians and volunteers continued to make wonderful and inspiring music in a variety of venues — the Lodge for a few years, then under the open skies for a few more, then in a surplus circus tent.

They expanded the repertoire to include Broadway show tunes and opera. Gosling brought together orchestra, chamber music, opera, educational programs, lectures, classes and guest artists from around the world. The Orchestra expanded its numbers to include members from all over the United States.

In 1985, Carter Nice, then the conductor of the Sacramento Symphony, succeeded Gosling as music director and conductor. A highly regarded conductor, he was just beginning to put his Sacramento Symphony on the map. Under his direction the Festival Orchestra expanded its numbers and its geographic reach. The Bear Valley Orchestra attracted players from New York to Florida to New Orleans to Indiana as well as from all parts of the California.

Bear Valley became a summer home to many of these players, a place where they brought their spouses, their kids and their friends to enjoy two weeks of High Sierra activities and, of course, to make splendid music.

During his tenure Nice has conducted more than 200 performances of the Bear Valley Symphony and opera productions. As people’s musical tastes broadened, the classical genre was supplemented with opera and an evening of Broadway show tunes (a perennial festival favorite).

Along the way, the festival began to present an opening weekend of contemporary and country music that has brought artists such as Dave Mason, Jose Feliciano, Roseanne Cash, Glen Campbell and the best of the country’s tribute bands including Superdiamond.

In the autumn of 2012, Michael Morgan, music director of the Oakland East Bay Symphony and Sacramento Philharmonic succeeded Nice as music director of the Bear Valley Music Festival.

An award-winning innovator in programming, long-time attendees and burgeoning fans alike are in for a delightful new era of the Bear Valley Music Festival, one which honors the traditions of the 46-year-old festival, one that expands programming toward new horizons.

The new executive director Kayton grew up in Calaveras County working with Murphys Creek Theatre, Sierra Repertory Theatre and Stage 3 in Sonora. She has spent the past 10 years pursuing a career in the arts as a manager, consultant, director and producer. She holds a BA from San Diego State University in theater arts and is an alumnus of the British American Drama Academy at Oxford University.

Individual tickets and subscription packages for the 2014 Bear Valley Music Festival are priced from $10 to $55 and are on sale at or by calling 209-753-2574 or 1-800-458-1618.

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