061815-cgt-ent-chintimini-portrait LEAD

Chintimini Chamber Music Festival co-founders Erik Peterson, foreground, and Joan Caldwell are preparing for festival's 16th go-rouond. Caldwell's T-shift is from the first festival, back in 2001. 

Amanda Cowan, The E

The 16th annual Chintimini Chamber Music Festival is just about to start, and it’s an anniversary that has Erik Peterson, the festival’s founder and artistic director, feeling a touch nostalgic.

It’s the festival’s Sweet 16, Peterson said in a recent interview with The E, and so he felt the need this year to keep the tone equally sweet and summery, with an emphasis on serenades — and a little bit of a look back to the festival’s past.

Specifically, Peterson said, he wanted to revisit some of the works that the festival has commissioned in the past to give audiences and musicians a chance to enjoy them again.

Normally, he noted, a commissioned work “gets performed and then it’s put on the shelf and never gets performed again.”

And, in some cases, a work has undergone substantial changes from when it was initially presented. For example, the festival in the past premiered one movement from a string quartet by Tomas Svoboda. Since then, the composer has finished the piece — and so the schedule features a performance of the entire work.

Other festival works go under different aliases these days: For example, festival audiences may recognize David Crumb’s “Mood Sequence” from when it was performed at the festival under the title “Killer Shorts.” And Kenji Bunch’s 2013 Serenade, which has been recorded by Peterson’s Ivy Street Ensemble, will be reprised this year as well.

This year’s commissioned piece, “Catalonian Serenade,” was written by Kerry Turner and is the finale of the festival’s concert on Friday, June 24. Turner will be on hand to perform the work, along with his wife, Kristina Mascher-Turner, a 1998 graduate of West Albany High School. (For more on the work, see next week’s edition of The E.)

Kristina Mascher-Turner’s return to the mid-valley (she and her husband played a concert in the mid-valley last year as part of the American Horn Quartet) continues another grand Chintimini tradition: The festival routinely serves as a homecoming for gifted mid-valley musicians who have left the area for successful careers elsewhere.

Peterson said it’s not a hard sell to convince those musicians to come back. Even musicians who didn’t grow up in the mid-valley are receptive to return engagements once they experience Chintimini for the first time.

“Musicians are always thrilled to be asked to come back,” he said. “I rarely have someone say ‘no’ or (say) they’re too busy or something. It’s always a good thing and I think people enjoy playing and coming to the concerts too.”

This year’s program isn’t made up completely of commissioned works: Peterson said he aims to find a certain balance and often finds himself pondering what works would fit together in any individual concert. “The challenge is trying to keep everything cohesive,” he said.

And sometimes, practical considerations trump everything else: If a work, for example, requires a clarinet but no clarinet player is available, that scratches the piece.

But audiences will be able to hear works by Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn, whose Octet in E flat Peterson believes is possibly the finest piece of music written by a 16-year-old.

And, as always, Chintimini lincludes free concerts intended for families and children. (See the attached box for information about those concerts.) And festival musicians will perform Saturday morning at the Corvallis Farmers Market.

Financially, Peterson said the festival’s $65,000 budget puts it on stable footing and its board works hard to keep it running. About 40 percent of the budget comes from ticket sales; 60 percent comes from donations, and Peterson said the event continues to seek new donors.

As for Peterson, he still enjoys the journey every year from his Colorado home to organize and perform in the festival — and chances are good that he’s giving some thought to the theme for the 17th season.

“I always enjoy coming up with some kind of theme that I can wrap the music around.”

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