With virtual being the name of the game in 2020, Northwest BachFest was prepared even before the coronavirus shuttered live performances.
In July of last year, cellist Zuill Bailey, BachFest’s artistic director, had an idea for a project that would give the public even more BachFest in between its regularly scheduled concerts.
The project, “Postcards From Spokane,” involved filming Bailey and two guest musicians performing in a handful of historic Spokane venues. The videos would then be shared online.
“We were unknowingly visionary,” Bailey said with a laugh.
It was always planned for the video postcards to launch this year, the 250th birth year of Beethoven, but now that concerts are on hold, the project has taken on a bigger meaning.
“This year, in addition to launching the musical postcards that, of course, represent far more than just the Northwest BachFest, they represent Spokane, our people, the region, the historic buildings, what Spokane is in the history of Washington state,” Bailey said.
“But we’re going to announce very, very soon our virtual series for the year that will continue on even when we’re back. In other words, with this new chapter, all we’ve done is expand faster than we ever knew possible through things we were already preparing for.”
Filming began at the end of August courtesy of Don Hamilton and Lorna St. John of Hamilton Studio and their crew with violinist Kurt Nikkanen and violist Scott Rawls, who were in town for the BachFest Summer Classics August 2019 concerts, joining Bailey to perform selections from Beethoven’s String Trio No. 1, Op. 3 in each of the locations reserved by Gertrude Bailey, BachFest’s executive director.
“Being a new series, this virtual idea, we wanted to start with something that was kind of an experiment in the history of music evolution, which is Beethoven’s string writing preparing to write his string quartets,” Bailey said. “Before he wrote his masterful 16 string quartets, he experimented with his string trio repertoire to get ready for that launch, his string quartets.”
Specifically, the Allegro con brio was performed in the Historic Davenport Hotel’s Grand Lobby; the Andante in the Barrister Winery barrel room; the Allegretto in the Davenport’s lobby; the Adagio in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist; and the Menuetto and Finale in the Davenport’s Hall of Doges.
Bailey said the selected venues were chosen because of personal connections. Bailey stays at the Davenport when he is in Spokane and says the hotel feels like home. Barrister Winery’s Greg Lipsker has been a big supporter, as have the folks at Hamilton Studios. And Bailey’s connection with Spokane began when he performed at St. John’s.
“It’s not what you do, it’s how you make people feel, and those locations make us feel good,” Bailey said. “They bring good feeling and good cheer. It’s like a warm hug, and to encapsulate that in these musical postcards is very important to us because it does symbolize what we stand for, bringing people together for culture and the arts.”
Wanting to share the postcards with as many viewers as possible, the BachFest staff began fundraising for a wider digital marketing distribution. Financial support came from Spokane Arts; the city of Spokane Lodging Tax Fund; KSPS Public TV, which will air the postcards during its fall/winter programming; Triple Nine Digital, a subsidiary of The Spokesman-Review; and Phase 3 Digital, a subsidiary of KXLY TV, which provided in-kind matching gifts.
Spokane Arts also approached Visit Spokane and the Spokane Downtown Partnership about teaming up and using CARES Act funding to promote the project.
“Of course, it was an amazing honor to have the people that we’ve been trying to assist through our organization come to us and to now support this next chapter because it’s a rallying of one’s community and constituency of what we have brought to Spokane for years, not just when times are good or times are bad,” said Bailey, who noted that people from outside the Inland Northwest also have reached out and asked how they can support BachFest.
“This is why I also wanted so badly to increase the footprint of our organization and the impact on the area to be every three or four weeks. It does make a difference, and people have something to look forward to. The arts bring people together.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.